What are those COMPRESSED HAY bales anyway?… Well, I’ve been using them!

A bale of Orchard Grass or Timothy Hay here (Northern California)  is around $25.  I know, INSANE.

Although I’ve noticed the Standlee Compressed Hay Bales at our local ranch retailer, I never really considered them because at only 50lbs and $15.99, they seemed expensive…. (no affiliation)

But now that a 100lb of hay is $25, I decided to give the Standlee Compressed Bales a try – especially because they sent me a coupon!

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 7.03.27 PM

This is the kind of compressed bale I purchased – except I bought Timothy and Alfalfa.  (no affiliation)


My initial thoughts were that these compressed bales would be great for traveling but too expensive for my every day feeding with 12 horses.

However, if I had only one or two horses, these bales would be very manageable – and of high quality, consistent stock.

I also thought these compressed bales would be great for someone of my size to bring home a few ’emergency’ bales without having to struggle with the beasts to get regular sized bales out of a truckbed and into the hay room.

Previous to a few weeks ago, I really hadn’t given these compressed bales a second look.

This is how these compressed bales appear outside of their plastic covering.  They are bound very tightly.

This is how these compressed bales appear outside of their plastic covering. They are bound very tightly.

SKY HIGH HAY PRICES… needed tide-me-over hay.

I found myself not able to buy as many bales as before, and I needed a few bales mid week to get by.

So, I remembered about the compressed bales and thought I’d try one – it sounded easy to just buy one on the way home from work and throw it right in the Jeep.  No fuss, no muss.

While reading the labels, I found this information:

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 7.02.29 PMSO I TRIED IT!

I bought two compressed bales with my two coupons.  One was Alfalfa/Timothy for $14.99 and the other was Timothy Grass for $17.99.  Both bales were almost too heavy for me to lift with their square bulk, but I did get them into my Jeep fairly easily using the handydandy handle and some body leveraging.  I didn’t weigh them, but I doubt they were only 50lbs.  They felt heavier, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, I brought the bales home and set them in the hay room lickedy split.

I then opened the plastic wrapper with a hay knife – easy.  I cut the bands holding the bale tight and the sigh of relief from the bale once uncinched was palatable.  I could feel and hear the POP as I cut the final band – as if the bale was in a too tight corset.  A slight mist of hay powder poofed up and landed on the bale.  The powder looked very yummy.  I thought the horses would go for that first!

The bale eventually eased up and relaxed a bit.  The flakes were easily identifiable.  I picked up two flakes and much to my surprise, they felt like… 2 flakes!  They were heavy!  I was quite surprised.  So, I added another flake and walked up the the upper pasture with the usual 3 flakes to feed Wrigley, Finn and BG.

And, I gotta tell you, carrying the three, compressed flakes was much, much easier than carrying 3 regular flakes.  I didn’t leave a trail behind me and I could manage the flakes on one arm, easily.

The color was good, the hay smelled fresh and the horses didn’t bat an eyelash.  They dug in like normal.

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This is one of the compressed bales I purchased. Easy handle, easy to carry (although heavy) and clean – no mess.

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The same bale, uncovered.


I tried these bales on Wrigley, Finn and BG for a week.  Not only was it physically easier for me to feed them using the smaller, compressed flakes, but the horses didn’t seem to note any differences.

It took just as long for them to eat the compressed flake as it would a regular flake.  They didn’t drop any weight and they seemed quite happy.

So, I bought 4 more compressed bales and continued for another week.

Same Same.

The horses loved it and I loved it because it was so much easier for me to buy, offload and feed.

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It flakes like a normal bale, once it is opened. The inside is more green than the sun soaked top.

COULD COMPRESSED HAY ACTUALLY BE LESS EXPENSIVE here in California than regular baled hay?

I know our hay prices in California are ridiculous.  So, this might not apply in other parts of the country.

Weightwise, it doesn’t feel like it makes sense… but these 50lb compressed bales feed less expensively than regular bales – in California.  I still don’t believe it.  In fact, I will continue to test and run the numbers to make sure…


The instructions for the compressed bales say to feed 1.5 lb per 100lbs of body weight – whereas a non-compressed bale says to feed 2 lb per 100lb of body weight.

So, for my horses that weigh 1000 lbs, with a regular bale, I would feed 20 lbs a day.  So one 100 lb bale would last 5 days.  To feed a horse for a month, I would need 6 bales of regular hay.  (6 x $25 = $150)

With the compressed bale, it says to feed 15 lbs a day.  With a 50 lb bale of compressed hay, one bale would last 3.25 days.  To feed a horse for a month, I would need 8.5 bales of compressed hay.  (8.5 x $16 (average) = $136)

You see, one regular 100lb bale gives me 16 good flakes and 2 flimsy end pieces.  The 50lb Standlee compressed hay gave me 12 solid flakes – no puny end flakes.

I’m still not sure how this all works out… and why a horse only needs 15 lbs a day of compressed hay – but it is working for me.

And I love the ease of feeding with these tiny, compact and powerful flakes!

Try one and give me your results!  I’d love to compare.

I tried to take a photo with a flake on my arm but I couldn't get the camera far enough away... so I took this sideview.  The individual flakes are dense and green - and heavy!

I tried to take a photo with a flake on my arm but I couldn’t get the camera far enough away… so I took this sideview. The individual flakes are dense and green – and heavy!



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26 comments have been posted...

  1. Linda

    Your horse needs more than 15 lbs a day. Two flakes should weigh 10lbs.
    To not colic, the best way is to feed three times a day. Or, free 24 hr. Food…Grass hay. And or pasture.
    The horse gut needs to eat all day slowly to keep the gut moving with forage.
    Never had a horse colic…

  2. dawndi Post author

    I have never had an issue with STandlee products – even the compressed hay. Love the company.

