Best Hay for Guinea Pigs Reviewed – High-Quality, Green, and Fresh

Fresh hay is a critical component of every guinea pig’s diet. And beyond its nutrient value, the right hay promotes dental and mental health, making it one of the most important choices you’ll make in the life of your furry friend.

But what makes one hay better than another? What brands can you trust? Which is the best hay for guinea pigs?

If you’re asking questions like these, we’d like to help. We’re going to go over this type of food for guinea pigs and Below, you’ll find a few of our favorite hay options, as well as a quick guide to selecting the best hay for your guinea pig.

Quick glance at the best hay for guinea pigs:

Best Guinea Pig Hay Reviews

KMS Hayloft 2nd Cut Timothy Hay – Best Hay Overall

Sizes: 2, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 45 lb. bags

Talk to guinea pig fanatics, and the name KMS Hayloft is bound to come up. Known for their commitment to quality, this company’s products are among the best on the market.

Their 2nd cut Timothy hay shows why: fresh and green, it features just the right ratio of leaf, stem, and head. It’s also carefully harvested in small batches to ensure freshness and peak quality.

That’s evident when you open the bag. Expect a fresh green smell, long stems, and very little to no dust in the bags. Cavies tend to love the flavor and texture of this hay, and you won’t need to worry about them turning it into bedding instead of eating it!

Perhaps the highest quality hay you can find, be prepared to pay a little extra!

Pros:

  • Carefully selected 2nd cutting Timothy hay
  • Super high quality
  • Low dust
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • Expensive!

Standlee Hay Company Premium Timothy Grass Hand-Selected Forage – Best Budget Hay

Standlee Hay Company Premium Timothy Grass Hand-Selected Forage, 25 lb Box
Amazon

Sizes: 18 and 48 oz. bags; 25 lb. box

Standlee Hay Company’s hand-selected hay is an economical, super high-quality alternative to more well-known brands like Kaytee, Oxbow, and Small Pet Select. And while it doesn’t offer the range of sizing options that its more famous competitors do, the quality and price of this 2nd cutting Timothy hay is winning over a lot of fans.

Expect a very high-quality hay, featuring a great ratio of heads, stems, and leaves. Many pet parents have come to expect a lot of chirping and dancing when they open the bag, and the long stems and careful processing leave very little to no dust in the bag–or in the air!

If you’re new to the world of guinea pigs, or just looking for a less-expensive option that delivers top-notch quality, Standlee’s premium hand-select is an option you should consider carefully.

Pros:

  • Carefully selected 2nd cutting Timothy hay
  • Super high quality
  • Low dust
  • Great customer service
  • Awesome price!

Cons:

  • Few sizing options

Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting “Perfect Blend” Timothy Hay Pet Food

Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting Timothy Hay Pet Food, 10-Pound
Amazon

Sizes: 2, 10, 12, 20, 25, and 60 lb. corrugated boxes

Small Pet Select is a trusted name in the world of guinea pig diet and one of the brands that are most popular among enthusiasts. Devoted to quality, this hay is carefully selected, cut and dried in small batches to ensure freshness, and shipped quickly in sturdy corrugated boxes.

With the proper ratio of delicious stem heads, tasty leaves, and abrasive stems, most guinea pigs really like this hay. It tends to be composed of longer stems, which cuts down on dust, and many pet parents find that their cavies waste less of this hay than other brands. In the event that you get a bad batch–and that can happen with any hay–Small Pet Select will make it right.

And what you won’t find in this 2nd cutting Timothy hay are the thicker, straw-like stalks common in Kaytee’s 1st and 2nd cutting blends!

Pros:

  • Carefully selected 2nd cutting Timothy hay
  • Excellent packaging
  • Low dust
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • Some customers have gotten bad batches (brown and dry)

Why Do Guinea Pigs Need Unlimited, Fresh Hay?

Dental health

Guinea pigs and other rodents have teeth that grow continuously. In the wild, cavies gnaw and chew pretty much all the time they’re not sleeping, and teeth that grow quickly are essential.

But those fast-growing teeth are a liability good pet parents need to keep in check.

As veterinarians explain, “To prevent the teeth from overgrowing guinea pigs need to chew almost constantly, which files their teeth down against each other to maintain the appropriate length and angle… The best way to keep the molars in check is with a readily available supply of hay that requires a lot of chewing. This is the natural diet of guinea pigs and is what their teeth were designed for. Pellets provide good supplemental nutrition but grass hay, like timothy hay, should make up at least 80% of the diet. Hay is critical for appropriate dental and digestive health and should be available at all times.”

