(Satin Angora Red Doe, Photo:Tracy's Lovely Angoras)

How To Split A Bale Of Hay

Page Updated April 22 2007

Okay, this city boy is going to try and tell you how to split a bale of hay. I raise rabbits and we give them hay. Some rabbit sheds are very small and tight for space, so we only buy one bale at a time because we don't have room for more.

Buying the little 5 lb petstore bales of hay is incredibly expensive costing $8 to $15 dollars each!

I buy the regular 70-80 lb bale of hay. I pay between $10 and $16 dollars depending on what kind I buy.

The feed store loads it sideways (long way from left to right) into the back of the minivan for me. Minivans are great for all kind of rabbit related tasks. Pickup truck is the next best thing.

When I get home, I round up about six 55 gallon plastic garbage bags, and about 5 pencil sized sticks. I cut the baling twine. They don't use baling wire in Calif anymore.

I find that I can divide the bale into 6 equal parts that are easy to carry, about 12-15 lbs each. So starting in the middle, put a stick in the mid point of the bale to divide left and right. Working on the right hand side, picture (in your mind) that side as 3 equal parts. Use two sticks to mark the dividing lines, poking the sticks into the bale.

Do the same on the left half of the bale, using two more stick to mark the dividing lines into thirds.

Starting at one end where the stick marks a dividing line, start pulling the bale apart at the dividing line. Hay usually splits where you pull it. When that section is about halfway seperate, get a plastic bag and start to cover the one-sixth bale section with it.

When you can slide the bag over it, lift the bag and the bale section. You should be holding one sixth of a bale in a plastic bag. Set it off to one side. DO NOT CLOSE OR TIE OFF THE OPEN END!

Start on the next section, pulling the section loose and sliding a bag over it. Keep going until all six sections are in bags. You can throw those dividing sticks back where you found them.

Now you have six bags of hay next to your minivan. I haven't had to lift the whole bale and I now have smaller sized bales to handle. If your rabbitry is small and tight for space, it's difficult to manhandle an 80 bale in there. And it can be tough to make room to store it. With the hay in bags, you can stash two bags on this shelf and four bags over there. Or you can split the bale with a friend.

Maybe you can get your friend to clean out the minivan for you. That hay on floorboards and on the pavement can go in the compost heap. I don't like to feed hay to the rabbits if its been swept up off the floor. Or you can use it as mulch, if you don't mind having a small crop of hay next spring.

Or you can plan ahead and put a tarp down before you load the hay. Then cleaning the van is a snap. You can lift out the tarp with any thing that dropped off the bale. You can even put the loose hay in your hay storage area.

Try to put the hay on the shelf horizontally, with the open end of the bag facing out. KEEP THE OPEN END OF THE BAG OPEN to allow moisture out of the bag so you don't create problems with mold in your hay due to storage.

We also find that one sixth bale fits into one plastic 55 gallon trash barrel. We put the hay into the trash barrel and with the trash barrel holding the hay, we can go down the aisle giving hay as we go. Not as messy as trying to carry hay from one spot to all the cages.

Don't put a lid on the hay barrel, let it breathe.

I hope this info is helpful to some of you other city people out there.

Have a good day!
Franco Rios

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