Choosing the Best Hay For Your Guinea Pig

Hey, are you looking for hay? You’ve come to the right place! This is where you’ll find the best hay for guinea pigs out there!

Choosing your little fella’s hay isn’t something you want to take lightly. Picking the wrong hay could lead to health problems.

To make matters easier for you, we’re going to guide you through finding the right hay and we’ll also give you some options!  

Best Hay For Guinea Pigs: Our Top Picks

Here’s a list of hay gourmets.

Kaytee is one of the top hay brands on the market right now. This one is for the foodie guinea pigs out there! Timothy Hay Plus is hay plus dried fruit.

There’s a variety of flavors to choose from. There’s carrot, cranberry, mango, marigold, and mint. Do you know what this means? It means that if your guinea pig refuses to eat hay, you might have just found a solution!

The variety can be a way to switch up your piggy’s food a little. Some of these little guys can grow bored of eating the same hay all the time and others don’t like it. Timothy Hay Plus gives them a little change without having to sacrifice the nutrients.

It’s also a change of texture! They could enjoy chewing the dried fruit for a change. Needless to say, chewing them would keep their teeth healthy.

Pros

  • A taste sensation for guinea pigs
  • It could get your guinea pigs out of hiding upon sniffing it
  • It’s 2-in-1 so you don’t have to buy fruits as well
  • High in fiber
  • If one flavor doesn’t work, there are more to try

Cons

  • Some people found hard substances inside the pack
  • Some packets have very few pieces of fruit

Oxbow Animal Health is another favorite among small pets. Oxbow hay is harvested from their family farm for your family pet!

This hay is certified organic so you don’t need to worry about whether or not there are chemicals. It’s 100% natural with zero additives. This means that your little guy’s health should be safe with this one.

Quality should not be in question here. The sweet smell gives away its quality right away. Add to that the fact that the hay is hand-picked, your guinea pig deserves only the best!

Speaking of sweet, Organic Meadow Hay is just the perfect amount of sweet! On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being sweet and 5 being hearty, Oxbow Meadow Hay rate their product as a 2. This means that your guinea pig should enjoy it whether he/she is a sweet tooth or not!

Pros

  • Recommended by vets
  • Fresh strands of hay
  • The strands aren’t too soft, nor too crunchy
  • Ideal for people who are allergic to hay

Cons

  • The pack is too stuffed and tends to make a mess
  • It’s a little pricey

Kaytee Timothy Hay - Best Timothy Hay

Another Kaytee pick, this is good old timothy hay. It’s been approved by thousands of small pets, including guineas.

Kaytee provides fresh, dry strands of hay. They’re exactly what you should be looking for, with little to no moisture and, by extension, any mold.

The best part is that the strands are hand-picked. This is the best kind since it means they didn’t lose any nutrients when being selected. 

The strands themselves are a blend of both first and second cuttings. This means that they’ll be rich in fiber to keep your guinea piggy’s digestive system healthy. The fiber content is 32%, which guarantees your little fella’s going to get the nutrients it needs.

Because too much protein can do more harm than good, protein makes up only 6% of the nutritional value.

Pros

  • The price is great
  • The pack could last for months
  • The hay is all-natural
  • It’s well-packed and doesn’t make a mess

Cons

  • There are some, albeit few, bad batches that might be dusty chopped up

Oxbow Animal Health Orchard Grass Hay - Best Orchard Grass Hay

Oxbow Animal Health strikes again! Their orchard grass hay is worth the try at least once!

Orchard Grass is also good for guinea pigs so you could use it every once in a while so that your little fella doesn’t get bored of timothy hay.

Just like timothy hay, the amount of fiber is 32%. The protein is also 7%, same as the timothy hay, so it’s just as healthy.

This small package is a great option if you want to try the hay for the first time. You could give your piggy a little taste and see if he/she likes it or not. If not, you didn’t waste a lot of money!

Pros

  • All-natural hay with little to no chemicals used
  • Recommended by vets
  • Soft strands are easy for your guinea pig to chew
  • Just enough sweetness to appeal to your piggy’s taste buds

Cons

  • A little expensive

For those of you who want to make the most out of their spending, Standlee Hay Premium Timothy Grass could be what you’re seeking.

The box is 25 lbs. If you divide the cost by the amount you get, you’ll find a massive difference between its price and most of the other hay products.

Whereas this might be a lot for some people, it should be perfect for those of you who have several piggies running around. If that’s you, really think about this one.

Pros

  • All-natural
  • Sun-cured for fresher and greener hay
  • Grown in minimal humidity conditions for less moisture
  • Reclosable box keeps hay fresh

Cons

  • Smaller containers cost a lot

Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting - Best 2nd Cutting Hay

If you’re looking for a specifically balanced diet for your guinea pig, Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting is a great option.

Second cutting hay should guarantee a specific amount of nutrients so you won’t be left wondering. It’s the standard amount of fiber, protein, and calcium. Unlike most products, you know exactly what to expect from this one.

The seed-head to stem ratio is precisely selected to give your piggie the best of both worlds. This means that you should goodbye to stem-only hay.

