Soft Cut Hay- long term effects?

Kaston

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2021
Messages
14
Hi all,
My chin has always preferred pellets over hay. I’ve heard many times on this forum that “the best hay is the one your chin will eat!”. I recently ordered a sample box of different hay types, and my chinchilla absolutely LOVES the “soft cut” variety, this is the link:
Also attaching a picture of my girl eating said hay!
Because she loves it and eats a lot of it, I’m tempted to order this for her going forwards. My only issue is that there are basically no stems/roughage and it’s very leafy, and so I’m not sure if feeding her this in the long term could lead to teeth issues?
My other idea was to order a box of this and a box of regular 2nd cut Timothy and mix them together, but the minimum box sizes from this company are 2.5kg and I fear there would be a lot of waste as I only have one chin! And she starts to turn her nose up at hay after I’ve had it for around 2-3 weeks. Obviously if this is the best option for her long term health I will do it anyway, it just seems a waste and wanted some advice about whether she would be fine with just the soft cut as her primary source of hay? She obviously has lots of apple sticks and things to gnaw at too.
Thanks in advance!
 

Attachments

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,487
Location
Alberta
Have you tried that companies timothy blend? Sometimes brand makes a difference. It looks like they also have a free (just pay shipping) sample pack so you can try their different hay options. Taster Pack and see if she will go for the blend option or not. Meadow hay is another option that is courser strands but it doesn't have thick stems like timothy, that can be given as well. Personally I feel a variety of hay is the ideal situation, different hay and cuts are chewed slightly differently which can help wear the teeth more evenly (which helps prevent issues like tooth spurs). I'm not sure what other options you have were you live, but other hay you can try mixing in are orchard, mountain (a type of orchard grass), and oat (in small amounts).

The main reason for needing loose hay, aside from fiber, is they chew hay with the molars, which they don't do with sticks and other chew toys. The problem is if a chin doesn't like the hay provided they simply wont eat it, so if the soft hay really is the only kind of hay she will eat then, although not ideal, it's what you will have to stick with. I would try seeing if mixing other hay in with the soft timothy works before totally giving up though.
 

Kaston

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2021
Messages
14
Have you tried that companies timothy blend? Sometimes brand makes a difference. It looks like they also have a free (just pay shipping) sample pack so you can try their different hay options. Taster Pack and see if she will go for the blend option or not. Meadow hay is another option that is courser strands but it doesn't have thick stems like timothy, that can be given as well. Personally I feel a variety of hay is the ideal situation, different hay and cuts are chewed slightly differently which can help wear the teeth more evenly (which helps prevent issues like tooth spurs). I'm not sure what other options you have were you live, but other hay you can try mixing in are orchard, mountain (a type of orchard grass), and oat (in small amounts).

The main reason for needing loose hay, aside from fiber, is they chew hay with the molars, which they don't do with sticks and other chew toys. The problem is if a chin doesn't like the hay provided they simply wont eat it, so if the soft hay really is the only kind of hay she will eat then, although not ideal, it's what you will have to stick with. I would try seeing if mixing other hay in with the soft timothy works before totally giving up though.
Hi Amethyst, thanks for your response! Yes so the free sample is what I tried her with, I put a bowl of soft cut and a bowl of the blend in her cage and the next day the soft cut was completely gone and the blend was just picked at a tiny bit, I might even order those 2 and try mixing them. Thanks for your input though, it’s more or less what I expected! I will keep pushing on with the coarser hay
 

Spoof

Kung Fu Chinny!
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
2,591
Location
San Antonio, TX
The most important thing in a chinchilla's diet is balance. She is likely going to town on this hay due to the exceptionally high sugars present in peak season leaves. This amount of sugar is worse than feeding junk treats as it is addicting and they can not process it correctly. Chinchillas do not need hay, everything that goes into the mouth passes across the molars. Thinking it doesn't is like saying we bite something with our front teeth and then swallow immediately. The feeding process is the same with all mammals, sever, masticate (drool to dampen) chew and work with the tung to pulp then swallow. Bits must be moist and small to swallow.

That aside it is natural for chins to favor a balanced diet in the absence of an obscene amount of sweetness. This means they will bounce from hay to pellets to wood as things age and loose their nutritional value, usually over 3-6 months. That hay will be a year old before you get another of the same cutting. Don't be surprised if she ignores it eventually.

