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Hay Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay

aislynn99

Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
91
For both the benefits of their health and my wallet, I found a former coworker whose mom owns a farm, and in trade for a really good peanut butter cupcake from our local farmers market, she brought me a large trash bag full of timothy hay, say two flakes and a bit.

First off, I really can't believe the difference in appearance. The Kaytee hay is a much more vivid light green, and each piece is shorter and a lot thicker than this new hay, which is a dark olive green to almost brown, thin (almost stringy looking) and very, very long. It reminds me of the smell of horses, which I guess is the smell of real hay :) For those of you who use farm fresh hay, does this sound normal? It also looks to be first cutting, as there aren't nearly as many feathery heads as I'm used to seeing, and I'm pretty sure Kaytee is second cutting, which I know most piggies prefer.

Since I cleaned out their cage today (and may I just say, the coroplast base made it an absolute JOY!), I dumped their hay rack of the Kaytee and filled it with this new hay, as well as putting a large lump in a corner of their cage. While they seem curious and interested in this new hay, and love hiding under it and running through it while popcorning like mad, they don't readily eat it when I offer them a piece by hand (which they usually did with the old brand) and aren't munching it as actively as I'm used to seeing. I can verify they are at least trying it, though. I could just be worrying for nothing, as I gave them a large veggie and fruit snack earlier today (red leaf lettuce, one sprig of dill, a black raspberry, and 1/8 green pepper each), so they could just be full! And I can't really watch them eat it while they are chillin' under the large pile of hay in the corner, which they very well may be doing from underneath. I would hate to remove it just to monitor their eating.

Suggestions, anyone?
 
This is what I did to switch over food, it might work with hey. Mix the two together and slowly put less and less of the old brand and more and more of the new brand. Eventually they might get use to it. I wouldn't be surprised they are not eating it. It's probably because its new, not that its bad hay.
I use hay from a farm store, fresh and similar to what you described, its probably fine. :D I hope they start eating it soon, good luck.
 
In the case for hay, I would just switch especially since the other brand is Kaytee. Kaytee isn't very good, I remember it actually poking me once (I bled) when I stuck my hand in the back to pull some out.

The best cut of hay would be 3rd, 2nd, then 1st. What you're describing sounds more like 2nd or 3rd though. 1st cut is normally more coarse, and actually reminds me of Kaytee's Timothy.

Do you have a photo of the hay, it sounds like it's 2nd or 3rd. If it's soft, smells good, that dark olive/greenish color, then that's just fine for them.


Just remember you don't want to store it in the plastic bag. I perfer storing my hay in a cardboard box with holes punched in it, in my basement (dark/cool place.)
Here is a link on hay storage - https://www.guinealynx.info/hay_storage.html
 
They could just be getting used to the new texture. As long as you have seen them go for it, I would leave it for a few days. Either they will warm up to it or ignore it and go for the other stuff.

As for the hay- I would verify to make sure that it is 100% timothy. Some horse hay will have a bit of alfalfa mixed in, and unless you have pigs under 6 months it is good to stay away from alfalfa.
 
I will take and post a photo tomorrow when I am more awake. I work overnights and just woke up from my nap and have to head out in a few minutes, ug! :) I am glad to hear it sounds like the right type, though. My friend assured me it was pure timothy, and I'm familiar with alfalfa from RVT school classes and I don't see any in there, at least so far, as I didn't want to break it all apart to check. I definitely have a cardboard box I can store it in, but as for a cool and dark place, our basement is rather damp. I suppose our basement landing would work better than nothing. At the moment it's in the bedroom which is actually one of the warmest areas in the house.

The laundry basket on wheels posted in the Guinea Lynx link would actually more than fit the amount of hay she brought, and that amount would last me a good while, as I only have two boys. I will probably use that as my primary storage device, at least for the amount I currently have. Otherwise when I get a larger amount I can punch holes in a large rubbermaid container and leave the lid off and stick it in the closet. That would be the best I can do, I think.
 
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay This is the new hay.

Changing over from Kaytee to farm hayAnd this is the old hay.
 
