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

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Bale weight and nutrient contents are crucial factors in identify the value of a given bale. Bale weight affects not only the quantity of hay being bought or sold, but also the expense of feeding and also transporting it. To accurately compare the value of different bales—including your transportation and also feeding costs—you will require to recognize their size, weight, and also density.

Bale size and also weight

Round bales room generally described by bale broad × bale diameter, or bale height. For example, a 5′ × 6′ bale would certainly be 5 feet broad and 6 feet in diameter and also a 4′ × 5′ bale would certainly be 4 feet large and 5 feet in diameter.

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

Table 1 also illustrates the portion difference among various sizes of bales:

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

Given continuous quality, us can additionally compare the family member value of various bale sizes. If a 5′ × 5′ bale were worth $50, climate a 4′ × 4′ bale would be worth only $25.60, conversely, a 5′ × 6′ bale would be precious $72.

The last pillar in Table 1 mirrors what the price per ton would certainly be, if all bales—regardless the weight— were priced in ~ $50 each. The 1,100-pound bales would expense $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 likewise vary in size, weight, and relative value. They frequently come in 3 sizes: 3′ × 3′ × 8′, 3′ × 4′ × 8′, or 4′ × 4′ × 8′. Assuming the same density used for the ring bale example, large “square” bales would selection from 807 come 1,435 pounds (Table 2).


Bale thickness

Density as affected by tightness that wrap, or bale compression, can vary considerably, relying on operator preference and the equipment being used. Many balers have a range of settings that permit the operator to boost or decrease wrap tightness and bale compression. Also, part balers can compress much more tightly than deserve to standard equipment; these species of balers are typically used for baling low-density forages favor wheat straw.


Another aspect affecting bale density is that part forages are naturally denser 보다 others. Both plant maturity and also forage types influence forage density. Together plants mature, the neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content typically increases, i beg your pardon reduces density.

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

The examples in Tables 1 and also 2 i think a constant density. Table 3 shows how density can impact bale weight when comparing bales of same size.

Bale transportation and also feeding

Moving harvested forage indigenous the ar to a warehouse area is a time- and fuel-consuming process, just as is moving the hay from storage to feeding area. The number of trips and also the quantity of time it takes to relocate hay native the ar to a hay lot or barn is directly related come bale size and also density.

Table 4 to compare the variety of trips per acre forced to move miscellaneous size bales if 11,000 pounds that forage is developed per acre throughout the hay season. If just two bales have the right to be relocated at a time, it will take twice as lot time and also money to move bales that sweet 563 pounds than 1,100-pound bales.

Bale weight likewise affects how frequently hay must be fed. Table 5 list the variety of bales that would certainly be fed every week if every cow spend 32.5 pounds per day and also there room 30 cows come feed. It would certainly be more economical to feed 6 bales than 14 bales every week.

Other factors that should be evaluated are the price of carrying purchased or raised hay and also the affect of bale size, weight, and shape top top this cost. Think about the variety of bales and the variety of tons that hay that will fit on a 53-foot semi trailer without exceeding typical width and height regulations. Table 6 illustrates that it is much more economical to transport large “square” bales 보다 round bales because more tons the hay deserve to be hauled every load. If transportation costs are $3.00 per invited mile, the would price $17.94 per ton that hay to transfer 38 round bales because that 100 miles, contrasted to just $13.77 every ton to move 54 huge “square” bales the were 3′ × 3′ × 8′.

To sweet the hay, have actually the driver avoid at a grain elevator, truck stop, or feed coop with truck scales and also get a weight both before and also after the hay is invited or unloaded. Plenty of of these locations will charge only a little fee to gain an “empty” load (such together a semi or truck and trailer without hay) and a “loaded” load (a semi or truck and also trailer v hay); the dues is typically less 보다 $10 because that both weights.

To determine the typical bale weight, divide the full weight of the hay by the variety of bales on the load. This same process could additionally be offered for hay produced on your property.

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An alternative option is come borrow a set of portable fill cells and also place a platform on height of the load cells (many world have portable fill cells for weighing cattle). Individually ar a couple of bales on the communication to recognize the average bale weight for each cutting that hay.

Another simple option if you have actually a hay spike on her feed truck is to protect against by the regional feed or fertilizer dealer and also have the bale sweet there. Weighing one bale is no as specific as weighing all of them or at the very least several bales from each cutting, but it is far better than not understanding what any type of of the bales weigh. To obtain a great estimate that weight, select a bale that shows up representative of the cutting, or take several by in ~ the begin of the feeding period.

In general, hay bales indigenous the same ar using the very same baler will be similar in density and also weight. Therefore, as soon as buying hay it may not be crucial to weigh every one of the hay to get specific assessment the the average weight per bale. Weighing one load consisting of number of bales have to be enough to determine the typical for the field.



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

Although not addressed in this paper, other important components that must be considered when buying or offering hay encompass nutrient content (such together TDN and percent rudely protein), forage problem (free the mold, foreign objects, and also weeds), forage species, the potential visibility of toxic compounds (such together nitrates), and palatability.

In addition to bale weight, make certain you additionally consider storage and also feeding losses and also the cost per unit the energy and protein from each load or cut of hay to assist minimize cattle feeding costs.


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