More from: high-quality tarps

Hay Tarps: Protecting America’s Livestock Feed

All across America, from New York to California, we devote millions of acres of agricultural land to the production of hay. Moreover, while hay may not seem very important, it is a staple of American farm life. Hay is the primary food source of all sorts of livestock including cows, horses, goats, and sheep. Hay is even used to feed pets like rabbits and guinea pigs. Protecting that food source is vitally important for the health of the animals that need it.

Hay producers use specially designed hay tarps to protect their harvests once brought in from the field. A hay tarp has two different sides that offer different kinds of protection. The purpose of harvested hay, and how it can be damaged by the weather, dictates how hay tarps are designed. The farmer cannot use just any tarp if he or she expects maximum protection.

A Bit about Hay

Hay can be any combination of herbaceous plants, grasses and legumes cut and bundled together as animal feed. Most of what we see in the States is a primarily grass product. Farmers can grow acres of hay and, in the right weather conditions, enjoy multiple harvests every year. The hay is rolled and stored until it is either sold or used on the farm where it was produced.


Farmers have to be very careful when harvesting hay in order to make sure water content is not too high. Otherwise, a roll of hay is prone to spontaneous combustion caused by heat produced by bacterial fermentation. Harvested hay also has to be protected from direct sunlight and additional moisture so that it does not grow mold or mildew. That’s where the specially designed hay tarp comes into play.

How Hay Tarps Work

The typical hay tarp has both a silver and black side. This silver side is placed face up in order to reflect the sunlight. The black side underneath is a further light inhibitor to protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Some hay tarps are white and black rather than silver and black, though there does not seem to be a big difference in the protection offered by the white and silver surfaces.

In addition to protecting the hay from sunlight, a hay tarp must also be waterproof. A good quality tarp is made from either polyethylene or a poly fabric with high UV resistance. Web looping along the edges make it easy to secure the tarps to the ground or a storage structure.

The main advantage of the hay tarp is that it is an inexpensive option when compared to building hay barns. For several hundred dollars per tarp, the farmer can protect his or her harvest without having to invest in a permanent building structure on their property. In between harvests, the open space can be used for other things as well.

Having said that, high-quality tarps are important for maximum protection. It does not do the farmer any good to invest in a cheap tarp that could potentially result in the loss of an entire load. Saving a little money is a recipe for losing a lot by way of a cheap tarp that does not do its job. At Mytee Products, we know how important it is for hay producers to have access to high-quality tarps that will protect their crops.

Thanks to the dedicated hay producers across the country, livestock owners have access to plenty of high-quality hay to feed their animals. Moreover, thanks to hay tarps like the ones we sell and Mytee Products, hay farmers are able to provide strong, healthy feed to their customers.

Pros and Cons of Tarped Loads for Drivers

Driving down the interstate you will notice trucks of all shapes and sizes carrying cargo. You’ll see dump trucks carrying stone or gravel, semi-tractors hauling fully enclosed trailers, and flatbeds carrying loads covered with tarps. Tarped loads are diverse as well.

So what determines what type of load a driver will accept? Company drivers do not have much say in the matter, but independent drivers get to choose what they haul. Loads requiring tarps also require special consideration before drivers will accept them. The nature of truck tarps means there are pros and cons drivers have to consider.

Pros of Tarped Loads

Using truck tarps requires different knowledge and skill than loads contained in dry-van trailers. They require more time to secure. The driver has to make sure the tarp is secured with bungees in a way that protects the load, the tarp itself and generally meets all safety requirements. As such, tarped loads often pay more, making them more attractive to drivers who do not shy from the exertion.


Commodities like Steel coils, lumber and shingles cannot be loaded on to Dry-Van trucks, not easily anyway. Oversize loads cannot go in Dry-Van trailers either. If one requires such loads to be hauled, Flatbed is the only Industry accepted option. Once such a load is accepted, the driver is responsible from the moment of pick up to the moment of drop off. If a tarp can be deployed to prevent water, stone-chip and other damage to a load, it may be well worth it.

Cons of Tarped Loads

There are plenty of reasons why a driver might prefer to avoid tarped loads, beginning with the cost. The truth is that truck tarps are expensive. However, a high-quality tarp will pay for itself after just a couple of loads. Drivers who take care of their tarps know they can last for years.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of using truck tarps is the fact that they are heavy and difficult to deploy correctly. A tarp must be secured in such a way as to protect both the cargo and the tarp itself. There must be no flapping in the wind either, as that can damage the tarp to the point of making it unusable. And of course, deploying a tarp can be injurious to one’s health. It only takes one fall to cause major problems.

Advances in technology have made it possible to deploy truck tarps using motorized winch systems with automatic spreader bars. This allows the truck driver to deploy the tarp from the safety of the ground, all but eliminating the risk of injury by way of falls. An added benefit of these systems is the ability to deploy a tarp evenly across the entire surface of the load. However, it still takes time that could be put to better use on the road. Automated systems are limited to pre-set load types and sizes. They can also be expensive.

Company Liability

Thus far, we have talked about tarped loads as they relate to independent drivers. However, what about companies that operate their own fleets? There is a certain amount of liability that comes with using truck tarps – liability that involves both drivers and cargo. Companies go to great lengths to protect themselves through proper training, fall restraint systems, and other safety accessories.

It is true that tarping is a necessary part of the trucking industry. It is also true that drivers can make more money when accepting tarped loads. Nevertheless, like anything else, both the pros and cons need to be weighed before deciding whether to accept loads of a given type or not. That’s just part of the business.