Hay is THE most important part of many small pets’ diets. Like, the Most (capital M). Bunnies, chinchillas, guinea pigs, and other small animals need a constant source of high-quality grass hay. But what exactly is grass hay, and why do they need it?
We’re gonna share everything you need to know about this small animal superfood: the differences between grass hay and legume hay, the most common types of grass hay, and other good stuff that’s super important, too.
What is Grass Hay?
Grass hay is the tasty, soft hay that most small pets gobble right up and it provides just the right amount of fiber, protein, and fat. The high levels of fiber are super necessary for helping the digestive system, keeping everything moving as it should. Therefore, hay is absolutely the most important part of your friend’s diet. Without grass hay, your little guy or girl could go into GI stasis, and that’s scary… it’s a serious condition that involves a blocked digestive tract.
There are many types of grass hay, but the most common are Timothy hay and orchard hay. As an FYI, grass hay isn’t the same as actual grass. To make our high-quality grass hay, we harvest it at the peak of freshness, when its nutritional value is the highest. We dry it and ship right to your door, so you can be sure you’re getting the best hay for your little.
Grass Hay Vs. Legume Hay
When shopping for your hay, you might come across information about legume hay. When we think of legumes, we think of the foods we eat: peanuts, lentils, and beans. And actually, the legume hay given to small animals isn’t much different. Like the legumes we eat, legume hay is rich in protein and is dense, hearty hay. It’s great for baby animals (under a year) because the protein helps them grow. And little ones need to grow, right? But be careful not to feed your adult pet too much legume hay; it can lead to weight gain and other health concerns.
Legume hay, like alfalfa hay, is a great way to mix up the diet, but grass hay is a better option for every day… it’s a healthier balance of protein, fat, and fiber.
Grain hay is also an option (think oat hay) and has a totally different scent, taste, and feeling than both legume and grass hay. It’s a good option to spice things up a little. No one likes no variety in their diet.
The Most Common Types of Grass Hay
As mentioned, there are various types of grass hay. At Small Pet Select, we offer Timothy hay, orchard hay, and an orchard hay medley so you can choose which is best for your pet.
1st Cutting Timothy Hay - Timothy hay is the most common grass hay and comes in three different cuttings. 1st cutting Timothy hay is a little more coarse, with more stems and fiber. It’s great for animals who have tummy issues and need a little extra fiber, or for animals that need to lose weight. This cutting isn’t as soft, but it’s just as delicious.
2nd Cutting Timothy Hay - 2nd cutting Timothy hay is our gold standard grass hay because of its super soft stems and leaves, perfect balance of protein, fiber, fat, and delicious taste. We work hard to harvest the best for your family and our 2nd cutting shows that.
3rd Cutting Timothy Hay - 3rd cutting Timothy hay is SO soft, has lots of leaves, and is high in both protein and fat. It’s great to add interest to your small animal’s diet or can be used for skinnies who need to put on a little weight.
Orchard Hay - Orchard hay is another fab grass hay that’s really great for your bun (or guinea pig, hamster, chinchilla). It has a slightly different smell and broader leaves than our 2nd cutting Timothy, making it balanced to add to any diet. Just like you don’t want to eat the same meal every single day, neither does your pet. Avoid hay boredom by introducing healthy grass hay.
The Case for Hay
Many new pet owners wonder: “how much grass hay should I give my bunny?” or “is there such a thing as TOO much hay?” There’s no such thing as too much high-quality hay. Your small animal should have a constant source of hay at all times. In fact, hay makes up about 80% of these little guys’ diets.
Our small animals are true herbivores; they need lots and lots of fiber to keep everything moving. Unlike dogs and cats, they don’t need animal-based protein. Instead, they forage on grasses, hay, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
Grass hay is an important part of your small animal’s diet. In fact, it’s the most important. Make sure to give them lots of hay and mix it up with the occasional legume or grain hay to make their diet fun. Grass hay is the perfect everyday hay to give your friend zoomies and a happy tummy. Every. Single. Day.