Hay is for Horses—and Small Animals, Too!

Many owners of small pets are surprised to learn that small animals need to have a constant supply of food. Of course, one of the best types of food for animals such as chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs is hay.

When small animals eat, previously eaten food is pushed further along the gastro-intestinal track. If food is not continually pushed through the GI tract, harmful bacteria can build up in the digestive system and kill these animals.

Just like livestock feed, hay is a popular choice for small animals because it has a great deal of fiber without a lot of calories. This allows small animals to eat as much as they like without becoming too large. In fact, hay provides for daily energy requirements while keep the digestive system running smoothing.

Consider the guinea pig. Hay can be used to meet several of these small animals’ needs. Hay can be used as litter, main meals and snacks. It is best to give guinea pigs crisp stalks in the morning with water and a carrot. It is best not to provide green fodder so that they will chew on the hay and produce saliva, helping with digestion.

When you feed hay to your guinea pigs, put a pile in the middle of the cage and consider adding some straw. Guinea pigs chew all day to grind down their teeth—which continue to grow throughout their lifetime. Guinea pigs can experience feeding problems if their teeth get too long so it is important to keep an eye on the length of their teeth and see your veterinarian if you detect a problem. Many times what a pet owner sees as a loss of appetite has to do with dental problems, not digestive problems.

Guinea pigs must eat three meals a day. Veterinarians usually suggest green fodder for lunch and fruit and vegetables for dinner. Again, it is important to make sure that hay remains available all throughout the day and night regardless of what you feed them at mealtime.

Guinea pigs and other small animals should always have fresh water available. Further, you may want to consider a mineral lick—although you should talk to your veterinarian first.

Finally, never abruptly change a guinea pig’s diet. If you are going to introduce a new food make sure you do it in small amounts over the period of several days. And remember, don’t skimp on the hay!

The Hay Manager

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For over 17 years, The Hay Manager has been  innovating and improving hay management tools to the farming industry. Besides manufacturing round bale feeders.