Recently our yard has converted to small bales of hay, and such an improvement in my opinion.
Now when I’m filling my haynets in the morning it takes me half the time and half the mess. Each night net has three wedges in, and the field net has two. There’s no splitting of slices and tearing of stalks. In general the whole hay area seems to be more economical because a whole small bale is finished, with only a smattering of stalks left before the next bale is opened. When the large bales were being used half or quarter slices were abandoned on the floor, stood on and wasted, and when the bale is almost finished the next one would be lifted in, squashing the leftovers and meaning that the old bale slices were definitely not going to be used.
At the yard I grew up on we had small bales, which were unloaded from the lorry in July and stacked in the granary. Every Sunday through the winter we would throw bales down the stairs and stack two dozen under the stairs, which would last the yard a couple of days and then it was up to individuals to get their own bales. As they were all stored inside we didn’t have any wasted bales, but I know that outdoor stacks of small bales can have more wasted bales than stacks of large bales, but then I think a lot of that depends on how well the tarpaulin is secured and how sheltered the stack is.
Yes, small bales of hay are more labour intensive and more expensive per kilo than large bales, but I think if you have a livery yard they are definitely a more economical set up than large bales. Another decision made for my imaginary livery yard!