The one thing you can say about piggies is that they LOVE their grub!

The perfect piggy diet is 80-90% unlimited, good quality hay and a mixture of veggies including those high in vitamin C twice a day. If dried food is fed it should be maximum a small egg cup of good quality pellet rather than the museli style. I feed my gang a handful of hay in each litter tray twice a day with veggies.

Wonky tucking into her hay

Keep it simple – it’s all about hay.

Guinea pigs need access to unlimited hay at all times. Good quality hay can be purchased from farm shops where it is often sold in large bags or bales. You can also buy hay online from lots of companies. Just remember to stay clear of straw (which can cause eye injuries) and haylage (fermented hay for horses). Hay in smaller vacuum-packed bags, often seen in supermarkets, tends to be much more expensive and poorer quality.

There’s lots of different types of hay, including botanical, oat, wheat and orchard hay! However, farm-bought hay is usually meadow or timothy hay and is most popular and easiest to access (although a mix is good, especially for fussy pigs). Look for a local farm or horse-feed shop. Bales normally cost £5-9 and can feed a pair of piggies for months!

I keep a tub of farm hay (right) and sack of dried grass (left) next to the piggies for easy access

Guinea pigs benefit from access to grass too, whether this be in your garden or dried grass. Brands include ‘Readigrass’ and ‘Graze-on’. These are often available in horse-feed shops too, and a handful of grass a few times a week makes a good addition to a pigs diet.

Please don’t feed lawnmower clippings, as these can make your guinea pig ill. Make sure any bales are sweet smelling and there’s no mould/damp.

Glorious greens!

After hay, providing a good mix of green leafy vegetables, including those high in vitamin C (such as pepper), is vital to your guinea pigs daily diet. Good options include: kale, romaine lettuce, peppers, broccoli, spring greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and spinach. Remember that any changes to diet should be made slowly and fresh water should always be available.

To make feeding time more fun why not try…

· Scatter greens to mimic how the guinea pig’s cousins would naturally graze in the wild.

· Hang up greens or hide them in cardboard boxes or tubes

Top tip: Avoid root vegetables including carrot and fruit as they are starchy and sugary. A bit of carrot or apple as a treat is fine!

Breakfast in bed?

Trick or treat?

Many shop-bought guinea pig treats contain egg, dairy, gelatine, honey and cheese! Step away from these processed ‘treats’ and treat your piggy as the herbivores they are. Avoid salt/mineral licks and vitamin C drops for water as they aren’t necessary. The best treats are natural, such as a bunch of freshly picked dandelion, or strawberry tops!

Why is diet so important?

A good diet is vital for the physical and mental wellbeing of your guinea pig—it’s much more than filling tummies!

Digestive

Guinea pigs must eat large amounts of coarse fibre to keep their digestive system healthy. Hay provides this which keeps their guts moving. Without this fibre guinea pigs can develop an often fatal condition called ‘gut stasis’ where the gut effectively stops and death can occur within 12-24 hours.

Debpig and Happy Maki sharing a bowl of dried grass

Dental

Side view of guinea pig skull showing front teeth (incisors)
View from underneath showing back teeth (which only a vet can see with a specialist scope).

Did you know that guinea pigs teeth grow continuously throughout their lives? Hay promotes effective teeth-wear and keeps those pegs in check (both front and back). Vet dental bills are expensive, so don’t take the risk and provide unlimited, good quality hay.

Mental health

Guinea pigs spend most of their day grazing which keeps them mentally occupied as well as healthy. There’s no better sound than content piggies munching on hay together!

Hay racks, stuffed in wooden toys and litter trays. Put hay everywhere!

 

Sometimes home made is best – this Coca-Cola box stuffed with hay is always popular with Macduff and Agatha
Some people just don’t like sharing! 🙂

Coming up tomorrow we’ll be taking a look at how to make your piggies happy with an enriching environment!

Hannah x

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