Hay plays a major part in a guinea pig’s diet. Quality hay supplies them with essential fiber and nutrients which could prevent digestive problems. Having enough roughage to chew on will also help their dental health as piggies’ teeth continuously grow.
80% of a cavy’s diet must be good quality hay. Make sure that it is available for them to munch on all the time. Keep hay off the floor to avoid it from being soiled by your piggies' urine (guinea pigs can’t and won’t eat the hay then). You can put it in a hay feeder like a hay rack, a cardboard box, or a little DIY that you can think of! Do not give them chemically sprayed hay. Quality hay should be fresh (green in color and sweet in smell), be as dustless as possible (fine dust will make them sneeze), and contains no additives. Don’t always opt for the cheapest variant, always check the quality.
However, not all hay can be fed to guinea pigs. There are two types of hay for piggies: grass hay and alfalfa hay. The former is rich in fiber and low in calories, calcium, and protein, which makes it good for our piggy friends. The latter, on the other hand, is the opposite. That could lead to urinary stones and cause your guinea pig to get fat. Alfalfa hay (also known as legume hay) should not be provided as a cavy’s primary food source. Sick guinea pigs, pregnant sows, and pups could benefit from the extra nutrients but always consult your veterinarian first before adding legume hay to their diet.
Here are some grass hay that guinea pigs can eat:
1. Timothy Hay
A popular choice among guinea parents. It's nice smell and taste makes it a guinea pig favorite as well! Not only does Timothy hay provide the right amount of fiber, fat, and protein for our piggies, it is also easy to find. It is composed of the stem, leaf, and seed head of Timothy grass. Cavies can get lots of vitamins and minerals from the leaves and munching on the stem will help wear down your piggy’s teeth. Be sure to check that it is free of dust and molds. Choose Timothy hay that is green, fresh, and a little sweet smelling!
We recently reintroduced our Nourish Series Timothy Hay which is a product that focuses heavily on guinea pig health. From our packaging to our hay, we've researched and tried many different ways to provide the freshest and healthiest hay for your piggie. Our hay goes through a dust filter so that your guinea pigs won't be inhaling small particles to damage their respiratory system. It is then hand filtered to ensure they only get the best hay of the lot! It also comes in a convenient package which also encourages your piggie to exercise!
Be sure to check it out:
2. Meadow Hay
It is made from long strands of grass, leaves, flowers, and seed heads from the meadow. Some guinea pigs like the mix, while others do not. It is usually not processed and is packed after harvesting. The greener the Meadow hay, the better.
3. Orchard hay
Orchard hay has a soft but broader leaf than Timothy hay. If you are suffering from allergies, this may be a good substitute for Timothy hay.
4. Oats Hay
This hay has long stems with oats attached at the end. It contains a higher amount of fiber, fat, and protein than most of the others in the list, and should only be fed once in a while. The added nutrients could be beneficial to sick piggies, but always consult your veterinarian first.
5. Bermuda Hay
Bermuda hay is a very good source of fiber. It contains a moderate amount of protein and has a little more calcium than Timothy hay. Bermuda hay is commonly given as feed for larger animals.
In the end, you have to be careful when choosing what type of hay will be a staple in your guinea pig’s diet. Do not make the pick just based on the price, but also based on the quality and needs of your piggie. Make sure that your guinea pig always has unlimited access to hay for them to live a healthy life and to avoid health issues. If your piggie has special needs, be sure to consult your veterinarian to make sure they are getting the proper choice. Happy feeding!