All About Hay and Your Pet’s Health

Key Benefits of Hay and Your Pet’s Health

As the pet parent of a small herbivore, you know that hay is important to your pet’s health, but have you ever wondered exactly how hay helps keep your pet healthy & happy?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific functions that hay provides to your pet’s daily health.

 

Digestive Health

The fibre in hay facilitates the constant digestive movement that small herbivores need to maintain digestive health.

Disrupting movement in the GI tract even for a short period of time can lead to a number of potentially life-threatening issues.

Providing grass hay most closely mimics the foraging activity small herbivores would perform in nature, making hay the ideal material to support digestive health.

 


Dental Health

Small herbivores require constant chewing of fibrous foods to provide proper, necessary dental wear. Hay is the ideal material to serve this important function.

The teeth of rabbits and guinea pigs never stop growing, making it critical to provide a proper diet centred around hay.

A diet with insufficient hay can lead to dental issues including disease, tooth elongation, & malocclusion.

 


Mental Health

Hay encourages the natural foraging behaviours of small pets, providing an essential opportunity for mental stimulation.

Access to a variety of high-quality hays provides different tastes & textures for your pet, keeping him active, engaged & healthy.

Place hay in as many locations as possible throughout your pet’s living space to maximize mental enrichment.

 

 


Tips for Preventing GI Stasis

Gastrointestinal Stasis is a serious condition that occurs when the digestive system slows down or stops completely. As a pet parent, there are key steps you can take to minimize the likelihood that your pet experiences this condition:

  • Feed a high fibre diet centred around unlimited grass hay (at least 70% of the diet)
  • Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your pet (at least once a year for healthy pets)
  • Keep a watchful eye out for signs of underlying issues (e.g. visible pain, dental health issues, infections, etc.)
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise & has access to two sources of freshwater

 


Top 5 Reasons to Offer Your Pet a Variety of Hays

All pets benefit from some variety in their diet – especially when it comes to hay. There a number of important benefits to providing a variety of grass hays. Here are the top five reasons to offer a variety of hays for your pet’s health.

  1. Helps Prevent Picky Eating: Access to a variety of tastes & textures expands your pet’s palate & helps him manage the natural variability that can occur between bags of hay.
  2. Supports Key Nutritional Needs: Fibre is key to your small herbivore’s health. Having access to multiple varieties of hay encourages consumption throughout the day, making sure your pet consumes enough fibre to stay healthy.
  3. Keeps Mealtime Fun & Enriching: Eating the same meal day after day gets boring! Offer multiple varieties to keep your pet active, mentally stimulated, & enriched.
  4. Strengthens the Human/Animal Bond: Offering your pet a variety of tastes & textures is fun for pet & pet parent alike. Experiment with different flavour combinations to help discover your pet’s favourites.
  5. Encourages Natural Foraging Behaviours: In the wild, your pet would spend much of his day foraging for a variety of plant material. Offer multiple varieties of hay to encourage these healthy, natural behaviours.

 


Hay is Not Just for Herbivores

Hay is critical to the health & wellbeing of herbivores, but other pets benefit from this high fibre forage as well.

Hay is a great source of physical enrichment for birds, hamsters, gerbils, rats, & other small pets.

From bedding to burrowing to general exploring, these pets will benefit from access to hay in their daily routine.

 


 

What are “Open-Rooted” Teeth?

Rabbits, guinea pigs & other small animals have “open-rooted” teeth. This means that these teeth grow continuously throughout the animal’s life.

Without proper dental wear, serious issues can arise, including malocclusion (improper alignment of top & bottom teeth), tooth elongation, & dental disease.

Eating hay regularly provides your pet the necessary wear & helps ensure that teeth do not become overgrown.

 


DIY Enrichment

To make mealtime more mentally enriching for your pet, try stuffing hay into hideouts or other “safe to chew” containers, such as toilet paper or paper towel rolls.

For added enticement, bury a few of your pet’s favourite treats toward the back of the hay & watch him eagerly hunt for them.

 

 


Why Oxbow Hay?

  • Oxbow grass hay is grown & harvested by experts in ideal climates
  • Extensively quality tested – from plant to pet
  • Gently processed & de-dusted to remove fine particles
  • Carefully hand-sorted by dedicated experts
  • Supported by exceptional, caring customer service

 

Oxbow Grass Hays - Australian Distributor


Caring for Your Rabbit

This Caring for Your Rabbit guide from Oxbow Animal Health will teach you everything you need to know about keeping your pet healthy and happy.

Your rabbit is a herbivore, which means he eats only plant material.

