As your guinea pigs need a lot of hay every day in their diet, you may wonder, can guinea pigs eat meadow hay?
A Guinea pig can eat meadow hay because it’s safe and provides valuable nutrition. Feed it as a treat occasionally or mix them with regular hay such as timothy hay to get the best result. But, you can’t use meadow hay as the main diet as it can’t fulfill all the health needs of guinea pigs that regular hay does.
Let’s find out when you can feed your guinea pigs meadow hay and know about its nutritional value, pros, and cons.
Is meadow hay good for guinea pigs?
Meadow hay is good for guinea pigs as it contains different edible plants, seeds, and grass which are nutritious. Moreover, it contains less dust and is very safe if you ensure the hay that’s fresh and free from animal toilets, fertilizer, and pesticides. However, it’s not good for guinea pigs’ health if you replace the regular hay such as timothy or orchard hay with meadow hay.
Let’s know what meadow hay consists of and why you can’t use it regularly.
What’s meadow hay for guinea pigs?
Meadow hay is a type of hay that’s made from soft and long strands of pasture grasses. Other than grass, meadow hay also consists of leaves, clovers, flowers, and seed heads of plants such as daisies, dandelions, and thistles.
All of these are edible and your guinea pigs can meadow hay without any issue if you choose fresh and chemical-free hay. You can see that it’s different from timothy hay which only consists of single grass.
When can you feed your guinea pigs meadow hay?
Your guinea pig can eat meadow hay in the following circumstances.
As a treat
You should offer your guinea pigs meadow hay occasionally as a treat. This helps change their taste and they also become happy.
Running out of regular hay
Meadow hay can be offered to your guinea pigs mostly when you are out of regular hay or those hays aren’t available at your local store. Meadow hay is easy to get and you may consider it as an alternative to hay.
To Provide nutrition
You can also provide your guinea pig meadow hay to improve their diet and balance the nutritional status.
Mix the meadow hay with timothy hay occasionally so that they get vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients a lot.
Allergic to timothy hay
Sometimes a guinea pig can be allergic to timothy hay. In those situations, meadow hay can be very effective as it doesn’t cause allergies usually. This hay is less dusty. This is another reason that it doesn’t cause any problem like this.
What are the benefits of meadow hay for guinea pigs?
Here are the advantages of meadow hays for guinea pigs.
Provide plenty of fibers
Meadow hay consists of long stand grass and it’s leafier. That’s why this hay provides a lot of fiber. Usually, it contains 2% more fiber than Timothy hay.
Good for forage usage
Meadow hay is very pleasant to forage in because of its soft texture. You know that hay is the main diet for your little piggies. It can also be good food for them.
Maintain digestive tract
Guinea pigs need an appropriate diet to maintain their digestive tract. This hay is green and leafy. Moreover, it consists of long strands of grass that contain a lot of fibers. All of these make this hay great to improve and maintain their digestive system.
Good nutritional value
This hay contains different types of plants and grass. So, your little pigs will get various nutrients from the hay.
It contains a high amount of fibers. Proteins and calcium are other important nutrients.
Here is the nutritional value of Meadow hay
All of these nutrients boost their immunity and improve their health. This hay is also good for dental health.
Unique flavors and texture
Your guinea pigs get unique flavors and textures from Meadow hay because it is a little bit different from regular hay. This hay is a mixture of naturally occurring hay grass.
Provides variation in diet
Just as you don’t like to eat one food regularly, guinea pigs may not like it as well. So, you can feed them meadow hay sometimes to make them happy. Sometimes you can mix it with timothy hay or provide both hay alternately.
Readily available and cheap in price
Meadow hay is very affordable. In fact, it’s cheaper than other hay. Moreover, you can get anywhere in the world. You can also order online and buy anytime.
Preferred by guinea pigs as a treat
Guinea pigs like to munch on soft food like Meadow hay because of the stem and flowers that are situated in the hay. So, it’s a great idea to offer this as a treat. However, some guinea pigs may not like that soft texture much.
