Having a healthy pig depends on the pig’s human providing them with a good diet. It’s such a huge part of guinea pig care that I’m sure that I will write many-a-blog on the subject. However, for just a quick rundown of the basics, this is a good place to start.
First and foremost, every pig should have access to fresh water at all times. Tap water should be fine for your pigs unless you live somewhere with a very high mineral content in your water. We have very hard water and have a reverse osmosis filter installed. We don’t even drink our tap water so we certainly don’t give it to our pigs. Decide if filtering is a good idea based on your own circumstances.
Second, every pig should have access to high-quality, fresh hay 100% of the time. Hay is critical to their digestion and keeps their teeth ground down, which avoids malocclusion (overgrown front teeth). Due to its high calcium content, alfalfa hay is only appropriate as a supplement to pigs who are less than 6 months old, pregnant or nursing. Otherwise, timothy, bluegrass and orchard hay are all excellent choices. Make sure the hay smells fresh and not moldy or musty. It should also be green in color, soft and pliable. Hay should make up about 70-80% of your pig’s diet. Our pigs get whatever hay variety is available at the time from KMS Hayloft, which is always wonderful.
Fresh veggies are also crucial to a pig’s diet because they provide the essential minerals and vitamins every pig needs. Each pig should be given about 1 cup of veggies per day. Most of the vegetable content should consist of fresh greens, such as romaine, butter, endive or red-leafed lettuce, all of which can be fed every day. Pigs also love fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, basil, dill and mint. I usually get two or three different herbs and lettuces and rotate through them so that they have a variety and don’t get too much of any given one.
In addition to the leafy greens, my pigs also get between 1/4 and 1/8 of a yellow, orange or red pepper every day. This can provide them with the vitamin-C they need and I’ve never met a pig who doesn’t love them. After the lettuce and pepper, I finish out each pig’s one cup of veggies with what I call a “treat vegetable.” This can include a baby carrot for each pig, a cherry tomato, a few pieces of cucumber or some chopped celery. Again, I get two or three of these different types of veggies and rotate through them during the week to keep the pigs from getting too much of any given one.
In addition to fresh water, hay and veggies, you can also provide a high-quality guinea pig pellet food. Most of the pellets from the pet store are alfalfa-based, which is not a good choice (again, because of the high calcium content). A good choice for pellets are the Timothy Pellets from KMS Hayloft. This is what our pigs get and they love them. Feed only about 1/8 of a cup of pellets per pig per day. Avoid pellets with seeds, bright colored bits, fruits or nuts.
Making sure your pig gets fed a healthy diet is one of the first things you should do for your piglet. Not only will they be healthier, but they sure will love you for it. Just look at little Oliver up there; he seems pretty thankful to have all those fresh veggies.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully this article helped you somehow! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us or leave a comment!