Grass hay should be the high-fibre cornerstone of every rabbit’s diet. The fibre in hay helps meet the important digestive health needs of herbivores such as rabbits. A daily recommended amount of a uniform, fortified food provides essential vitamins and minerals not found in hay. Fresh greens are also an important component of a rabbit’s diet, and healthy treats can be beneficial when given in moderation.

HAY

Your rabbit should have unlimited access to a variety of quality grass hays. Among many benefits, hay helps prevent obesity, boredom, and dental and gastrointestinal disease. Since replacing the hay in your rabbit’s habitat can encourage picky eating, we recommend changing it only when soiled.

Young (less than a year old), pregnant, nursing or ill animals can benefit from eating alfalfa hay in addition to grass hay because of the higher nutritional elements. Otherwise, alfalfa should only be given occasionally as a treat.

Hay Selection

Keep in mind: Grass hay should make up the majority of your pet’s daily diet. Offer a variety of hay to your rabbit to promote optimum health. Since hay is a natural product, each bag will look and feel different. Use our Taste & Texture Guide located on every hay package to determine your pet’s taste and texture preferences.

We have many all-natural, farm-fresh hays to choose from including Western Timothy, Orchard Grass, Oat Hay and Botanical Hay. Also, check out our Harvest Stacks line of compressed hays for extra enrichment

Did You Know
Your Rabbits teeth never stop growing. Hay is essential because it stimulates normal chewing and dental wear patterns, helping decrease the risk of dental disease.

Fortified Food

Providing a daily recommended amount of a high-fibre, age-appropriate fortified food will help ensure that your pet receives essential vitamins and minerals not found in hay.

Pellet Selection

Always choose an age-appropriate pellet formulated specifically for rabbits. Our Essentials Young Rabbit Food is ideal for rabbits under one year of age. For adult rabbits, choose from one of Oxbow’s three premium adult rabbit formulas.

Avoid
Mixes with nuts, corn, seeds and fruit because rabbits have a tendency to select those tempting morsels over the healthy pellets.

Greens

Fresh greens are an important part of your pet’s daily diet. Greens contribute to hydration and provide important vitamins and minerals, as well as enrichment. For a complete list of appropriate greens, visit the House Rabbit Society’s website at rabbit.org.

Offer – Romaine, bib, and red leaf lettuce
Avoid – Leeks, chives and onions

Treats

Treats (including fruits and veggies) are great for encouraging interaction between you and your pet, but they should only be given after basic daily foods have been eaten. Offering too many treats can cause your rabbit to refuse his healthy, essential foods. It’s important to remember that not all treats are created equal! All Oxbow treat varieties are designed to be as wholesome as they are delicious.

Did You Know
By caring for your rabbit and with proper nutrition your bun may live ten or more years.

HOUSING YOUR RABBIT

As animals of prey by nature, all rabbits need a safe place to spend time and escape potential environmental stressors.

Choose a well-constructed habitat with a solid floor and set it up near household activities, but away from drafts. Your rabbit’s habitat should be outfitted with environmental essentials such as a space to hide (Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel), a litter box lined with litter and bedding (Pure Comfort bedding layered on top of Eco-Straw litter), some toys, grass hay, a food bowl, and two sources of fresh, clean water.

The confines of a habitat do not allow enough space for a pet’s exercise needs. All animals benefit from activity and love to move and explore; a play yard allows you to create a safe, secure exercise area for your pet.

YOUR RABBIT’S HEALTH

When caring for your rabbit, you should visit a qualified exotics veterinarian at least once a year for check-ups on your rabbit’s diet, behaviour, and health.

Be prepared for your pet’s visits by making a list of any questions or concerns you may have ahead of time. Ask your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate age to have your rabbit spayed or neutered; this will increase the chances of a longer, healthier life for your pet. Many rabbit health problems are preventable with proper diet and care. To locate a qualified exotics veterinarian near you, visit aernv.org.

REASONS TO CONTACT YOUR VET

• Loose, soft or lack of stool

• Small, dry, or infrequent stools

• Blood in the urine breathing

• Hunching in a corner or lack of activity (lethargy)

• Overgrown front teeth

• Sneezing or trouble front teeth

• Observed difficulty with chewing

• Bald patches in the fur

• Sores on the feet

• Abnormal eating or drinking

RABBIT BEHAVIOUR

Rabbits don’t usually like to be picked up or carried.

The best way to interact with your rabbit is to get down to his level and play with him on the floor. Be sure you are always with your rabbit when he is out for playtime; rabbits are curious by nature and could get into trouble if left alone.

