how many square bales are in a round bale

How Many Square Bales of Hay Fit into a Round Bale of Hay?

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Equine Barn & Stall Supplies, Equine Feed

You ever stop and wonder about the little things in life? I was watching an old episode of “Little House on the Prairie” last night, where they were stacking hay in the barn, and it got me thinking. How many of those quaint little square bales of hay could fit into one of those giant round ones we often see today? I found myself in a rabbit hole of research that I want to share with you.

The Evolution of Hay Production

Once upon a time, back in my granddad’s era around the 50s and 60s, farming was all about square bales. These tidy little bricks of hay weighed around 50-60 pounds, perfect for a hard day’s work in the fields and stacking in the barn. I can almost see my granddad’s sweat-streaked face as he threw them into the hayloft. Those were simpler times, weren’t they?

Fast forward to the 70s, and you’d think we landed in a different universe. Here come the round balers, and it’s like David and Goliath! These round behemoths, some tipping the scales at more than 1000 pounds, transformed the farming landscape, all thanks to some clever tech innovations. Have you ever heard about the New Holland Roll-Belt Round Baler? It’s an absolute beast, churning out massive round bales like it’s nobody’s business!

New Holland Agriculture tractor

Image Source: New Holland Agriculture

So why the switch from square to round? Two reasons: 1) Bigger bales meant fewer sweaty hours in the fields and 2) These big guys can store more hay, so you need to handle fewer of them. All in all, a win-win situation, don’t you think?

Square Bales vs. Round Bales: A Comparative Analysis

Now, for some quick math. Picture a typical square bale, about 36″ x 18″ x 18″, weighing in at 50-60 pounds. Now, think about a round bale. This guy’s a full 6 feet in diameter and weighs over 1000 pounds! So, let’s ballpark this: roughly, you could fit about twenty square bales into a round one. That’s if everything else is equal, mind you, like the type of hay and how dry it is.

And speaking of the type of hay, this is important: the shape of the bale doesn’t say anything about how nutritious it is. Whether square or round, it’s all about what kind of hay you’re using and when it was harvested. I recently got this cool Portable Hay Moisture Meter It quickly checks the moisture of your hay and is great for determining if your hay could potentially be moldy.

Related: The Different Types of Hay for Horses

Factors to Consider in Hay Baling and Feeding

Did you know that the weight of a hay bale is super crucial? I mean, it’s like your own grocery list – you want to know you’re buying just enough food for your livestock, right? Plus, it kinda helps us farmers crunch the numbers for our hay production costs and usage. I’ve been using the a large scale like this one for weighing my square bales

Now here’s a bummer: not all the hay you bale ends up as dinner for your animals. Oh yeah, you heard it right – we got storage and feeding losses to consider. Square bales, those little guys are easier to store indoors, giving them a break from harsh weather. But, round bales, those big fellas, they’re usually out braving the elements and are more prone to spoilage. But hey, every cloud has a silver lining. A large Round Hay Bale Feeder has been my go-to when dealing with round bales. Less waste, more gain! You can also opt for a giga hay net like this one: Bloomoak Large Round Bale Hay Net.

So, square or round bales, that is the question. I used to lose sleep over this when I started. Round baler seems like a big dent in your wallet at first, but trust me, you make up for it in labor, time, and volume. There might be more wastage with round bales, but man, they are a blessing when you gotta feed a lot of hungry mouths.

Related: Does Hay Go Bad? Tips on Storing Hay to Ensure Its Freshness


We started with a simple, “How many square bales are in a round bale?” and here we are, exploring hay production evolution and the great square vs round bale debate. When I step back and think about it, our humble hay bale is a symbol of how tech advancements in agriculture have changed the game. It’s all about working smarter, not harder, right?

So, next time you’re passing a field full of round hay bales, take a moment. Think about the journey agriculture has taken, and the leaps it continues to make towards progress and sustainability. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be part of.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Emily Wilson</a>

Emily Wilson

I'm from the very heart of Kentucky, you know, the place folks think of when they talk about horse love. Had the luck of growing up smack dab in the middle of some of the most awesome horse spots you'd ever see. Can't imagine starting my day any other way than being in that homely barn, waist-deep in horse stuff. My routine? It's a bit of everything really - taking care of the horses, bonding with them, you name it.

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