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3 Affordable Ways Of Storing Hay Even If You Live In The City

3 Affordable Ways Of Storing Hay Even If You Live In The CityHay bales are iconic of farming, but one of the limitations of keeping animals on a city lot is figuring out how to store them.  Whole hay bales are easy to stack  in the corner of a garage, shed, or coop, but once you open it up a hay bale or straw bale, it will be everywhere unless you have a plan.   We fortunately have an attached garage that has worked fabulously as a wood shed, rabbit barn, and hay bale storage area.   The kids and the cats seem to think that loose straw is a great toy, but the goats and rabbits really don’t appreciate previously used hay, and I prefer not to track it all into the house.  So what’s the best way of storing hay without a barn?

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3 Ways of Storing Hay Bales on a City Lot

My first hay storage idea was a re-purposed leaky wading pool to keep all the loose hay from spreading everywhere.  With a tarp on top it stayed clean, and I can carry out serving sizes in a five gallon bucket.  This works well until the kids decide to jump into the hay, and the cats still manage to find their way under the tarp.

A neighbor mentioned they purchased small bales of alfalfa for their rabbits, put it in garbage bags and stored it in the crawl space above the garage.  That got me to thinking about a new use for some large garbage bags we had leftover from some home improvement projects.  I don’t buy alfalfa because I don’t have a non-GMO source, so I use larger bales of orchard grass.   Heavy duty black contractor bags are just the right size for a bale of hay.

The straw bales are slightly larger than the hay bales and one bag doesn’t quite fit a whole bale.  I tend to split the straw up between some bags, but I recently upcycled an old garbage can as a more permanent solution.  I like this a lot better than the garbage bags because the can has a lid and it also is on wheels.

What’s the best way to store hay?

Anything that keeps your hay off the ground and out of the rain is going to be an excellent choice.  Using a plastic can was the easiest and cleanest method for storing hay I have found.  If you have the space for a large manger, make it big enough to store a full bale.  We made one big enough for the goats, and that was great.  I still preferred the can for the rabbits though!

How do you store hay and straw for your animals?  Do you have an official hay barn or does it have to share space?  Do you have little critters that like to play in it too?  Share in the comments!

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21 thoughts on “3 Affordable Ways Of Storing Hay Even If You Live In The City”

    • Thanks! Until I tried that we had hay EVERYWHERE. Since then I’ve started putting it in old feed bags and then stacking the feed bags in the pool and that works even better.

    • I’m in the suburbs, so have a garage, but I use a very large cardboard box to store a hay bale for my rabbit. I believe I have read that you want breathable storage, so a plastic bag or air tight trash can might not be good (in terms of concentrating moisture and perhaps letting mold grow). I put the hay bale in the cardboard box, close the top, then keep a folded up tarp on top to make sure dust from garage activities don’t get into the box. I keep the box off the floor to further protect it from moisture. I’ve keep hay bales in the box for as much as year (I probably should replace them more often just for freshness though). The hay bales cost nearly nothing, it just takes effort to drive out to a farm (found on craigslist) to buy one.

  1. I put a hay bale in the largest rubbermaidy type storage tub I could find, then cut and remove the twine. The locking lid keeps it clean and dry outside. If the bale is really large I stuff a few flakes in an empty feed bag and keep it in the garage. I also turned a feed bag into a tote for bringing hay to each rabbit hutch without spills.

  2. I completely wrap my hay in a tarp. This works okay. We also live in an older neighborhood and have stairs leading up to our house and backyard. Lol. Imagine trying to dolly a whole bale of hay up. Not easy. But it keeps the pig happy. 🙂

  3. Thank you for the interesting post.
    I live in a small house with minimum footage outside🙃
    I use hay and straw and keep it in a large wheelie bin ( I can’t reach the bottom without a rake).
    I transfer it to a pop up bin to feed the rabbits and guinea pigs:)

  4. Have small 4 by 8 she’d, installed shelving, used huge Rubbermaid containers that were on sale at Walmart , folks use to put Christmas decorations in….turn hay bales on end, so I can put 2 per container….my biggest issue is all the hay that the goats waste….made and bought 2 different mangers, but they still waste it….help..

  5. Heads up– as hay decomposes it gives off heat. Too much heat and it will spontaneously combust. This is a fairly common source of barn fires. This method may work fine for the small amount of hay you are talking about, but I certainly wouldn’t try it with more than a bale or two and I’d hesitate to stick it in a crawl space or attic.


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