You can give her a variety of hays as mentioned above for entertainment. Also please take into consideration that the wood sticks and other toys she is eating make up a part of her diet too. They not only eat sticks, their guts are designed to get nutrients out of wood through cecotrophy. Over the last 20 years or so I've seen the same trend in chinchillas that I have seen in horses - our need to spoil/love on them has caused a lot of secondary issues. In equines it is founder/cushings/absceses/basically diabetes as we have this idea that they must have grains and treats to be happy. Chinchillas the killer is much more silent, it is the inability to process starches that causes disease in the liver, ocular degeneration over time (cataracts) and bone density issues (teeth problems) from immune compromised - overgrowth of bacteria which feeds on sugar. Some can handle it, others can't. I would like to see everybody's chins live to be 20-30. :)

TLDR; balance the diet, remember that apple sticks are a source of sugar as is very leafy hay.
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,487
Location
Alberta
I'm not going to argue again, but I will say, do keep in mind that almost everyone other then Spoof (not all but most breeders, vets, and long time owners) say that hay is important in the diet. As in hay should make up the majority (roughly 70-75%) of the diet, that also including people that have had chins live into their 20s. Although it's nice to think the can, most chins if well cared for live about 15-20 years (similar to a cat), the oldest on record was 29 when it died. It comes down to good genetics, proper diet, proper environment, and luck.

I do agree that the nutrients in hay cuts do vary in terms of what cut, but it also varies based on what time of day it was harvested, the weather during growing and harvest, the stage of growth the grass is at when harvested, and even where in the field it was growing. This is for horses but chins have similar hay requirements (feed hay should be around 12%) and the chart shows how much can effect hay Factors That Affect NSC Levels in Hay | KPP

Hay is good for about a year after harvest if stored properly before it starts loosing nutrients (not 3-6 months, otherwise livestock wouldn't survive the winter in northern areas of the world). It's also considered "good" for feeding for up to 3 years after harvest, but most chins will start rejecting it once it's over a year old. So really the chin should be still fine with the hay for much longer the a few weeks. It could be she gets bored, and trying mixed hays can help with that.
 

ChocolatPocky

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 30, 2019
Messages
113
The most important thing in a chinchilla's diet is balance. She is likely going to town on this hay due to the exceptionally high sugars present in peak season leaves. This amount of sugar is worse than feeding junk treats as it is addicting and they can not process it correctly. Chinchillas do not need hay, everything that goes into the mouth passes across the molars. Thinking it doesn't is like saying we bite something with our front teeth and then swallow immediately. The feeding process is the same with all mammals, sever, masticate (drool to dampen) chew and work with the tung to pulp then swallow. Bits must be moist and small to swallow.

That aside it is natural for chins to favor a balanced diet in the absence of an obscene amount of sweetness. This means they will bounce from hay to pellets to wood as things age and loose their nutritional value, usually over 3-6 months. That hay will be a year old before you get another of the same cutting. Don't be surprised if she ignores it eventually.

You can give her a variety of hays as mentioned above for entertainment. Also please take into consideration that the wood sticks and other toys she is eating make up a part of her diet too. They not only eat sticks, their guts are designed to get nutrients out of wood through cecotrophy. Over the last 20 years or so I've seen the same trend in chinchillas that I have seen in horses - our need to spoil/love on them has caused a lot of secondary issues. In equines it is founder/cushings/absceses/basically diabetes as we have this idea that they must have grains and treats to be happy. Chinchillas the killer is much more silent, it is the inability to process starches that causes disease in the liver, ocular degeneration over time (cataracts) and bone density issues (teeth problems) from immune compromised - overgrowth of bacteria which feeds on sugar. Some can handle it, others can't. I would like to see everybody's chins live to be 20-30. :)

TLDR; balance the diet, remember that apple sticks are a source of sugar as is very leafy hay.
If apple sticks are a source of sugar, should I be limiting them? I usually put about 8-10 sticks in the cage every night. Between my two chins, maybe half will be chewed (they can be picky).
 

Spoof

Kung Fu Chinny!
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
2,591
Location
San Antonio, TX
The oldest chinchilla I know of is currently alive and 32 years old in Houston, TX. One of the original 11 brought to the U.S. by MF Chapman lived 22 years in captivity and was captured as an adult. We should absolutely be getting more than the 5-7 years advertised by pet stores. It's depressing.

Anyway, I'd say 1/3 of current large scale US breeders do not offer hay regularly. Especially in years like this last one where the quality has been so bad as to be fatal they will just bypass and use pellets that are nutritionally fortified and tested for toxins. No reason to argue, I'm very active in this sector vs. the pet side which I mostly ignore these days. It is important to note I am talking about regular pellets. Extruded pellets are not the same and require constant forage in addition to the pellets. It even says that on the bags. Extruded pellets are puffy and crunchy, some of the current brands are Selective Science chinchilla pellets, Dr. Pol's rabbit, Blue Seal show hutch Delux 17. Also please do not limit and do the two tablespoon thing with these, I did a video and discussed a few differences here;

If apple sticks are a source of sugar, should I be limiting them? I usually put about 8-10 sticks in the cage every night. Between my two chins, maybe half will be chewed (they can be picky).
This is a really great question. When Ronda and I started the apple wood craze we had no notion that people would be feeding them that many. During the spring when apple is harvested it is very high in sap - that is why chins favor apple and pear over all other woods. I personally wouldn't give more than one or two sticks/twigs per day and definitely not every day. I use the big twirlies and put them on hanging toys and make them work for it. I also get the seconds box and it does come with small pieces, I will occasionally give those as a treat on a special occasion or send them as samples with pet people (better sticks than those stupid dandelion drops!). Everything else I drill holes into and put on hanging toys along with every other variety of wood sold plus pecan as I have access to my own here.
 