Pros

  • Smells fresh
  • Less dust than other brands
  • Consistently long strands

Cons

  • Larger boxes are very tightly packed
  • There could be some bad batches

Why Do Guinea Pigs Need Hay?

brown guinea pig eat hay

Guinea pigs need to have non-stop access to hay. Here’s a fun fact, guinea pigs’ teeth are always growing. Can you imagine that? This is where hay comes in, it’s like a chew toy, basically. Hay keeps the little fellas chewing to wear down their teeth so that they stay the average size and not overgrow.

It’s also essential to maintaining the bacteria in their intestines. In other words, it’s good for their digestive system.

Things To Consider When Buying Hay For Guinea Pigs

How can you know which hay to buy? This is what we’ll get into now. We’re going to tell you how to pick your hay, okay? Couldn’t help a little rhyme.

  • Type of Hay

First and foremost, you should see what kind of hay it is. Not all types of hay are safe for your little one. Timothy, oat, barley, and grassy hay are the kinds that are safe for your piglet.

Avoid feeding them clover hay and alfalfa. A lot of people promote alfalfa hay which is quite unhealthy for your little guy. Lucerne, or alfalfa, contains high levels of calcium, which could cause stones and lead to surgical removal.

It would, however, be safe to feed them a mixture of alfalfa and other safe types of hay. Alfalfa is also rich in protein, which is why it could be used to feed pregnant or new mommies. The calcium and protein could give them a nutritious boost to help maintain their health.

  • Free of Chemicals

Chemicals can be fatal to any of us, let alone the little fellas. Pay very close attention to the hay you’re purchasing. Not all brands mention whether or not the hay is all-natural, which probably means it’s not! You should double-check that it’s free of chemicals to guarantee the well-being of your little one.

  • Quality

How can you know which hay is good and which is bad if you’re not the one eating it? You can put your other senses to use!

  • Sense of Smell

When you open up the packet, take a good whiff of the hay. By the smell alone, you could tell if it’s fresh or old. It should smell sweet and strong.

  • Sense of Touch

Now, put your hand in the hay. What does it feel like?

You want the hay to be as dry as possible. Moist hay is more likely to grow mold, mildew, or fungus pretty quickly and you don’t want your guinea pig to eat that.

  • Sense of Sight

Take the straws out and look at them. Are they cut into little pieces or are they long strands? Short straws aren’t good for the digestive system and might even cause intestinal blockage.

  • Cutting

There are 3 different cuttings of hay.

  • First Cutting

First cutting is for animals who need a high fiber diet, especially those who need to shed a few pounds, no pun intended. It’s also recommended for animals with dental problems, believe it or not. It’s also low in calcium and protein.

  • Second Cutting

Second cutting hay is ideal for everyone. All of the nutrients are perfectly balanced so it’s good for all ages. 

  • Third Cutting

Does your guinea pig refuse to eat hay? Is it elderly or recovering from something? Try third cutting hay! It’s softer than the others, which makes it easy to chew for guinea pigs with health problems. It could also be used to help them put on some weight. 

Third cutting hay is typically rich in protein and calcium and low in fiber. You don’t want to use it frequently unless instructed otherwise by a vet.

How Much Hay Should I Give My Guinea Pig?

As much as he/she desires! 80 - 90% of a guinea pig’s daily diet should consist of hay. No matter what else you feed it, it can’t replace hay. You’re going to need it to be available for your little piggy all-day-long, every day!

The question of how much depends on how much your buddy can chomp down in one day. If you’re looking for an average, you’re probably looking at 1 oz a day.

FAQs

Here are some questions other guinea pig guardians are asking.

  • What should I do if my guinea pig refuses to eat hay?

If your guinea pig won’t eat his/her hay, try different types. It’s probably because that particular type isn’t appealing to him/her. Chances are it probably isn’t fresh or could be moldy.

Try one of our top picks and check the hay yourself before giving it to the little guy. Make sure it’s fresh-smelling, dry, and that the strands are long.

Make sure to supply your guinea pig with fresh hay and not leftovers. Hay grows mold pretty quickly, it could explain why he/she refuses to eat it.

Place the hay somewhere where it’s not close to any water, otherwise it’ll go bad in no time.

  • Do I need to throw out any hay that is left after 24 hours?

Yes. Hay can grow mold pretty quickly so you need to change it pretty quickly. 

  • How often should I change my guinea pigs’ hay?

You should change your guinea pig’s hay no less than once a day. Otherwise, you could risk it going bad and harming the little guy.

  • Can my guinea pig have fresh grass instead of hay?

While grass is quite healthy for guinea pigs, if it’s in certain conditions, it’s not sufficient to fully replace hay. You could feed your guinea pig some grass beside hay, but don’t fully rely on it.

The Takeaway

Have you made your decision yet?

We’re no herbivores, but we think the best hay out there is Kaytee Timothy Hay Plus. Kaytee provides top-of-the-line, chemical-free hay so quality should be a guarantee. It also checks all the boxes when it comes to freshness, smell, texture, and so on.

Not only does it provide the same nutrients as any other timothy hay product, but it gives a little extra as well! The dried fruits are like treats for your little fella, so that’s two meals in one!

There, you have it. We wish your little piggy a bon appétit!

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