Some rabbit behaviours can seem rather strange. For example, you may see your rabbit eat its own poop. This is a normal, healthy behaviour that provides essential vitamins and nutrients.

SUPPLIES FOR YOUR RABBIT

• Fortified age-specific food: Oxbow Essentials Young Rabbit Food for rabbits under one year of age or one of Oxbow’s three premium formulas for adults

• Two or more varieties of Oxbow’s farm-fresh hays

• Oxbow treats for healthy bonding and enrichment

• Water bottle and heavy water dish

• Heavy food bowl

• Large play yard for safe exercise outside the habitat

• Large habitat with solid, non-slip flooring

• Hiding space such as Oxbow’s Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel

• Litter box

• Litter and bedding material such as Oxbow’s Pure Comfort Bedding


Caring for Your Guinea Pig

Caring for Your Guinea Pig is a guide from Oxbow Animal Health, it will teach you everything you need to know about keeping your pet guinea pig healthy and happy.

 

FEEDING AND CARING FOR YOUR GUINEA PIG

Your guinea pig is a herbivore, which means he eats only plant material.

Grass hay should be the high-fibre cornerstone of every guinea pig’s diet. The fibre in hay helps meet the important digestive health needs of herbivores such as guinea pigs. A daily recommended amount of a uniform, fortified food provides essential vitamins and minerals not found in hay. Fresh greens are also an important component of a guinea pig’s diet, and healthy treats can be beneficial when given in moderation.

 

HAY

Your guinea pig should have unlimited access to a variety of quality grass hays. Among many benefits, hay helps prevent obesity, boredom, and dental and gastrointestinal disease. Since replacing the hay in your guinea pig’s habitat can encourage picky eating, we recommend changing it only when soiled. Young (less than six months old), pregnant, nursing, or ill animals can benefit from eating alfalfa hay in addition to grass hay because of the higher nutritional elements. Otherwise, alfalfa should only be given occasionally as a treat.

Hay Selection

Keep in mind: Grass hay should make up the majority of your pet’s daily diet. Offer a variety of hay to your guinea pig to promote optimum health. Since hay is a natural product, each bag will look and feel different. Use our Taste & Texture Guide located on every hay package to determine your pet’s taste and texture preferences.

We have many all-natural farm-fresh hays to choose from including Western Timothy, Orchard Grass, Oat Hay, Botanical Hay, and Organic Meadow Hay. Also, check out our Harvest Stacks line of compressed hays for extra enrichment.

 

Generally, your guinea pig should be eating a pile of hay twice the size of its body daily.

DID YOU KNOW
Your guinea pig’s teeth never stop growing. Hay is essential because it stimulates normal chewing and dental wear patterns healing decrease the risk of dental disease.

 

FORTIFIED FOOD

Providing a daily recommended amount of a high-fibre, age-appropriate fortified food with stabilized vitamin C will help ensure that your pet receives essential vitamins and minerals not found in hay.

Pellet Selection

Always choose an age-appropriate pellet specifically formulated for guinea pigs. Our Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food is ideal for guinea pigs under six months. For guinea pigs over six months, choose one of our three adult formulas.

Avoid
Mixes with nuts, corn, seeds and fruit because guinea pigs have a tendency to select those tempting morsels over the healthy pellets.

 

GREENS

Fresh greens are a vital part of your pet’s daily diet. Greens contribute to hydration and provide necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as enrichment. Check with your qualified exotics veterinarian for a full list of appropriate greens. A good starter list of varieties to offer and avoid includes:

Offer: Romaine, bib and red leaf lettuce
Avoid: Leeks, chives and onions

 

Guinea pigs are inquisitive and curious by nature

TREATS

Treats (including fruits and veggies) are great for encouraging interaction between you and your pet, but they should only be given after daily foods have been eaten. Offering too many treats can cause your guinea pig to refuse his healthy, essential foods. It’s important to remember that not all treats are created equal!  When caring for your guinea pig make sure you include Oxbow treats which have been designed to be as wholesome as they are delicious.

 

HOUSING YOUR GUINEA PIG

Guinea pigs need a safe place that allows enough room to climb, jump, and explore, as well as to escape potential environmental stressors.

Choose a well-constructed habitat with a solid floor and set up near household activities, but away from drafts. Your guinea pig’s habitat should be outfitted with environmental essentials such as a space to hide (Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel), a litter box lined with litter and bedding (Pure Comfort bedding layered on top of Eco-Straw litter), some toys, grass hay, a food bowl and two sources of fresh, clean water.

