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Thread: What to ask when buying hay locally

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    Cavy Slave miss.lyonice's Avatar
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    Question What to ask when buying hay locally

    I am paying upward of $30 a month for hay and it's getting really expensive. I found guy who sells orchard grass hay for $5/bale nearby. And that seems great. I wouldn't need to buy hay for a LONG while if I bought a bale or two and stored them. But I'm afraid something is going to be wrong with the hay. Is there anything I should ask the seller before buying it to make sure it's safe for guinea pig consumption? Also, is switching from timothy hay to orchard hay bad? If someone could help me out, I would be so grateful. I've been really broke lately and guinea pig food seems to have been going up in price where I buy mine.

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: What to ask when buying hay locally

    It should be fine depending on several factors. Is the hay fragrant, more green than brown, free of pesticides, without a lot of weeds mixed in, and apparently free of insects? It may be likely that you will find an occasional insect in a bale, but they should be "few and far between". Ask the seller if he will cut into a bale so that you can see the inside of it. You certainly don't want moldy hay.

    If the hay meets the above criteria and you have room to store a bale, I see no reason not to try it. If it doesn't work for you, then you can use the hay in your garden if you have one. I help my neighbor work his garden and that's where my used hay + poops goes. It makes a good mulch around the base of tomato plants and others.

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    Re: What to ask when buying hay locally

    When purchasing a bale of hay examine the outside of the bale for signs of mould or an excess amounts of weeds. If the outside of the bale looks bad chances are the inside is bad too if not even worse.

    Also smell the bale, if you have a good nose you will be able to smell if there is any mould before you can see it, and smell is also a good way to tell how fresh the hay is. You want the bale to be fairly green, but you also want the bale to be very dry. If there is too much moisture in the bale (such as if it was baled up too soon after harvest) then it will grow mould which you absolutely don't want. Do have reasonable expectations when it comes to the presence of weeds in the bale, the occasional weed is unavoidable but it is fair for you to expect there to be very few weeds present in the bale.

    What you should ask the seller if it isn't immediately apparent is how they have been storing the bales, ideally you would want to purchase bales that have been stored in a hay barn or at least in a way where it is both protected from the elements with good air flow. Make sure it isn't a mix of alfalfa and orchardgrass. Also it doesn't hurt to ask when the bale was harvested, don't be surprised if it was months ago, as long as it is stored properly hay has a very long shelf life.

    There shouldn't be any issues with switching from timothy hay to orchardgrass hay, unless your guinea pigs decide they don't like it and go on a hunger strike. Sometimes guinea pigs can be strangely fussy about what type of hay they like. Nutritionally orchardgrass hay is a perfectly acceptable alternative to timothy hay for guinea pigs, if you want to compare the average nutritional content of different kinds of hay check out this chart http://www.guinealynx.info/hay_chart.html

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