The new hay looks old. It's too brown and it might have been kept in plastic bags without air flow and this is why it aged faster-who knows. It would be great if it were fresher. It looks like a 2nd or 3rd cutting since it looks softer. See if you can get some that is newer/greener and double check that it's timothy and not alfalfa mix.

Kaytee might be nice and green but it's still rougher and is typically a 1st cutting.
 
When I get more I'll ask if it all looks like that or not. I know her mom gets it from the next door neighbor that grows and harvests it himself, and it's for their horses and they are super picky about what they eat. I assume slightly aged farm hay is still better than Kaytee? It's dry (not brittle but in no way damp) and smells really good. It's definitely not an alfalfa mix, timothy only.

Here is a larger picture of it in flake form, though it looks pretty much like the other photo. All rooms in our apartment have twelve foot high ceilings, and at the moment we only have one bulb in this room as the second burned out ages ago (our property manager "borrowed" the big ladder left for us and never returned it) so any photo is rather dim. I don't think the new hay is as brown as it's showing in the photos. I am going to Wal-Mart tomorrow afternoon for a cloth/wicker basket to store it in, and I know it's not good to keep it in a plastic bag so please don't gripe :) That's just what my friend put it in at the farm.

Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay
 
Actually, the plastic bag is not a problem itself-just poke a bunch of holes in it and it'll be OK. But if there was no airflow, then that would be a problem.

The picture looks totally brown/yellow to me-not green at all.
 
It's definitely brown/gold and not green. I just meant that it's not the dirt brown color that is shown in the first photo.

The bag actually has holes in it already, as it's very thin and cheap and was splitting down the side when I picked it up yesterday.
 
My friend just assured me that the hay is fresh from this late summer/fall, that there are no colors or preservatives added and that it always turns that color when it's left to dry in the sun. They have always bought hay from that neighbor, and it's been that color for as long as she can remember. From the way Bogart and Squishy are eating it (as well as running through it, hiding under it, pooping on it, and generally having a grand ol' time) I can assume they prefer it, at least :)
 
Sorry, but if the hay is brown/yellow it has lost some of it's nutritional content. I don't know specifics but maybe one of the experts will chime in.
This is from guinealynx:
[h=4]Selecting Hay[/h] Locating good quality hay can be a challenge. You may find leads to a farm or stable with high quality hay by calling your extension service or talking to a forage expert at a local farm supply. Horse owners are notoriously picky about the quality of hay they provide their animals and may be another source. The best hays, according to the extension service, are:
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay
Harvested before blossom or heading.
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay
Very leafy (poorer quality hays are more stemmy)
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay
Have the natural green color of the crop
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay
Fragrant (it will smell clean, no moldy/musty or burnt smell; not dusty)
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay
Very soft and pliable
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hay
Free of trash, weeds, dirt and other foreign material

I've never had "coloring" added to my local hay and it's always a rich green. I've gotten hay from Kleenmamas, Oxbow, and a local farmer and it's always been the same similar shades of green, not brown. It also smells fresh-a bit like rain IMO, not musty or dusty.
I don't think you need to stop using it immediately or anything, but I wouldn't buy more if it was that color-that's just me. I know she said it was timothy hay but I've seen bags of alfalfa hay look more brown.
 
That's just it, though. I don't have to pay anything for it. It's completely free (the cupcake was just a thank you gift). Which is why I'm trying to rationalize the color of the hay so I don't lose my newly found, unlimited and free supply of fresh hay.

So, my question for the experts is this: I know in no way are guinea pigs small horses, but if this family has been feeding this exact same hay, which I have just sifted completely through and can verify it is 100% timothy hay to the best of my knowledge (and even though I know the difference I looked up reference photos and videos anyway) to their horses for the last 30+ years, and their horses are in great shape (as I have seen with my own eyes), is it detrimental to continue to feed this hay to my cavies? As much as I love to save a few bucks I obviously don't want to hurt the little poopers, but if even slightly brown but verifiably fresh hay is better than Kaytee, I would like to know. Please feel free to voice your opinions.

I am obviously in no way an expert, despite my tech training. We were taught their genus species, how to sex them, what to feed them, etc, but it was all basics. I'm happy to defer to the experts here.
 
