Feeding your Guinea Pigs
A piggies diet should be 80% hay!! Guinea Pigs eat for around 16 hours a day so there needs to be a lots of good quality hay on offer. Not only do they eat it but it is crucial for keeping their teeth from growing too long! Guinea pigs teeth grow continuously, without hay the teeth grow too long and the pig can no longer eat! They also love to hide, play and sleep in it too! Hay must be available at all times. Hay racks are great to allow them to pull strands out to eat, this keeps the hay off the floor and therefore clean. A piggies is happiest when they have a huge pile of hay on the floor to run around in and to eat. They looks so cute munching and peeking through the hay! Grass hays such as Timothy hay, meadow hay or orchard grass are the best for adult guinea pigs. Alfalfa or Readigrass is richer and higher in calcium and is a good supplement for growing guinea pigs as well as pregnant or nursing guinea pigs, but is not a good staple for most adult guinea pigs. Alfalfa based gasses should be fed in moderation to pig over 6 months of age unless of course they need the additional nutrition - like many rescue pigs do! Compressed hay blocks do not replace loose hay but do help with enrichment and keeping teeth from growing too long!
Feed and veggies make up the remaining 20% of the pigs diet. We prefer the pellet type feeds as they are complete nutrition and much less wasteful the the muesli type feeds. Muesli feeds can be cheaper but the pigs will pick out the best bits leaving the rest which is wasteful and it means they do not get the full benefit of the food. Guinea pig pellets should be fed daily. Most guinea pigs will not overeat. Choose a good quality pellet designed for guinea pigs there are many on the market, be sure to check that the manufacturer uses a stabilised form of vitamin C as it looses its potency over time or at least one with a "use before" date ensure freshness.
A note about Vitamin C
Vitamin C is of utmost importance to guinea pigs, as they are unable to manufacture their own (much like humans). Without enough vitamin C in their diets, guinea pigs can become very ill with scurvy. Most guinea pigs need about 10–30 mg/day. Pregnant, nursing, young, and ill guinea pigs need more.
If you feed a good selection of vegetables high in vitamin C along with a good, fresh guinea pig pellet, you can meet the vitamin C needs of your guinea pig.
Many guinea pig pellets have vitamin C added but, unfortunately, vitamin C is quite unstable and will degrade over time. Keeping the pellets in a cool dark place helps preserve the vitamin C. You can also get pellets with a stabilised form of vitamin C witch keep their potency longer.
The best way to supplement with additional vitamin C is give high vitamin C veggies. There are supplements on the market but in our experience the pigs don't like them!
We love adding forage to our pigs feed! This is great enrichment for them and keeps them interested in their fee. The forage mixed we use of made of dried herbs, flowers and certain leaves. Sometimes dried peas known as pea flakes or other dried fruits and vegetables are added too!
Veggies and Fruits
In addition to the hay and pellets, a variety of fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens) and some fruits should be offered daily. Leafy greens are the staple for veggies but fruits and other vegetables can be offered in smaller quantities. Avoid iceberg lettuce as it has very little nutritional value. Good choices include kale, spinach, spring greens, parsley, romaine lettuce, and dandelion greens. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, bok choy can lead to gas so feed in moderation! Avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Carrots, carrot tops, green and red bell peppers, apple, apricots, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes can also be fed and are very much enjoyed. If you have a guaranteed pesticide-free source, grass, dandelions, clover, and chickweed can also be offered, especially new growth which is tender and the most nutritious. Variety is key!
Any greens, vegetables, or fruits should be introduced gradually or a digestive upset may result.
Aim for 1 cup of mixed fruit and vegetables a day per pig
Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Celery leaves and stalks, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Corn, On The Cob, Cucumber, Courgette, Cress, Green Beans, Kale, Peas In Pod, Parsnip, Rocket, Radish, Spring Greens, Spinach (in moderation), Sweet Peppers
Basil, Coriander, Dil, Mint, Parsley, Thyme
From The Garden - if safe
Apple tree branches, Blackberry Leaves, Chickweed, Clover, Dandelion, Grass, Hazel Branches, Pear Tree Branches
Apple (in moderation), Apricot, Banana, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Cantaloupe Melon, Currants, Grapes (in moderation), Honeydew Melon, Kiwi Fruit, Mango, Nectarine, Orange, Pear, Plum, Peach, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tomato (NOT leaves)
Do Not Feed
Potatoes, Iceberg Lettuce, Rhubarb, Anything from the garden you are unsure about!