The Best Way to Load Hay in a Pickup

Hauling hay? Look no further to find the best way to load hay in a pickup.

Hauling Hay in a Pickup

I’ve had my own large livestock for about six years. Prior to moving to our homestead three years ago, I lived for four years on an organic vegetable farm. There we also had ample pasture where we put up our own square bales with the help our neighbor.

When we ran short of our own grass bales, another neighbor would deliver a few round bales and unload them with his skidsteer.

I never really had to deal with transporting square bales any long distance. Even if I did, I would wrestle six bales into the back of my Toyota Rav 4 which, for a yearling heifer and two sheep, would keep me set for a whole week.

Now that we have a few Jersey milk cows and a small herd of goats we go through hay a lot faster. We learned quickly the best way to load hay in a pickup.

Three years ago when we got our new (actually very old) pickup, on our first hay run.

How much does a square bale weigh?

This depends on the size of the square bale and the type of hay it is. A small square, the kind one person can lift, will be anywhere from about 30-70 pounds. A dry grass hay will be on the lighter side, while a bale of fresh alfalfa is going to be much heavier.

Can I haul hay in a pickup with a tool box?

Of course you can! This stacking method I’ll show you below works just as well with a tool box. Use the exact same pattern, just stack the second story on top of the box.

Do I need straps to haul hay safely in a pickup?

Nope! We never use straps to haul our hay around and we are safely able to put 26 bales in the back. This includes driving down a major highway at 55-60 miles an hour. The bales stay safely tucked in the bed.

If you plan to haul more than this in your pick up bed, I’d advise getting some sort of straps fastened over top of the bales to keep them in place.

The Best Way to Load Hay in a Pickup

Start with a good clean bed. Scrape out all the old bits of hay, moisture, etc.

Begin by stacking a row of four bales flipped on their side, snug up against the cab end of the bed.

best way to haul hay rough and tumble farmhouse

Next, stack bales on top of these, wide side up, horizontally. You can fit two on each side. You should now have eight bales in the bed.

best way to load square bales rough and tumble farmhouse

Now, take two bales, wide side up, and place them in the top middle of these bales. You now have ten bales in the pickup.

best way to stack hay rough and tumble farmhouse

The next bottom row will be somewhat smaller as the wheel wells are likely in your way. Place three bales, skinny sides up on the bottom of the truck bed.

how to load hay in a pickup rough and tumble farmhouse

Repeat the process from the last row with four bales horizontally stacked, and two vertically stacked on top of those.

loading square bales in a pickup rough and tumble farmhouse

Continue this pattern all the way to the end.

hay bales rough and tumble farmhouse

Your last bale on the tippy top should be horizontal, not vertical.

What if I want to add more bales than this?

No problem! Rather than stacking just two bales in the middle at the top, stack four. You can go up as high as you feel comfortable. Be sure you are prepared with long straps to hold everything in place.

A friend of ours says he hauls about 40 bales in his truck bed, well strapped down.

Tips for Hauling Square Bales

  • Place the second level of bales so the ends stick out over the sides of the bed just a few inches, or slightly more if you are planning on stacking up the bed more than three rows high.
  • Wear leather or other sturdy gloves to protect your hands.
  • Lift with your knees, not your back!
  • You can load bales yourself but it is much easier to have one person on the ground tossing them in and one in the pickup stacking them up.
  • Check the forecast and park your bales in side or unload them if there is even a SLIGHT chance of rain. Nothing will tempt the rain like bone dry bales sitting outside uncovered.

If you’re new to hay buying check out my guide to hay for beginners!

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