Fire and Emergency is reminding people bailing hay this season to take their time, to make sure the job is done right.
National Wildfire Manager Tim Mitchell says currently conditions are challenging for hay making.
“The frequent rain and overcast conditions we are seeing in many areas of the country is making it difficult to get good drying between cutting and bailing of hay,” says Tim Mitchell.
“If hay is too moist when bailed there is heightened risk the haystack could spontaneously combust.
“With it looking likely that drought conditions may eventuate in some eastern areas of the country this summer losing precious feed could be disastrous.
“Heating is undesirable, not only because there is a danger of fire from spontaneous combustion, but because it also impairs or severely reduces the nutrient content in the hay.”
Tim Mitchell says it’s important that people take their time and not rush the process.
“Every year Fire and Emergency is called out to hay barn fires. This can often result in the loss of entire bales or even barns or sheds.
Tips for safe hay bailing:
– Don’t rush the process make sure the hay is dry before bailing
– If uncertain that the right drying will occur either delay cutting or consider making bailage.
– If you suspect the bailed hay might be a bit damp, avoid sacking as this will help reduce the heat build-up
– After bailing check the stack regularly 2-7 weeks for any heat build-up, signs of steam, mould, acid fumes
– Think about where you stack the hay, avoid putting all in the one place or next to an implement shed and hedge rows
– Finally, whenever using any equipment in a paddock always make sure it is in good working condition to avoid sparks, heat build-up which can start a fire.