THE IMPORTANCE OF HAY IN A GUINEA PIG'S DIET
It’s no coincidence that we are called HayPigs!
As fibrevores, high quality feeding hay is an essential food for guinea pigs and they literally need access to it 24/7.
Good quality grass hay should account for 80 – 90% of the daily food intake for your piggies, along with fresh water, vegetables and a small amount of nuggets. This might seem like a lot, but hay (along with forage) is super important, it literally keeps their bodies ticking over. Without it, a guinea pig's unique digestive system won't work properly, so please make sure they maintain a high fibre diet with loads of hay!
In addition to keeping their digestive system in order, hay is also great for wearing your piggies teeth down. A guinea pig’s teeth are always growing, so regular chewing helps stop them overgrowing.
The trick with hay is to make sure you are getting good quality feeding hay that is super fresh! It should be green in colour, smell sweet and be free of dust. We joke as piggy parents that it should smell tasty enough to eat ourselves!
At HayPigs! we also use hay as bedding for our piggies, and while they do chomp on it (especially when their den has been freshly cleaned out) this bedding hay soon gets trampled and soiled on and we find they quickly lose interest in it as a snack food! So, it's strongly recommended to present feeding hay in something that keeps it off the floor. The HayPigs! Wheek Wagon (but of course!) is a great way to contain your feeding hay, giving good access for a herd of piggies to munch away happily on their essential fibre. But also, don’t forget you can be creative with how you present their hay too... try using left over toilet roll tubes, egg boxes or other natural cardboard items to stuff the hay into, maybe with some other tasty treats and forage hidden in there too. This presents them with more of a food challenge and some stimulation to keep their brains active.
Here at HayPigs! HQ, we give our piggies fresh handfuls of feeding hay multiple times a day – it’s most interesting to them when it’s fresh out of the bag! Our piggies really love the Burgess Long Stem Feeding Hay (which is great for piggies!), and also their Chamomile Herbage and the Dandelion and Marigold Feeding Hay. But there are lots of great feeding hays out there – look for a tasty Timothy or meadow hay. If your piggies don’t eat much of what you present for them, try something else! Some piggies can be picky, so don’t risk them not eating enough hay, experiment with different types to find what they like best*.
(*It’s worth noting that alfalfa hay is high in calcium and, aside from perhaps feeding this to pregnant sows and guinea pig pups, it should be reserved as a treat only for healthy adult pigs, as too much calcium could cause problems.)
So, it really is hay, hay and more hay! And what better way of treating your piggies than giving them a super healthy and tasty snack, that will have them popcorning with joy?!
Right, I’m off to pick the hay out of my hair…and off my jumper…and out of my boots….
Did you know we now stock tasty feeding hay on our website?! Why not check it out here.