How many hay bales per acre?

One of the most common questions we hear from clients is thinking about achieving hay independence, “How much hay can I expect from my ‘x’ acres?” Although we would like it to be something like this, if there is a simple The answer to the question, not at all. Unfortunately, the calculation of hay yield depends on so many different factors that there is simply no single answer. Even an average rule of thumb can vary widely by region, soil, and hay type. For us in the Midwest, a blend of grass and legume hay can yield anywhere from 1 to 5 tons per acre throughout the season.

In our mixed hay fields, we plan to plant on 4 tons per acre of good soil, half or more of the first, second, third, and sometimes fourth. The average bale weight is about 40 pounds (using our Abbriata small square baler or one of our mini round balers), or 100 bales per acre on the first cut. In addition to our operations, we can provide some guidelines to consider when trying to predict the productivity of your hay field.


Here are some factors that affect hay yield or how it is calculated

  • The length of the growing season for your location. A shorter growing season means fewer opportunities for hay cuttings. While growers in the southern U.S. can, on average, mow 4 or even 5 times a year, growers in the northern U.S. may be lucky enough to get 2.
  • Generally, perennial grasses such as timothy and fescue yield higher yields, while legumes such as alfalfa and clover yield lower yields. However, feed selection should not be based solely on yield, as pulses tend to score higher on the relative feed quality scale (a ranking of nutritional value). In most cases, quantity should not outweigh quality.
  • Hay tends to grow best in soils that are rich in organic matter and contain adequate levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The required amounts of these nutrients can be controlled by appropriate fertilization or crop changes/crop rotations. The latter can be achieved by planting nitrogen-fixing beans next to the grass or seasonally. The time and number of cuttings. Pasture yields should be calculated based on an entire season or more accurately multiple seasons. The amount of hay produced per cut will vary depending on weather conditions, the stage of the plant at the time of the cut, and the species planted.

The best yield calculation is to average the yield of many cuttings over multiple seasons. Basically, the best way to determine your hay field yield is to go out and pack it. While some factors that affect yield are beyond a grower’s control—like weather—many others—like species and fertilization—can be adjusted over multiple seasons to increase productivity. While there is no easy answer to the question “How much hay can I get from my ‘x’ acres?”, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your hay acreage as high as possible.

Reference answer

With an average bale weight of around 40 pounds (with our Abbriata small square baler or any of our mini round balers), that’s 100 bales to the acre for a first cutting. Our farm aside, we can offer some guidelines to consider when trying to predict the productivity of your hay fields.

People also ask

How much hay does an acre produce?

The average U.S. dry hay yield (all types) dropped from 2.52 tons per acre in 2016 to 2.44 tons per acre in 2017. For alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures, the average yield declined from 3.45 tons per acre in 2016 to 3.32 tons per acre in 2017.

How much space does 100 bales of hay take up?

Baled hay requires approximately 250 cubic feet of storage space per ton of hay. An 1,100-pound horse eating 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent of its body weight per day in hay would eat 16.5 to 22.0 pounds per day, or in one year about 3 to 4 tons (100-120 bales of hay).

Is hay farming worth it?

He says it costs about $297 per acre to seed and prepare hay ground. “You are going to get more than three years out of that, but if we use three years, that’s about $100 per acre per year,” Brown says. “If you are getting $125 per ton for quality hay, you are going to see a profit of $51 per ton, or $204 per acre.

How many straw bales cover an acre?

On steep slopes, the straw should be blown onto the slope to achieve the same degree of cover. When applied properly, approximately 20-40 percent of the original ground surface can be seen. The application rate per acre should be about 2 tons (or one 74 pound bale per 800 square feet).

How much hay fits in a barn?

Barn sizing “The size of bales produced will influence the necessary dimensions of the barn,” Hayes noted. As a general rule, she suggested that square bales will need a footprint of 10 to 15 square feet for every ton of hay, and for round bales, 16 to 24 square feet will be required for every ton stored.

How long can you store hay in a barn?

Bales Stored Outside and Unprotected

Storage MethodStorage Period Up to 9 months*12-18 months
ExposedStorage Period
GroundStorage Period 5-2015-50
ElevatedStorage Period 3-1512-35

How do you store hay without a barn?