The confines of a habitat do not allow enough space for a pet’s exercise needs. All animals benefit from activity and love to move and explore; a play yard allows you to create a safe, secure exercise area for your pet.

 

SUPPLIES FOR YOUR GUINEA PIG

  • Fortified age-specific food: Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food for guinea pigs under six months of age. For guinea pigs over six months of age, choose one of Oxbow’s three adult formulas.
  • Two or more varieties of Oxbow’s farm-fresh hay
  • Oxbow treats for healthy bonding and enrichment
  • Water bottle and heavy water dish
  • Heavy food bowl
  • Large habitat with solid, non-slip flooring
  • Large play yard for safe exercise outside the habitat
  • Hiding space such as Oxbow’s Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel
  • Litter and bedding material such as Oxbow’s Eco-Straw and Pure Comfort Bedding
  • Natural Science Vitamin C supplement, as needed*

*In times of stress, a guinea pig’s need for vitamin C can fluctuate. Supplement with Natural Science Vitamin C

 

GUINEA PIG BEHAVIOUR

Guinea pigs are most active at dawn and twilight, taking naps throughout the day.

Guinea pigs often show their affection through vocalizations. For example, you may hear a sound called “wheeking” when your pet is looking for a treat or purring when being held. Also, your guinea pig may “popcorn” – bounce excitedly and repeatedly to express happiness. The best way to interact with your guinea pig is to play with him on the floor. As creatures of habit, guinea pigs need to be introduced to changes slowly in regards to feedings and routines.

Some guinea pig behaviours can seem rather strange. For example, you may see your guinea pig eat its own poop. This is a normal, healthy behaviour that provides essential vitamins and nutrients.

 

YOUR GUINEA PIGS HEALTH

When caring for your guinea pig you should visit a qualified exotics veterinarian at least once a year for check-ups on your guinea pig’s diet, behaviour, and health.

Be prepared for your pet’s visits by making a list of any questions or concerns you may have ahead of time. Ask your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate age to have your guinea pig spayed or neutered; this will increase the chances of a longer, healthier life for your pet. Many guinea pig health problems are preventable with proper diet and care. To locate a qualified exotics veterinarian near you, visit aemv.org

 

REASONS TO CONTACT YOUR VET

  • Loose, soft or lack of stool
  • Small, dry or infrequent stools
  • Blood in the urine
  • Sneezing or trouble breathing
  • Hunching in a corner or lack of activity (lethargy)
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Observed difficulty with chewing
  • Bald patches in the fur
  • Sores on the feet
  • Abnormal eating or drinking

 

For more information about your guinea pig’s nutrition and behaviours, visit www.oxbowanimalhealth.com


Caring for Your Rat

Caring for your Rat is an educational guide from Oxbow Animal Health will teach you everything you need to know about keeping your pet rat happy and healthy.

FEEDING AND CARING FOR YOUR RAT

Your rat is an omnivore, which means he eats both plant and animal material.

Your rat requires a simple diet composed of a complete fortified food, freshwater served in both a sipper bottle and tip-proof dish, and veggies, greens, and fruits in appropriate daily amounts. Like humans, rats are prone to eating when bored, so it’s important to provide healthy foods in proper amounts.

Fortified FoodD

Fortified food like Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food or Essentials Mouse & Young Rat Food is the best option for your rat. These specially designed foods are formed into the ideal shape for nibbling, which promotes healthy teeth.

Food Selection

Always choose an age-appropriate food formulated specifically for rats. Our Essentials Mouse & Young Rat Food is ideal for rats under six months of age, and our Essentials Adult Rat Food is recommended for adult rats.

Avoid: Mixes with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit because rats have a tendency to select those tempting morsels over healthy food pieces.

Did you know
Small amounts of high-quality seeds, such as oats, sunflower seeds, barley and cooked brown rice make great treats for rats.

 

VEGES, GREENS & FRUITS

Veggies, greens, and fruits are an important part of your rat’s daily diet. These items offer important vitamins and nutrients, contribute to hydration, and provide enrichment to your pet’s daily routine. Check with your qualified exotics veterinarian for a full list of appropriate veggies, greens, and fruit choices. A good starter list of varieties to offer and avoid includes:

Offer: Romaine, kale, parsley, apples (without seeds), strawberries, bananas, peas, and squash
Avoid: Leeks, chives and onions

 

HAY

Supply grass hay to stimulate natural foraging and nesting, which helps in the prevention of obesity. Many rats especially enjoy Oat Hay, which often contains tasty, immature seed heads.

