Limit the risk of hay shed fires

Hay bales

The harvesting of hay can set a farmer up with reserve livestock food for the year, so it is devastating to see weeks of work turn to ash when events like hay shed fires can be avoided.

Hay shed fires can be financially crippling for primary producers. Not only does a farmer lose their stock food stores for a season, but often the fire destroys farming infrastructure and equipment.

Hay shed fires are commonly caused by bacterial reactions within bales with high moisture contents. The bacterial growth creates a chain reaction which results in a build-up of heat. The heat rises to a temperature that creates smouldering and a flame.

Hay shed fire

Hay shed ignitions can be avoided by:

  • actively monitoring the temperature of stored hay after it is stored.
  • keeping an eye out for rises in temperature within bales, and signs of bacterial reactions like condensation of the rooves of sheds or what appears to be steam rising from bales.
  • immediately removing hot bales from the larger piles at the first sign of any of these reactions (and don’t forget to call the CFS as well).

Damages from hay shed fires can often be measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Monitoring hay sheds for heat build-up can help farmers avoid large losses and save volunteer firefighters days of monitoring burning sheds after the hay has ignited.