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Thread: I've had it with Oxbow hay

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    Cavy Slave 4boipigs's Avatar
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    I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I thought I made a topic like this, can't find it. Probably complained somewhere else.

    For a while now, I've been getting irritated w/ Oxbow. I buy it because I get a discount where I work and I get points. Since they switched to the 90oz bags and started to pack it tighter, it's been a struggle. The quality is hit or miss. The hay in these bags is hard to get out, sometimes fresh, sometimes pointy, sometimes choppy and dusty, sometimes not. I bought 2 big bags during black friday at work, and both are full of dust, brown/green pieces, and they have the little sticky parts (from the flower maybe?) embedded in my fleece. It's making a huge mess and the boys are eating less of it and I'm having to throw away huge piles when I clean their kitchen every couple of days.

    The only success I have is with the smaller bags, but with 4 boars, it's costly to keep buying small bags. Once I bought a huge box of Oxbow hay, but the quality was just like the 90oz bags.

    I love Oxbow, but I'm done. So I ordered Fresh Pet Select today and we'll see how it goes. I will definitely recommend Oxbow for pellets, their treats, toys, etc but this hay shouldn't be such a hassle!

    My store does sell other brands, but I consider them all inferior and don't really want to pay pet store prices for something my children may not like. I was trying to avoid ordering hay online for as long as I could, but this is the only way. The local feed store didn't even know what timothy hay was when I asked, so that's not an option.

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    Cavy Slave SSLee's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I totally sympathize with you as I'm in the same predicament. The hay just isn't very good this year. I've tried KMS Hayloft, Oxbow, GuineaDad, and Viking so far this year and they all have a lot of brown in it. I'm spending a lot of my time picking out the brown pieces and it seems I'm throwing away 1/3 of it before it even goes into the piggy cage. I'm allergic to timothy but decided to try the Oxbow timothy & orchard hay blend. It turned out to be brittle and dusty and I eventually ended up with a sinus infection. Now I'm using the Viking and GuineaDad orchard hays and have to wear my COVID mask, otherwise I end up sneezing continuously. I didn't use to sneeze when using orchard; my guess is that the Viking hay is the current culprit. Once I am done with these two brands, my plan is to order from Small Pet Select. The recent Amazon reviews on their orchard hay are pretty good.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    What you really need to do in hunting hay is try to find a supplier somewhere in the country that's had a good hay growing season. The drought and fires in the west have really screwed up the hay harvests out there.

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    Cavy Slave ItsaZoo's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    Basically everything is looking like Kaytee Forti Diet these days. Oxbow's timothy isn't as good as prior years. I've switched to Oxbow orchard grass and I just got a bag of meadow grass free during Chewy's buy 2 get 1 free special. Both look good and the orchard grass smells nice and fresh.

    I had issues with timothy in the 90 oz bags. Too many large pieces and yellow straw-like pieces, so I buy the 40 oz size.

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    Cavy Slave 4boipigs's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    My boys don't like the orchard grass. I have bought the timothy/orchard mix and they don't like it very much. I ordered Small Pet Select on Amazon and it was supposed to come yesterday, and now it's coming Friday.

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    @4boipings, sorry to read that your boys don't like orchard. I was online the other day and ordered orchard, 40 oz Oxbow orchard and 5 lb Rabbit Hole. They both look fresh and green, with Rabbit Hole's in better condition than Oxbow's. They are both less dusty than the Viking orchard I have been using and now I don't have to wear my mask while refilling the hay box.

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    Cavy Slave scoottie's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I can tell you one thing because I own a horse and go through alot of hay in a month 400 lbs to be precise its just the season we are in hay quality will get better.

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    Cavy Slave 4boipigs's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    Small Pet Select came today. I took pics even tho you can't really tell a difference. So here's what I've seen.

    2 90oz bags of Oxbox timothy hay bought the same day at my work on black friday...small, choppy pieces. Lots of brown. TONS of dust that leaves a mess in their kitchen. Pigs are sneezy and getting crumbs on them.

    SPS (10lb from Amazon)- some brown pieces, but smells stronger than Oxbow. LONG pieces (length of the box) that aren't choppy. When I pick them up, it's clean and there's not a lot of little pieces falling. There was a bit falling, but it's small, green pieces that I think the pigs would eat.

