Difference Between Straw and Hay

Straw vs Hay

Plant materials are useful in many aspects. Straw and Hay are plant materials that are useful in farming, agriculture and livestock management. Often the terms straw and Hay are used as synonyms. Even though these two words are used together, they actually differ in many aspects.


Dried stalks of harvested cereals can be known as Straw. Actually Straw is the dried stalks of crops such as wheat, barley and oats after removing the grain heads. These stalks are hollow tubes like structures. Straw is nutritionally poor, and it is ideal for animal bedding. On the other hand, straw bales are frequently used for constructing housing structures. Also, straw can be used as a bio-fuel, packing material and can be used in the paper industry.


Usually hay is produced by using grasses and legumes that are cut before plants get mature and die back. So Hay can be used for feeding animals as a substitute for fresh grass. Quality hay has green color and sweet smell. Therefore, quality hay is nutritionally closer to grass. Old brownish hay cannot be used to feed animals such as rabbits, and it is nutritionally poor. Sometimes grasses can be grown with other legumes and it increases the nutritional value of hay.

What is the difference between Straw and Hay?

• Straw is the dried stalks of cereals while hay is the dried grasses and legumes.

• Straw is nutritionally poor than hay.

• Hay can be used to feed animals where straw has many other purposes.

• Usually Straw is yellow or golden colored while quality Hay is green in color.