6 Things to Consider When Building a Hay Shed to Avoid Errors

Hay is a precious commodity that must be stored with great care. The challenge comes when you don’t have enough space to store all your hay bales. In such a situation, a hay shed becomes vital. However, what should you consider to ensure your hay shed meets all conditions for appropriate hay storage? Keep reading to learn about things to consider when building a hay shed.

The following are the things to consider when building a hay shed:

  • The weather in your locality
  • Ventilation
  • Location
  • Hay size and shape
  • Approval from Authorities

In this article, I’ll discuss the above factors to consider when building a hey shed to help you avoid errors. I understand that making an error when building a hay shed can be expensive as you may have to demolish the shed and start afresh. So keep reading to learn how to build a hay shed correctly.

Factors to Consider When Building a Hay Shed

The following are the critical factor you should consider before and when building a hay shed:

The Weather in Your Locality

Weather elements are a vital consideration when building a hay shed. By looking at the weather, you’ll be able to determine the appropriate:

  • Roofing
  • Ventilation
  • Flooring

Your concern is to build a hay shed that can withstand weather extremities in the area.

It’s worth noting that moisture and excessively dry conditions are the main weather elements that affect hay storage. Hay becomes moldy when stored in excessive moisture.

On the other hand, storing hay in dry conditions makes it susceptible to fires.

So, how should you look at weather as a factor when building your hay shed? The following guide will help you:

Roofing the Hay Shed

The type of roof for your hay shed should be determined by whether you live in an area with heavy rainfall, snow, or excessive sun.

If you live in an area that experiences a lot of snowfall, you must ensure that your hay shed can support the weight of the snow by using a metal roof.

On the other hand, if you experience heavy rainfall, your roof should be able to channel water away from the hay shed.

Excessive sun can also damage stored hay. So, if you live in such an area, ensure that your hay shed is shaded to protect the hay from direct sunlight.

Also Read: How to Store Hay Without a Barn

Flooring the Hay Shed

The weather will help you determine the amount of ground moisture. If you live in an area with high humidity, your hay shed floor should be able to resist moisture. Keeping your hay on a bare floor exposes it to moisture, leading to molding.

You can do the following:

  • Elevate the hay shed floor several inches from the ground using wooden pallets
  • Constructing a concrete floor

However, if you live in a dry area with less humidity, you can just lay tarps in the hay shed and place your hay on top.

It’s worth noting that weathering affects hay quality by up to 12 inches deep if not stored properly.


Proper ventilation in a hay shed is essential as it helps regulate the temperature and moisture levels. The best way to achieve proper ventilation in a hay shed is by ensuring at least one opening for every two hay bales.

The size of the opening should also be considered as small openings will not provide enough ventilation. At the same time, large openings will allow too much airflow, which can cause the hay to dry out and become susceptible to fires.

Another way to provide efficient ventilation in the hay shed is by fitting eaves with openings. The eaves are the horizontal overhanging edges of a roof.

By doing this, you’ll be able to regulate the airflow into the hay shed and protect stored hay from rotting or losing its nutritional value. You want to maintain forage quality so your animals get the value of the feed.


The location of your hay shed is also a key consideration as it will determine:

  • Ease of access
  • The type of foundation
  • The size of the shed

Ease of Access

Ease of access is crucial as you’ll need to be able to move hay in and out of the shed with ease. If the shed is too far from your property, moving hay in and out will be a hassle.

On the other hand, if the shed is too close to your property, it’ll be a fire hazard. The ideal location for a hay shed is at least 30 feet away from your property.

The Type of Foundation

The location of the hay shed affects the foundation in terms of drainage. If the shed is on sloped land, you’ll need to construct a foundation that can support the weight of the hay and resist moisture.

A concrete slab with proper drainage is a good foundation for a hay shed. If the shed is on level land, you can use wooden pallets to elevate the shed’s floor.

The Size of the Hay Shed

Building a hay shed in a congested location will limit its size. You can only build a small hay shed to fit the available space. On the other hand, if you have enough space in your compound, you can build a larger hay shed that can accommodate your farm machinery like a crane or tractor.

Hay Size and Shape

Hay bales come in three basic shapes:

  • Square
  • Round
  • Rectangular bales

The most common type of hay bale is the square bale which is easy to stack and transport. Square bales are also more resistant to weathering as they shed water better than round bales.

On the contrary, round bales are more efficient in feeding livestock as animals can’t easily scatter them.

Round hay bales require more storage space than square bales. This is because they can’t be stacked as high as square bales. Thus, you’ll need a larger hay shed for round bale storage.

The size of your bales should also guide you on the storage capacity of the hay shed. Smaller hay bales will require a smaller shed than larger ones.

The table below shows the common hay sizes and their weights:

Bale ShapeBale SizeWeight (as fed, t)Dry matter (%)Dry Weight (t DM)
Round4 × 40.25850.21
Round5 × 40.35850.30
Round5 × 60.50850.43
Square8 × 3 × 30.30850.26
Square8 × 4 × 30.60850.51
Square8 × 4 × 40.75850.64
Small Squares0.025850.02
Hay bale sizes and weights

The weight and size of the hay bale will determine the number of animals it can feed. For example, a large hay bale can feed up to four cows, while a small hay bale can only feed one cow.

Your livestock will also determine the size of hay bales you need. If you have horses, you’ll need larger hay bales as they eat more than cattle.

Loading and Unloading the Hay

In most cases, hay is delivered by trucks. Thus, you need a loading and unloading area that’s big enough to accommodate the delivery vehicle around your new shed.

The loading and unloading area should also be close to the hay shed for easy access. If the shed is on sloped land, you can construct a ramp from the loading area to the shed.

You don’t want to start struggling with getting hay into the shed after delivery. If possible, the shed can be located close to your gate.

Approval from Authorities

The final thing you’ll need to consider when building a hay barn is whether council consent is required. This is because hay sheds are considered farm structures.

If consent is necessary, you’ll need to submit a development application to your local council and get approval before you can start building the shed.

The best way to ascertain whether you need consent is by checking your local government’s website. You can use these links for New South Wales and Queensland.

The application process can be tedious, but it’s worth it in the end as you’ll avoid getting fined for illegal construction.

Wrapping It Up

Building a new hay shed is a great way to protect your hay from the elements. The shed must be built both for convenience and safety. The essential factor to remember is that a hay shed must protect your hay from moisture and direct sun while making it easy for you to access.