Hay Moisture
Maxine Kinne

How do you know you're getting what you pay for when you buy hay? When properly cured hay is baled, it retains a certain percentage of moisture. During storage, the moisture gradually evaporates.

Let's say somebody has 100-pound bales of hay that was baled at 16% to 18% moisture. By the time you come along and buy it for your goats, some of the moisture has evaporated and it will weigh less.

The only sure way to tell whether you're getting a fair deal is to weigh several bales yourself and figure the average weight per bale. If you get weights of 106, 99 and 95, those average out to 100 pounds, and you are getting what you paid for. The same thing can be done with hay bought by the ton. Weigh several bales, average their weight, and multiply by the number of bales to the ton.

Considering the evaporation factor, it might be a good idea to buy hay as late in the season as possible to get a little extra bang for your buck (dollar). This assumes that the seller weighs the current stock and lets you buy on a per pound basis. It won't work if the hay was weighed early in the season and the seller bases the weight on that old information. On the bright side, even though the hay has lost weight, it has not lost any dry matter. Up to a third of nutritive value can be lost over winter by storing bales outside on dirt.

A recent comment made to hay producers and marketers was, "If you're buying hay, buy it by the ton. However, if you are selling hay, sell it by the bale."

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