Hay Selection

Use our Taste & Texture Guide located on every hay package to determine your pet’s preferences. We have many all-natural farm-fresh hays to choose from including Western Timothy, Orchard Grass, Oat Hay, Botanical Hay, and Organic Meadow Hay. Also, check out our Harvest Stacks line of compressed hays for extra enrichment.

 

TREATS

A part of caring for your rat includes treats.  Treats are great for encouraging interaction between you and your pet, but they should only be given after basic daily foods have been eaten. Offering too many treats can cause your rat to refuse his healthy, essential foods. It’s important to remember that not all treats are created equal! All Oxbow treat varieties are designed to be as wholesome as they are delicious.

 

Caring for your Rat

Rats are intelligent and social by nature

RAT BEHAVIOUR

Domesticated rats are clean, docile pets that rarely bite.

They enjoy socialization with both other rats as well as humans. In addition, rats are very smart and can be trained to respond to their names and clicker training, to “fetch” objects, use a litter box, and climb ropes.

Want to keep your pet rat busy for hours? Fill a box with one of Oxbow’s grass hays and hide your rat’s favourite treat inside. He’ll enjoy both the excitement and challenge of the treasure hunt!

 

YOUR RAT’S HEALTH

When caring for your rat, you should visit a qualified exotics veterinarian at least once a year for check-ups on your rat’s diet, behaviour, and health.

Be prepared for your pet’s visits by making a list of any questions or concerns you may have ahead of time. Many rat health problems are preventable with proper diet and care. To locate a qualified exotics veterinarian near you, visit aemv.org

 

REASONS TO CONTACT YOUR VET

  • Wet or soiled tail
  • Blood in the urine
  • Sneezing or trouble breathing
  • Hunching in a corner or lack of activity (lethargy)
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Bald patches in the fur
  • Lumps or sores on the body
  • Sores on the feet
  • Abnormal eating or drinking

 

DID YOU KNOW
Rats cannot burp, because of this, avoid feeing gas-causing vegetables such as cabbage

 

HOUSING YOUR RAT

Rats require lots of space to foster creative living, playing, and burrowing.

Rats love to climb and explore, so choose a multi-level habitat for these athletic adventurers. Choose a wire cage with a solid bottom to accommodate bedding such as Oxbow’s Pure Comfort Bedding, places to hide such as Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel, cardboard tubes, ropes, an exercise wheel, grass hay for burrowing and nesting, a food bowl, and two sources of fresh, clean water.

Set your rat’s cage up near household activities, but away from drafts. Newspaper, paper towels, facial tissue, and old mittens or socks also make excellent nesting materials for rats.

 

Avoid: Aromatic cedar and pine shavings that may contain resin and could irritate your pet’s lungs and skin.

 

SUPPLIES FOR YOUR RAT

  • Fortified age-specific food: Oxbow Essentials Mouse &Young Rat Food for rats under six months of age or Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food for rats over six months of age
  • Variety of Oxbow’s grass hays for nesting
  • Oxbow treats for healthy bonding and enrichment
  • A mix of healthy veggies, greens, fruits, and seeds
  • Heavy food bowl
  • Water bottle and heavy water dish
  • Cage designed specifically for rats
  • Wheel, tube, and hay habitat such as Oxbow’s Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel for hiding and playing
  • Oxbow’s Pure Comfort Bedding

For more information about your rat’s nutrition and behaviours, visit www.oxbowanimalhealth.com


All About The Science of Hay

ALL ABOUT THE SCIENCE OF HAY

This guide from Oxbow Animal Health provides a closer look at the science of hay – how and where it’s grown, how it can vary based on factors of nature, the anatomy of a hay plant, and the essential role hay plays in the daily health of small herbivores. Hay has been harvested for thousands of years, and it remains the cornerstone of small herbivore health. Hay offers many nutritional and health benefits, including the prevention of obesity and digestive issues and maintaining dental and mental health.  

MAKING HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES

The science of hay - a guide from Oxbow Animal Health


Hay Field as Eco-System

A hayfield is a very diverse eco-system. Throughout the growing season, a single hayfield can contain a number of micro-habitats that host a variety of insect and animal life. In addition to providing valuable food sources in the form of nectar and leaves, the dense canopy of a hayfield protects these organisms from predators.

Hay Harvest

Hay is harvested using a series of simple mechanical processes. These include: mowing, tedding, raking, and baling. Oxbow hay is mowed when it is determined that the nutrients are at optimum levels to support small animal health. Mowed hay is organized into large swaths, or rows, in the field. Next, a process called tedding fluffs up the cut hay, promoting curing and drying. Once hay has been tedded and is nearly dry, it is raked (flipped over) to dry the underside and form a windrow. The final step in the hay harvest process is baling. The baling process mechanically compacts hay into large bales.  

