If you consider straw and hay the same, you are not alone. Many people across the US don’t know the difference between straw and hay. According to the California Straw Builders Association (CSBA), straw is for home, while the hay is for horses and livestock.
Both straw and hay look almost similar, but they are intrinsically different in many ways.
The Meaning of Hay
Hay refers to the combination of grasses, including rye, orchard, brome, and others. Hay requires a dry atmosphere. Even if a slight amount of moisture comes in the process, it can lead to the growth of molds. Molds are always harmful to livestock animals who feed on the hay.
The Meaning of Straw
Straw refers to the hollow stems of grain. The farming community uses it as bedding for their livestock. They also use it for weaving baskets.
Straw doesn’t have too much nutritional value. It doesn’t taste well either. Many companies use straw bales to produce rope, paper, packaging materials, and biofuels. In comparison to hay, straw has varied and multiple uses.
Straw vs Hay: Salient Points
- Straw is less nutritional than hay.
- Straw is cheaper than hay.
- Farmers harvest the hay when it’s alive.
- Straw refers to the dead plant, which is left after its valuable parts are already cultivated.
- Straw offers a high-quality bedding material. The hay serves as a feed supplement only.
- Straw doesn’t retain the moisture but the hay does.
- Straw weighs less than hay.
- Straw is golden in color, but hay is green.
The Risk of High Moisture in Hay
The risk of high moisture in hay is immense. First of all, if the hay gets wet, it may develop mold and can be harmful to the farm animals who feed on them. Secondly, the accumulation of too much moisture in the hay can make them a combustible material.
Hay bales can easily catch on fire during their decomposition process.
Hay vs Straw: Which Is Better for Gardening
Another crucial difference between straw and hay is their practical application for gardening. Use straw as manure or organic compost for your gardening needs.
Hay often comes as a combination of various plants in a meadow. Sometimes the use of hay can lead to the unwanted growth of weeds, which is neither productive nor appropriate. On the contrary, straw won’t lead to such problems. The use of straw is a better option for gardening.
As a farmer, you must understand the difference between straw and hay. When you wish to buy either of them, you should know the purpose of buying it. Straw bales are available in square bale packs, while the hay is available in round or square shapes.
Don’t forget that straw also makes the soil more fertile and productive, while the hay is primarily used as livestock feed. You can get hay bales straight from a farmer on request, but straw bales are available online or at retail outlets that sell agricultural products.