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I normally buy Kaytee Forti-Diet. Mine seem to like it. Oxbow is so expensive and you don’t get as much as you do with other brands. I still buy Oxbow pellets, supplements, and treats though.

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    Huh, interestingly, I have the opposite preference when it comes to the Oxbow bags, in regards to size. The 90oz bags, while they do have a lot of dust and tiny strands, have been the only bags where I've been able to find decently long strands of hay. With the 15 oz and 40oz, it seemed like there were far too many tiny strands and not enough longer strands. (However, I only have a few data points, since I switched to the 90 oz. bags soon after adopting my boars.)

    On the other hand, despite never having issues with timothy hay in all the years that I've owned guinea pigs, I discovered I had a timothy hay allergy thanks to opening my first-ever 90oz bag of Oxbow hay. Based on that experience, 90oz Oxbow does seem dustier than the other bags/brands I've used before. Additionally, in the 90oz bags, the hay seems especially compressed, so having to shake the hay loose doesn't help, I'd bet.

    Ah, if only I could find 90oz bags of orchard grass hay in my local pet stores. Luckily, Oxbow's 40oz orchard hay bag has very long strands already. Not-so-luckily, either everyone where I live is allergic to timothy hay, or the pet stores don't restock enough orchard hay to meet the demand. Last time I checked, there were no orchard hay bags greater than 15oz amongst the two-three dozen 40oz and 90oz timothy hay bags stocked aisle-high in boxes due to the shelves running out of room. (But hey, at least there's a surplus of hay for all the hungry piggies out there in these ever-changing times!)

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    Quote Originally Posted by PhattusRhattus View Post
    Huh, interestingly, I have the opposite preference when it comes to the Oxbow bags, in regards to size. The 90oz bags, while they do have a lot of dust and tiny strands, have been the only bags where I've been able to find decently long strands of hay. With the 15 oz and 40oz, it seemed like there were far too many tiny strands and not enough longer strands. (However, I only have a few data points, since I switched to the 90 oz. bags soon after adopting my boars.)

    On the other hand, despite never having issues with timothy hay in all the years that I've owned guinea pigs, I discovered I had a timothy hay allergy thanks to opening my first-ever 90oz bag of Oxbow hay. Based on that experience, 90oz Oxbow does seem dustier than the other bags/brands I've used before. Additionally, in the 90oz bags, the hay seems especially compressed, so having to shake the hay loose doesn't help, I'd bet.

    Ah, if only I could find 90oz bags of orchard grass hay in my local pet stores. Luckily, Oxbow's 40oz orchard hay bag has very long strands already. Not-so-luckily, either everyone where I live is allergic to timothy hay, or the pet stores don't restock enough orchard hay to meet the demand. Last time I checked, there were no orchard hay bags greater than 15oz amongst the two-three dozen 40oz and 90oz timothy hay bags stocked aisle-high in boxes due to the shelves running out of room. (But hey, at least there's a surplus of hay for all the hungry piggies out there in these ever-changing times!)
    I completely agree. I have since stopped buying Oxbow Western Timothy hay altogether. I tried KMS Bluegrass and was seriously disappointed with what I received.

    I have a belief that there are sharp pieces in Oxbow Timothy, and that this is at least partially the reason we are seeing so many dental issues in pigs. Long story short, I have switched to Oxbow Orchard Grass. The biggest bags are only 40oz, and I had also been having a problem getting them at my local PetSmart.

    So I started ordering from Amazon. There are literally here in 48 hours. I order two bags when I open the first of the other two bags so I always have a buffer. As for the cost, because it IS more......... I'm simply weighing it against the vet costs if another pig has a dental problem. Obviously I can't know at this time if my hypothesis holds water but I feel better because I think I've made the right choice. AND the Orchard grass seems to be a great toy for the boys!

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    Quote Originally Posted by Guinea Pig Papa View Post
    I completely agree. I have since stopped buying Oxbow Western Timothy hay altogether. I tried KMS Bluegrass and was seriously disappointed with what I received.

    I have a belief that there are sharp pieces in Oxbow Timothy, and that this is at least partially the reason we are seeing so many dental issues in pigs. Long story short, I have switched to Oxbow Orchard Grass. The biggest bags are only 40oz, and I had also been having a problem getting them at my local PetSmart.