ChocolatPocky

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 30, 2019
Messages
113
The oldest chinchilla I know of is currently alive and 32 years old in Houston, TX. One of the original 11 brought to the U.S. by MF Chapman lived 22 years in captivity and was captured as an adult. We should absolutely be getting more than the 5-7 years advertised by pet stores. It's depressing.

Anyway, I'd say 1/3 of current large scale US breeders do not offer hay regularly. Especially in years like this last one where the quality has been so bad as to be fatal they will just bypass and use pellets that are nutritionally fortified and tested for toxins. No reason to argue, I'm very active in this sector vs. the pet side which I mostly ignore these days. It is important to note I am talking about regular pellets. Extruded pellets are not the same and require constant forage in addition to the pellets. It even says that on the bags. Extruded pellets are puffy and crunchy, some of the current brands are Selective Science chinchilla pellets, Dr. Pol's rabbit, Blue Seal show hutch Delux 17. Also please do not limit and do the two tablespoon thing with these, I did a video and discussed a few differences here;


This is a really great question. When Ronda and I started the apple wood craze we had no notion that people would be feeding them that many. During the spring when apple is harvested it is very high in sap - that is why chins favor apple and pear over all other woods. I personally wouldn't give more than one or two sticks/twigs per day and definitely not every day. I use the big twirlies and put them on hanging toys and make them work for it. I also get the seconds box and it does come with small pieces, I will occasionally give those as a treat on a special occasion or send them as samples with pet people (better sticks than those stupid dandelion drops!). Everything else I drill holes into and put on hanging toys along with every other variety of wood sold plus pecan as I have access to my own here.
Oh wow, good to know! I will definitely start reducing their apple sticks! Are there other types of wood lower in sugar that I can give them more often though?
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,487
Location
Alberta
The oldest chinchilla I know of is currently alive and 32 years old in Houston, TX. One of the original 11 brought to the U.S. by MF Chapman lived 22 years in captivity and was captured as an adult. We should absolutely be getting more than the 5-7 years advertised by pet stores. It's depressing.

Anyway, I'd say 1/3 of current large scale US breeders do not offer hay regularly. Especially in years like this last one where the quality has been so bad as to be fatal they will just bypass and use pellets that are nutritionally fortified and tested for toxins. No reason to argue, I'm very active in this sector vs. the pet side which I mostly ignore these days. It is important to note I am talking about regular pellets. Extruded pellets are not the same and require constant forage in addition to the pellets. It even says that on the bags. Extruded pellets are puffy and crunchy, some of the current brands are Selective Science chinchilla pellets, Dr. Pol's rabbit, Blue Seal show hutch Delux 17. Also please do not limit and do the two tablespoon thing with these, I did a video and discussed a few differences here;
At least the major pet stores say they live longer then 5-7 years, PetSmart says 10-15 years, Petco says 10+ years. Maybe you are thinking guinea pigs or something? Even when I first got chins almost 30 years ago I was told they could live up to 20 years (obviously there are exceptions, just like humans can live over 100, but most don't) and the average was 15-20, now it's more commonly 15-20+ years, if from a good breeder. On a FB group I'm on there are hundreds possibly thousands (there are almost 30 thousand members) of owners that have chins that are in their teens (including myself), some in their 20s, that feed pellets and hay, so I see no evidence that feeding hay shortens their life, However when I first got chins we were told hay was not needed, they were fed mostly Mazuri which I'm pretty sure is the same pellet hardness as oxbow Essentials with occasional hay, and most didn't live past 10.

Just some comments on that video, first the 2 tb is a rough amount, I give two scoops with a tablespoon. I realize it's an exact amount stated on the Oxbow bag (1/8 cup or 2tb), but it also says to feed a diet of 70% hay and 10% greens (though I don't feed greens). I guess different tablespoon shapes will hold different amounts of pellets, I weighted the amount of Oxbow Essentials I give my guys at a time comes out to roughly 30g for about 2 tb (x2 since there are two in the cage) and if they do finish it before the end of the day then they get more. The 2tb is the recommended amount to give since that is about what an adult chin would eat on average in a day, even if free fed, and contains the amount of nutrients when given with a handful of hay (I weight a handful it's about 70g), that a chin needs in a day. I guess I agree if you don't give any loose hay (hay is the majority of their diet whether loose, cube, or pellet form) you would need to feed more then 2tb of pellets or the chin will not be getting enough food.