The cheapest and most effective way to protect your hay without a barn is by using a simple system of a tarpaulin and pallets. Stack wooden pallets on the ground to keep the hay off the damp floor, then stack the hay on top of the pallets and cover the whole thing with a solid, heavy-duty tarpaulin.

Can you make a living selling hay?

The fact of the matter is you may be able to make a living hay farming under the right circumstances. Other farmers may want to hay farm to keep the cost of buying hay down or as additional income to an existing operation. Good luck to anyone starting out hay farming, it is only for the strong at heart.

What is the most profitable crop per acre?

Bamboo. Bamboo is one of the most profitable crops to grow per acre. It can bring in lots of revenue, but the catch is it takes about three (3) years for the bamboo to get “established” once planted.

How many times can you harvest hay in a year?

In most areas of the country, grass hay can be cut twice, sometimes three times, per year. The first cutting generally has the largest yield.

How many straw bales do I need?

Once you have all of the openings removed, divide the total square footage by the square footage of your bales. For this, consider a 14″ tall by 36″ long bale would have 504 square inches or 3.5 square feet of bale surface area. This will give you the exact number of bales you will need to build the structure.

How much will a bale of hay cover?

COVERAGE GUIDELINES 1 bale covers an area approximately 80-73 square feet to a recomended depth of 2 inches.

How many straw bales do I need for grass seed?

For improved grass seed germination, ensure that the layer of straw that you apply over your newly-seeded lawn is no more than three inches thick. Usually, a single bale of straw should be enough to lightly cover about 1000 square feet of lawn area.

How much space do you need for 200 bales of hay?

Knowing that, if your bales weigh an average of 40 pounds, 36 x 16 x 18 inches in size (6 cubic feet), and you have a loft space 10-foot high and 12-foot square, you should comfortably fit 200 bales at 56 lbs. per square foot.

Does hay need ventilation?

A hay barn should keep sun and rain off the hay while permitting as much ventilation as possible. In a fairly dry region, an open-sided shed will do that; in wetter climates, a barn that’s open on one side or at the gable ends can suffice.

How tall should a hay barn be?

Sizing a hay barn depends on bale type, quantity, and method of filling and feeding. Provide a minimum of 16 feet of eave height clearance. Allow 250 cubic feet of storage per ton of small square bales and 310 cubic feet per ton for large round bales (which are less dense).

What hay has the highest sugar content?

Oat hay has thick tougher stalks that some horses will not eat. Oat hay tends to be higher in nitrates and also high in sugar (NSC), so this hay is not an option for insulin resistant horses.

How long does a bale of hay last for one cow?

Thirty-six pounds of hay is close to one small square bale of hay per day, taking into consideration some waste. Conversely, feeding one large round bale of hay, to two or three steers or cows will last a few weeks.

Is year old hay still good?


Check the smell and look for obvious signs of mold. Generally, hay that is two to three years old is still acceptable given the right storage conditions. So before you go tossing last year’s hay, give it a check over and feel confident feeding it if everything looks good.

How do farmers store hay?

Can you store hay on concrete?


Don’t be fooled into thinking you can store hay safely as long as it’s on a concrete floor. Concrete flooring sweats during the spring and fall, and that moisture will end up in your bales. It’s always best to use pallets regardless of the season or the type of flooring.

How do you keep hay from getting moldy?

Stack the bottom layer of bales on their sides, with the strings facing sideways instead of up. The uneven surface allows better air circulation and helps prevent mold from growing. Stack the second layer with the strings facing up, all pointing in the same direction.

How much money can you make per acre of alfalfa?

Over a three-year average, alfalfa returns a profit of $98.82/acre compared to a $44.77/acre return for corn and $39.68/acre for soybeans, Miller estimated using information from Midwestern farms compiled through the FINBIN database.

How much does a bale of hay cost?


On average, a bale of hay costs around $15. For example, two wired Alfalfa Hay bales typically run high, costing $19.95 apiece, whereas bermudagrass is only $8.75. Timothy Hay is the most expensive, typically costing at least $20 a bale.

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