Guinea pig hay: how much and what kind? |

Guinea Pig Hay: What kind and how much? (Guide For New Owners)

We had so many questions about guinea pig hay when we first brought Theo and Remmy home.

Guinea pig hay

One of the most important nutritional topics for new guinea pig owners is knowing what kind and how much hay to feed. We spent a lot of time researching this topic as new guinea pig owners and are sharing all that we learned in this article.

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Do guinea pigs need hay?

Guinea pigs are herbivores and naturally eat a variety of different plant materials in the wild.

It’s important to keep this in mind when we think about what kind of hay and grasses to feed our guinea pig.

According to the Veterinary Medical Associates, a guinea pig’s diet should be made up of 70 – 75% hay.

High-quality hay provides essential nutrients, helps maintain digestive health and keeps teeth worn down:

Source of Nutrients

Hay is an important source of essential nutrients including fiber, fat and protein. Guinea pigs require all of these for optimal health. Hay also provides calories to meet their daily food intake needs.  

Maintain Digestive Health

The high fiber content in hay helps to maintain good digestive health in guinea pigs. Consuming lots of hay works to keep the guinea pig’s digestive tract moving. This is required for maintaining good gut health and to prevent diarrhea and other problems.

Wears Teeth Down

Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continuously throughout their life. Constantly grazing on hay helps keep their teeth worn down.

Can guinea pigs have unlimited hay?

Veterinarians recommend that both adult and baby guinea pigs be fed unlimited amounts of high fiber, high quality hay daily. Pellets do not provide adequate amounts of fiber to keep their gut working properly. 

In addition to using hay as a food source, your guinea pig will sleep, burrow and poop in it. 

Can guinea pigs live without hay?

The answer is no. Guinea pigs cannot live without hay for a number of reasons. Most importantly, guinea pigs need to graze on high fiber hay throughout the day to keep their gestational tract moving and to keep their teeth from growing too long.

What kinds of hay can guinea pigs eat?

Just like in the wild, guinea pigs appreciate diversity in their hay choices and it is recommended to offer a variety of grass hays.

Feeding a variety of different hay types broadens the nutrients that guinea pigs ingest as well as prevents the development of picky eaters.

In addition, each hay has different tastes and textures which helps keep mealtime interesting.

In this article, we are going to discuss the following hay choices to see which ones are the best to feed to your guinea pig and at which stage of life:

Timothy HayUnlimited and Best ChoiceUnlimitedUnlimited
Orchard Grass HayUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Meadow HayUnlimited UnlimitedUnlimited
Oat HayUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Alfalfa HayLimited / TreatCheck with your veterinarianCheck with your veterinarian

We have been satisfied with the quality and freshness of Oxbow hay. Our guinea pigs are happy too! ?


Timothy Hay

Timothy hay is the best choice for adult guinea pigs. It contains the right amount of nutrients for optimal guinea pig health.

Oxbow Western Timothy Hay is high in fiber, low in protein and calcium and is a good, basic grass hay with high quality nutrition.” – Oxbow Animal Health

Orchard Grass Hay

Orchard grass hay is our guinea pigs’ favorite! It has a sweet smell and is really soft. Our guinea pigs love to play and burrow in it too.

Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay is another cool-season grass; it grows in tufts and is more drought tolerant than Timothy hay. Orchard grass has a soft texture and is high in fiber and low in protein.” – Oxbow Animal Health

  • Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay |

Meadow Grass Hay

Meadow hay is a grass hay made up of a variety of grasses that is a popular choice for guinea pigs. It may also contain parts of other plants, sticks or stones.

Organic Meadow Hay is 100% certified organic grass hay grown all-naturally without the use of any chemicals. Guinea pigs love this flavorful, high fiber hay.” – Oxbow Animal Health

Oat Hay

Oat Hay has a distinct color and texture that not all guinea pigs like. It is yellowish in color with fairly long stems that have oats attached to the ends.

Alfalfa Hay

Alfalfa hay is not a grass hay rather it is a legume hay.

Veterinarians recommend feeding alfalfa hay only as a treat once in a while to healthy adult guinea pigs.

This is due to the higher fiber and calcium content.

Feeding it more often can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Check with your veterinarian for feeding recommendations if you have a pregnant or nursing sow or baby guinea pigs. The extra calcium and protein is passed onto the pups and can be beneficial for mom. Alfalfa hay can be fed in moderation to very young guinea pigs.

What is Oxbow Hay?

Oxbow Hay is grown and harvested by experts in ideal climates. It is quality tested, gently processed and de-dusted to remove fine particles prior to arriving at your home.

Where is Oxbow hay grown?

“All Oxbow hay is grown on a family of farms by longtime partners who are experts in the production of premium hay. Oxbow farms are located in the United States in climates ideally suited for producing hay that meets the strictest quality attributes.”

Is Oxbow Hay organic?

Oxbow Organic Meadow Hay is 100% certified organic grass hay. It is grown all-naturally without the use of any chemicals.

No matter which guinea pig hay you decide to feed, remember to consult with your veterinarian to discuss your guinea pig’s specific dietary needs.

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