As you put up hay this summer, keep in mind that storing it on the ground with no cover will cost upwards of 40% in spoilage.

“The data support the idea the losses occur both from moisture getting to the top and bottom of bales,” say researchers at the University of Tennessee. They conducted a trial there, weighing bales at harvest and storage in June and then again the next January when the bales were fed.

Here’s how various storage methods fared:

Method Percentage Loss
On ground, no cover 37%
On tires, no cover 29%
On ground, covered 29%
Net wrap on ground 19%
On tires, covered 8%
In barn 6%