Hay Vs Straw : Comparison And Differences Between Hay And Straw

What is the Difference between Hay and Straw? 

A lot of people tend to use hay and straw interchangeably, but very few are aware of the fact that both are not the same. You could have heard the word hay being used often in sentences, like make hay while the sunshine, going on a hayride.

However, make hay while the sun shines refers to the process of drying the grass-grown especially for making hay whereas a hayride is generally taken in a wagon carrying straw. The difference between straw and hay is very essential to understand what each means and how they are different from the other.

What is Straw?

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Straw is generally yellow or golden. It is a byproduct of the harvested grain. In simpler words, you could say that it is the wheat or rice waste product. The straw is very light and completely fluffy. Straw is used as excellent fodder for livestock. Straw is a dried form of grass.

What is Hay?

Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay

Hay is generally made using legumes. One could say Alfalfa, Clover, Bermuda, Oat, and Fescue as the prime ingredients used for making hay. Hay is green in color, unlike straw. There are different types of hay and depending upon the requirement of the livestock or animal, the hay is fed.

Comparison And Differences Between Hay And Straw 

There are certain parameters on which you could compare and contrast the differences between hay and straw. The difference between hay and straw could be understood better by comparing and contrasting.

Comparison Straw Hay
Definition Straw is nothing but dried stalks after the grain has been harvested. Hay is the grass-grown specifically for fodder and later dried.
Resource It is only a by-product; the aim is to utilize a straw rather than waste it. Hay is specially grown for fodder, dried and it is stored for later use.
Source Wheat, oats, barley, rye, and rice are sources of straw. hay are sourced from legumes, herbaceous, plants, and grass.
Applications Straw is used as a thatching material, bedding, fodder, and packing. Hay is used as mulch or fodder.
Texture The texture of straw can be coarse, it can also be fine. It is totally in correlation with the type of grain it is sourced from. The texture of hay is very fine.
Storage The storage process of straw is in bales. Bales are nothing but bundles tied tightly using twine. The hay can be stored as small squares, large rounds, or stacking. Hay can also be wrapped as a bale.
Nutrition values The straw is very less nutritious, it is only a by-product. So, one cannot expect high levels of nutrition. The beans and legumes are removed and only the leftovers are made as straw. The hay is very nutritious as it contains a lot of minerals for it is the entire plant.
Seeds The straw may or may not contain seeds but that’s not a problem with it. Generally, hay contains seeds that would be grown at later stages while they are being stored or where they are used as mulch.

Making Process of Straw

Straw is the by-product of the cereal plants after the removal of grain. It is more than half the yield of the plants. The crops may be rice, barley, wheat, or oats. The stalk of the Cereal plants is made to dry in the sun for few days.

It loses the entire moisture and becomes completely dry. Straw is gathered and stored in the form of bales. Bales are nothing but bundles of straw tied with wire or string.

Uses of Straw 

The straw has a variety of uses. Some of which are listed below.

  • As fodder material: A lot might wonder as to what is used as fodder material. Both straw and hay are used as fodder material. However, if the animal requires more nutrition, hay is only fed.
  • To avoid the growth of weed: When the entire space is laden with weed, the growth of weed can be prevented to a great extent. As the straw is bio-degradable, it is used for making compost as well. Also, when the straw is kept in the space for long hours together, it eventually turns into compost.
  • For making bio-fuel: The entire world is moving towards renewable sources of energy. Straw can be used as one of the most important ingredients in the making of bio-fuel.

Making Process of Hay

Hay is made by the growth of grass types. The various types of grass are Rye, Fescue, Bermuda, Timothy, and Orchard. When the seeds of legumes don’t flourish completely into a plant and don’t hold a lot of grains, this could be cut and used as hay. This is how hay is made. Hay doesn’t get dried easily as it contains a nutrient value and moisture content.

The materials used for growing hay are full of nutrient value which makes it very difficult to lose its moisture content. In the case of straw, the plant is already matured that the entire nutrient value is held in the grains and not in the other parts of the plant.

Hay is generally grass types or plants of legumes that are not completely grown. This is why they say making hay while the sunshine so that the longevity of the hay would be extended.

Uses of hay 

The hay has a variety of uses. Some of which are listed below.

  • As fodder material: Hay is used particularly as a fodder material. The animals cannot go on grazing during the rough weather conditions. During such unavoidable situations, the hay is used to feed the cattle. Hay is not used to feeding the resting cows whereas straw is used to feed the resting cows.
  • For recreational purposes: One could find the hay being used for recreational purposes to a great extent. The play areas are decorated with hay as the straw could hurt the skin of the person.

One could essentially learn what is the difference between hay and straw? This is very vital to enrich one’s knowledge and also vocabulary. The texture, composition, and usage of both are completely different from the other. Apart from those who are planning to manage livestock, it is essential for the others as well to understand what each means, the comparison, making process, applications, etc.

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