During the summer months and into early autumn, farmers/contractors are busy making and transporting bales, whether they are silage, hay or straw.

Silage bales are an important part of the fodder reserves on Irish farms, with over two thirds of Irish farmers making silage bales.

This means bales contribute between 25% and 40% of dairy and beef-cattle’s annual diets, depending on the length of their housed period.

Straw is used for bedding of cattle as well as being used on some farms as part of a total mixed ration (TMR) diet.

The recent accident on the M7 involving straw bales has highlighted the importance of securing bales before they are transported on public roads.


The end of July and beginning of August signals the start of the harvesting of winter crops for tillage farms.

This also means that straw bales are being removed from fields, with many of these bales being transported on public roads.

It is not an uncommon sight to see lorry loads of bales on main roads, but it is important when transporting bales that it is done in a safe manner.

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Transporting bales

The transporting of bales should be completed by a competent, skilled driver. The job should be planned with ground conditions, slopes and over-head power lines taken into consideration.

Avoid over-loading trailers; bales should not be hanging over edges and ensure that the bales are properly secured – using straps that are in good condition.

The total length of a tractor and trailer should not exceed 18.75m (the transporting of bales is exempt from height restrictions).

According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the 4.65m limit does not apply to vehicles/combinations of vehicles and trailers transporting agricultural produce (i.e. hay, silage straw or other animal fodder) which is baled.

But common sense should prevail when loading trailers; no matter how short the journey is, over-loading of trailers in not advised. This only increases the possibility of an accident.

Image source: James O’Reilly