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The Many Types Of Chinchilla Hay, Explained

Chinchilla Hay

There are many different types of hay  and they all have their own benefits and considerations. From legume to grain to good ol’ grass hay, each is special in its own way. But how do you know which chinchilla hay is best for your little? You want to give the absolute best to your cuddle bug. And we don’t blame you. (We’d actually blame you if you didn’t.)

We’ve rounded up information about some of the most common types of hay. So let’s learn about them together. 

What is Orchard Hay?

First up on our list of chinchilla hay is orchard hay, it falls under the grass category, which means it has lots of fiber, protein, and fat. This grass hay is similar to Timothy, and can be used to mix up your chin’s diet so they don’t get bored. No one wants a bored chin. We’ve gotta keep them interested in what they’re eating. I mean, would you want to have macaroni and cheese every day? I guess that’s a bad example, because we would. But you get it. Variety = happiness.

Pet parents can also use orchard as a substitute for Timothy hay for certain little chins who may have sensitivities to Timothy. Orchard is rich in fiber and other nutrients and is a great everyday chinchilla hay to keep your fuzz ball healthy. 

What is Alfalfa Hay?

On to alfalfa hay. Alfalfa a legume hay is super high in protein. You may recognize the word “legume” because humans eat legumes, too. (If they like them, at least.) Beans, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts are all legumes and are known for their high levels of fat and protein. 

While legume hay is healthy for a treat once in a while, as an everyday hay it’s usually reserved for young animals that are less than a year old and need to grow. Growing is good… for babes. But because it has so much protein, it can make adult animals gain too much weight. That being said, this delicious chinchilla hay is great as a treat for that special little guy or gal. Want to learn more about the differences between Timothy hay and alfalfa hay? Check out our blog here

What is Oat Hay?

Oat hay is a grain hay that is high in fiber, protein, and fat. You’ll likely notice oat hay right away because rather than being green like some other types of hay, it has a yellowish tint. You’ll notice that oat hay has more stem than some other chinchilla hay, and it’s because it’s the same type of grain used to make cereals and bread… it’s harvested before the oat tops ripen.  

Oat has a delicious, distinct taste that most chinchillas go crazy for, so use it as a treat hay to mix up the diet. It can also be used as an everyday hay for chinchillas who need extra fiber but turn their little noses up at 1st cutting Timothy hay. (Choose your battles… right?)

What is Timothy Hay?

You’ve heard a lot of talk about Timothy hay throughout this blog, so let’s get to it. Timothy (and especially 2nd cutting Timothy hay) is the ultimate chinchilla hay because it has the perfect ratio of fiber, fat, and protein. Each of the three cuttings of Timothy hay has its own benefits:

  • We call our 1st cutting Timothy hay the “high fiber” hay because it isn’t as fattening as the other cuts, and has more flowery heads. The high levels of fiber are perfect for chinchillas that have chronic GI or digestive tract issues; this high fiber cut keeps everything moving. 
  • There’s a reason why we call our 2nd cutting Timothy hay the “perfect blend” hay. This stuff is oh-so-delicious because it has the gold standard of fat, protein, and fiber. For most pet parents, this is their go-to chinchilla hay… it has everything they’ll need.
  • Lastly, our 3rd cutting Timothy hay is so incredibly soft. This special cut is the most palpable hay you can give; it has the lowest amount of stem and the softest leaves. Even the pickiest chins are sure to love 3rd cutting Timothy and it can get fussy eaters to start enjoying chinchilla hay. 

Find the Right Chinchilla Hay

So now that we know more about the different types of chinchilla hay, let’s help you decide which hay is best:

  • For healthy adult chinchillas

2nd cutting Timothy hay or orchard hay is what lots of chin parents go with as their  everyday hay. Both of these cuts have the standard levels of protein, fiber, and fat that a healthy adult chinchilla needs.

  • For baby chinchillas

Alfalfa hay has those extra nutrients young chinchillas need to grow, which makes it the perfect hay for chinchillas under a year. (Awe. We love babies.) Alfalfa hay can also be given to nursing chinchillas or adult chinchillas that need extra nutrition. Plus, it delicious for a snack.

  • For chinchillas with GI issues: 

Both 1st cutting Timothy hay and oat hay are super high in fiber, making them the perfect choices for chinchillas who have digestive or GI tract issues. Every chinchilla should have plenty of fiber in their diet and these cuts have even more. #winning.

  • For chinchillas who are bored with their hay: 

It’s super important to mix up your chinchilla’s hay, especially if you notice your little guy or gal getting bored with their diet. Oat hay and 3rd cutting Timothy both make great treat hays; they’re super delicious and offer something new for your chin. Oat has totally different texture and color and your chin may adore it… and 3rd cutting Timothy is so soft, so don’t be surprised if you see them fall asleep on it. (If they don’t eat it first). 

Remember, no matter which chinchilla hay you go with, make sure it’s high-quality and comes from reputable farmers. Not all hay is made equally, and since hay should make up the majority (about 80%) of your chinchilla’s diet, you need to find a good one. Fo realz.

Small Pet Select has close relationships with our hay farmers in Washington State and know that we only get the best. We want your little fuzz person to love their hay as much as we do, so we’re obsessed with smell, and feel each and every cutting that goes into our shipments. Whether you’re ordering oat, alfalfa, or Timothy, you know you’re getting healthy, high-quality chinchilla hay.

Yay for hay. <3

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