Reducing hay loss during storage is key to productivity and efficiency. But which storage system is the best?


Generally, the value of a storage system depends on the projected hay loss while in storage and the price of hay when sold or used. If hay with a market price of $80 per ton has a 20 percent loss during storage, then the value of the hay lost would be $16 per ton. This cost of hay value lost added to the cost of the storage system, like an enclosed barn, gives the total storage cost, which can be used to compare various types of storages.


One of the main problems in determining the total storage cost of a system is estimating the loss of hay value during storage, Powell noted.


Dry matter losses are dependent on initial bale quality, storage conditions and length of time in storage, and they can reach 50 percent. Powell said severe deterioration is usually confined to the outside two to eight inches of the bale. But, depending on the bale’s diameter, just two inches could represent over 10 percent of the bale’s dry matter.


The depth of weathering depends on many factors, including amount of rainfall and environmental conditions, like temperature and humidity, during the storage period, the hay type and condition when baled, and bale shape and density.


To prevent excessive loss, Powell said bales should be well-shaped and as dense as possible. She noted one of the keys to reducing weathering is the tightness of the outer layer of the bale.


The tighter the outer layer, the lower the losses, regardless of whether the bale was formed using a variable or fixed-chamber baler.


Density, or the tightness of the outer layer, is not easy to measure. Powell said a rule of thumb is to push on the outer surface of a newly-formed bale with the palm of your hand.


If you can depress the surface more than about a half-inch, the bale could undergo significant storage losses when placed outside and unprotected.


Sisal or plastic twine wraps should preferably be six inches but no greater than eight inches apart on the bale. This practice does add additional time and expense during baling, but if the bales are to be stored outside, the added time and expense are easily justified. She noted research shows net-wrapped bales have storage losses similar to the standard plastic or twine wrap when outer layers are about the same density.


Storage sites are another important consideration in reducing bale losses. Storing round bales at a site out of the shade and open to breezes to enhance drying conditions.


As much as 12 inches of the bottom of a bale can be lost through moisture absorption, so it’s important the area drains well. Ground contact can account for over half of the total dry matter losses. So, where it’s practical, keep bales off the ground using low-cost, surplus materials such as discarded pallets, racks, fence posts, railroad ties or used tires.


An alternative is to use a layer of crushed rock about six inches deep to ensure good drainage around the storage site.


Bales should be stored in rows, end-to-end. For maximum airflow and sunlight penetration, Powell recommends organizing rows in a north-south direction and allow at least three feet between each row. Vegetation between rows should be cut or mowed.


Research shows orientation of rows is a minor consideration if the round bales are going to be used before early spring, because dry matter losses are relatively small until that time. However, if bales are stored into the summer, those facing an east-west direction can experience severe deterioration on the north-facing surface.


It all comes down to the value of the hay loss in storage. Ideally, the value of the lost hay would be recovered in material costs.


New Texas hunting, fishing licenses now on sale


With hunting season just around the corner, it’s time to purchase 2020-2021 annual Texas hunting and fishing licenses.


Current year licenses, except the year-from-purchase all-water package, expire at the end of August, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), which regulates hunting and fishing activities across the state.


The annual sale of more than 2.4 million hunting and fishing licenses in Texas directly fund conservation efforts and recreational opportunities, including fish stocking, wildlife management, habitat restoration, public hunting leases on more than one million acres of public land, river fishing access and Texas game wardens.


Hunters and anglers can purchase a variety of license combinations and packages online through the TPWD website, by phone at 800.895.4248 or in person at more than 1,700 retailers across the state.


An expedited checkout process is now available for those wishing to re-purchase the same license bought in recent years.


TPWD asks anyone planning to purchase their license directly from a TPWD law enforcement officer or at the Austin headquarters to make an advance appointment as walk-ins are not currently accepted.


Customers can access their license by saving a digital photo of the license or using an emailed receipt from the license purchase. A digital copy is also available through the online license sales system account or through the Outdoor Annual app license lookup feature or via the My Texas Hunt Harvest app.


Hunters and anglers must still have physical licenses for any activities requiring tags or stamps.


The Outdoor Annual mobile app allows hunters and anglers to access regulations, even without internet connectivity. Other features of the app include location-based functionalities, such as hunting seasons and regulations by location, where to fish and more.


The My Texas Hunt Harvest app enables electronic submission of mandatory harvest reports including alligator gar harvest reporting. Hunters are also able to complete on-site registration for many TPWD public hunting lands via the app.


When purchasing a license, hunters and anglers can also choose to enter a number of drawings,including TWPD’s new Big Time Texas Hunts.


For only $9 per Big Time Texas Hunts entry, hunters have the chance to win any of ten premium hunt packages on some private ranches and prime wildlife management areas in the state. The deadline to purchase entries is Oct. 15.


Bighorn sheep, mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, waterfowl, upland game birds, exotics dand more are on offer in the Big Time Texas Hunts packages, including the chance to win a hunting and fishing trip to Powderhorn, TWPD’s newest Wildlife Management Area (WMA).


Another popular drawing is the Lifetime License Drawing. Three winners each receive a lifetime super combo license, eliminating the need to purchase another Texas hunting or fishing license again.Those entries are $5 each and must be purchased by Sept. 30.


When buying a license, hunters and anglers can add a donation of $1, $5, $10 or $20 to support the non-profit Hunters for the Hungry or the Fund for Veterans Assistance.