Bale weight is critical in determining the price of hay and transportation costs. Since there are lots of factors that can affect the total weight of a hay bale, it’s important to understand the basics. This guide will help farmers make a practical buying decision based on the market dynamics as it relates to hay bales in Australia.
Hay bales vary in weight from 350kg for a 6x4x3 to 600kg for a 8x4x3. Weight is also very dependant upon plant variety, moisture content and how tightly packed they were when baling.
There are many different factors that affect the weight of Hay bales so we will take a closer look at each type below to more closely determine how much do hay bales weigh.
A bale of hay is either square or round. The square-shaped hay bale comes in small and large varieties; whereas, the round hay bale is mostly large.
How Much Does a 4×5 Bale Of Hay Weigh?
A 4×5 bale is a round bale and generally weighs between 270kg – 350kg depending on plant variety and moisture content.
The dimension of a round bale is bale width by bale diameter or bale height. Based on the definition, a 4×5 bale represents a bale size of 4 feet wide and 5 feet in diameter.
It is important to note that the weight of the 4×5 bale of hay also depends on the type of fodder. For instance, a 4×5 bale will generally weigh 270kgs. Similarly, a legume hay bale may weigh up to 350kg.
When buying hay, also keep in mind the moisture content. Under normal conditions, freshly baled hay carries 18% to 20% moisture. It means that you also pay for the moisture, which may not benefit the animal nutritionally. Typically, stabilized hay only carries 8% to 9% moisture by weight.
The density of the hay bale may also come into play. An average hay bale has a density of 9 lbs per cubic foot to 12 lbs per cubic foot. If the hay bale is compressed tightly, it will weigh more than a standard hay bale giving you more value for your money.
How Much Does A Large Bale Of Hay Weigh?
A large bale of hay can vary between 400kg – 650kg depending on plant variety and moisture content.
If you’re wondering how heavy are hay bales, remember that the size of the round bale can significantly impact its weight. As evident by the example, a one-foot increase in diameter can change the entire dynamics of weight. Here is a table that highlights the typical weight of a large bale of hay:
|Bale Type||Bale Size (L x W x H)||Bale Weight|
|Square or Rectangular||6′ x 4′ x 3′||350kg|
|Square or Rectangular||8′ x 3′ x 3′||400kg|
|Square or Rectangular||8′ x 4′ x 3′||600kg|
|Round (W x D)||4′ x 3′||100kg|
|Round (W x D)||4′ x 4′||250kg|
|Small squares||850mm x 500mm x 350mm||20kg|
|Baron Packs||21 x small square bales (Similar to 8′ x 4′ x 3′)||420kg|
How Much Do 3x3x8 Hay Bales Weigh?
A 3x3x8 hay bale weighs 272 to 408 kilograms. In some cases, a hay bale of this size can even weigh over 453.6 kilos and up to 499 kilos depending on moisture content and the plant species.
How Much Do Small Hay Bales Weigh?
A small square-shaped hay bale is usually 3 feet long and weighs between 18kg – 25kg. These are the most common small bales, which are seen lying in fields. Some small farmers prefer these bales due to their ease of handling.
Since there is no standard size, it is also common to come across heavier varieties such as 3-wire bales. These are relatively small but are longer than 3 feet. In most cases, such bales weigh between 30kg – 45kg.
For export purposes, these small hay bales are sometimes palletized for easy handling and transport. The size is compressed to fit transporter needs but the weight remains the same. This is also sometimes referred to as “Baron Packs” which are detailed in the table above.
Be sure to grab a testing kit from us to check the moisture levels of your hay.
Factors That Affect The Weight Of Hay Bales
The weight of hay bales generally differs depending on the type of forage. For instance, legume species such as Lucerne and clover are heavier due to the higher density of their content. On the other hand, grass species such as timothy, orchard grass, and ryegrass are lighter in weight.
If all the other factors are kept constant, legume species are 15% heavier than grass species. It means that two similar size bales of hay can differ in weight.
A small three-string bale of Lucerne weighing between 30kg – 45kg is much heavier than a similar size three-string bale of grass hay as the latter weighs between 18kg – 25kg.
Earlier, we touched on how much dry matter the average bale of hay contains. Dry matter refers to the weight of the hay after its water content has been fully evaporated. If moisture is allowed to remain though, the hay will weigh more.
How much heavier the hay depends on whether it’s stabilized or fresh baled hay. Stabilized hay undergoes the curing and drying processes and will thus contain less moisture, anywhere from 8 to 9 percent.
Fresh baled hay has not yet been dried, so it has more moisture than it does dry matter. The level of moisture may be as low as 18 percent up to 20 percent.
If you had a 45-kilo bale of hay, to use a simple example, that contained 20 percent moisture, then drying it out would reduce its weight to 36 kilos.
Yet as you dry out hay, the math won’t always be so easy. That’s why farmers and other professionals in the hay industry will use a mathematical formula for calculating the weight of their hay before it dries and after. The formula is as follows:
The weight of the hay before drying – the weight of the hay after drying/the weight of the hay before drying = the moisture content (in percent)
The last factor that can influence what your hay bales weigh is how dense the hay is. A standard bale might contain 4 kilos per cubic foot of weight due to density and up to 5 kilos. The more compressed the hay is (such as via a compressor or a related piece of equipment), the denser it is.
Most contractors now have access to High Density balers which increase compaction rates within the bales. This will mean your bales are going to be heavier although you will need less storage space in your shed as you will have fewer bales. See our article on how many bales per acre to gauge what this number will be.
Why Weight Matters?
Weight is an important factor to consider when buying or selling hay. Things like transportation costs and how you will store the hay will be impacted by weight constraints at the time.
The weight of hay bales also tells the end user the quality of the hay and how dense a bale is. Hay is generally bought and sold by the tonne, so weights can give you an indication of what you will get.
See our full guide on hay bale sizes.