How to Build a Cover to Protect Round Bales

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Round bales left in harsh weather without covers will spoil rapidly.
Round bales left in harsh weather without covers will spoil rapidly. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Buying hay in round bales is more cost-effective than buying small standard bales of hay, but many people do not have enough room to store them inside out of the weather. With a few simple tools and some ingenuity, you can make round bale covers to protect your hay from rain and snow.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavyweight tarp
  • 2-foot wooden dowel
  • Ground stakes
  • Hammer

Making a Cover for a Single Bale

Purchase a heavyweight tarp corresponding to the size of your round hay bale. Most hay bales are 4, 5 or 6 feet in diameter across the top. For a 4-foot round bale buy an 8-by-10 tarp. For a 5- or 6-foot round bale, buy a 10-by-10 tarp.

Purchase four ground stakes and one 2-foot wooden dowel rod.

Place the wooden dowel rod in the center of the round bale and sink it down approximately six inches.

Place the tarp over the top of the round hay bale.

Pull the sides of the tarp down and put one ground stake through each O-ring on all four corners of the tarp. Use your hammer to drive the stakes firmly into the ground.

Making a Cover for Multiple Hay Bales

Purchase a 25-foot tarp to cover multiple round hay bales that measure 5 feet in diameter across the top. The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences website states, "The tarp used to cover the stack should be about five feet wide for each foot of bale diameter."

Stack the round bales in a triangle formation with three round hay bales forming the base and a height of two bales.

Cover the top of the triangle of hay bales with the large tarp.

Place the ground stakes through the O-rings on the corners of the tarp. Use your hammer to drive the stakes firmly into the ground.

Tips & Warnings

  • The wood dowel placed in the center of the round hay bale will keep the tarp from trapping condensation, which causes the hay to mold.
  • Periodically check the hay tarps to be sure they are not damaged from wind or snow.
  • Stack round hay bales off the ground on wood pallets, railroad ties or a gravel base to discourage hay spoilage. Hay will mold from the ground up if placed directly on soil.
  • Always leave some open areas around the base of the round bales for ventilation.

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