Can Guinea Pigs Eat Hay? (Benefits, Risks & More)

Hay often originates from wholesome, nutrient-dense plants like ryegrass or lentils. It is one of the things that is frequently mentioned when discussing guinea pigs basic needs.

Guinea pigs need to have access to hay at all times. They need water, hay, and pellets in order to survive with other raw foods such as vegetables, fruits, and herbs. That’s why I include hay in their diet regularly.

Is Hay Good for Guinea Pigs? | Health Benefits

Is Hay Good for Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are extremely sensitive, which explains why their respiratory system is so fragile. This is why the hay should be as dust-free as possible. There are countless advantages, but a few of them are as follows:

  • Hay prevents the teeth of guinea pigs to get too long.
  • It prevents illness.
  • Hay can be used as comfortable bedding. 
  • Although it is insufficient, it also includes vitamin C, to which you may add other foods.
  • Hay has a lot of fiber, which helps guinea pigs have a healthy digestive system.

Related: Do Guinea Pigs Need Hay? | Food Diet Essentials

Nutrition Facts and Different Types of Hay

Nutrition Facts and Different Types of Hay

1. Alfalfa Hay

This type of hay is not recommended for casual use. Young, pregnant, or nurturing guinea pigs should eat alfalfa hay because it contains high levels of calcium. In these stages of life, they need more calcium. 

However, calcium is the mineral that you need to keep an eye on because of its immediate and drastic effects on a guinea pig. Calcium is very beneficial for little pets if it is consumed in small amounts. Small amounts of calcium strengthen the bones, along with vitamin C. It also improves the teeth. 

2. Timothy Hay

Timothy hay is perfect for any adult guinea pig. You can start feeding them timothy hay after they stopped growing – at 12 or 14 months.  

Timothy hay is much more suitable for them because it has a low amount of calcium. The quantity of hay a guinea pig eats a day is huge compared to other foods, so it makes perfect sense to give your little friend a low-calcium type of hay. 

Additionally, timothy hay contains vitamin C. Vitamin C has a lot of benefits for guinea pigs. It lowers the chance of getting a cold, fixes the calcium in the bones, and prevents scurvy, a disease that is practically a vitamin C deficiency. 

The amount of hay with low vitamin C they consume daily is insufficient to provide the 10 to 30 mg they require during the day. Pellets contribute, but it still isn’t enough. Vegetables and fruits are the last part of the diet that completes the scheme. This is why a balanced diet is key. 

3. Orchard Hay

For guinea pig owners who are sensitive to Timothy hay or who wish to add some variation to their diet, orchard hay is a great alternative.

Compared to regular Timothy hay, orchard hay has a richer aroma and a smoother texture. Orchard hay has amazing fiber content and is just a little bit lower in protein than timothy in terms of nutritional value.

4. Bermuda Hay

Bermuda hay is a high-quality, unusual kind of hay. It is a fantastic fiber source. Additionally, it offers somewhat more calcium than Timothy hay and a significant quantity of protein. Larger animals are frequently fed Bermuda hay.

Can Hay Be Bad for Guinea Pigs? | Possible Risks

Can Hay Be Bad for Guinea Pigs
  • Too much calcium. The calcium to phosphorus ratio determines if bladder or kidney stones will start forming. This is why alfalfa hay needs to be consumed by guinea pigs that have a temporary calcium deficiency.
  • You need to check the hay you are going to feed your guinea pigs for any mold or high content of dust because they can get sick or get allergies. This is why it is very important to only buy well-established brands of hay.

What Are Guinea Pigs Not Allowed to Eat?

Guinea pigs are not allowed to eat any cooked foods or meals – boiled, fried, or baked – for several reasons. One of them is that their digestive system is adapted to this lifestyle and it cannot process cooked food.  

Secondly, it is simply not beneficial for them. Raw foods have the maximum nutrients they can have. Once you cook them, they lose a lot of their properties, making cooked food not as healthy as raw food.

What Does a Really Healthy Diet Look Like for a Guinea Pig?

A healthy diet for a guinea pig is very varied. It should consist of vegetables, fruits, hay, water, and pellets. They eat hay and drink water all the time. The only concern about these two is to always be fresh. 

Pellets are not a big concern. A small amount daily (an eighth of a cup) is enough for their basic needs. Guinea pigs get the rest of the vitamins and minerals they need from vegetables and fruits. The secret to their veggie-fruit diet is variety and small quantities. 

Quick Facts on Hay

Quick Facts on Hay
  • Hay is the main source of food for different domestic animals. 
  • The moisture content of baling hay should be less than 20% for it to be safe to eat by animals. 
  • Hay is usually harvested later than it should be. The later you harvested the hay, the more it loses its quality. 
  • Rain is pretty damaging for the hay, but it doesn’t compare to the amount of damage caused by late harvest. Rain causes increased microbial activity.

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.

List of Sources

A Care Guide for Your Guinea Pig (Cavia Porcellus)

Care of Guinea Pigs

How to Care For Your Pet Guinea Pig

The Effects of Diet on Anatomy, Physiology and Health in the Guinea Pig