By: Jason Banta, Assistant Professor and also Extension Beef livestock Specialist, The Texas A&M System.

You are watching: Average weight of a hay bale


Bale weight and also nutrient content are an essential factors in identify the value of a provided bale. Bale weight affects not just the quantity of hay gift bought or sold, but additionally the price of feeding and transporting it. To accurately to compare the value of various bales—including their transportation and feeding costs—you will require to know their size, weight, and also density.

Bale size and weight

Round bales room generally defined by bale width × bale diameter, or bale height. For example, a 5′ × 6′ bale would certainly be 5 feet large and 6 feet in diameter and also a 4′ × 5′ bale would be 4 feet large and 5 feet in diameter.

Table 1 reflects the result that bale size has actually on bale load by using a 5′ × 5′ bale that weighs 1,100 pounds (lb) for comparison; this bale would have actually a thickness of 11.21 cubic feet (ft3 ). If all the bales in the table had actually the very same density, those of differing sizes would range in load from 563 come 1,584 pounds.

Table 1 likewise illustrates the percentage difference among various sizes of bales:

A 4′ × 4′ bale is only 51 percent the dimension of a 5′ × 5′ bale. A 5′ × 6′ bale is 44 percent bigger than a 5′ × 5′ bale.

Given constant quality, us can additionally compare the relative value of assorted bale sizes. If a 5′ × 5′ bale were worth $50, climate a 4′ × 4′ bale would certainly be worth only $25.60, vice versa, a 5′ × 6′ bale would certainly be precious $72.

The last tower in Table 1 reflects what the price every ton would be, if every bales—regardless of weight— to be priced in ~ $50 each. The 1,100-pound bales would price $90.91/ton ($50 ÷ 1,100 lb = $0.04545/lb; 2,000 lb × $0.04545 = $90.91/ton). In comparison, the 563-pound bales would cost $177.56/ton.


Large “square” bales additionally vary in size, weight, and relative value. They commonly come in three sizes: 3′ × 3′ × 8′, 3′ × 4′ × 8′, or 4′ × 4′ × 8′. Suspect the same thickness used for the round bale example, large “square” bales would selection from 807 come 1,435 pounds (Table 2).


Bale density

Density as affected by tightness of wrap, or bale compression, have the right to vary considerably, relying on operator preference and also the equipment being used. Most balers have actually a selection of settings that enable the operator to boost or decrease plunder tightness and also bale compression. Also, part balers can compress more tightly than deserve to standard equipment; these species of balers are generally used for baling low-density forages prefer wheat straw.


Another variable affecting bale thickness is that some forages are naturally denser than others. Both plant maturity and forage types influence forage density. As plants mature, the neutral laundry detergent fiber (NDF) content generally increases, i beg your pardon reduces density.

Consequently, hay produced from young, immature bermudagrass is denser than hay from mature bermudagrass. Distinctions in forage varieties also impact density; for example, alfalfa is commonly denser 보다 bermudagrass, and bermudagrass is denser than wheat straw.

The instances in Tables 1 and also 2 i think a consistent density. Table 3 reflects how density can impact bale weight once comparing bales of same size.

Bale transportation and feeding

Moving harvest forage native the field to a warehouse area is a time- and also fuel-consuming process, just as is moving the hay from warehouse to feeding area. The variety of trips and the lot of time the takes to relocate hay native the ar to a hay lot of or barn is straight related to bale size and also density.

Table 4 compares the variety of trips per acre compelled to move various size bales if 11,000 pounds that forage is produced per acre during the hay season. If only two bales can be relocated at a time, it will take twice as much time and also money to relocate bales that sweet 563 pounds than 1,100-pound bales.

Bale weight likewise affects how often hay should be fed. Table 5 lists the variety of bales that would be fed every week if each cow spend 32.5 pounds every day and there room 30 cows come feed. It would be much more economical to feeding 6 bales 보다 14 bales every week.

Other factors that need to be evaluated space the cost of moving purchased or increased hay and the influence of bale size, weight, and shape top top this cost. Think about the variety of bales and also the variety of tons the hay that will fit top top a 53-foot semi trailer there is no exceeding traditional width and height regulations. Table 6 illustrates that it is more economical come transport large “square” bales 보다 round bales because much more tons the hay can be hauled per load. If transportation costs are $3.00 per invited mile, it would cost $17.94 every ton that hay to transport 38 round bales because that 100 miles, compared to just $13.77 every ton to deliver 54 large “square” bales the were 3′ × 3′ × 8′.

To weigh the hay, have actually the driver protect against at a grain elevator, truck stop, or feeding coop v truck scales and also get a weight both before and after the hay is invited or unloaded. Plenty of of these areas will charge just a tiny fee to obtain an “empty” weight (such as a semi or truck and also trailer without hay) and a “loaded” load (a semi or truck and also trailer through hay); the fee is generally less 보다 $10 for both weights.

To determine the average bale weight, divide the complete weight the the hay through the number of bales on the load. This same procedure could likewise be supplied for hay developed on your property.

See more: The Combining Form Andr/O Means:, Definition Of Andro


An alternate option is come borrow a collection of portable load cells and place a platform on peak of the load cells (many human being have portable fill cells because that weighing cattle). Individually place a couple of bales on the platform to identify the average bale weight for each cutting that hay.

Another straightforward option if you have a hay spike on her feed van is to prevent by the local feed or fertilizer dealer and have the bale sweet there. Weighing one bale is not as precise as weighing every one of them or at least several bales from every cutting, yet it is far better than not knowing what any kind of of the bales weigh. To gain a an excellent estimate the weight, choose a bale that appears representative the the cutting, or take number of by at the start of the feeding period.

In general, hay bales from the same ar using the exact same baler will certainly be similar in density and weight. Therefore, when buying hay it might not be vital to weigh every one of the hay to get specific assessment of the typical weight every bale. Weighing one pack consisting of several bales should be adequate to recognize the typical for the field.



However, hay from various fields or varieties need to be sweet separately, even if baled with the same baler and also the very same tension setup on the baler.

Although not addressed in this paper, other important determinants that should be considered when buying or offering hay encompass nutrient contents (such as TDN and also percent rudely protein), forage problem (free that mold, international objects, and weeds), forage species, the potential presence of toxic compounds (such as nitrates), and palatability.

In enhancement to bale weight, make sure you also consider storage and also feeding losses and also the price per unit the energy and protein native each fill or cut of hay to aid minimize livestock feeding costs.


Download a printer-friendly variation of this publication: Bale Weight: How crucial is it?