This time of the year we get bombarded with questions about using straw vs hay for a given task. Straw is plant stubble from a harvested crop. It’s called straw because it’s hollow. Straw is also a regional product. In north Texas, 99% of the straw is from wheat. The other 1% is typically made from oats. Straw is mainly used for decoration, bedding, erosion control, mulch, and archery backstops. It can also be used as a building material and in composting operations.
Hay is grown as food for livestock. It can be used like straw but is expensive for the task. Most of the hay grown in our area is one of the several types of hybrid Bermuda.
Straw is cheaper than hay. Neither should be considered organic or all-natural. The “why” to the last statement comes up often. The majority of wheat and hay crops are grown with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and for wheat, fungicides. Organic or all-natural straw and hay are available but scarce and expensive. Both will have seeds in the bales. Straw will grow mainly wheat but it will not be enough to make a sandwich. Anything growing from a bale of hay should be considered a noxious weed. The bottom line is that you would use straw for everything but feeding livestock. The fun part of having bales of straw that are left outside in the weather is, they grow. Remember the Chia Pet?