How can you tell hay from straw?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by valschickens, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. valschickens

    valschickens Big Brother's Watching

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    Yeah, I'm a newbie to this whole farming thing, but lovin' every minute of it!! The house we moved into has a chicken coop, and inside it has about 6 bales of either hay or straw. How can I tell the difference? And why is this important?

    Thank you in advance for your help!!

    Val
     
  2. momofeight

    momofeight Active Member

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    Hay is green and straw is yellow.
     

  3. jefferson

    jefferson fuzzball in the Cascades

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    you beat me to it momof8. But your forgot. If it's full of poop, it may have other colors too
     
  4. mammabooh

    mammabooh Metal melter Supporter

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    And, straw is usually used for bedding and animals eat hay. Hay has lots of good nutritious goodies in it...straw is just left over from harvesting wheat or oats.
     
  5. momofeight

    momofeight Active Member

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    LOL!
     
  6. tooltime

    tooltime Border Ruffian

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    If it's still in bales, I doubt if it has "other colors" in it. If it's been sitting around, the hay could be sunbleached/weathered to not be close to green anymore.

    Straw should have bigger, flatter stems compared to alfalfa or grass hay. Straw bale might have some oat or wheat or barley hulls in the chaff from the bale.
     
  7. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Hay is an immature crop, i.e. harvested before the crop has produced mature seed.

    Straw is the residue that remains after threshing a mature crop for seed. Straw may have empty threshed heads or a few immature heads but shouldn't have much in the line of seed. HOWEVER some combine operators still don't have a clue as to how to set their machine and will throw a considerable portion of the grain out the back, which will wind up in bales of straw.

    Hay is more palatable for animals than straw, and is more nutritious. However some kinds of straw can be treated with anyhdrous ammonia to make it both more palatable and nutritious. I've found that cattle love to eat barley straw for a change of diet.

    Straw is typically from crops that have hollow stems as opposed to the solid ones of grass. Straw is usually preferred for mulch as it the insulating value is greater to keep the soil cool, as well as it SHOULD have fewer seeds, especially weed seeds, in it. Most straw will not compact as greatly as hay so allows better breathing by the roots.

    As stated usually the immature crop will have a greenish cast while the mature crop will be golden, buff, or whatever you might call it.
     
  8. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Was told straw didn't have much nitrogen while hay does which makes it better to feed livestock with.

    Ted
     
  9. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Yes but I have cut Small Grains at early Stage just after Heading for Hay.I would say if you bust a bale open and its yellow or light brown I would say Straw.

    big rockpile
     
  10. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Hay is a generic term for feed roughage made up of grasses and or legumes, and some small grains cut early, before heading out. It may have dried grasses or broad leafed plants in it and should be darker coloured than straw, straw is usually a light yellow colour. Hay will lose its colour over time though. Straw would have thicker stems than most hay, if it looks like a " drinking straw" it is straw!
     
  11. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Now that we have straw and hay hashed out should we tackle haylage? grin.
     
  12. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Long stem or short, baled and wrapped, bagged, or blown in a silo? Trench, bunker, or tower? Sealed, stave, poured, or metal? :p
     
  13. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Yes but Sudan Grass looks like a Drinking Straw when cut. :rolleyes:

    big rockpile
     
  14. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Sorta, it looks more like miniture corn plants. Canary grass could get confusing though.
     
  15. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) This has been illuminating but I would just like to say to the poster of the original question...Val, if this stuff is old put it somewhere so your animals can't get to it. Check it carefully before even using it for bedding for poultry. You don't to use it if it's moldy or has had rodents in it.

    Maybe put it on your garden for next year's mulch or something. ;)

    LQ
     
  16. momofeight

    momofeight Active Member

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    Good point! Buy some books on your chickens too, I feel you are really a newbieand may need quite a bit of help. Just a suggestion!
     
  17. pointer_hunter

    pointer_hunter Well-Known Member

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    Just close your eyes and pick up a bale. If you can pick it up easily, it's straw. If you have to use any muscle, it's probably hay. Unless there's an animal sitting on the bale when you lift.