If you are searching for how to protect dry bales from being spoiled, salting hay is a simply way for you to try. What ingredient to use, how to apply, and how it works will be mentioned in this article.
Well, as we know that salt (sodium chloride) is a preservative, putting rock salt on hay can inhibit the growth of mold organisms in hay bales.
Indeed, rock salt affects microbes in 3 ways: creating a hypertonic environment causing the organism loosing water; inhibiting some enzymatic activities; and interfering with molecular processes of DNA. Salt can attract water from the interior to the exterior of the bale. By that way, salting hay is a simple way to protect dry hay bales.
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details.
Story of salting hay
In early days at some areas, hay was hard to be hauled before it gets rained on. If, unfortunately, the heavy rain makes bales wet, people have to wait a few days of dry weather until all bales get dry enough to put in the barn.
But if the bales never really get dry enough since the rain just keep coming, stacking damp bales in the barn can be dangerous. The bacterial action of wet hay can produce enough heat to really make a fire. This spontaneous inflammation of wet hay has burned down many barns.
In order to save the barn, people dropped an amount of rock salt on each layer of bales while stacking. They believe that the salt can help in drying and salting hay is like salting food to preserve it. Finally, they found that the salt cut down on molding, the cattle ate it well, and the possibility of fire was over.
Since then, salting hay is common for preserving hay.
How to Salting hay to storage Hay bales?
In the past, people did not apply this practice on small rectangular bales.
After stacking one layer, with the cut edge facing up, salt was sprinkled over the surface before piled up by the next layer. Normally, they throw a handful of rock salt for every two bales, but if the bale seems a little greener, another handful can be added. For example, if the hay is dry, about 50 lbs. of fine salt can be used for about 400-500 bales.
Sometimes, salt is put on just one or two topmost layers of the entire stack. Normally, bales undergo a process called “sweating” in which excess moisture is evaporated by a slight temperature elevation. This moistened air moves upward causing sweat to be likely on top of the entire stack.
Also, the hay barn needs good ventilation in order to eliminate any moisture leaving the stack as quickly as possible.
Pros & cons of Salting Hay
Salt is not expensive and every house does have salt. After stacking hay as usual, putting salt on top of the stack can’t be easier. It neither affects the hay quality nor the animal health. And the animal need salt of course. Hence, this method appears to be simple and economical for us to do.
However, the issue is that broadcasting salt on the surface is not hugely effective. It cannot be distributed thoroughly through the bales.
Nowadays, more effective preservatives materials can gain the same benefits by spraying. These materials usually contain ammonium propionate which effectively inhibits mold and is friendly to either horses or cattle.
Do not forget to clean after use as these materials can be corrosive to equipment.
Whatever you heard about salted hay and its effectiveness, I personally this is worth to try. For all things I have acknowledged from websites involving farm, animal, cattle, etc., a majority of people agree that it works well.
Hope that you have found a good and cheaper way to protect your hay after reading this article.