Guinea pigs that can’t take care of their teeth suffer a number of painful–and dangerous–health conditions, and just like you when you have a toothache, they may find eating and drinking painful. That can quickly lead to problems you don’t want your fur baby to have!

So think of daily hay chewing for guinea pigs as brushing and flossing for people: it’s an essential activity to promote good dental health.

Mental health

Cavies get a lot of enjoyment from chewing, and they’ll gnaw on almost anything to have fun! If you’ve had a guinea pig or two for a while, this is something you’ve come to expect. But there are better and worse options for chew toys, and high-quality hay is at the top of the list.

Indeed, a constant supply of fresh hay gives them something healthy to work on, keeping them entertained.

That may sound weird to you, but chewing is to a guinea pig like watching Netflix is to you!

So keep your furry friend happy–give it plenty of good hay to chew.

Nutrients and diet

Healthy guinea pigs get most of their nutrition from the hay they consume, and they need the fiber to keep their tummies and digestive systems working properly.

80% of a healthy piggy’s diet should come from fresh hay; the rest should be a mix of fresh veggies and pellets.

It’s essential, then, that they have an unlimited supply to chew on every day.

What We Consider When Selecting the Best Hay for Guinea Pigs

Choose Timothy hay

Timothy hay is the standard choice for guinea pigs. Essentially a variety of grass, it’s cut and dried before packaging. High in fiber, but low in protein and calcium, it’s an ideal choice for adult guinea pigs, and with the right pellet supplement, perfect for young, pregnant, and nursing piggies, too!

Relatively high in silica, Timothy hay is great for wearing down your furry friend’s molars and giving them hours of enjoyment.

There are other options, of course. Legume hays like alfalfa and clover are fantastic sources of protein and calcium, but they’re really too much of a good thing for an adult piggy.

You can feed these hays to growing pups and pregnant or nursing moms, but you’ll need to be very careful about how much protein and calcium they’re getting.

Generally, veterinarians recommend sticking with Timothy hay.

Look for “second cutting”

As Jenny Griffin warns, not all Timothy hay is the same, and you need to know the difference between the kinds of “cuttings” that are available. Here are her explanations of first, second, and third cutting hay:

  • First Cutting Timothy Hay – this grass stems from the first harvest of Timothy hay. It has a course texture and is high in fiber. While first cutting hay has nutritional value, guinea pigs favor second or third cutting hay for its softer, more palatable leafy structure. While piggies do tend to relish the seed heads that are abundant on the first cutting, seed heads have far less nutritional value and fiber content than the stems.
  • Second Cutting Timothy Hay – this is the hay that has been allowed to regrow after the first harvest. Second cutting hay contains more soft leafy content than the first cutting. It is more palatable, and guinea pigs prefer it to the first cutting of hay. As second cutting hay contains fewer heads, guinea pigs focus their attention on the fibrous stems, which means they benefit from the fiber rather than being distracted by tasty seed heads that are low in fiber.
  • Third Cutting Timothy Hay – this hay is a bit harder to come by than first or second cutting hay, and since it consists of soft, tender leaves, guinea pigs simply love it. While you can offer your pet this as a delicious treat every now and again, due to its very low fiber content and much higher protein content, it is not recommended as a staple food source for adult guinea pigs. However, young, growing guinea pigs could benefit from the additional protein, which is similar to legume hay, such as alfalfa.

As is clear, you’ll want to provide your piggy with high-quality second cutting Timothy hay.

You’ll find blends–like the ones offered by Kaytee–that mix 1st and 2nd cutting. We don’t recommend these, as many piggies don’t like them very much. Moreover, they encourage selective feeding on the low-fiber, low-silica heads, which isn’t good for their teeth or their digestive systems.

Consistency and quality

The products we’re recommending are consistently high-quality: fresh, green, low- to no-dust, and just the right ratio of stem, leaf, and head.

That’s hard to do, batch after batch, and some brands (we’re looking at you Oxbow and Kaytee) either have started to slip in quality control or offer a vastly inferior product.

We just can’t offer these as options to pet lovers until things change!

Final Thoughts

Let’s review the main points:

  • All guinea pigs require an unlimited supply of fresh hay every day.
  • Not all hay is created equal.
  • You want to offer fresh, 2nd cutting Timothy hay to ensure dental and mental health, as well as provide the nutrition and fiber guinea pigs need.

The three products we’ve recommended are our top picks, and any of them should meet the needs of your cavie clan.

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