There is a lot of confusion about bale sizes amongst horse owners. In this blog post, we will try to explain some of the common bales sizes and formats.

Square Bale Sizes

Square bales can be broadly broken down into two groups – those that have 6 strings around them, and those with 4 strings. There are some bales with 5 strings, but these generally have the same bale dimensions as 6 string bales.

6 String Bales

 

 

The most common 6 string bale sizes in the UK are:

  • 120 x 70 (aka ‘Quadrant’)
  • 120 x 90
  • 120 x 120 (aka ‘Hesston’)

80 x 120 bales were made by some Krone and John Deere balers from the mid 90’s to early 2000’s.

120 x 120 ‘Hesstons’ are only suitable for hay and straw – they cannot be wrapped.

120 x 90 bales are the largest bale size that can be wrapped as haylage or silage.

4 String Bales

4-string

 

The most common 4 string bale sizes in the UK are:

  • 80 x 50
  • 80 x 70 (aka ‘Quadrant’)
  • 80 x 90 (aka ‘Mini Hesston’)

80 x 80 bales were made by some Krone and John Deere balers from the mid 90’s to early 2000’s.

80 x 50 bales are normally wrapped in pairs, making a package 80cm wide and 100cm high.

Round Bales

 

round

 

Round bales are available in widths from 120cm (4 foot) to 150cm (5 foot) and in diameters from 90cm (3 foot) to 150cm (5 foot).

The larger diameter bales contain considerably more material than the smaller ones. The table below illustrates this.

Diameter Width Volume
1.2m 0.9m 0.76m
1.2m 1.2m 1.36m
1.2m 1.5m 2.12m
1.5m 1.2m 1.77m
1.5m 1.5m 2.65m

Any size round bale can be wrapped, but typically in the UK wrapped round bales are the 1.2 x 1.2 variant.

 

Best size bale for equestrian yards

Square bales are generally preferred to round bales because they are much easier to handle and feed out due to them coming apart in flakes. This makes filling haynets much easier as well as making it possible to give a horse approximately the same amount of forage each feeding.

4 string bales are much easier to handle than 6 string bales because the flakes are square in profile rather than rectangular. 6 string flakes have a tendency to fall apart when picked up. 4 string flakes are also much more manageable and can be comfortably carried under an arm.

80 x 50 4 string bales are the smallest that are commonly available, but unfortunately it is difficult to wrap them well, so they tend to be packaged as pairs. This means that once you open the bale, you have to get through quite a lot of product before it ‘goes off’. They are also fairly uncommon and difficult to get hold of.

80 x 90 (‘Mini Hesston’) bales are commonly available, but they are quite large, and even a 4 foot bale would take a single horse at least 2 weeks to get through. They are also dangerous to handle if stacked 3 high, and have a tendency to want to fall over as they are higher than they are wide.

Therefore we are left with the 80 x 70 bale size. Although relatively uncommon because farmers prefer a larger bale, this is almost the perfect size bale for equestrian yards. The flakes are easy to handle and break away easily from the rest of the bale. They are wider than they are high, so they are safe to stack 3 high on a pallet for easy transport and safe storage. If bales 1.2m long, they weigh approx 225 – 250kg and can just about be manhandled with a couple of people or a heavy duty sack truck. A horse can get through a bale in about 10 days before it goes off.

At Swanmoor Haylage, we have standardised on the 80 x 70cm x 120cm long bale because we believe it is the best all round size when everything is taken into account.

Bale Length

Square bales can be made at any length the operator desires, from 2 foot long to 10 foot plus long!

  • Most straw is baled 2.4m (8 foot) long, so as it can safely sit across the bed of a lorry on UK roads.
  • Hay is typically baled 2.4m (8 foot) long as well, but sometimes it may be done at 6 foot if a smaller package is preferred.
  • Haylage and Silage is typically baled at about 5 foot long as this is the max length that will fit in the wrapping machines.
  • Most professional haylage suppliers producing haylage destined for horses are baling a 4 foot (1.2m) long bale because this can fit on an pallet two across a lorry bed for delivery.

A longer bale is marginally cheaper to wrap, but remember, if you get a damaged bale where the seal is punctured, it is also a lot of material to throw away!