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What’s The Best Timothy Hay For Guinea Pigs? A Nutritional Perspective

What's the best timothy hay for rabbits?

Timothy hay is the front-runner when it comes to food for guinea pigs. Did you know there are different types of Timothy hay? The best Timothy hay for guinea pigs comes down to the guinea pig themself. 

Not all guinea pigs are the same and often the best Timothy hay for guinea pigs is the one they will eat the most of! But there are a few other factors that need to be considered. 

But first, let’s look at how we get different types of Timothy hay. For a more comprehensive guide on Timothy hay check this out.

Saskia and Millhouse are also talking about hay and guinea pig food on YouTube! Head there for some cute and crunchy ideas. 

But let’s cut right to the chase.

Which Cutting Is The Best Hay For Guinea Pigs?

Timothy hay is a crop that can be cut three times in one growing season. After each cutting, the crop is left to regrow and yield different results. The biggest difference is the texture where the first cutting is the crunchiest and the third cutting is the softest. However, the nutritional content is also different! 

Timothy hay stems have the most fiber in them while Timothy hay leaves have the most fat and protein in them. With each cutting, the stems vs. leaves ratio changes which is where the texture and nutrient change comes in.

Once you’ve decided which cutting you want your bun to try, get 10% OFF  using code HAY10!

1st Cutting Timothy Hay 

1st cutting Timothy hay is where you get the most stems. This makes for rougher hay that is perfect for wearing down a guinea pig’s ever-growing teeth! 

The first cutting is also where you get the most flower heads. These are fluffy pieces that a lot of guinea pigs love.

what's the best Timothy hay for guinea pigs?

This cutting has the lowest fat content and the highest fiber content. 

Who Should Have 1st Cutting Timothy Hay?

Due to the high fiber content, 1st cutting will fill your little cavy right up! It also takes more energy to chew up. This means it’s not great for cavies that need to put on weight

If a guinea pig has had trouble keeping their teeth healthy this cutting may be a good choice for them as it provides more roughage to file the teeth down.

Guinea pigs with low energy likely won’t eat enough 1st cutting hay to keep their weight up so not a good choice for senior guinea pigs. 

2nd Cutting Timothy Hay

2nd cutting Timothy hay is the most popular choice for guinea pigs as it is a good middleman. It has more leaves than first cutting but still enough stems to keep things crunchy for their teeth. The fat, protein, and carb ratio is spot on for cavies.

what's the best Timothy hay for guinea pigs?

Who Should Have 2nd Cutting Timothy Hay?

2nd cutting Timothy hay is what's generally recommended for most healthy guinea pigs. If you don’t know of any special circumstances then this is the hay you should start with. If you find you have a picky eater then 3rd cutting might be what you want to try out.  

3rd Cutting Timothy Hay

3rd cutting Timothy hay is more rare than the other two cuttings due to it being harder to grow. Many farmers stop after the second cutting. Weather conditions in the fall need to be ideal in order to get a good 3rd cutting and it's just not always in the cards. 

But when it is, it sure is tasty! 

3rd cutting Timothy hay has the most leaves which means the most fat and protein. This is great for senior cavies or guinea pigs who have a harder time eating enough of the rougher cuttings to maintain a healthy weight. 

Some guinea pigs are just picky and prefer the softer cutting. If you have a cavy that seems to turn their nose up at the hay pile then give another cutting a try!

whats the best timothy hay for guinea pigs

Other Hay Options For Guinea Pigs

If you find yourself with a guinea pig that really isn’t going for Timothy hay you could try Orchard hay. This is the most similar hay to Timothy hay as far as nutrient content goes. It’s also great for guinea pig parents with an allergy to Timothy hay. 

Oat hay is another option although this hay is higher fat than Timothy hay. It also usually has a rougher texture. It has its own taste so maybe it’s what your cavy is looking for. 

Quality Makes A Difference

When you give your rabbit quality hay, they eat more of it. If your favorite food is pizza, I’m going to bet there are some pizzas out there you wouldn’t be too excited to eat. So while rabbits love Timothy hay, the best Timothy hay for guinea pigs is the fresh, intact hay with a nice color, smell, and texture to it. This is what gets them excited about their favorite food! 

The Best Timothy Hay For Guinea Pigs Is The One They Eat A Lot Of

Adult guinea pigs need low-fat and low-calcium hay. Alfalfa hay is great for young guinea pigs or pregnant/nursing cavies. These guinea pigs have different nutrient requirements than an average adult guinea pig. 

Don’t give alfalfa hay to adult guinea pigs as their main hay source. The high calcium content could contribute to kidney or bladder issues. 

Hay is such an important part of your guinea pig’s diet. It should make up 80% of it. Provide fresh high-quality hay 24/7 for your cavy so there’s always the best food available for munching and grazing throughout the day. Their digestive system and their teeth need this!

The best Timothy hay for guinea pigs is the one that they’re happy and healthy with. There isn’t a sure-fire answer for all guinea pigs. If you think your guinea pig isn’t eating enough or if you have any other concerns with their diet, check with their exotic vet! A vet can give you individualized recommendations based on your guinea pig’s current and past health. 

Living in the UK? We've Got You Covered! Check out the links below to guinea pig care products discussed in the blog: 


We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.


Before adding any new product, please consult your exotic veterinarian. If your pet is acting unwell and you have concerns for their well being, please contact your vet immediately.

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