How Quick the Flames Come – Protect Hay from Fire

Fire consumed a tractor trailer fire hauling straw in Missouri last week—one more reminder to keep hay equipment in good condition. Short supplies of hay, forage and crops mean every bale is valuable. ( Sara Brown )

The word fire can strike fear for farmers and ranchers. Whether it’s a large outbreaks of wildfires, in a barn, or just a brush pile—fire precaution can’t be stressed on the farm enough.

This past week, the driver of a tractor-trailer hauling straw bales pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot in Mexico, Mo., after hearing a “pop” from his vehicle. Upon inspecting his truck, he saw a fire near the driver’s side rear wheels of the tractor unit. The fire quickly spread to the load of straw he’d been hauling out of state, and igniting the fuel tank. Local crews responded to the scene, removing the straw from the load and extinguishing the fire. No injuries were reported.

Photo: Sara Brown



The scene, however, is heartbreaking for farmers to watch. After several years of drought, and then wet, cool spring growing conditions this year, every load of hay and straw is critically important to livestock farmers.

In the quick race to put up forage this year, don’t forget to follow safety procedures to prevent a fire from destroying your forage resources. Here’s quick review of our latest coverage on hay production this year:

Chop Crappy Hay Finer

With the wet spring and delayed forage harvest, many farmers are being forced to put up hay that is less than ideal. This more fibrous forage can result in lower dry matter intake, lower digestibility, more chewing time and lower production. MORE

Oregon Farmers Not Liable While Fighting Wildfires

Oregon farmers will not be held liable for using tractors and plows to cut firebreaks around homes and communities during while fighting wildfires in the state, thanks to a new law passed by the Oregon Legislature. The bill encourages bystanders to assist people in emergencies without worry about being sued if something goes wrong. The law was inspired by last year’s Substation fire that destroyed 78,425 acres of dry wheat fields and grasslands. MORE

Hay Season is Coming Soon, Refresh Your Production Strategy

If you are not already a hay-making pro, watch these two “Beef Tips” videos from Purdue Extension to help increase the quality and quantity of their forage crops.

Nebraska Receives Hay Donations From People Around the U.S.

Instead of spending spring break catching up on sleep or spending time with friends, 17-year-old Kylie Bos is spending it with her father, Jamie Bos, hauling haul hay to various parts of flood-devastated areas of Nebraska. MORE

Understanding Wet Hay

Frequent spring rains caught several cuttings before they were able to be baled this spring. Extra moisture means extra heat inside the bale or hay stack. Monitor bale temperatures to prevent combustion and fire. Take special note of the chart listing the risks different bale temperatures present. MORE

Baling Wet Hay Becomes Hot News

Even if damp bales don't go up in flames, the nutrient quality can be cooked out of hay. Heat destroys carbohydrates and makes proteins indigestible to livestock. MORE

Producers Worry About Lack Of Feed and Bedding Come Fall

With delays in planting this year, livestock producers and dairymen are concerned there isn’t enough corn planted or alfalfa hay cut for feed and bedding come fall. MORE



Is Your Livestock Barn At Risk For A Fire? Here’s A Safety Checklist

It seems there have been more livestock barn fires in 2018 than years prior, according to coverage on and sister publications Farm Journal’s PORKDrovers and Dairy Herd Management.  While wildfires are nearly impossible to prepare for, stationary livestock barns can be modified to lower the risk of fire. Here's how.


When a Fire Occurs

In the event of a fire, or even when hay is smoldering, contact the fire department immediately. Your next action step and main priority should be to protect human life.

Before taking any action to fight a fire, consider other valuable actions you can take to address the situation prior to the arrival of fire fighters, including the following:

  • Account for all personnel on your farm or ranch operation.
  • Check the area for flammable products. If any are present, leave the area and tell firefighters upon their arrival.
  • Determine whether electricity needs to be turned off in buildings.
  • If there are livestock inside a building that has a fire, consider personal safety before relocating livestock.
  • Remove any extra vehicles or machinery from the area to clear space for firefighters.
  • Stage bale-moving machinery out of the immediate fire area, but have it available to help move bales, as directed by fire fighters.

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