  3. Crystal

    My vet just recommended them for my horse that was skinny and I just started buying them. I absolutely love them!!!! Easy for me to get on my own. They are heavy but I can manage them. She said if I could mix the orchard grass/alfalfa and then Timothy it would be best for him. I bought both and got some hay nets. The flakes are easy to peel. I peel a flake of orchard, then a flake of timothy. Then a flake of orchard and a flake of Timothy. I keep stacking them on each other alternating in the hay net and then tie it out for him. He devours it!! I cannot tell you how fast his weight improved and how hes pitching all his old mangy fur and new shiny coat is growing in. I will definitely keep buying these. I’m a customer for life. I love these!!!

  4. Jill Nixon

    Can anyone tell me if mold is ever a concern with the Tractor Supply compressed orchard/alphalpha mix hay? My horse has Cushing’s and is very allergic to mold….

  5. Jill Nixon

    Can anyone tell me if mold is ever a concern with the tax compressed orchard/alphalpha mix hay? My horse has Cushing’s and is very allergic to mold….

  6. Beverly Schlein

    I am so glad I read this article. Just moved an older horse to my new place, he had been at my nieces house for many years. We have a very small acre to keep him on and no place to store big bales of alfalfa so I bought the Standlee compressed bale from TSC. He has a big bale of grass hay and I have started him on an all in one feed but he isn’t eating real good right now. I sleep better at night knowing he is getting the alfalfa and less chance of colic

  7. Heather Connelly

    Thank you for your review really helpful. Chewy is selling the compressed hay and with their free shipping on $49 and over and next day delivery I’m tempted to try it. However I was a little lost on how good it would be so thank you for your honest review we will try 2 bales on our two horses (Nina and Poe) we how it goes.

  8. Brittany Engle

    I haven’t bought the Standlee because there is a local place in Ocala that compresses it. The problem is that it is almost so compressed that some of it is like dust. These are 550lb. blocks. You can’t get a standard flake so when trying to get what you need all that really fine hay gets up in my nose and hurts. I’m concerned that this is hurting the horses too. Does it seem like this may be too compressed?

  9. Harold Jones

    I find all my hay in HayMap.com now and don’t have to buy from Tractor Supply anymore.

  10. Doty Johnson

    I have a 22 year old mare (Chocolate Lace) with Cushing’s disease and wanted to feed her some timothy hay, but it seemed difficult to find any that was of good quality. So, I tried a Standlee compressed bale and was pleasantly surprised with the quality and weight of the bale. Since I grow my own Bermuda grass hay, I mix some of the timothy with the Bermuda and put it in a hay net to slow her consumption speed down to grazing. She loves it. My other horses are fine with the hay from my fields. I brought Choco into the world and want to keep her around for as long as possible.

  11. Rafael woolfolk

    My name is rafael frombaja California, where produce the best quality alfalfa. I looking for a men want make business. I have alfalfa and I need some men sell my alfalfa in USA. We can make a compress if is necessary..

  12. dawndi Post author

    HI: You wrote to the blogger, not the hay manufacturer. If you’d like Standlee’s compressed hay, you need to go to
    a Tractor Supply or Google Standlee and find out where they sell it in your area.

  13. Molly

    We feed our goats Eastern WA Orchard Grass Hay that we buy in bales from Wilco in Gig Harbor WA. Their delivery was delayed so I tried one of their compressed bales of Orchard Grass. I was leery but my goats love it! And there is way, way less hay waste- practically none. An as everyone has said, it is SO much easier and convenient to feed. From what I have read here, the price is pretty great too- $19.99 everyday. They seemed to have many different compressed bales, so I’m assuming they have Timothy and alfalfa too. If you have a Wilco near you give them a call.

  14. CMH

    You are right, the compressed bales are awesome for travel. I travel to shows and will grab a bale on the way out. No mess, easy to handle.

  15. Tara Barbato

    Great article! I am about to buy 20 compressed bales of straight alfalfa for my weanling warmblood to mix with the regular grass hay. I am thrilled to hear of your experience with these products because I was a bit leary but could not find any regular alfalfa bales in my area! Can’t wait to try them!

  16. sunshine

    Great article and have found most if what’s mentioned is similar to my experience. We’ve been using Standlee mini compressed bales and all three of my horses love it. I got the alf/grass mix during early fall. The bales were bright green, fresh and smelled so good. Later in the season, however, I noticed the mix was not as fresh and had some dark brown sections of grass in it. I don’t think it was mold but did seem concerning. I then switched to the full Timothy bales and full alfalfa bales and simply alternated them. The alfalfa ones are still super fresh and green but the Timothys have been hit and miss. The horses have never seemed bothered though.

  17. MET

    I bought Standlee. As far as I know, that’s the only manufacturer for compressed hay bales. It seems like such a good idea, too. Sadly, Fred wouldn’t touch it.

  18. dawndi Post author

    Interesting… I have had no issues at all with these Standlee compressed bales. What brand did you try? Do you remember?

  19. MET

    You wrote about compressed bales once before, a couple years ago? Anyway, the barn where my old horse boards had bought some really stemmy hay, which he couldn’t chew (teeth are minimal at his age – then 30). So I bought some – I think it was Timothy, that’s what he eats. He wouldn’t touch it. I ended up giving the bales to the barn owner for one of her horses who will eat anything. It was disappointing.

  20. Terri

    I use the compressed alfalfa hay in the winter when my horses need extra protein. I love being able to feed alfalfa for a reasonable price – I live in the southeast where a regular bale of alfalfa would be way too expensive. I only have two horses so the cost is manageable. Sometimes the bales can be a bit dry so I wet the flakes down when I feed. Love this product!

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