How to load hay in a pickup

Seriously, the only reason I feel compelled to post this page is because I have had to show two hired hands how to load hay.  The first guy had never been able to load more than 16 bales before (he said so). The second guy just started throwing bales in the pickup and said we would see how many we could fit. umm, yeah.

Let’s take it from the bottom:

This is a standard sized Chevy pickup. I think a half-ton in a 3/4 ton body or something like that.

No, I don’t want to get into the Ford-Chevy debate. We have two Chevy’s and a Ford. They all work great until something breaks :)

Pokey is ‘helping’.



The bottom layer of hay gets turned on its side.

Load four bales across the front, in front of the wheel wells.




Load three bales (on their sides) between the wheel wells.

Load one bale back by the tail gate.

I don’t like the leave the tailgate down for a few extra bales – it puts too much pressure on those hinges, especially when going over a bumpy dirt road.


The second layer gets ten bales.

Using the bottom layer of four bales across the front as a guide, line up the edge of the second layer bales with the middle seam of the bottom layer.

Part of the bale will hang out over the side of the pickup.






There should be ten bales on this layer, five on each side.






For the top layer, place three bales over the seam of the second layer.








Then place three bales towards the back of the pickup, perpendicular to the first three.








The finished product.

There should be 8 bales on the bottom layer, 10 bales on the middle layer and 6 bales on the top layer.

This makes for a pretty secure load when traveling.




Pokey performing his job of hay inspector.




Good luck and don’t sweat too much!




PS – When loading 100-120 lb bales, you will probably only be able to fit 6 bales on the bottom layer. These do tend to be longer bales, so don’t fit quite as easily as do 80 lb bales. Just put 6 bales on their sides, lengthwise on the bottom layer. Then load 10 bales, hanging out over the sides on the middle layer, as pictured above. You should be able to fit 5 or 6 bales on the top layer, depending on the length of your bales.


pecan pie bars, goat coats 057Update: I purchased some 100-120 lb bales, so thought I would show you what I did.

The bottom layer only got six bales, turned on their sides.

When I was removing the bales, I left one second layer front bale in place. This was because the first layer bales were wedged in between the wheel wells. So by leaving the one second layer bale in place, I could put my back against it and shove the lower layer bales with my feet to un-wedge one bale from between the wheel wells.



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Because these bales are longer, they tend to stick out a bit more.






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To help give a little more support to the tail end of the three bales on the top, I spaced out the back two bales of the second layer a bit.





When loading 100 – 120 lb bales, the loading pattern is similar to 80 lb bales. The bottom layer gets six bales turned on it’s side, with the strings facing the sides of the pickup bed. The second layer gets 10 bales, with the strings facing up. The third layer gets six bales, with the three foremost bales parallel to the second layer of bales. The three hindmost bales are turned perpendicular to the other bales. This gives a more secure load that won’t slide or roll off when starting and stopping. I was able to haul 22 100-120 lb bales 60 miles on highway and bumpy roads without a tie strap this way. The sheep and goats are thanking me, but my back is not :)



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This is a load of 25 bales that weigh 85-110 lbs. It is stacked four layers high.





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The bales don’t hang off of the edges quite so far, so you maintain some use of your side mirrors.





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The bottom layer has six bales, turned on their sides – the strings face the sides of the bed of the pickup.

The middle layer has 8 bales parallel to bottom layer, sitting on their strings, and barely hanging over the sides of the pickup.



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Start with three bales on the bottom, turned on their sides.

Then place four bales parallel to the bottom layer, sitting on their strings.

The third layer has three bales placed parallel to the bottom two layers, sitting on their strings.



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The sequence is then repeated with the back half of the pickup bed: three bales turned on their sides.

The second layer has four bales parallel to bottom layer, sitting on their strings, barely hanging over the sides of the pickup.

The third layer has three bales sitting on their strings, overlapping the edges of the bales.

This will give you two ‘stacks’ of hay with ten bales in each ‘stack’. All the bales should run parallel with each other.



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The fourth layer then has five bales turned perpendicular to the bottom three layers.





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The first bale of the top layer sits on it’s strings.

The middle three bales sit turned on their sides.

The back bale of the top layer sits on it’s strings.



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By turning the top layer perpendicular to the bottom three layers, it helps secure them in place.





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By situating the bales this way, you can still make use of your side mirrors.

I didn’t strap this load down and traveled with it about 50 minutes on 60 mph highway. I did notice a bit more wind resistance than traveling with three layers of bales. And the truck was definitely more top heavy going around corners.



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O’Malley was very disappointed when I took the bales off of the truck and stacked them in the hay trailer. He liked the warmth of the hay and the sunshine :)







4 thoughts on “How to load hay in a pickup

  1. *I’m happy that a real expert understands the need for organization — even when hauling hay bales.  Thanks! 

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