So, my question for the experts is this: I know in no way are guinea pigs small horses, but if this family has been feeding this exact same hay, which I have just sifted completely through and can verify it is 100% timothy hay to the best of my knowledge (and even though I know the difference I looked up reference photos and videos anyway) to their horses for the last 30+ years, and their horses are in great shape (as I have seen with my own eyes), is it detrimental to continue to feed this hay to my cavies? As much as I love to save a few bucks I obviously don't want to hurt the little poopers, but if even slightly brown but verifiably fresh hay is better than Kaytee, I would like to know. Please feel free to voice your opinions.
.

It is fine for the meantime, but it really should not be yellow like that. I have a hard time believing that hay that was cut this fall would be this yellow. Also, the green colour you see in any timothy is 100% natural, no colours are added to make it the colour that it is.

Personally if I were given the choice, I would not feed this to my guinea pig, or to my horse for that matter. I am at the barn all the time, and the hay we get is much greener. To spend a few bucks on a square bale every few months is a small price to pay considering the difference in quality you will be getting.

Just as a side note regarding your comment about their horses eating this hay and looking great: Unless they are pasture ornaments that live entirely on hay, most working horses are supplemented with grain as well as being offered hay. The condition of the horses, unless they are exclusively fed this hay, are not going to be tremendously affected by quality of the hay unless it is extraordinarily poor (mouldy.)
 
Well crud ): I was hoping there was a way to rationalize it. I will buy a box of Oxbow online when I get home today. I will have to make an excuse to my friend now too ):
 
I ride horses and the hay that they are fed is never brown/gold.... to me that seems like older and less nutritional. They get grass/orchard hay and its always a nice greenish colour.

It seems closer to the older hay that might get fed to cows, which I think have a tougher digestive system than horses.

I don't think I would want to feed hay that colour to the horses I ride. It doesn't have to be the bright green colour of your kaytee hay photo, but I definitely would want something more green than brown.
 
Just remember you don't want to store it in the plastic bag. I perfer storing my hay in a cardboard box with holes punched in it, in my basement (dark/cool place.)
Here is a link on hay storage - https://www.guinealynx.info/hay_storage.html

Regarding storage, I just found this handy item at Walmart today, and it seems to work nicely to easily store both bales indoors. It cost around $27, took less than five minutes to set up, and fits all of the criteria guinealynx suggests for indoor storage: dry, off the ground, and free of mice (not that we have that problem, but we also have three cats). As for the closed container, the lining is cotton and quite breathable to promote proper air circulation, and the bales are just a snug enough fit to keep each other from falling apart when I snipped the ties to grab a handful off the top. And once I zipped it up and brushed the hay off the front, you couldn't even tell what was inside :)
Changing over from Kaytee to farm hayChanging over from Kaytee to farm hay
 
The hay in that last photo looks far greener than those before o_O. Maybe its just the lighting.

You might want to consider going down to the place from whence your friend got it in the first place to check it out and see if what you got is consistent with what everything there looks like. You might have gotten slightly older stock because it was free. If there seems to be newer, greener stock there it might be in your best interest to keep with your friends offer, but politely ask if you could pick it up in the future (and hey, that might saver her some work anyway) so that you have more control on which bit of hay you get.

Otherwise you might want to consider just trying to find some other large animal food/hay dealerships and personally visiting them to check their stock to find one you like. If possible it'll likely be far cheaper than buying online and easier to get access to on short notice. I'm lucky that I'm in an area thats just a short drive away from a lot of horse and farm land, so there are quite a few hay and animal feed places nearby. Depending on time of year the hay can be a bit variable in color.

A full bale will likely last you a long time. I've got three boys (two different cages), and they've always got hay available (enough to romp around in too), changed daily, and I've still got more than half of the bale I got back in June.
 
The hay in the storage comment isn't from the same place, and so I am just Craigslisting the brown hay in case someone really needs it. The bales in my previous post are from a local farm, found through Craigslist, for only $5 a bale. One weighs 25lb and the other 39lb. I am just going to stick with that, but wanted to come back to this thread to comment on the storage suggestion.
 
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