Today’s menu is one non-typical ‘food’ item for guinea pigs – the haylage. We know that guinea pigs can eat certain types of hay that benefit them a lot. And what about the haylage? And how does this differentiate between regular hay or similar ‘food’ items for some rodents?
Can guinea pigs eat haylage? The answer is yes, guinea pigs can eat haylage, but it is only recommended for the fully grown guinea pigs. And, the grown cavies need this very moderately because it has some calcium. The difference between haylage and hay is that haylage has a sweeter and more pleasant smell and aroma. It is even noted that haylage is better as far as dust content goes – it is quite dust-free in most cases – this is good for the cavies because dust creates respiratory issues. Anyway, the haylage is very aromatic and pleasant for the guinea pigs. But, it should not be given very often – we’ll explain this in more details below.
Before we continue with the facts and info on haylage, we have to define what exactly this is. The haylage is basically silage that is made out of grass, and it is not fully, but only partially dried. That’s why it has a nice, and pleasant sweet smell or aroma, and more moisture. But, what is silage now? The silage is a bulk of grass or a grass food that is carefully stored in a compact shape and is kept in conditions that are air-tight. Usually, this procedure is done in a silo, there is no drying beforehand, and it is a very common animal feed (important during winter times mostly). We need to be more careful with haylage as guinea pig food, so keep reading below about all pros, cons, and facts about haylage.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Haylage
One of the slight benefits of haylage is that it is a fermented food item. The haylage has natural sugars in it, so during a fermentation process, those sugars change to volatile fatty acids and lactic acid.
Also, it is a common wrong beliefe that haylage is too sugary – it is not! In fact, haylage has less sugar than regular hay.
Another benefit of haylage is that it has a high amount of protein and it is quite digestible, in comparison to hay.
Haylage is also rich in iron and manganese. These two nutrients are very important; the iron fights anemia and makes blood strong and healthy. And, the manganese is a very strong antioxidant that acts as a shield against most diseases. There is also some vitamin C in the haylage, even though in very small amounts – and this vitamin keeps cavies safe from scurvy.
Nutrition Facts of Haylage
Haylage is a very dense and filling type of food. It has many nutrients and should be given in carefully and in moderation, otherwise, this might lead to weight gain. This is not a great risk for the health, however, precaution is needed a bit.
Also, once haylage is fully unwrapped – it doesn’t last so good very long. Even pet shop owners and veterinarians advise to use up the haylage in a short period of time, because it gets stale and loses aroma and some nutrients very fast. With this said, when you have a small amount of haylage, you need to spend it relatively fast. Otherwise, the rest is going to be thrown and later be useless without its aromatic freshness. Try to use it within several days of opening the package.
Also, a normal serving of haylage would be a handful. The frequency of servings can be every day (most owners claim this), but try to keep the diet of the cavy more versatile, so give this just a few times per week. And, on other days, feed the guinea pig with the healthy types of hay, as well as the fresh produce and herbs they like.
Risks to Consider When Feeding Haylage to Guinea Pigs
Since haylage is fibrous and also fattening to a certain extent, it should be given in small portions or in moderation to cavies. The guinea pigs have small stomachs and digestion for them is very delicate, otherwise, too much fiber or dense foods can cause them loose stool or aches, or even weight gain.
Also, beware of haylage that was unused for quite some time. This will make it prone to getting mold, and mold is often fatal for cavies, even just a little bit of it!
Since this is fermented grass, the haylage is also sugary. The digestive system of cavies cannot fully digest the sugars.
Partially a risk, but haylage is not good if you consider it as bedding. Since it has some moisture, the piggies would be uncomfy resting in something like that. You wouldn’t want to nap on a wet bed sheet, right?
The most important risk to mention is that haylage has a good amount of calcium. This mineral is also seen in hay or in some types of grass, but because of this, be precautious with the frequency and portions. Otherwise, the calcium will form urinary stones in the fragile small digestive system of the guinea pig.
Quick Facts on Haylage
- Haylage has no dust and this is a great thing if used as a food for cavies
- Compared to some other hay types, this is just as healthy or even healthier
- Haylage is densely stored and packed – so it doesn’t occupy too much space for storage
- You can store haylage both inside and outside because it comes packed in the material polyethylene
- Taste-wise, haylage is tastier than hay!
- Compared to hay, the haylage has more nutritional value
- Haylage is digested with ease
- Haylage is also more budget-friendly than some hay types
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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