There’s no doubt about it: owning a farm comes with a lot of responsibilities, including practicing fire prevention.
Many people that aren’t familiar with farming practices are surprised to find out that hay can be a huge fire hazard if it’s not put away correctly.
The key to preventing farm fires is to be aware of how much moisture is within your hay. If your hay has a moisture content of 20 % or more when it’s baled, you’ll need to adequately dry it out before it’s stacked.
Grass that is cut specifically for hay often contains bacteria that will produce oxygen and heat, but it needs water to continue to do so. If you start to store hay before the process of oxygen and heat production has stopped, the internal temperature of the hay could reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The rapid rise in temperature not only damages the quality of the hay but it also raises the temperature of the hay, creating good conditions for heat-loving thermophilic bacteria. The bacteria can eventually lead to the hay self-combusting, resulting in a fire.
The most important thing you can do to prevent this process from occurring is to bale the hay when it’s completely dry. If possible, wait until the afternoon to bale so that there’s less dew and less humidity. Once you’ve baled the hay, allow it to dry and stack it in smaller pieces.
It is also important to note that hay that gets wet once it is stored is still in danger of combustion. Make sure that your barn roof isn’t leaking and that stored hay is not getting wet. If you notice leaks, remove the hay and repair the barn immediately.
You should store baled hay in a separate building from your horses, just in case the excess heat did result in a fire. Don’t forget to do regular temperature checks and stack the hay in order to ensure adequate air circulation while in storage.
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