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Timothy Hay is one of the most common hays fed to both Rabbits and Guinea Pigs but let's take a look at how we make sure it is safe to feed our pet. Let's also take a look at why it is so popular, it's nutritional values and it's benefits as a daily feeding hay. 

Why is Timothy Hay So Popular? 

Timothy Hay is probably the most popular daily feeding hay for both Rabbits, Chinchillas and Guinea pigs but why is it so popular?

Timothy has is high in fibre and low in protein which is a great combination for small herbivores as it is the right balance to keep a healthy gut and intestinal trace so that is a big tick with many pet parents around the world. There are many different varieties of Timothy hay which is why you might find your pet enjoys this variety from one hay provider but hates it from another. 

If we look a bit further back in time, Timothy has been heavily marketed for years as the best hay for our pets which gives it a massive advantage over other hays.

From a farming perspective, Timothy is a very popular hay to grow, it is a hardy plant, with shallow root structure which can be successful in light and heavy soil beds. Timothy is known for being disease resistant which is another bonus for farmers across the globe - particularly in the current economic climate.

Timothy is persistent and although it can be slow to grow in it's first year, production there after can be fruitful as in the right conditions it can be cut multiple times per year as it only needs a 50-60 day growth cycle. This is why you will here terms such as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cut Timothy Hay.

All of these factors lend themselves to reasons why Timothy has been a market leader in pet hay for many years as it is a hay that works for farming as well as for pets.

 At Little Hay Co We have two large Pure Timothy fields; just one cut from these fields estimated to last us around 18 months when the weather is right and harvest season is successful. In 2023 we had our first attempt at making a Second Cut Timothy Hay which we added to our website later in the year. We will look to do this again if the weather is right for us however Second Cut Timothy generally is imported from overseas where the weather is more reliable. 

What is the make up of Little Hay Co Timothy Hay? 

Each harvest will vary which is why regular testing of the harvest should be conducted. We complete annual testing of hay in our stores as well as test hays once the harvest is completed and the bales have settled. Every hay producer should be able to provide customers with analysis of their hay which is no more than two years old to give you piece of mind. At Little Hay Co we test for Dry matter, Crude Protein, Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) and Actual Detergent Fibre (ADF), Sugar & Digestible Energy. 

Key Components Tested:

1. Dry Matter: This is the weight of the hay minus any water content. At Little Hay Co, we ensure that all our hays are dried to perfection to maintain quality. A lower moisture content avoids spores, fugus and toxins growing and developing in the hay. Our Timothy hay sits at around 92% dry matter.

2. Crude Protein: This measures the protein content in the hay. Adult rabbits don't require protein in the same way that they require fibre for a balanced diet. A hay below 10% Crude protein is usually a safe bet as a daily feeding hay for adult rabbits while baby rabbits will benefit from hays higher in protein such as Alfalfa Hay. Our Timothy Hay has a crude protein level of 5% in comparison Alfalfa hay Crude Protein sits at around 24%. 

3. Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF): NDF represents the structural components of the plant cell wall, which can impact digestibility.  NDF improves your pets gut barrier function and intestinal microbiota, hay should contain anywhere between 40%-65% NDF. Our Timothy Hay contains 65%. A high NDF can result in a lower hay intake so if your pet isn't eating enough hay this might be something to look out for. We need to remember that hay eating doesn't just help gut health and weight management but it also helps with dental health as our Rabbits and Guinea Pigs teeth are always growing so balancing our Timothy Hay with a lower NDF hay might help with overall hay consumption.

4. Acid Detergent Fibre (ADF): ADF measures the less digestible components of the plant cell wall, providing insight into the energy content of the hay. If an ADF figure is higher, this will mean the hay will be broken down less in the gut. The ADF figure is the fibre that is less digestible and forms the roughage that keeps your pets gut moving and forms those all important poos. The percentage you are looking for in hay is anywhere between 30-45%. Our Timothy Hay is around 39% ADF.

5. Sugar & Digestible Energy: These components are crucial for providing energy to livestock and can impact their overall health and performance. Our Timothy hay has around 8% Sugar content. 

By testing for these key components, hay producers can ensure that their Grass Hay meets the nutritional needs of UK pets and shows an intention to maintain and manage high quality standard in their crops.

What are the benefits of Feeding Timothy Hay? 

  • Consistent hay for your pet 
  • Crunchy & Coarse which is great for teeth wear. This would be limited to the First Cut.
  • Multiple Cuts of the same hay so usually available in abundance on the market.
  • Hits all the right markers for nutritional analysis. 

 

Is Timothy Hay Safe for my Pet? 

Yes - it is a safe choice for a feeding hay for your pet and by far the most popular choice with pet parents. Like with all hays, the drying process will be key to ensuring it's safety, if a hay is left with too high a moisture content then any hay (even timothy) can be prone to disease or mould spores.  

Like everything - Moderation is key, rabbits might find this hay less palatable or go off their hay so giving them options with a variety of hay will ensure their hay intake is around 85% which is what is needed for a healthy bun. This goes for Guinea pigs too - so if you are worried about hay intake and your pet isn't eating the hay you have, adding more variety might be what you need. 

We have options on our website for bundles, including The Refill Bundle, Ultimate Bale Bundle and The Pet Starter Kit. These options make it quick and simple to add variety to your pets diet while saving money.

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