The Best Tarps for Covering Hay

With rising prices and changing weather, a good crop year can help ease stress and uncertainty, but if it gets wet, you could lose everything in just one storm. Just as it’s important to store your hay when it’s had time to properly dry in the sun, it’s also important to keep it dry with the right tarps. What are the best tarps for covering hay?

Tips for Storing Your Hay Correctly

Moisture in a roll of hay can be problematic in two ways. First, mold can grow and spread quickly between hay rolls, leading to the potential loss of an entire season’s crop. Second, if moisture gets in and the hay heats up, it can lead to hay fires. Combustion is more likely when a roll has 15% moisture or higher (20% or higher for bales) and the internal temperature of the hay reaches around 130 F. Keeping your hay dry is essential if you want to have hay for your animals all year.

If you have to store your hay outside, arrange the rolls or bales in an area with plenty of drainage. Try to get it off the ground using skids or boards. A mesh tarp over the skids or boards keeps rodents from burrowing into the hay bales or rolls. Stack the hay as much as you can. If it’s stacked you may lose the bales at the bottom if there are unexpected flooding rains, but that’s better than losing it all.

Try to keep it stacked in areas that get plenty of sunlight and run the rows from north to south to keep exposure to rain to a minimum. Leave several feet of space between rows to allow airflow to help keep humidity and moisture to a minimum.

Once you’ve met those recommendations, you want to use tarps to keep rain and snow off of your hay bales or rolls. Even if you wrap them in plastic first, the plastic can tear. You need to use tarps to ensure they stay dry.

You want to make sure tarps are anchored well, but you also want to consider weighing the tarps down on top to prevent them from lifting. Place boards over the top of your rows of hay. Once the tarp is over the boards, use cement blocks or sandbags to weigh down the tarps. Drape the rest of the tarp in a tent fashion down to the ground and use stakes to secure the bottom edge to the ground.

What if your hay is stored inside a barn? Would you need to bother with tarps? You still should consider it. It’s hard to know when a leak may appear in roofing. An extremely windy day could cause roofing materials to lift and lead to a leak. Do you want to lose your entire barn full of hay to an unexpected leak? If the top of the hay is protected from water, you won’t lose anything. Here are your options for hay tarps.

Fire Retardant Canvas Tarps Help With Fire Protection

Here’s a handy way to protect your hay and your farm from a fire. Use fire retardant canvas tarps to cover hay bales and hay rolls that have been wrapped in plastic. You don’t want to use fire retardant canvas tarps on unwrapped hay as the tarp does have a chemical coating that you don’t want getting on the food supply. If they’re already wrapped, fire retardant canvas tarps add a layer of protection that benefits your farm or ranch.

Fire retardant tarps have a chemical treatment that keeps them from combusting. They can’t avoid damage from a fire, but they will not add fuel to that fire. Think about what would happen if you tossed a damp towel over a fire. It’s still going to smolder, but it’s not immediately going to catch fire. That extra time can make a big difference in dealing with a smoldering bale or roll of hay. It can give you a few minutes to take action while waiting for fire crews to arrive.

At Chicago Canvas, fire retardant canvas tarps come in one color and are breathable, so you won’t find condensation building up. They come in sizes of up to 30’ x 30’. We also offer this canvas tarp material by the yard with a five-yard minimum purchase. Purchase quarter, half, or full rolls at a big savings.

Vinyl Tarps Keep Hay Dry and Handle Temperature Changes

Our pick for the best tarps for hay is a vinyl tarp. They resist mildew and are completely waterproof. The other reason we prefer this tarp is that it’s a very durable, thick (20 mils) tarp that resists abrasion and tearing. It’s also UV-treated and won’t wear down or crack when it’s in the sun for months.

Chicago Canvas sells 18-ounce vinyl tarps in sizes as large as 10’ x 20’. But we do offer custom quotes if you need custom sizes. With the grommets spaced about two feet apart, you can tie down the tarps to skids or boards for security.

The one thing to remember is that a vinyl tarp is going to keep air from getting through. It is great at preventing moisture, but it will trap heat. It’s a good practice to periodically check the internal temperature of your bales or rolls to check that they’re not heating up.

Iron Horse Is Great for Building Storage Tents or Canopies for Your Hay Crops

You could create a storage area on the side of a barn or shed. Use waterproof Iron Horse tarps to create canopies that protect your hay from rain and snow. Because Iron Horse is breathable, it allows air to keep flowing around the bales and rolls, which helps keep them cooler and lowers the risk of combustion.

Iron Horse could also be used to cover hay that’s in the open. You’ll want to make sure it’s large enough to cover everything. At Chicago Canvas, we sell Iron Horse in sizes up to 20’ x 20’, but we can help you get the right size for your needs through a custom quote. Contact us for your free quote to get the best tarp for your hay covering.

Once you’ve figured out what tarps are best for storing your hay, and you may decide a mix of options is best, let us know what sizes you need. If our pre-sized options are not suitable, we’re happy to work with you on custom sizing. Reach us online through live chat, email us, or give us a call to get expert help with your hay tarps.