    So I started ordering from Amazon. There are literally here in 48 hours. I order two bags when I open the first of the other two bags so I always have a buffer. As for the cost, because it IS more......... I'm simply weighing it against the vet costs if another pig has a dental problem. Obviously I can't know at this time if my hypothesis holds water but I feel better because I think I've made the right choice. AND the Orchard grass seems to be a great toy for the boys!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Your post assuages some of my hesitancy towards ordering hay online (quality control worries), and because Oxbow's orchard grass hay has been working well for both the pigs and I, I'm more than eager to give online ordering a try. A "buffer" sounds smart as well. I have quite a bit of timothy hay stockpiled just in case, but no extra 40oz bags of purely orchard hay.

    Your belief regarding pig dental issues is quite insightful. I didn't even think about how chewing all those sharp strands could affect a guinea pig's dental or oral health. I can't know if your hypothesis holds water either, but I'd imagine that a sharp strand could injure the mouth or gums (which might lead to a cascade of issues due to changed eating behavior and/or injury complications), so it makes sense to me, and I'm glad you mentioned it.

    In addition to my newfound allergy, one of the reasons I wanted to switch to orchard grass was because of hay poke concerns. (One of my boars is quite a selective eater when it comes to hay, and he'll relentlessly search for that one perfect strand.) I noticed that Oxbow's 90oz timothy hay bags seem to have a lot of first-cut timothy hay strands, which are quite stiff/sharp and have splintered my hands on multiple occasions. Orchard hay, on the other hand, seems to have more softer, leafier strands that bend under pressure. No splinters yet on my end with the orchard grass!

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    Cavy Champion Guinea Pig Papa's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    Quote Originally Posted by PhattusRhattus View Post
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Your post assuages some of my hesitancy towards ordering hay online (quality control worries), and because Oxbow's orchard grass hay has been working well for both the pigs and I, I'm more than eager to give online ordering a try. A "buffer" sounds smart as well. I have quite a bit of timothy hay stockpiled just in case, but no extra 40oz bags of purely orchard hay.

    Your belief regarding pig dental issues is quite insightful. I didn't even think about how chewing all those sharp strands could affect a guinea pig's dental or oral health. I can't know if your hypothesis holds water either, but I'd imagine that a sharp strand could injure the mouth or gums (which might lead to a cascade of issues due to changed eating behavior and/or injury complications), so it makes sense to me, and I'm glad you mentioned it.

    In addition to my newfound allergy, one of the reasons I wanted to switch to orchard grass was because of hay poke concerns. (One of my boars is quite a selective eater when it comes to hay, and he'll relentlessly search for that one perfect strand.) I noticed that Oxbow's 90oz timothy hay bags seem to have a lot of first-cut timothy hay strands, which are quite stiff/sharp and have splintered my hands on multiple occasions. Orchard hay, on the other hand, seems to have more softer, leafier strands that bend under pressure. No splinters yet on my end with the orchard grass!
    The splintering in my hands is actually what made me consider the problem, and my subsequent theory. That, and LOTS of reading. I had two pigs with dental issues who were both fed Timothy hay. Sly had to have almost two years worth of dental surgeries. Punkin had an infected upper incisor and despite my and my vets best efforts, could not be brought under control and we ended up losing him after almost two months of fighting.

    Orchard Grass hay is just as abrasive as regular timothy so it's a perfect substitute for it.

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I've only used timothy hay twice in the last 4 years, when I initially adopted the two piggies and this past September/October. The timothy from my first purchase caused me a lot of sneezing. This fall, I purchased a 90 oz bag of the Oxbow timothy and orchard grass blend. Aside from the timothy causing me a sinus infection, I also ended up with numerous little cuts all over my hands. While my piggies enjoyed the blended hays, I will continue to only use orchard going forward. I give my pigs oat hay once a week as it seems to help firm up soft stool and occasionally Oxbow meadow hay for variety.

    On Black Friday, I ordered Oxbow (40 oz bag), Rabbit Hole 5 lbs, and Grandpa's Best 5 lbs. This year, of all the different brands I've tried, Rabbit Hole orchard came out on top, with plenty of long strands and not much brown.

