What Is A Flake Of Hay And How Many Flakes Of Hay Are In A Bale?

If you’re intending to buy a horse, there is some research needed beforehand.

You need to know what these magnificent animals eat, what their living arrangements need to be like, their way of life, and much, much more. Owning a horse is not like owning any other animal. One way in which they differ is their eating habits.

It’s very important that you know all about what constitutes a horse’s regular diet, what snacks are healthy (and not) for them, what mineral supplements they can eat, and how much they should eat a day.

If you have started your research into a horse’s diet, you have probably come across “flakes of hay.” Horse owners purchase flakes of hay to feed their horses but what exactly does “flakes of hay” mean? 

Well, we are here to shed light on these mysterious flakes. Today, we will be discussing flakes of hay. We will find out what this means and how many flakes of hay are in a bale. It’s actually not as straightforward as you would have thought but we will clear it all up for you.

So, here’s a detailed answer on what a flake of hay is so you can get one step closer to owning your dream horse. 

So, What Is A Flake Of Hay? 

As you probably know by now, horses graze on pasture fields for the majority of their time. While they have evolved to do so, not all of us can afford such land for our horses to enjoy. This is when the next best option steps in – feeding bales of hay to horses.

A flake of hay is formed by a baler who pulls in the dried legume and/or grass from a row once it has completely dried. The actual term “flake” refers to a thin, easy-to-pull off part of a rectangular bale. 

However, one flake is not always equal to another flake. Just one flake from a light 40-pound bale of hay will be smaller than one from a heavy bale.

Bales are generally made in fields with approximately 10 to 12 clumps of hay. A flake is simply a slice of any bale of hay. Many people get confused with flakes of hay as they think of them as a unit of weight measurement. However, each bale is made with different layers. Each of these layers or sections is known as flakes.

The hay bale’s quality is typically determined by the field quality from which it was harvested and the cutting. There can be one, two, three, and sometimes four cuttings of hay a year and this can impact its quality every time. Also, the age of the crop can affect the flake’s quality, especially if it is alfalfa (a herb).

A good field will produce finely stemmed grass hay while alfalfa hay produces thinner stems and lots of leaves. 

How Many Flakes Of Hay Are In A Bale?

There is no definite answer to this question as this varies from one hay bale to the next. Generally speaking, a hay bale will contain an average of 12 flakes.

Moreover, the number of flakes in a bale depends on the size and weight of the bale. Therefore, not all bales would even have 12 flakes. They could have more or less.

Take a two-string bay as an example. This will have, on average, 16 flakes with an average weight of 5 pounds.

A three-string bale of hay usually has around 17 flakes with the bale weighing 8 pounds in total. Hay simply splits and then becomes flakes with each bale containing varying numbers of flakes at different weights. 

This is why it is important to inspect the weight and number of flakes per bale before you commit to buying it. If not, your horse may not get enough hay to feed him or her. 

When purchasing a 20 pounds bale of hay, you should find out how many flakes are in it. Simply ask the supplier. In this instance, it should hold 4 flakes because the average weight of a flake is around 5 pounds. 

How Do They Make A Flake Of Hay?

Now that you know what a flake of hay is, let’s look at the fascinating process of making one. These flakes are formed through a release or compression process. This occurs during the baling process. 

This baling process includes a few important yet simple steps:

  1. Cut – This is when the bale is cut into a row of hay. It is then left to dry before being wicked up and placed in a baling chamber.
  2. Compress – The row then gets compressed and cut on one side. The pressure is then released. These steps get repeated once another row of hay has been cut, then placed in the baling chamber, compressed, and finally released. This continues until the bale is at its full size. Streamers are then used to prevent the hay from going moldy. 
  3. Tie the hay with twine or a wire – The bale is finally tied with twine or wire to secure it in position. This is because hay has a tendency to fall apart into layers known as (you guessed it), “flakes.”
  4. Spit the rectangular hay bale out – The process is completed as the hay bale is tossed out and ready to store or be fed to animals. 

Is Each Flake Of Hay Equal?

As we mentioned, many people mistake a flake of hay for a unit of measurement. This just isn’t the case as not all hay bales or flakes are made equally. Different amounts of hay are always fed into all hay bales as well as flakes.

All in all, a flake of hay’s size depends on the amount of hay there is and how much of it has been compressed. 

The more hay there is, the larger the flakes will be. Add compression into this mix and you can achieve denser flakes. So, no, flakes of hay are never created equally and each one is different just as each hay bale is. 

How Many Flakes Should A Horse Eat Per Day?

This is one of the most common questions asked about flakes of hay. When it comes to feeding flakes of hay to horses, they tend to require around 1.5% to 2% of their body weight in pasture or hay.

This is why you should never feed a specific number of flakes to a horse. Instead, it should be according to the percentage of the horse’s overall body weight.

Horses should only be fed a small portion of flakes throughout any given day. However, most horse owners tend to feed their horses around 5 flakes a day. But, it’s always best to weigh the flake first and then feed the hay around 1% to 2% of its total body weight. 

How Heavy Are Hay Bales?

This entirely depends on the hay bale itself. Bales of hay come in different sizes. A large bale will obviously weigh more than a small one. In general, though, the average weight of hay bales ranges from 40 to 140 pounds. In some cases, this can be significantly more.

So, What Can Be Considered As A True Flake Of Hay?

Not any plant or vegetable can be considered a flake of hay. To be considered a flake, it should be a mixture of dried legumes and grass from a row weighing around 5 pounds.

The hay must be placed into a baling chamber before being compressed and then finally released as a flake. As we now know, different numbers of flakes are put together to form a full bale 

A flake of hay comes from a mixture of dried legumes and grass from a row weighing about 5 pounds. The hay is put into a baling chamber, compressed, and released as a flake. 

Different numbers of flakes are put together to form a bale. As long as they are from dried legumes and/or grass and have gone through this particular process, they can be deemed true flakes of hay.

In Summary 

There is so much to learn when owning any pet. However, a horse is a whole new ball game. Make sure that you are well versed in a horse’s dietary needs and lifestyle requirements.

Knowing what a flake of hay is will be very helpful. So, to sum up, hay gets compressed to form flakes in a baler. These various layers of flakes are then put together to form a hay bale. The number of flakes differs in each bale but you should expect 12 to 16 in each bale. 

Recent Posts