Hay Anatomy 101

Seed

      • Soft and enticing to most pets – contains the most protein.
      • Typically eaten second, after leaves.
      • Size depends on the maturity of hay (smaller seed heads indicate more immature hay).

Stems

      • Supporting structure or “scaffold” of hay.
      • The coarsest part of the hay plant.
      • Contains the most fibre – 25% more than leaves & seed heads.
      • Provides the most beneficial dental wear.
      • Typically selected last to be eaten by pets, but very important.

Leaves

      • The softest, most enticing part of the hay plant.
      • Typically selected first by pets.
      • Beneficial source of fibre and protein.

Quick Tip: Mix it up! If you find that your pet leaves behind stems, don’t throw them out! Instead, mix them in with fresh hay to encourage your pet to eat these important fibre-packed pieces.


Mother Nature & Hay Variability

Hay is very much a “farm fresh” product. It is grown and harvested naturally, and minimally handled between the field and your pet’s preferred dining area. As a product of Mother Nature, even slight changes in factors such as temperature, humidity, rain and wind will cause the taste, texture, colour and aroma traits of hay to vary slightly from bag to bag, it’s all about the science of hay. However, it is important to note that a change in one of these traits does not necessarily indicate a change in quality. Some common ways that your hay might vary from purchase to purchase include:

Colour

Beautiful green hay is everyone’s first choice, but it’s important to know that brown or sun-bleached hay is not “bad” hay. Hay becomes brown as it matures and less light reaches the lower leaves through the canopy. Hay loses some of its natural green colour while drying in the field. While hay with alternate colour attributes may not be as visually appealing, the nutritional profile of hay is not affected by colour.

Texture

Hay texture varies naturally between varieties. Orchard Grass, for example, is typically very soft, while other varieties such as Oat Hay are coarser by nature. You will naturally notice some variability between bags of the same variety. Generally speaking, texture is an indicator of maturity. The more mature hay is, the coarser the texture will be.  To help you choose your pet’s preference, every bag of Oxbow hay features a taste/texture guide ranging from sweet and hearty to soft and crunchy.


Whats in a hay bale - Oxbow Animal Health

What’s In a Hay Bale?

Considering the vast ecosystems contained within a hayfield, it’s inevitable that some bales will contain small artifacts of nature, including miscellaneous plant life, dried insects or small rocks or bits of soil from the field. Purchasing hay from a trusted expert will help to significantly limit the amount of “foreign materials” encountered in the hay you purchase. Oxbow has an extensive Quality Assurance program in place and is always making process improvements. Oxbow’s production team members are trained experts when it comes to sorting and evaluating hay.  


The Importance of Hay in the Diet of Small Herbivores

Digestive

The fibre in hay facilitates the constant digestive movement that small herbivores require to maintain digestive health. Disrupting this movement can lead to a number of gastrointestinal issues, some of which can be life-threatening. Providing grass hay most closely mimics the foraging activity small herbivores would perform in nature.


Dental

Small herbivores require constant chewing of hard, fibrous foods (i.e. hay) to provide necessary dental wear. The teeth of rabbits and guinea pigs never stop growing, making it critical to provide a proper diet centred around hay. A diet with insufficient hay can lead to dental issues, including disease and malocclusion.


Mental

Hay is not just great for the body of small pets, it is essential to their mental health as well! Access to a variety of hay provides mental stimulation, keeping pets active, stimulated and healthy. To maximise this important mental stimulation, try placing hay in as many locations as possible through your pet’s living space.



Use of Oxbow’s Critical Care with Ringtail Possums, Beverley Young, Sydney Wildlife

Sydney Wildlife is a volunteer organization which rescues and cares for native wildlife that is injured, sick or orphaned. Animals are rehabilitated and released to the wild. The organization specializes in the problems of urban native animals, its field covering the greater metropolitan area of Sydney. Public education, information and in-service training are part of its services. There is a 24hr. assistance line to the public which takes about 14,000 calls a year. Currently Sydney Wildlife has about 400 members.

There is a high concentration of Ringtail Possums in the northern districts of Sydney – some 600 coming into care each year, 400 of those are babies. The following notes are prepared by Beverley Young who has been the Coordinator for Ringtail Possums for 8 years and keeps detailed records of treatment and care. Continue reading


Using Critical Care for Herbivores in Common Wombats, Anne Fowler, DVM

Digestive Physiology of the Common Wombat

The Common wombat mainly eats a diet of grasses with a low nutritional value. The majority of this diet is indigestible fibre from the plant cell walls. The first part of the large bowel (proximal colon) has evolved into site where energy is taken from the grass fibre. The proximal colon of the Common wombat is so large it represents 68% of the total gut volume.

