Hayloft

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The hayloft of the village Chereshovitsa, Bulgaria
"Desperate Conflict in a Barn," 1853. Haylofts were used to hide escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad

A hayloft is a space above a barn, stable or cow-shed, traditionally used for storage of hay or other fodder for the animals below. Haylofts were used mainly before the widespread use of hay bales, which allow simpler handling of bulk hay. Another name for a hayloft is a mow.

The hayloft was filled with loose hay from the top of a wagon thrown up through a large door, usually some 3 metres (10 ft) or more above the ground, often in the gable end of the building. Cut in the floor of the hayloft were slots or holes (sometimes with hatches), each above a hay-rack or manger in the animal housing below. The hay could easily be dropped through the holes to feed the animals.

Haylofts in old buildings are now often used for other storage, or have been converted into habitable rooms. However, farms that use small square hay bales may still use the hayloft for storage of hay.

Many farmers now use larger bales of hay (or silage) which must be handled by machinery, and these are normally stored in more open buildings or outside.

Haylofts were used in order to keep the bundles of hay off the ground. If farmers left their hay on the bare ground, the hay would absorb moisture from the soil and be ruined.

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Media related to Hay lofts at Wikimedia Commons