Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Hay and Straw

hayVery often you would come across people who use the words straw and hay as synonymous with each other. Like several other debates, the confusion between hay and straw is ongoing. But this has been clearly identified by the California Straw builders Association, ‘Hays is for horses, straw is for houses’.

Popularly, alfalfa or clover which is cut, dried and used to feed farm animals is hay. Some of the animals fancying hay include cattle, horses, goats, sheep and rabbits and is given where the pasture is insufficient. Hence Hay is a mix of grasses like rye, timothy, brome, orchard amongst others which involves a process of cutting, curing, processing and storing. These grasses are high on nutrition and are cut when the grass is growing before the seed matures or as they are leaves. With up to three times of cuttings, hay can be sought depending on the rain, the soil and the type of grass being grown. Hay mandates a complete dry phase to avoid any moisture in it. Any remaining moisture can create a mould which is harmful to animals’ feeding on the hay. Hence the popular quote ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ is founded on this principle.

strawOn the other hand straw is dried, golden colored, primarily hollow stems of grain mainly used for bedding for the animals, weaving baskets etc. With less nutrition value, it is not fed to animals very often. Soon after harvest of grains, straw is what usually remains after threshing. Straw being hollow tends to be fluffy, better absorbing hence makes ideal bedding. Animals prefer them as bedding given their lack of importance to be consumed owing to their poor taste and nutrition. Straw results from harvested stalks of wheat, oats or even barley. In fact straw bales are often used for constructing housing structures that are used for multiple purposes in addition to their use as biofuels, rope, paper, and packaging material amongst others.

Both hay and straw are stacked in the form of bales in a barn, after they are dried adequately. But in comparison, straw bales are much lighter than that of hay. It is important to know the difference and to understand their use across situations and benefit from their qualities.

1. Hay is used to feed farm animals. Straw is used for baskets etc.
2. Straw bales are lighter than that of hay bales.
3. Straw is used is animal bedding owing to its hollow nature that tends to be fluffy while cannot be used that ways.

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  1. Just wanted to say thank you.

  2. So, could any old dried weeds/grasses/wildflowers growing up in an untended parcel of land be considered straw inasmuch as hay is something more specific? I guess dandelions might appear in something like this–are dandelion greens (and flowers) as nutritious for animals as for humans? Or do farmers like to keep dandelions out of livestock feed?

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