 

The grass fibre is broken down by bacteria. There are more bacteria in the colon than elsewhere in the gut.  These bacteria break down the fibre to create a source of energy for the wombat, permitting it to use low quality grasses and survive periods of food shortages that occur with drought.

The horse is the mammal with a similar digestive tract to the Common wombat. Although the Southern Hairy-nosed wombat has some subtle but significant differences in its grazing strategy and length of the proximal colon, its digestive tract is similar to the Common wombat.

Why Use Oxbow’s Critical Care for Herbivores?

Critical Care for Herbivores is a premium grass-based recovery food which can be given to herbivores that are unwilling or unable to eat their normal diet due to injury or illness. Providing an easily digestible source of fibre to promote the development of the normal bacterial population in the proximal colon seems prudent when the digestive physiology of the Common wombat is considered. As Common wombats eat grass, a supplement with finely ground grass, as the primary ingredient, is an appropriate addition to the diet.

The addition of high sugar or high fat ingredients to the diet of wombats may be detrimental in that it may favour the growth of less desirable bacteria that prefer those conditions, and not those adapted to a high fibre diet.

Uses for Oxbow’s Critical Care for Herbivores

In a healthy wombat:

Oxbow’s Critical Care for Herbivores can play a role in assisting the wombat at the age of weaning when the introduction of solid food takes place. By providing an appropriate fibre level, the normal gut flora can be established. This can be offered at the stage that the molars have erupted and grass is being introduced for the first time. This occurs from an Age Factor of 0.6 or approximately 1.2kg onwards.

In a sick wombat:

  1. Diarrhoea: Oxbow’s Critical Care has been successfully used in wombats with diarrhoea, together with medical therapy.  It has been used in cases with bacterial, fungal and protozoal diarrhoea. In these instances, Critical Care provides a source of fibre that can be readily converted into energy and helps the faeces to become firm.
  2.  Other diseases, for example cystitis or pneumonia: Oxbow’s Critical Care can be used as a supplement for energy during these illnesses. A grass-based diet can assist in the alkalinisation of urine. Care should be taken with offering any food item by mouth to a wombat with pneumonia to ensure that aspiration into the lungs does not occur.
  3.  Failure to thrive: Once it has been confirmed that there is not an infectious cause for failure to gain weight, by examination of the faeces by a veterinarian, Critical Care® may assist by providing a readily available source of energy. The protein levels are sufficient to meet the requirements of a growing wombat.

Instructions for Use of Oxbow’s Critical Care

Wombats may accept either the original (aniseed) or apple/banana flavour.

Making up Critical Care for Herbivores

Except in particular cases under veterinary care, Critical Care should not be added to the milk, but fed separately at the consistency of mousse or porridge. Addition to milk will result in less energy being offered to the wombat, and thus a greater volume will be required. As the wombat stomach is small, it is less likely to get sufficient energy before it feels full if added to milk.

Add 2 two tablespoons of pre-boiled warm water to 1 level tablespoon of Critical Care and mix well to a consistency that can be drawn up into a catheter-tipped syringe.  Although the mixture can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, it is preferable to mix up fresh for each feed.

How to Offer:

Oxbow’s Critical Care should only be offered once wombats are warmed and adequately hydrated.  Giving food to a cold, dehydrated and shocky wombat means that the food will not be absorbed by the gut and runs the risk of aspiration of the food.

Wombats are fed in an upright position – i.e. not lying on their back like a kangaroo. Critical Care is offered using a 60ml catheter-tipped syringe.  The nozzle of the syringe is placed in the mouth behind the incisors and in front of the molar teeth.  Only 1-2ml per kg is offered at a time before the syringe is removed from the mouth and the wombat is permitted to chew and swallow for up to a minute before more is offered.

Amount to Offer in a Day

As wombats have a lower energy turnover in comparison to mammals, they only require 18 grams (2 tablespoons) of dry product per kilogram of body weight per day, if fed as a sole food.  This is not normally recommended as both milk and free access to grasses (if appropriate for the age) should be offered wherever possible.  What this does mean is that a small volume may be of benefit to the wombat. This amount may be divided into 2 – 3 feeds a day.  It can be offered after, or instead of a milk feed.