Also works as bedding
Since this hay is softer, you can use it as a bedding option if you need it. In fact, it acts better than timothy hay as bedding because it’s more comfortable for guinea pigs.
What are the drawbacks of meadow hay for guinea pigs?
Here are the disadvantages of meadow hay for guinea pigs.
Not suitable as the main diet for guinea pigs
The meadow hay contains many nutrients it cant be effective as the main diet for the long run. The reason is regular hay offers more than this hay in terms of nutrients and health.
Not true hay
Meadow hay isn’t true hay, rather it consists of different types of grasses and plants. So, it’s hard to tell how much nutrients your guinea pigs will get from it.
Not good for dental health for a long time
Guinea pigs require hay that contains abrasive silica or not so soft to control the growth of teeth. Meadow hay lack this criterion. Yes, it can maintain dental health for some time. But, it’s not good in the long run.
May not provide adequate nutrition
Guinea pigs need a balanced diet to maintain their body. This hay cannot provide all the essential nutrients that regular hay offers. As this hay is a mixture of various grasses, they may not get the required amount of fiber, proteins, calcium, and other nutrients.
Offers one cutting only
One cutting hay is not suitable for your Guinea pigs to feed regularly. Two cutting hay is required for that. But, meadow hay is one cutting hay. That’s another drawback of this hay.
How much meadow hay can guinea pigs eat?
As meadow hay contains a variety of grasses and other plants, you can’t feed it to your guinea pigs in unlimited quantities just like timothy or orchard hay. If it contains plenty of protein and calcium that can be bad for them if they eat it a lot.
You can mix this hay with timothy, orchard, or regular hay sometimes. Also, it can be a great treat for them if you offer it once a week.
Can guinea pigs eat meadow hay instead of timothy hay?
If you are sure about the nutrients of meadow hay offered by you to your guinea pigs, you can use it as an alternative to timothy hay. However, you should feed this hay to your guinea pigs only for a few days until you get regular hay because it contains different grasses and plants and may not be suitable for their health in the long run.
Meadow hay vs Timothy hay: Which is better?
Overall, timothy hay is better than meadow hay in terms of the requirement, need, and nutritional value for guinea pigs. Timothy hay provides balanced nutrition, improves the digestive system, and maintains dental health more than meadow hay.
Let’s know about the difference between meadow and timothy hay.
Timothy hay is true hay that comes from only timothy grass while meadow hay is not true hay which contains different types of grasses and other plants that are kiln-dried.
The proportion of nutrients in these hays is also different. Your guinea pigs may not get all nutrients in the proper amount.
Another important difference is meadow hay is one cutting hay while timothy hay is usually two cutting hay to feed the guinea pigs.
This hay also contains more leaves and the stems of grasses are also longer.
So, timothy hay is much harder and more coarse whereas meadow hay is softer in texture.
Because of that, meadow hay isn’t as good as timothy hay for dental health.
However, meadow hay is more available and cheaper than timothy hay.
This hay works better as an occasional treat while timothy hay works the best as primary food.
Almost all guinea pigs love timothy hay. On the other hand, some guinea pigs, nay not like meadow hay.
However, meadow hay is more pleasant to forage.
As bedding materials, meadow hay is better than timothy hay because of its softer texture.
Best meadow hay for guinea pigs
Oxbow Animal Health Organic Meadow Hay is the best meadow hay because it is 100% certified organic hay and offers high fibers, low proteins. This hay is also safe for your guinea pigs as it contains no added chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. The flavor is also very pleasant and guinea pigs should like that.
You can feed your guinea pigs meadow hay sometimes as a treat or mix with regular hay to change their taste and give them extra nutrients. You can also use it as the substitute for the other hay for a while. But, don’t offer them meadow hay continuously as it doesn’t meet all the requirements of ideal hay for guinea pigs.