There are lots of ways that we can feed our guinea pigs so that they can grow healthy. Virtually everyone knows that guinea pigs are herbivores, and selecting the right grass to feed them is a painstaking task. Alfalfa hays are legumes that are highly rich in protein, chlorophyll, carotene, calcium, and other minerals. It also contains the vitamins B group, C, D, E, and K. And just like any other kind of hay, they contain several other significant nutrients that are beneficial when fed in sizeable amounts to guinea pigs.
It is an important forage crop that is widely cultivated in several parts of the world. Aside from the fact that they are edible, they can also be used to produce green manure and can be used as cover crops in farms.
Considering the nutritional value of this plant, you may want to ask can guinea pigs eat alfalfa hay?, Yes they can. In fact, it is a good source of calcium, vitamins, minerals, and protein. It also contains fibers that help in protecting the guinea pig from diseases and improve their health. However, they cannot be fed to guinea pigs on a regular basis. Alfalfa contains too many nutrients which can affect the health of your cavy and cause obesity in them. They can only be fed with it during a specific time in their lifetime. They can consume it either at the beginning of their life in order to build their bones and help them grow or during pregnancy and nursing periods.
Now that your question has been answered, you still probably have a range of other questions that you need to ask: What are the benefits my piggy can gain from alfalfa? What are the nutritional constituents of alfalfa? What are the risks attached to feeding my guinea pig alfalfa?
Don’t worry, we would provide detailed answers to these questions.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Alfalfa Hay
Actually, alfalfa hay is usually fed to feed rabbits and horses because of its heavy calcium content, which these animals need in great volume for their body system to work properly. But for your guinea pig, this is entirely different. It can have a negative effect on their system if they are being fed heavily with this powerful grass on a daily basis. Scientists also confirmed that alfalfa is really good for pregnant or nursing guinea pigs, and also baby piggies who need more calcium in their diet.
Alfalfa has many benefits when fed to your piggy. It can regulate the digestive system of your cavy, by making it easier for them to process food. If fed with alfalfa in small amounts, your guinea pig may become immune to stomach problems such as diarrhea. Alfalfa hay can be added as a supplement to their daily diet. It also increases the bodily reserves of the pregnant piggy and makes breastfeeding easier. It also prevents malnutrition issues in their growing youngster.
Unlike humans who stop growing teeth at a particular age, guinea pigs continue to grow teeth, and when their teeth are too large, it becomes difficult and painful for them to eat. Alfalfa, just like every other hay is abrasive, and it can help with maintaining the length of their teeth and regulating them, keeping them in check.
In addition to these benefits, alfalfa can also be used for your cavy as bedding material. Guinea pigs like to have something soft and comfortable to lie on. So it would be good if you can provide this for them.
Nutrition Facts of Alfalfa Hay
Alfalfa is very rich in the following; chlorophyll, carotene, calcium and other minerals, and vitamins B, C, D, E, and K. Also it is a good source of vitamin D; vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
For guinea pigs, alfalfa hays may be too powerful. Horses are the only animals that need alfalfa hays the most. They are more agile and active animals than guinea pigs so they need more of the protein and calcium contents from the hay. We have about 18.0% of crude protein in Alfalfa, 1.3% of crude fat in Alfalfa hays, 30.0% of fibers (that is a high level of fiber for Guinea pigs).
The most important hay for guinea pigs is timothy hay which is good for their overall diet and health. Feed the pigs alfalfa hay only when they need it.
Give your pigs their appropriate hay ration with vegetables at the right time. Your pets are the reflection of whatever you feed them and how you take care of them.
Risks to Consider When Feeding Alfalfa Hay to Guinea Pigs
Alfalfa hay is highly rich in proteins and calcium. The high intake of protein in guinea pigs can lead to obesity. Also, the high intake of calcium may, in turn, lead to urolith, that is, bladder stone formation in guinea pigs, causing them urinary tract issues and digestive problems. Alfalfa hay can be very dangerous for your guinea pigs when fed in excess or when given in an inappropriate ration.
Do not overfeed your guinea pigs with alfalfa hay just because you want them to have the energy or to be strong. Guinea pigs do not need too much calcium in their body. Just like rabbits, they absorb calcium efficiently and also excrete excess when they urinate. Because of this, their metabolic system is unique. So, make sure you do not get carried away by feeding them this hay on a regular basis.
Quick Facts on Alfalfa Hay and Guinea Pigs
- Alfalfa hays are made from the alfalfa plant which is also called lucerne (a name most commonly used in New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK), with the botanical name medicago sativa.
- Alfalfa is a perennial plant, categorized under the legume family, fabaceae.
- The alfalfa plant can also be used for grazing, silage, green manure, and cover crop.
- Alfalfa is said to be of south-central Asia origin and it was initially cultivated in ancient Iran.
- Alfalfa can be cultivated either in spring and later in the fall especially in dense areas.
- It is a forage legume that has a normal lifespan of four to eight years.
- Out of all the common hay crops, like grass and Timothy, alfalfa is said to usually have the highest nutritional value.
- A quick fun fact is that; “humans also eat alfalfa sprouts in salads and sandwiches”. Yes, it is an edible plant for the human race also.
Before I let you go, one final thought on food. With food, you can’t ever be too careful which is why I get all guinea pig food from a reliable source such as Amazon. If you are not sure what to order but believe your little piggies deserve some great treats please check our Helpful Guide to the Best Guinea Pig Treats to get some ideas. We have also made a full list of foods that guinea pigs can and can’t eat (150+ Types of Foods). Be sure to also check our recommended products page for everything you will ever need to assure a happy life for your Guinea Pigs. Hope this information was helpful and you have found the answer you were looking for.
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