References

  1. Marsupial Nutrition. Chapter 4: Hindgut fermenters – the wombats. Ed:  ID Hume. Pub: Cambridge Press, 1999
  2. Life of Marsupials, Chapter 8: Wombats: vegetarians of the underworld, by H Tyndale-Biscoe, Pub: CSIRO Publishing, 2005.
  3. Fauna of Australia, Chapter 32. Vomatidae, by RT Wells. Available online: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/publications/fauna-of-australia/fauna-1b.html

 

 


Cedar Creek Wombat Rescue – Case Study

“Cheeky” an 11kg female wombat came into care after suffering head trauma probably from being hit by a car.  She had severe swelling to her nose making breathing through it impossible, a fracture cheek bone and a non-displaced fracture near the hinge of her jaw that was painful and prevented her from closing her mouth properly.  “Cheeky” was very distressed and had to be placed on oxygen to help her breath with less effort.  It really looked like she might not make it through the first night. Wombats are obligate nose breathers and only breathe through their mouths if forced to. When they breathe through their mouths it makes it difficult for them to eat.  This along with the injury to her jaw was adding to “Cheeky’s” distress.  After she was treated for shock, she needed nutrition to allow her to heal but obviously couldn’t eat grass or grain since she couldn’t breathe and chew at the same time and her jaw was painful even with pain relief.  A slurry of milk mixed with Critical Care was syringed into her mouth in small amounts every few hours.  Because she couldn’t breathe and swallow at the same time, she could take a little at a time.  Milk alone was not enough for a wombat her size and the added nutrition of Critical Care helped sustain her until after several weeks the swelling finally reduced allowing her to breathe through her nose and her jaw healed enough to allow her to start eating a little on her own.   She was continued on Critical Care for several months because it was a very long healing process before she was eating a normal diet or grass well enough to maintain her weight.

Roz & Kevin Holme

Mob: 0429 482 551

PO Box 538

Cessnock, NSW 2325

wombaroo10@harboursat.com.au

 


Feeding the Adult Guinea Pig

Get to know your guinea pig’s digestive system, nutritional concerns and how to properly feed your adult guinea pig.

Guinea pigs are well developed at birth and within a few months are able to eat an adult diet. They are strict herbivores, that eat only plants, and like rabbits, are hind-gut fermentors that practice coprophagy (ingestion of one’s own faeces). Continue reading


Sample News Item

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed condimentum, metus vitae bibendum fringilla, enim lectus luctus neque, quis viverra erat velit nec dolor. Integer vitae sem nec purus imperdiet euismod. Praesent nec justo diam. Fusce suscipit pharetra auctor. Aliquam erat volutpat. Duis luctus gravida justo, id lobortis quam gravida sed. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Morbi eget lectus sit amet est placerat egestas id sit amet nibh. Integer ac nibh eu risus gravida ultricies nec eu sapien. Sed eu libero a mi tincidunt faucibus. Continue reading


Product Experience, Kulnura Veterinary Clinic/Cedar Creek Wombat Rescue, Inc

“We’ve used Critical Care on wombats and kangaroos so far and have had great results. A young adult female wombat that was found emaciated and taken into care had a tooth issue that likely occurred when she was hit by a car.

“She was eating very little even after the tooth was repaired and unable to regain her strength until Critical Care was added to her diet. She gained weight rapidly and has since been released.

“We’ve also had success treating a 3Kg wombat with bloat by adding Critical Care as a way to increase the fiber in his diet.  He had been bloated for such a long period of time that he had very little segmentation in his colon or caecum and had trouble breathing due to the pressure.  The Critical Care helped keep things moving and he appreas to be on the road to recovery.

“And we used it on an Eastern Grey Kangaroo that was having loose feces and had to have a reduction in the amount of milk being fed.  The Critical Care provided needed energy as well as appearing to help keep the feces firm and preventing her from losing weight until her milk could be increased to the normal amount.

“We think there will be many uses for Critical Care on many species and can’t wait to try it on more.”

Robin Crisman, DVM and Roz Holme
Kulnura Veterinary Clinic / Cedar Creek Wombat Rescue, Inc


Oxbow Case Study #104 (4 year old wallaby)

Karen Fortier runs Rain Spirit Farm in Monroe, Washington. She conducted a case study regarding the use of Critical Care for Herbivores with a hand-reared wallaby after a relocation, anorexia, and collapse. Intent of product use: To restore health of a four-year-old pet wallaby, unable to eat on his own. Also, to determine if Critical Care is a workable solution to feeding animals unable or unwilling to eat due to injury or illness. Continue reading