By: Jason Banta, Assistant Professor and Extension Beef cattle Specialist, The Texas A&M System.

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Bale weight and nutrient content are an essential factors in determining the value of a given bale. Bale load affects not just the amount of hay gift bought or sold, but additionally the cost of feeding and transporting it. To accurately to compare the worth of various bales—including their transportation and also feeding costs—you will require to understand their size, weight, and also density.

Bale size and weight

Round bales space generally defined by bale width × bale diameter, or bale height. Because that example, a 5′ × 6′ bale would be 5 feet large and 6 feet in diameter and a 4′ × 5′ bale would be 4 feet vast and 5 feet in diameter.

Table 1 shows the result that bale size has actually on bale weight by utilizing a 5′ × 5′ bale the weighs 1,100 pounds (lb) for comparison; this bale would have a density of 11.21 cubic feet (ft3 ). If every the bales in the table had the exact same density, those of differing sizes would selection in load from 563 come 1,584 pounds.

Table 1 also illustrates the portion difference amongst various size of bales:

A 4′ × 4′ bale is only 51 percent the size of a 5′ × 5′ bale. A 5′ × 6′ bale is 44 percent bigger than a 5′ × 5′ bale.

Given consistent quality, us can also compare the relative value of miscellaneous bale sizes. If a 5′ × 5′ bale were worth $50, climate a 4′ × 4′ bale would be worth only $25.60, whereas a 5′ × 6′ bale would be precious $72.

The last shaft in Table 1 reflects what the price every ton would certainly be, if every bales—regardless the weight— were priced in ~ $50 each. The 1,100-pound bales would cost $90.91/ton ($50 ÷ 1,100 lb = $0.04545/lb; 2,000 lb × $0.04545 = $90.91/ton). In comparison, the 563-pound bales would cost $177.56/ton.


Large “square” bales additionally vary in size, weight, and relative value. They frequently come in 3 sizes: 3′ × 3′ × 8′, 3′ × 4′ × 8′, or 4′ × 4′ × 8′. Presume the same density used for the ring bale example, big “square” bales would range from 807 come 1,435 pounds (Table 2).


Bale thickness

Density as affected by tightness of wrap, or bale compression, have the right to vary considerably, depending upon operator preference and the equipment being used. Many balers have a range of setups that enable the operator to rise or decrease plunder tightness and bale compression. Also, part balers deserve to compress an ext tightly than can standard equipment; these varieties of balers are normally used for baling low-density forages like wheat straw.


Another aspect affecting bale density is that some forages are naturally denser 보다 others. Both tree maturity and also forage species influence forage density. Together plants mature, the neutral laundry detergent fiber (NDF) content typically increases, which reduces density.

Consequently, hay produced from young, immature bermudagrass is denser than hay native mature bermudagrass. Distinctions in forage types also impact density; for example, alfalfa is frequently denser 보다 bermudagrass, and bermudagrass is denser than wheat straw.

The instances in Tables 1 and also 2 assume a consistent density. Table 3 reflects how density can influence bale weight once comparing bales of equal size.

Bale transportation and feeding

Moving harvested forage indigenous the ar to a warehouse area is a time- and also fuel-consuming process, simply as is relocating the hay from storage to feeding area. The number of trips and the quantity of time that takes to move hay native the field to a hay lot of or barn is straight related come bale size and also density.

Table 4 compare the variety of trips every acre forced to move various size bales if 11,000 pounds the forage is created per acre throughout the hay season. If only two bales can be moved at a time, it will take double as much time and also money to move bales that weigh 563 pounds than 1,100-pound bales.

Bale weight additionally affects how frequently hay have to be fed. Table 5 lists the variety of bales that would be fed every week if each cow spend 32.5 pounds per day and also there are 30 cows to feed. It would certainly be an ext economical to feeding 6 bales than 14 bales every week.

Other components that need to be evaluated space the cost of carrying purchased or raised hay and the affect of bale size, weight, and also shape top top this cost. Think about the variety of bales and also the number of tons the hay that will certainly fit ~ above a 53-foot semi trailer without exceeding standard width and height regulations. Table 6 illustrates the it is more economical to transport large “square” bales than round bales because more tons that hay deserve to be hauled per load. If transportation expenses are $3.00 per invited mile, that would price $17.94 every ton that hay to carry 38 round bales for 100 miles, compared to just $13.77 per ton to carry 54 large “square” bales the were 3′ × 3′ × 8′.

To sweet the hay, have the driver protect against at a serial elevator, van stop, or feeding coop with truck scales and get a load both before and after the hay is invited or unloaded. Numerous of these places will charge only a small fee to obtain an “empty” load (such as a semi or truck and trailer there is no hay) and a “loaded” weight (a semi or truck and also trailer with hay); the fees is frequently less than $10 for both weights.

To identify the mean bale weight, division the complete weight that the hay by the variety of bales on the load. This same process could also be offered for hay produced on her property.

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An alternative option is to borrow a collection of portable load cells and also place a platform on top of the fill cells (many human being have portable fill cells because that weighing cattle). Individually place a couple of bales top top the communication to identify the median bale weight for each cutting that hay.

Another straightforward option if you have actually a hay spike on her feed truck is to stop by the neighborhood feed or fertilizer dealer and have the bale weighed there. Weighing one bale is not as exact as weighing every one of them or at the very least several bales from each cutting, yet it is far better than not knowing what any type of of the bales weigh. To acquire a great estimate of weight, choose a bale that shows up representative of the cutting, or take several by in ~ the start of the feeding period.

In general, hay bales native the same ar using the very same baler will certainly be comparable in density and weight. Therefore, when buying hay it might not be necessary to weigh all of the hay to get specific assessment that the median weight per bale. Weighing one fill consisting of numerous bales must be sufficient to determine the median for that field.



However, hay from different fields or varieties should be weighed separately, also if baled through the exact same baler and also the very same tension setting on the baler.

Although no addressed in this paper, various other important determinants that have to be considered when purchase or marketing hay incorporate nutrient contents (such together TDN and percent crude protein), forage problem (free that mold, international objects, and weeds), forage species, the potential visibility of toxic compounds (such together nitrates), and also palatability.

In enhancement to bale weight, make sure you likewise consider storage and also feeding losses and also the cost per unit that energy and also protein indigenous each pack or cutting of hay to help minimize cattle feeding costs.


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