Can Guinea Pigs Eat Orchard Grass Instead Of Timothy Hay?

The orchard grass hay is a popular choice to feed small pets. But, can guinea pigs eat orchard grass hay?

Guinea pigs not only can eat orchard grass hay but also love it as the main diet. Orchard hay is also readily available and popular among guinea pig owners. You can also offer this hay as a treat, or use it alternately with timothy hay or as an alternative to timothy hay.

However, it’s important to choose a good product like small pet select orchard grass hay that doesn’t contain dirt, debris, or added chemicals and maintains proper nutritional value.

Let’s take a look at the difference between the orchard and timothy hay and learn when you can feed your guinea pigs.

Can guinea pigs eat orchard grass instead of timothy hay?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Orchard Grass Instead Of Timothy Hay?

Guinea pigs can eat orchard grass hay instead of timothy hay as it contains similar types and amounts of nutrients and is also good for health. This can is very helpful in case you or your guinea pig is allergic to timothy hay. They can also eat this hay in unlimited quantities just like the timothy hay if you choose the right product.

Difference between timothy hay and orchard grass hay for guinea pigs

Simply speaking, orchard hay is dried orchard grass whereas timothy hay is dried timothy grass. But, they are different in terms of cutting, nutritional value, and health benefits for your guinea pigs.

Here is the comparison between timothy hay and orchard grass hay for guinea pigs.

Popularity

Timothy hay is more popular than orchard hay because of its availability and its all benefits. However, orchard hay is one of the best alternatives to timothy hay for guinea pigs.

Texture

Orchard hay is softer and finer than timothy hay. Because of it guinea pigs can eat it quite easily and love it a lot. This hay also consists of a broader leaf.

Allergy

Many guinea pig owners are allergic to timothy hay, but orchard hay usually doesn’t cause allergy.

Nutritional value

Orchard hay contains slightly more fiber and protein than timothy hay. But, both hay is great to forage for guinea pigs.

The level of fiber and protein consisted within them is good for guinea pigs. Though timothy contains a little bit higher amount of calcium, both are safe for your little piggies.

Effect on dental health

Guinea pigs need hay that can help prevent overgrowth of their teeth. Both orchard grass hay and timothy hay can help to achieve that. 

But, timothy hay is better in this aspect as it is harder and much coarser than orchard hay. This makes timothy hay better than any other hay.

But, why dental health is so important for your guinea pigs?

Guinea pigs’ teeth never stop growing. So, they need to keep the teeth grinding with help of hay.

Substances like abrasive silica of the hay trim the overgrown teeth and maintain a proper length.

If the teeth grow too much, they can’t make a proper bite. So, they can’t eat, which will lead to various health issues and dental problems.

Though orchard hay works fine to solve this problem, timothy hay is much better in that.

Smell

Another reason your guinea pig prefers the Orchard hay is the smell. It has a sweeter smell as compared to timothy hay.

Cutting

Orchard hay is a three cutting hay whereas timothy hay is usually two cutting hay. This is the reason orchard hay is much softer.

Effect on health

You can feed both orchard and timothy hay in an unlimited quantity without having any significant health issues. Both of them contain a safe amount of calcium.

A high level of calcium may cause bladder stone and kidney disease in your guinea pigs.

Bedding

As orchard hay is smoother and softer in texture than timothy hay, it works better as a guinea pig’s bedding.

Check out the article about hay bedding and its alternative.

Is orchard grass or timothy hay better for guinea pigs?

Overall, both hay provides similar amounts of nutrients and work great as forage for guinea pigs. However, timothy hay is better than orchard hay in supporting the dental health of the guinea pigs. On the other hand, orchard hay is more hypoallergenic and helpful for those owners who are allergic to timothy hay.

What are the benefits of orchard grass hay for guinea pigs?

Here are the advantages of orchard hays for guinea pigs.

Allergy-free

Orchard hay is hypoallergenic. So, it can help owners who are allergic to timothy hay.

