Feeding your Chinchilla 3rd Cut Timothy Hay
3rd cut timothy hay for chinchillas! Well, if you’ve read our first two articles about first and second cut hay, then we won’t need to explain what the third cut’s all about… But just in case you’ve come here directly from a link or search engine, below describes exactly what it is.
What is 3rd cut timothy hay?
3rd cut timothy hay for chinchillas is the hay produced from grass that’s been cut the third time in a year. This third cut hay is harvested in the fall.
Nutritional quality of 3rd cut timothy hay for chinchillas
Because of a variety of reasons, the third cut of a hay from a field is quite drastically different to its predecessors. Firstly, the hay is very soft. In fact, it’s virtually all leaf and very little stem – very similar to lawn clippings. Because of this, 3rd cutting timothy hay for chinchillas has a much lower fiber content than first or second cut. It also has a much higher protein content – sometimes also as high as that of a legume hay.
The other issue with 3rd cutting timothy hay is how difficult it is for growers to ensure a good quality harvest. This is mainly because of the weather at this time of the year. The cold and the rain have a real effect on the hay produced, not to mention the difficulty in getting the hay dried sufficiently. Rain during the harvest can completely destroy any chance of a 3rd cut being of sufficient quality to feed to any animals, let alone chinchillas or other small pets.
Pros and Cons about 3rd cutting timothy hay for chinchillas
It’s extremely difficult to find a truly high quality of 3rd cutting timothy hay. This is due to both the weather issues, and the fact that the quantity of hay produced from a third cut is far less to that of the first and second cuts of the year. The first cut gives the largest yield in tons per acre, followed by the second. But by the time it gets to the fall, and the third cut, the yield is reduced by a massive amount. This makes it almost impossible for a third cut to be financially viable for a grower.
Because of this, most growers don’t bother with a third cut, preferring to get their fields ready for the winter and prepare for the following year’s harvest.
However, if you can by chance find a good quality one, many chinnies will enjoy munching into a 3rd cutting timothy hay. And whilst they will enjoy it, the fact that it’s low in fiber means that it might not be the most suitable to feed as the only hay. After all, we all know that our chinnies need fiber in their diet to keep their gut mobile and healthy, as well as plenty of fibrous stalks to chew on to keep their every-growing teeth well worn down.
When it comes to feeding chins – who’re slightly different from other small pets in their nutritional requirements – if you do want to feed 3rd cutting timothy hay for chinchillas, then it’s probably best to feed this in addition to a top quality second cutting. That way you can be sure that your pet is getting the high amount of fiber that he needs to ensure good health.
Till next time, love those chinchillas…