Why do the bales of hay come in different shapes?

Why is some hay rolled instead of baled? What are the different sizes of hay bales?

  1. For a couple of years, the production of hay has changed drastically. Its nutritional value has increased, and there are loads of changes made in the way it is baled. In the 50s and 60s, usually, the bales were square and weighed around 50-60 pounds. They were shaped in such a manner that they could be stacked in a barn until needed.

  2. Shape changes

    Later in the 70s, there was an invention of the new machine which helped in making hay. There were huge large balers that came, because of which most of the bales of hay started coming in round shape. These bales can weigh up to 800-1500 pounds.

  3. Sizes and shapes of bales

    Farmers cultivate hay in an array of shapes and sizes, and it solely depends upon the type of equipment they buy for bailing. Older machinery and technique usually creates rectangular bales. But, recently, as per new techniques, they are mostly seen in round shape.

  4. How to choose bailing equipment?

    This is an important factor for farmers as to which machinery or shape to opt for. Here are a few differences between the two:

    • Farm Size- Square bales are better for smaller farms as they are lightweight and easily moved manually. Plus, they can also be transported in the back of a small-sized truck. Larger bales are recommended for the larger operation, which needs to feed more often.
    • Workforce- Square balers require a lot of manpower because you need to dry them for a long period, then cut them and then comes bailing. Plus, you need a lot of workers to pick up, stack and transport the bales. But, large bales need fewer people as it cutting and stacking take less time. Plus, it can be transported by 1 person easily because of its shape.
    • Economical- As there is less workforce required in round bales, they are comparatively cheaper; furthermore, their transportation cost is also less
    • Weather- Hay, which is exposed to rain or moisture, can be dangerous for animals to consume as it becomes mouldy. Therefore, if the weather is moist or too much rain, then square bales are preferred.
    • Storage-If you store it for a longer period, its nutrition value decreases. They should not be kept for more than a year. Therefore, square bales are better for you to need to consume them quickly. Round bales are preferred for long term storage as they are packed more densely, making them less risky for exposure to moisture.
  5. Importance of bailing

    If the hay is stored and baled properly, then it can last for a longer period without getting spoiled or its quality getting degraded. But, there are a lot of factors that a person should consider before choosing any shape or type of bales as it can help save money, increase nutrition value, reduces waste and lessens the risk of hay getting spoiled.

About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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