Here at Feed Central, we facilitate the sale and transport of hay from grower to consumer from farms across Australia. We deal with hay stored in a wide variety of ways, exposed to a range of conditions. Most buyers prefer shedded hay, as it maintains quality and nutritional value for the longest period.
Shedded hay offers several advantages over traditional field-stored hay. By protecting the hay from the elements like rain, sun exposure, and moisture, shedded hay ensures better quality and longevity.
What is Shedded Hay?
When hay is referred to as shedded, it means that it has been stored in a shed from the time it was baled, and is a common option for storing hay for as long as several years. However, it’s rare for people to hold onto hay for longer than a year; in most cases, the hay will either be used for livestock or sold during that time period.
The time of year at which most hay is harvested in Australia (September to November) is long before the sparse winter months when livestock eat the most hay (June to August) so storage is a key part of keeping animals fed and healthy all year round. It’s important to note that shedded hay doesn’t necessarily indicate its quality. When deciding on the right shedded hay for your feed needs, it’s advisable to check the Feed Quality Certificate, just as with all hay.
Shedded hay should not be confused with shredded hay. Shredded hay refers to chopped forage that undergoes high-temperature drying and is cut into smaller, manageable lengths. This process preserves the nutrients of the pasture while facilitating easier chewing and digestion for horses. The hay is cut to an ideal length of 5-8 centimetres, promoting optimal digestion.
The key benefits of shedded hay include:
- Superior Quality: Shedded hay is less prone to weather-related damage, such as mould, mildew, and bleaching. It retains its vibrant colour, fresh aroma, and palatability.
- Consistent Nutritional Content: With controlled storage conditions, shedded hay maintains its nutrient profile, including protein, energy, and mineral content. This consistency enables accurate feeding and ensures animals’ nutritional needs are met.
- Reduced Waste: Shedded hay prevents spoilage, minimising waste and providing a more cost-effective feeding option. It allows for the storage of larger quantities of hay without the risk of degradation.
- Convenience: Retrieving shedded hay from the storage facility is more convenient. This enhances feeding and inventory management efficiency, especially during periods of high demand or adverse weather conditions.
- Year-Round Availability: Shedded hay ensures a year-round supply, even during seasons when field-grown hay may be scarce or of lower quality due to weather conditions. It provides a reliable source of high-quality forage throughout the year, as livestock require feed every day.
Other Hay Storage Methods
Although our buyer’s preference is usually for shedded hay due to its longevity, there are a variety of ways hay may be stored, depending on the location, seasonal conditions, amount of hay, and livestock needs. Other options for storing hay include:
- Baled still in Paddock: Hay bales left in the field where they were baled. This method is convenient for short-term storage but can lead to faster deterioration due to exposure to weather elements.
- Bales Wrapped (Plastic) Individual: Individual hay bales wrapped in plastic provide extended quality preservation. The plastic wrapping helps protect the hay from moisture and maintains its nutritional value for a longer period.
- Paddock Stacked (Hay Caps): Hay bales are stacked in the field and covered with specialised hay caps. Hay caps provide protection from rain and other weather elements, reducing the risk of deterioration and maintaining hay quality.
- Paddock Stacked (No Covers): Hay bales stacked in the field without additional covers. While this method is convenient, it leaves the hay exposed to weather elements, making it more susceptible to degradation and nutrient loss.
- Paddock Stacked (Tarped): Hay bales stacked in the field and covered with tarps or other protective covers. Tarping provides some level of protection against rain and sun exposure, helping to preserve the quality of the hay.
- Pit: A sunken storage area in the ground for storing hay. Pits offer protection from weather elements and can provide cool storage conditions, contributing to better preservation.
- Sausage: Long tubular bags used for storing hay. Sausage storage allows for compact and efficient storage of hay, protecting it from moisture and maintaining its quality.
- Shedded: Hay is stored inside a shed for protection from the elements. Shed storage offers superior protection from weather conditions, resulting in better preservation and maintaining the quality of the hay.
- Warehouse: A larger commercial storage facility for hay, usually for long-term storage. Warehouses provide controlled environments with regulated temperature and humidity, ensuring optimal preservation and longer shelf life.
- Storage Pad: A designated area or pad for storing hay in bulk, also used for long-term storage. Storage pads offer space for larger quantities of hay and can be customised with covers or shelters for added protection.
- Bunker: An enclosed, usually concrete, structure used for storing large quantities of hay. Bunkers offer excellent protection against weather elements and can accommodate a significant amount of hay.
At Feed Central, all hay listed on our website undergoes rigorous quality control processes to ensure listing information matches the quality of the hay you buy. Hay stored out of the elements is less likely to deteriorate and won’t require regular re-testing if stored for long periods.
Each lot carries a Feed Central Quality Certificate, guaranteeing its nutritional value and visual appeal based on a visual grade ranging from FCAA for premium hay to FCC for poorer quality, discoloured, and less nutritious hay.
When you need premium hay with superior quality and consistent nutritional content, consider shedded hay for your livestock. Its benefits make it an excellent choice for livestock, horses, and other animals that rely on high-quality forage.