Prevent hay fire

ajmrzf

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I'm a hay newb, and I didn't realize how easy it is for hay to catch fire. I had 1/2 a round bale left over this spring. I covered it with a tarp as we were expecting rain and I wanted it to last a little bit longer. We also had to leave for 2 days. In that amount of time, my LGD chewed a hole in the tarp directly on top of the bale. It rained on it, and when I got home, it was HOT and steaming. I couldn't believe it!

I'm having 10 4x5 round bales delivered this evening. I don't know what the moisture level of the bales is, and I doubt the seller does either, but I'll ask. When talking about hay catching on fire from moisture, are we worried about rained on hay, too, or just hay with too high of a moisture content more internally? It's net wrapped.

I was trying to get them last week while it was dry so I could put them in my 3 sided pole shed and call it good. It had been fairly dry since the hay was cut. The guy kept putting it off. It rained this morning, and is supposed to rain 4 out of the next 5 days. Should I go ahead and put the bales in the shed? Or leave them out covered loosely with a tarp to wait for some sunny days to dry them out? Or something else? I want to minimize the layer of loss from weather and obviously, not burn down my shed and be on the search for hay again. Thanks in advance!
 

secuono

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Hay that gets wet and can't properly dry will molt and rot.
Rounds sitting on their round side, rain will rot the outside layer, but most under should be fine. Net wrapped is better than twine.
Use pallets between bale and tarp. They need the air or it'll mold. Or keep them under a roof.

Baled wet/too much moisture is worse than getting rained on after it's rolled up. You won't know that they're cooking unless you get lucky or test them often. I found one hot bale after crawling over them and l felt a warm spot. Moved it out and fed it immediately. It got pretty hot in there, but not enough to combust at that point.

But a leaky roof/tarp is also dangerous.

Squares can't really handle any rain/leaks.

Neighbor lost his hay, some equipment & barn this spring. Last year's hay, very old building. Not sure if it was the roof or bad baling, he bales his own. He's had two other building fires.
20220603_121448.jpg
 

ajmrzf

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Hay that gets wet and can't properly dry will molt and rot.
Rounds sitting on their round side, rain will rot the outside layer, but most under should be fine. Net wrapped is better than twine.
Use pallets between bale and tarp. They need the air or it'll mold. Or keep them under a roof.

Baled wet/too much moisture is worse than getting rained on after it's rolled up. You won't know that they're cooking unless you get lucky or test them often. I found one hot bale after crawling over them and l felt a warm spot. Moved it out and fed it immediately. It got pretty hot in there, but not enough to combust at that point.

But a leaky roof/tarp is also dangerous.

Squares can't really handle any rain/leaks.

Neighbor lost his hay, some equipment & barn this spring. Last year's hay, very old building. Not sure if it was the roof or bad baling, he bales his own. He's had two other building fires.
View attachment 91965
Thank you for the response. That photo - YIKES! I'd like to avoid that if at all possible. My pole shed does have a small leak that I'm not going to be able to fix this year, so I had been planning to put a tarp over the bales, too. I thought I might stack them (just 2 layers total), but maybe not. I was going to put pallets over the bales or have posts lifting the tarp off of the bales.

Maybe I should just leave them out so I don't risk a building. I hated dealing with that moldy layer last year though. It always seemed like the wind switched at the last second to blow the mold and dust into my face.
 

Alaskan

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As already stated... it isn't really the hay... it is when the moisture gets into it...

Moisture from when they were baled, OR from being rained on, or a leaky roof.

I had a neighbor who was piling up grassclippings on the side of his lawn... yep... almost caught fire.

I would put all of the bales directly into your shed. No reason to add any more moisture. If possible, set them up so you can walk down the line and rouch the center of each round bale. Also... put them on pallets so that they aren't pulling moisture up from the ground. Every so often feel them, check for any temperature increase in the bales. The bales should be cool to room temp.

If you feel any increase of temperature then you need to break them open.
 

Stephine

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I realize it’s a bit late for this, but I wouldn’t get any hay delivered in the rain. Maybe that’s easier here in CA than where you are. But I would avoid getting hay wet if at all possible. The fire danger, the mold, the waste. Much better to wait a few days and have dry hay and fewer worries. We had to wait a few weeks this spring because of rains and just brought home a couple of large bales at a time in the Subaru, to tide us over.
And tarp, as you found, is just not reliable. It breaks, dissolves in the sun, gets loose in the wind… If your roof has a leak, can you just not put any hay under that spot? Put a tub on the floor so the moisture doesn’t spread?
 

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