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I’ve been ordering from Chewy and getting the 40 oz orchard grass for Gidget. They recently had buy 2 get 1 free so I tried a meadow grass but she’s not a fan. I recently mention the timothy quality to the vet and she agreed it was a bad year for hay. She said a diet of orchard grass was fine.

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    Cavy Slave SSLee's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I went to the Rabbit Hole website for more information on the company and it turns out they are Northern California based. You would think with the drought and the wild fires, this year's hay harvest would be bad for them. However, RH rated its soft orchard hay as 8/10 and medium (equivalent to 2nd cut) timothy rated 9.5/10. The pricing is better if you buy through Chewy.com and the Buy 2 Get 1 Free promotion is still on.

    My piggies really like the RH hay and we've gone through almost all of the 5 lbs from the Black Friday purchase. Even though I have 5 lbs of Grandpa's Best, I am going to reorder more Rabbit Hole orchard through Chewy.

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    Cavy Slave 4boipigs's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I'm almost done w/ the Small Pet Select hay. It was 10 lbs and lasted 4 boars around 3 weeks. I just ordered more today. It does make a mess with it being in the box, but the hay is noticeably better than what I've been dealing with from Oxbow. Plus my store (where I work) is out of Oxbow hay...again!

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    Cavy Slave 4boipigs's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    So I had to buy some more hay today because I guessed wrong on how much SPS I had left. I bought a smaller bag of Oxbow, and we're back to small choppy pieces. I can't wait for SPS to come in the mail tomorrow.

    Is it just me or does anyone feel like they go thru 10 lbs fast? I had a 10lb box from Oxbow that didn't seem to last long and 3 weeks for 10 lbs of SPS doesn't seem like a lot either.

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    Cavy Champion Guinea Pig Papa's Avatar
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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I go through a lot of hay. They eat a lot, but they play in (and soil) the rest.

    As long as they're eating it and they're happy, I couldn't care less how much I use.

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    Re: I've had it with Oxbow hay

    I think that it's about time I jumped into this conversation. Sounds just like me, eh?

    Thanks to those of you who occasionally send me a PM inquiring if I'm still around and my state of health! I promise to try to post more often, but my life has been so chaotic that I have had to retreat from frequent posting. In a nutshell, after my beloved Sparky crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on New Years Day 2020, we were so grief stricken that we waited five long months before adopting our two blue-roan Aby boys, Rascal and Rafique (Rafi) in May. They are now fully grown and are two happy, healthy little souls.

    I have always loved bluegrass hay and really wanted to support Dan, the current owner. My boys were absolutely mad for the hay and I thought the search was over. Then came time to reorder and the hammer fell once again! I ordered 40 lbs of hay and couldn't believe my eyes when I opened the box.........all these big coarse pointy strands and few of them were green. You who know me can only imagine the expletives that flew out of my mouth. However, I was very nice and calm and sent pics and a note to KMS and received a reply saying, "Sorry, but you apparently received a box of the first-cut which tends to be coarse and more straw-like." They very kindly offered to ship a replacement promptly......which they did. When that box arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief and Gary (my partner/husband) opted to open the box while I was away at work. When i arrived home that evening, he suggested that I take a look at the new hay. This time it was definitely softer and even appeared a different variety, but it was tightly packed and you couldn't separate the layers except with a scythe. It was as though someone had poured concrete as a packing material. I was so dumbfounded that I couldn't even write KMS a note. Ever hear the saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us"? Fortunately, there was no third time because we had a fire in our basement with heavy smoke damage. You can bet that I declared $70 worth of BG hay as a casualty of the fire.

    I subsequently ordered a 20lb. box of SPS orchard grass and both the boys and I are happy with it. No, it isn't the best I have seen, but in the time of a poor hay harvest in the West, I'm pretty happy with the quality. I should probably interject at this point that I have never ordered timothy hay because Gary is allergic to it.....or was, and I simply don't want to take the risk of ordering a large box and having to donate it.

    So, GPP......I feel as though you are onto something with your analysis of first-cut hay, no matter what the variety. I formerly ordered from Sierra Valley, but if I remember correctly, they ceased selling to individuals and stuck to business clients.......too bad.

    Nice to see all of you veterans who are still active in our community!

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