Right after we got our first guinea pig, we realized that we were also going to need a variety of guinea pig supplies – especially food. We knew enough to grab a bag of hay because we had heard that pigs liked it. As we strolled through aisle after aisle of guinea pig supplies at the pet store, we noticed that there were several varieties of hay. The most popular seemed to be alfalfa – so we grabbed a bag of that 奇亞籽 and headed home – content, dumb and happy with our newest pet. Later, we did some research and found that we had unwittingly made a poor choice regarding our pig’s nutritional needs.
When we think of hay, we tend to think of grass or fibrous grass-like plants. However, alfalfa is not a grass hay. It is a legume hay. This means that it’s more closely related to peas, beans, lentils and peanuts than to your front lawn. As such, it’s much too rich in protein and calcium for your pet pig.
Alfalfa hay may be given to cavies with increased protein and calcium needs – young, growing pigs (under six-months of age); convalescing animals and pregnant or nursing sows. However, it should not be given daily to mature guinea pigs as it may cause excess weight gain and may increase the likelihood of kidney stones.
Our exotic pet veterinarian likes to say that alfalfa is like a Snickers bar to your pet. It tastes great, they love it, but it’s simply too rich to be eaten very often. Much better to stick to the healthier grass hays like Timothy hay, orchard grass hay or oat hay.
In recent years, Timothy has become the standard hay for healthy guinea pigs. Unlike alfalfa, Timothy is a grass hay. As such it contains the long strand fibers that are so very vital for your cavy’s digestive processes. And with a much lower protein and calcium content that alfalfa. Timothy is well-equipped to meet your pig’s nutritional requirements.
Timothy is the hay most commonly recommended by veterinarians.
Orchard Grass Hay
Orchard grass hay is very similar in fiber, protein and calcium contents to Timothy, it is also a very healthy choice for your guinea pig.
Oat hay is highly recommended because it is also a grass hay. It is comparable to Timothy and orchard grass hays in terms of fiber and protein content. It is also slightly lower in calcium content than the other two varieties.