What Is a Flake of Hay? How Many Flakes in a Bale of Hay?

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What is a flake of hay? People new to the equine world often ask this question because, generally, the concept of horses eating hay is well understood, but the details associated with hay farming are not. But fret not, a flake of hay is not rocket science at all – it will take you no more than five minutes to know and comprehend all about flake of hay. Just continue reading. 

In this blog, we are going to discuss all flakes of hay. What’s a flake of hay? How many flakes are in a bale of hay? How much does a flake of hay weigh? And how much is a flake of hay? Just continue reading, and you will know all about flakes of hay, which makes an integral part of horse diet.

Let’s gallop into it.

What Is a Flake of Hay?

Flake is easy to ‘flake off’ component of any rectangular (or square) hay bale – a large bundle of hay compactly packed for shipping or storage. In simple words, flakes of hay are the almost equally-sized slices of hay in bales of hay. Equine enthusiasts would get it easily; however, if you are a novice, watch the video below to grasp and visualize the concept better:

How Many Flakes in a Bale of Hay?

Although the number of flakes per bale depends entirely on the size of the bale, typically, there are about 12 to 16 flakes in a hay bale. In addition to the size of the bale, its weight also determines the number of flakes in it. For instance, a three-stringed, 136 pounds bale contains about 17 flakes. Similarly, a two-stringed, 80 pounds bale has about 16 flakes.

Hence, one can easily estimate the number of flakes of hay in a bale by its weight and the number of strings. Doing so makes sure that their horses get a sufficient amount of food.

How Are Hay Flakes Made?

A flake of hay is formed through the baling process using dried legumes or grass, also called hay, as the basic and only ingredient. It is a cut, dried, and stored grass used as animal fodder.

Baling is mostly done with the help of machines – called hay balers – though it can also be done manually. The whole process is divided into the following steps:

  • The cut hay is picked by the baler and placed in the baling chamber.
  • In the baling chamber, pressure is applied on the hay cut on one end.
  • The pressure is then released, and the process starts again. It keeps repeating until the bale reaches its full size.
  • The bale thus formed is tied with wire to hold the material together, which tends to fall apart in the shape of flakes as soon as the wire is broken.

Are All Flakes of Hay Equal?

No. All flakes of hay are not equal because there is no standard size of flakes, and the amount of hay used and the intensity of pressure applied during the baling process also matter. Resultantly, the flake size may differ from bale to bale or even within a bale.

Flakes are usually of large size when a greater amount of hay is, and lesser pressure is applied. However, if the amount of hay and pressure both are large, the hay flake might not be large but dense.

How Thick Is a Flake of Hay?

Like in the case of the number of flakes per bale, the thickness of a bale also depends on the amount of hay used and the compression force applied during the baling process.

How Much Does a Flake of Hay Weigh?

The average flake of hay weight is about four to five pounds. But, again, it varies depending upon the amount of hay used. The average weight of flake also depends upon the grass being used. Where the flake of hay made from Bermudagrass would weigh around four to five pounds, the average weight of alfalfa would be five to six pounds.

How Many Flakes of Hay to Feed a Horse per Day?

Just like the weight carrying ability, how many flakes of hay a horse should have per day is also dependent on his own weight. Since horses need hay only 1.5 to 2% of their body weight, they should not be overfed with flakes. Based on this rule, large horses such as the Shire must not eat more than 50 pounds of hay in a day. In terms of flakes, it tallies up to five.

Nonetheless, please note that it is always better to feed your horse based on the weight of the hay and not on the number of flakes.

Besides the quantity, the quality of the flakes also matters. Horses should be fed good quality hay, an indication of which is bright green color, leafy and fine texture, and a fresh and pleasant aroma. Similarly, musty hay or those having dirt, dust, or another foreign object must be avoided at all costs to keep the health of your steed intact.

Did You Know?

Alfalfa hay has the highest protein content, i.e., between 15 and 21%, among all types of hay. For some horses, this can be more than their requirement; however, it is great for foals, mares, and growing horses.

Why Is Hay Bale Square?

The other and more common shape of a bale is round. However, this difference only exists due to the type of baling machine used. Furthermore, there is no difference in nutrition between both types, and the average weight is also equal, i.e., from 40 to 140 pounds.

How Much Is a Flake of Hay?

It depends upon the type of hay used in a bale and its weight. Nevertheless, the average cost of a bale can be estimated at $15. Considering one bale to have about 12 flakes, you can expect to pay about a dollar for each flake of hay.

You can get a better view from visiting Chewy shop here, where the actual prices of different types of horse hay are listed.

You can also find cheaper hay by visiting local pastures because most of the people split hay bales with neighbors either for free or they charge very little. However, make sure not to compromise on the quality.

Conclusion: What Is a Flake of Hay?

Flakes of hay are the almost equally sized slices of hay in a bale of hay. The bale of hay comes apart in small slices of compressed hay called flakes of hay. A bale of hay usually has around 12 to 16 flakes, with each flake weighing around 4 to 5 pounds.

A flake of hay is a part of a rectangular hay bale that is prepared through the baling process, i.e., cutting and compression of dried grass.


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