HAY - What is the best hay for your guinea pig?

HAY - What is the best hay for your guinea pig?

HAY - What is the best hay for your guinea pig?

Hay is by far the most important aspect of a guinea pigs diet, and should make up approximately 80% of their total daily intake, with pellets, fresh vegetables and the occasional treat making up the remaining 20%. Hay should be made available to your guinea pigs 24/7 as they are hindgut fermenters and should be eating regularly throughout the day, keeping their digestive tract moving. 

Hay is an excellent source of fibre which is important for good gut health and digestion. Hay also plays a vital role in maintaining dental health and keeping their back teeth worn down and at an appropriate length. Guinea pigs that do not have enough hay in their diet are more prone to developing dental disease.

If you've ever gone to the pet shop and looked at the wide variety of hay options available and felt very overwhelmed at what type of hay is the best option for your guinea pigs? Well you are not alone! There are many different varieties on the market, each with their own pro's and con's, which varies between different life stages. 

Read on below as we go through a few of the most common types of commercially available hay in Australia. 


Timothy and Orchard hay are a fantastic option - one of the best hay varieties on the market today. Timothy and Orchard hay are nutritionally balanced, packed with essential nutrients for your guinea pigs and are also low in sugars and fats - making it a perfect hay for everyday feeding. In Australia this type of hay is not as readily available as others, meaning those manufacturers such as OXBOW that do stock it have a quality control, ensuring you are consistently getting a good quality hay, and for these reasons can be more expensive to purchase. 


Meadow hay is another great option for daily feeding. Generally 'meadow' hay is not a singular type of hay, but a variety of different grasses mixed together. Any type of grassy hay is a great option for guinea pigs as they are also full of nutritional benefits with a low sugar content. 

Guinea Pigs Australia Grass Hay consists of TOP-GRADE rhodes grass hay, grown by Australian farmers. 


These types of hay are not a grass based hay, but made from cereal plants such as oat, wheat and barley, harvested prior to seed growth. This hay is a good option for guinea pigs, however is often higher in sugars and fats, and can promote weight gain and obesity when fed regularly. 


Lucerne or alfalfa hay is not actually a grass, but part of the legume plant family - often used by farmers to improve pasture and soil quality due to their abundance of nutrients. This type of hay is very high in nutrients including calcium, which can be beneficial for certain life stages such as young or growing guinea pigs, but should not be fed to adults due to the increased risk of developing urinary stones due to the high calcium content. Young guinea pigs require additional calcium for bone growth and development, as do pregnant or nursing guinea pigs for foetal development and milk production. We recommend reserving this type of hay ONLY for guinea pigs under 6 months old or those who are pregnant or nursing. 


We do not recommend using this type of hay in your guinea pigs diet as it has a very low nutritional content. Straw can be a great addition for bedding, burrowing and enrichment, but a good quality grass hay should also be provided. 


Chaff is not defined by a specific type of hay, but a dry forage chopped into small pieces. Chaff is generally NOT recommended for guinea pigs as it does not have the same benefits for dentition as longer strands of hay. Guinea pigs teeth are continuously growing and require constant chewing and wear to maintain them at an appropriate length and avoid overgrowth.  


Fresh grass is a fantastic option for your guinea pigs, is nutritionally beneficial, and they will love it! It is important however if you are picking your own grass and forage to ensure you know what type of plant you are feeding, and to avoid any plants or parts of the plant that are toxic to guinea pigs. It is also important to avoid any plants that may have had any poisons or chemicals applied, which can be unknown in public places. 


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