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

You are watching: How heavy is a square bale of hay


Bale weight and nutrient content are vital factors in determining the value of a offered bale. Bale weight affects not only the lot of hay gift bought or sold, but likewise the expense of feeding and transporting it. Come accurately to compare the worth of different bales—including their transportation and also feeding costs—you will require to understand their size, weight, and density.

Bale size and weight

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

Table 1 shows the impact that bale size has actually on bale weight by utilizing a 5′ × 5′ bale the weighs 1,100 pounds (lb) because that comparison; this bale would have actually a thickness of 11.21 cubic feet (ft3 ). If all the bales in the table had the very same density, those of differing sizes would variety in load from 563 to 1,584 pounds.

Table 1 additionally illustrates the percentage difference among various size of bales:

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

Given continuous quality, we can likewise compare the family member value of miscellaneous bale sizes. If a 5′ × 5′ bale to be worth $50, then a 4′ × 4′ bale would be worth only $25.60, vice versa, a 5′ × 6′ bale would certainly be worth $72.

The last pillar in Table 1 reflects what the price per ton would be, if all bales—regardless that weight— to be priced at $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 price $177.56/ton.


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


Bale density

Density as affected by tightness the wrap, or bale compression, can vary considerably, depending on operator preference and also the tools being used. Most balers have actually a selection of setups that enable the operator to rise or decrease wrap tightness and also bale compression. Also, part balers can compress much more tightly than have the right to standard equipment; these types of balers are usually used because that baling low-density forages choose wheat straw.


Another variable affecting bale thickness is that some forages are naturally denser than others. Both tree maturity and also forage varieties influence forage density. As plants mature, the neutral laundry detergent fiber (NDF) content usually increases, which reduces density.

Consequently, hay created from young, immature bermudagrass is denser 보다 hay indigenous mature bermudagrass. Differences in forage varieties also affect density; because that example, alfalfa is commonly denser than bermudagrass, and also bermudagrass is denser 보다 wheat straw.

The examples in Tables 1 and 2 i think a continuous density. Table 3 shows how density can influence bale weight as soon as comparing bales of same size.

Bale transportation and also feeding

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

Table 4 compare the number of trips per acre required to move assorted size bales if 11,000 pounds the forage is developed per acre throughout the hay season. If only two bales can be relocated at a time, it will take double as much time and also money to relocate bales that weigh 563 pounds than 1,100-pound bales.

Bale weight additionally affects how often hay have to be fed. Table 5 list the number of bales that would be fed every week if every cow consumes 32.5 pounds per day and also there are 30 cows come feed. It would certainly be more economical to feeding 6 bales than 14 bales every week.

Other factors that must be evaluated space the expense of moving purchased or elevated hay and also the influence of bale size, weight, and shape ~ above this cost. Think about the variety of bales and also the variety of tons of hay that will certainly fit top top a 53-foot semi trailer without exceeding conventional width and also height regulations. Table 6 illustrates the it is much more economical to transport large “square” bales than round bales because much more tons of hay have the right to be hauled per load. If transportation expenses are $3.00 per invited mile, it would cost $17.94 per ton of hay to transfer 38 round bales because that 100 miles, contrasted to only $13.77 per ton to transfer 54 huge “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 get a load both before and also after the hay is invited or unloaded. Numerous of these areas will charge only a small fee to get an “empty” load (such as a semi or truck and trailer without hay) and a “loaded” weight (a semi or truck and also trailer with hay); the fee is generally less than $10 for both weights.

To identify the typical bale weight, division the full weight the the hay by the number of bales on that load. This same procedure could also be used for hay produced on her property.

See more: What Does I Like Ike Mean - Why Does Indiana Jones Say I Like Ike


An alternative option is to borrow a collection of portable fill cells and also place a communication on height of the pack cells (many world have portable pack cells for weighing cattle). Individually ar a few bales top top the communication to recognize the median bale weight for each cutting the hay.

Another basic option if you have a hay spike on your feed truck is to protect against by the neighborhood feed or fertilizer dealer and have the bale sweet there. Weighing one bale is not as exact as weighing every one of them or at the very least several bales from every cutting, but it is much better than not discovering what any of the bales weigh. To gain a good estimate the weight, pick a bale that appears representative the the cutting, or take numerous by in ~ the start of the feeding period.

In general, hay bales indigenous the same field using the same baler will be similar in density and weight. Therefore, as soon as buying hay it might not be important to weigh all of the hay to get an accurate assessment that the average weight per bale. Weighing one load consisting of numerous bales must be sufficient to identify the mean for the field.



However, hay from various fields or varieties must be sweet separately, also if baled v the exact same baler and the same tension setup on the baler.

Although no addressed in this paper, various other important components that need to be thought about when to buy or offering hay incorporate nutrient contents (such together TDN and percent crude oil protein), forage problem (free that mold, foreign objects, and weeds), forage species, the potential existence of toxicity compounds (such as nitrates), and also palatability.

In enhancement to bale weight, make certain you additionally consider storage and feeding losses and the expense per unit of energy and protein native each fill or cutting of hay to help minimize cattle feeding costs.


Download a printer-friendly version of this publication: Bale Weight: How important is it?