Hay is the third most valuable crop produced in Iowa, yet some producers lose as much as a fourth of their crop from improperly storing it. A new decision aid for comparing the costs of different hay storage options is now available.
This free electronic spreadsheet can compare up to eight alternatives at a time. While storing bales on bare ground with no cover is the least cost method, it also results in the most storage loss. Other methods compared include outdoor uncovered storage on gravel or pallets, outdoor covered storage, storage under a roof, and storage in a new or existing building.”
Some of the costs considered in the analysis are initial investments in storage structure, tarps, gravel and pallets are amortized over their individual expected lives. Annual costs such as repairs, insurance and property taxes are part of the spreadsheet, as are estimated labor costs for storing and feeding the hay. And, the estimated value of spoilage losses under each system is considered.
Users need to enter the expected volume of hay to be produced or needed, current hay prices and the size of bales. For each method, a total annual cost is calculated, which includes spoilage losses and the tons of hay available to feed or sell.
The Excel®-based spreadsheet “Hay Storage Cost Comparison” is available for viewing and download.