Preventing Hay Fires

Here’s what to monitor in order to keep your hay supply and the structures it’s stored in safe.
Please login

No account yet? Register


preventing hay fires
Hay moisture concentration has a major effect on the microbial activity that can lead to hay fires. | Photo: iStock
Q.As several hay fires and the loss of barns and other property made the news recently, an inquiry came into the UK Ag Equine Programs office: What information is available about the prevention and control of hay fires? Can that information be made available publicly?

A.According to Ray Smith, PhD, professor and forage extension specialist at the University of Kentucky, and a publication he helped author while he was a faculty member at Virginia Tech University, hay moisture concentration has a major effect on the microbial activity that can lead to hay fires.

Smith said producers should cure hay to the proper moisture concentration prior to baling—a concentration of 20% or less for small rectangular bales and 18% or less for large or round bales. (Note, however, that experts caution that a moisture concentration greater than 16.5% in square bales puts those bales at a greater risk of mold during storage).

Many of the hay fires that occur happen within six weeks of baling, when hay spontaneously combusts. Kentucky and several states in the Southeast had a wetter-than-average late spring, which affected many farmers’ hay baling schedules as well as the quality of some of the hay that was put up

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

How do you prevent gastric ulcers in horses? Please check all that apply.
161 votes · 378 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!