What Is The Difference Between Hay And Straw?

Willing to know about the difference between hay and straw to start with your new farming and other uses. Don’t worry about it, I will tell you how to differentiate between both of them. You will come to know about what things you will need to see in hay vs straw that are safe for different purposes? What are best for grazing animals and cattle? I am going to explain the important point, hence do not skip any point till last. Let us begin, so you will understand the interesting things while reading the difference between hay and straw.

What Is The Difference Between Hay And Straw?

The major difference between hay and straw stacks is their nutritional value. One has more nutrition and the other has less nutrition. However, many people can not distinguish between them quickly. 

You may be confused about which is hay or which is straw when you will see a packed bunch or heap of them for the first time. So to make it easier I have described it further. But before seeing the differences let us understand what is hay and straw in detail.

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What Is Hay?

Hay is the type of grass forage. Commonly the tall field grass is hay grass with other grasses like rye, brome, orchard, etc. 

It is used as feed for the animals. Hence, to keep the high nutrition value as feed for the horses, goats, sheep, cows, etc these grasses are cut before the maturity of seeds. You will see the hay contains all parts of the plant. 

The most important thing related to hay is the prevention of moisture to avoid the growth of mold in it. The healthy and safe bales of hay for animals are prepared in the bright sunshine.

What Is Straw?

Straw is mainly the dried yellow or golden hollow stems of the plants. The stalks of the plants like wheat, barley, oats, etc are used for preparing the straw bales. There are no grains, seeds, residues of the chaff in the straw. 

It has very little nutritional value as compared to hay. Hence, due to less nutrition value, they are used for bedding for the animals. There are many other uses of straw that we will see further. The preparation of the straw is done by harvesting the byproduct of the grain. Straw bales are prepared after drying for 2 to 3 days in the sun.

Difference Between Hay And Straw Bales

Now let us see how to tell difference between hay and straw bales one by one. I have described the different factors that will be helpful to distinguish easily.

  • Feeding

The most important thing is the difference between hay and straw fs19 forages is feeding. As it is used as a source of food for animals then we should know what is good feed in hay and straw.


There is a difference between hay and straw for rabbits, goats, cows, horses, and many grazing animals in zoos and farms. The hay is provided to the animals as feed when the pasture feed is lacking. As the hay contains all parts of the plant in it, it has high nutritional content.


Even though the straw is obtained from the grain plants but is not used as feed. It has many other uses than feeding. 

Let us see what does straw is useful for?.

  • Bedding

Here I have described the straw vs hay bedding in detail. You will come to know the one important difference between hay and straw.


Hay contains seeds, grains, leaves, etc., and is heavier. While sitting on it you will feel itchy. Hence it is not a good choice as bedding.


The straw is very light as compared with hay. It is more fluffy and flat to rest comfortably. So straw is the ideal bedding for animals. This provides good warm bedding for the animals in farms, stables, etc.

  • Nutrition

The reason why there is nutrition in hay and not in straw is mentioned below. Let’s discuss it.


The hay is having more nutrition because of its proper harvesting time. As hay is cultivated just before the seeds getting mature. The hay is very easy to digest due to the leaves packed into it.


Straw is containing very little nutrition, as it is the leftover product that is obtained from the hollow stems of the grain plants. You can recycle straw and use them for many different purposes. Let us see the difference between hay vs straw for garden purposes.

  • Garden Mulching

While seeing garden plants covered with the spreads of hay and straw you must be confused. So this point will help you in how to tell the difference between hay and straw mulch in the garden.


At very few times hay is used for mulching, but there is a risk of contamination due to hay. In it, there may be seeds and other weed residues that may not be good for mulching purposes.


The straw is used in gardens for different purposes. It can help you in mulching, making compost, and controlling the weed growth near the plants in the garden. It can be spread on the lawn and ground to cover. In the hay and straw for sale select straw mulch. Straw is very helpful for mulching as it helps to keep the soil and top layer moist for more time.

  • Other Uses

Now we will see some other uses that make a difference between straw and hay bales.


Hay is mostly used for feeding and at very few times for mulching. There are no other uses of hay.


Whereas straw can be used other than animal bedding. It is used for making weaved baskets, compost, mulching, controlling the weed spread and growth. While searching for where to buy straw is not only specific for mulching or bedding, but different handicrafts are also made from it.

  • Preparation

Here I have described the difference between hay and wheat straw bales preparation. Let us have quick look.


The hay is cultivated from the grasses plant. The common plants like timothy, rye, orchard, etc are cut before the seeds get matured, and with green leaves. The harvested material is dried in the summer sun to be packed into rectangular bales. The moisture content is kept very less as if the moisture content is high it develop the molds in the hay bales.


When the grains plants like wheat, barley, oats, etc are cultivated and harvested. The leftover that is hollow stems are cut. It is kept for 2 to 3 days to dry in sun after cutting and then bales are prepared. You will be able to notice the visual difference between hay and straw pictures by looking into the things in the bales such as stalks, seed heads, hollow stems, leaf  blades, etc

You will also like to know about the difference between hay and silage while searching which is a good feed for animals.

Hay Vs Silage

Below I have described the difference between silage and hay.


Hay is a dried and packed product used as feeding when pasture is not available. Hay is stored in the form of bales.


Silage is a fermented product that is fermented and stored in the silo. They are compacted before storing. They are kept in air-tight conditions. 


Does Hay Turn Into Straw?

No, hay does into the straw. Hay is a crop plant and harvested from different grasses like timothy, rye, orchards, etc. However, straw is just a byproduct obtained from grain plants like wheat, barley, oats, etc

Why Is Straw Better Than Hay?

Straw is better than hay for creating bedding for animals. As it light and fluffy that hay. Whereas, hay is heavier and may cause itchiness while resting on it.

What’s The Difference Between Hay And Straw Uk?

The difference between hay and straw UK is dried grass and dried stalks of the crop plants respectively.

Do Horses Eat Hay Or Straw?

Horses eat hay, but if they are kept on a diet then the straw can be mixed into their diet. The straw needs to be steamed or soaked in the water to enhance palatability. 

Do Chickens Prefer Hay Or Straw?

Chickens don’t eat straw – although they will pick the seeds or chaff or whatever it’s called out of it… What is this? And straw is SO much less dusty than shavings and drier than hay so it doesn’t mold….and it’s soft for the ducks and geese to sleep on, the chickens to walk on.

Does Straw Prevent Weeds?

Straw blocks out the sun, preventing most weeds from germinating and growing. First, make sure your weeds are gone from your garden bed. Then lay down the straw immediately. It will not only keep weeds from growing, but also keep the soil moist, soft and workable.

Which Is Better Hay Or Straw?

Straw is not as nutritionally valuable as hay and is generally less expensive than hay. Hay is harvested while it is still a live, healthy plant. Straw is the dead stalks of plants after the valuable parts of the plants have been harvested.

Is Straw Just Dry Hay?

So, what is the difference between straw and hay? Straw is yellow, and it is made from grain crops (like wheat) by removing the grain and chaff. Straw has no seeds, and it is used for animal bedding, mulch, or compost. Hay is yellow or green, and it is made from dried grasses or legumes (like alfalfa).

Is Straw Bales The Same As Hay Bales?

A bale of hay and a bale of straw may look similar and may be found together in the same places, but they are very different. Hay is food for plant-eating animals. Straw is used for non-food purposes.


Today we learned about the difference between hay and straw in detail. I told you how the hay is different from the straw. You understood the what are contents in straw and hay, what is good for the garden, which is a better option for feeding the animals, etc. The data that I described related to the difference between hay and straw will help you in the future.

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