How Can You Differentiate Between Straw And Hay?

One of the most common mistakes amateur gardeners make is confusing between straw and hay. You will commonly find people asking if there is a difference between straw and hay. While most novice gardeners will not be able to answer you, an experienced one will tell you that they are very different from each other.

They might look the same, be found in similar places, and be packaged the same way, but their purpose of usage is quite different. If you are taking your first step in gardening or agriculture, this article is surely a helpful one. Here you will find mentioned a few tricks to easily tell the difference between a hay and straw bale.


Straw, which is said to be a by-product of the grain harvest, is usually golden or yellowish-golden in color. You can also call it the waste product of wheat or rye harvests. On the other hand, hay is made from legumes like clover, alfalfa, or grasses like fescue, oat, and Bermuda. Hays are quite nutritious and have a few more uses than straws.


Made by cutting and creating the hollow stocks left after harvesting, straws are quite fluffy and light. This characteristic feature allows them to be used as bedding for animals. Straws can also be used to retain the soil moisture and prevent the top layer from getting dry. It also helps crush weeds and can compost eventually.

However, the nutritious value of hay allows it to be a great livestock feed. Nevertheless, there are different types of hay, depending on the nutrition required by the animal. For instance, working horses are more suited to hay with more protein and carbohydrates.


While straws can be found in almost every field that harvests grain crops like barley, rye, and wheat, hay is made by harvesting plants when they are alive. In the majority of the cases, these plants are cut before the seed is able to mature. The hay is then left in the open sun to dry. This is mainly to avoid molding.

Interesting Facts about Straw and Hay

Now that you understand the differences between straw and bale, it is time to learn which is more suitable purchase is for you. Here mentioned are some interesting facts about both. You will be surprised to know that the high moisture content in hay can often cause them to catch fire. This mainly occurs when the heat inside these moist bales increases as a result of the decomposition process.

Straw has more uses in the agricultural field or home gardens. It can not only help better the quality of soil over time by forming compost but also inhibit the growth of weeds that hinder crop growth. This is a great organic way to enhance crop growth in a field.

With this information now, you are in a much better position to make and ensure a good quality buy. However, make sure you research the shop before your purchase.