Offer required nutrients

Orchard hay provides all the essential nutrients in adequate amounts that ideal hay should offer.

No other nutrients are too high or too low like many types of hay. It offers a high amount of fibers that are mandatory for your guinea pigs.

They can also get an adequate amount of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

This makes it great in terms of nutritional value.

Here is the nutritional value of orchard hay.

Fiber – 34%

Protein – 10%

Calcium – 0.35%

Rich in fibers

Your guinea pigs get plenty of fibers from orchard hay, sometimes it’s more than that of timothy hay.

This hay is essential for them to gut health and proper digestion.

Support digestive system

Without proper hay and an adequate amount of fibers guinea pigs, the digestive system becomes weaker and causes diseases like GI stasis. 

Orchard hay supports the digestive system very well and prevents GI stasis as it contains a high amount of fibers.

Boost immunity

This hay enhances immunity and protects your guinea pigs from various diseases as it offers a lot of valuable nutrition and supports health.

Safe and good for health

High fat or calories in hay can cause unexpected weight gain or obesity and lead to various health issues.

Though orchard grass hay contains a higher amount of protein and calories than timothy hay, it’s not too much to cause any harm.

Moreover, it contains low amounts of calcium. So, there is no chance of having bladder stones because of it.

That’s why it’s good and safe for health.

Soft in texture and good to forage

Though orchard hay has broader leaves, it’s soft and smooth in texture. This allows them to eat it easily.

Pleasant smell

The smell of this hay is sweeter and pleasant. That’s why guinea pigs like them a lot.

Good as bedding

Since this hay is smooth in texture, it can be a good bedding option for guinea pigs. However, you shouldn’t use it as the main bedding material for a very long time. Check out the best bedding for guinea pigs.

Help in weight gaining

As orchard hay provides slightly more protein and fat timothy hay, you can feed your guinea pigs to increase their weight if it’s necessary.

What are the drawbacks of orchard grass hay for guinea pigs?

Here are the disadvantages of orchard grass hay.

May not be perfect for dental health

Though orchard grass hay is almost similar to timothy hay, it may not be so good for dental health as timothy hay for guinea pigs. It is a little bit softer and less coarse in texture.

May not be so effective in the long run

This hay may not fulfill all the requirements and needs if you use it for a long time.

Is orchard grass hay good for guinea pigs?

Orchard hay is good for guinea pigs because it is hypoallergenic and can be great as the primary food for guinea pigs, especially for those guinea pigs who are allergic to timothy hay. Moreover, it provides all the essential nutrients that good hay should offer.

Is orchard grass hay safe for guinea pigs?

The orchard grass hay offered by well-known brands doesn’t have any dust, pesticides, fertilizers, or chemicals, therefore it’s safe for guinea pigs. Moreover, this hay contains low amounts of calcium and so it doesn’t cause bladder stones or kidney problems.

3 Best orchard grass hay for guinea pigs

Here are the top 3 best orchard grass hay for guinea pigs.

1. Small Pet Select Orchard Grass Hay

Small Pet Select offers a great quality orchard hay for your guinea pigs. This is hypoallergenic and very popular for owners who want an alternative to timothy hay.

This provides all the required nutrients for them and good forage.

I recommend this product as it is great value for money and meets all the requirements that hay should offer.

2. Oxbow Animal Health Orchard Grass Hay

Just like other hay products oxbow offers you high-quality orchard grass hay for your guinea pigs.

It gives your little piggies a lot of nutrition and improves dental health as well. This can also be a great choice if you want hay that doesn’t cause any allergies.

3. Kaytee Orchard Grass

Kaytee is another popular brand for small pet supplies and you get orchard grass hay for your guinea pigs from them as well.

This hay is hypoallergenic and offers valuable nutrition. It comes in small packages. So, it’s good to do an experiment if your guinea pigs like this kind of hay of or not.

Takeaways

Orchard grass hay is the best substitute for timothy hay which provides an adequate amount of nutrition. But, you have to choose a good product to ensure enough nutrition and safety for guinea pigs.