Most people if the hay is moldy or dusty would just throw it away and buy new hay, but if moldy dusty hay is the only hay you can buy in the whole country, then yeah I agree, no hay is better then giving them hay that will kill them. Also since most people normally provide an unlimited amount of hay in the cage (filled hay feeder(s) or at the very least cubes), even if they have an accident and end up in the hospital, and the chins finish the pellets before someone can go to the house to check on and feed them, they should still have hay to eat for at least a couple days. A chin is unlikely to drop dead from eating only hay for a day or two, they may not be happy about it, but unless the chin is a young kit or has medical issues it should be fine.
 

Spoof

Kung Fu Chinny!
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
2,591
Location
San Antonio, TX
Are there other types of wood lower in sugar that I can give them more often though?
Any non-fruit type wood will be very low in sugar. The super hard ones like manzanita are very slow growers and have almost none at all.

Also since most people normally provide an unlimited amount of hay in the cage
No breeders provide unlimited hay, just in case anybody is actually reading all of this. Hay or cubes are given when cages are cleaned and some do go through mid-week and add loose hay. Not many, but some do. Also, it is of note that most of the surrenders that come in aren't given it either. I only had five that came in with hay last year, and probably two dozen on that festive carnival junk food. My chickens won't even eat that. And yes, I do ask what they have been feeding and no, most owners do not feed hay, and in those cases it is unfortunate because what they are being fed is terrible.

Most people if the hay is moldy or dusty would just throw it away and buy new hay, but if moldy dusty hay is the only hay you can buy in the whole country
I don't appreciate this comment, there are a lot of dead chinchillas this year due to some sort of weird toxins in the hay. Most people don't understand what to look for in hay and rely on suppliers to sell them a good product. While you may be part of a group of people willing to support you when someone's chinchilla is dying they somehow find my number on my website and call me sobbing at all hours of the day and night. I'm quite tired of it. I'm tired of the lies from the pet stores, I'm tired of the lies on the back of the package and I'm tired of arguing with people who have a chinchilla or two and think they know nutrition. I don't, years of college studying nutrition, working with mills to design a safe feed and decades of research later... and I still don't know enough. I never will. What I do know is that the volume of calls and emails I am receiving now far surpass any previous years. Chinchillas are dying, and it is because of a bad harvest year and people are killing them with fancy diets, treats, etc. Quite literally killing them with love.

Mazuri likely killed your animals of fatty liver disease, it was grossly high in sugars up until about 2011 when they changed the recipe, which is also why many had diarrhea on and off while feeding it. But unless you had then necropsied and labs done you wouldn't know what killed them. When I went back and referred to the old recipe when developing my own it had double the poundage of molasses of any feed on the market. It was crazy high - they were trying to make it super palatable to sell more of it, not caring that they were killing their customers.
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,487
Location
Alberta
The only thing I am going to say is, until someone, anyone, can provide me actual proof that feeding hay (not talking about toxic/moldy/spoiled/etc hay, in which case as I said I agree don't feed that to your chin) and a good quality pellet like Oxbow Essentials, kills chins or makes them sick somehow. If you are too stupid to know the difference between moldy and non moldy hay then you probably shouldn't get any animal that needs to be fed hay. I am going with what I know from my years of ownership, research, talking with breeders, owners, and vets, and going to advise people to do the same. As far as I know a quality pellet and hay diet is not some "fancy diet" and is what is currently advised in the pet owner community (like online groups, but not all owners are members so not all owners get that info, likely those are the ones calling crying in the middle of the night, not the ones being told to feed a strict quality pellet and hay diet, but I could be wrong). Treats are advised to be given very limited, and are mainly certain herbs and flowers, and don't include fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, sugars, grains, or animal products.

I will also say, if true, I am surprised I haven't heard anyone say anything about all the hay in the US being contaminated with a unknown toxin and killing lots of animals (I would assume a toxin in hay wouldn't just kill chinchillas) or of ANY of the major small pet hay companies recalling their hay do to contamination or "some sort of weird toxin"...
 

ChinsForLife

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 9, 2021
Messages
422
Location
Timpson Tx, USA
The only thing I am going to say is, until someone, anyone, can provide me actual proof that feeding hay (not talking about toxic/moldy/spoiled/etc hay, in which case as I said I agree don't feed that to your chin) and a good quality pellet like Oxbow Essentials, kills chins or makes them sick somehow. If you are too stupid to know the difference between moldy and non moldy hay then you probably shouldn't get any animal that needs to be fed hay. I am going with what I know from my years of ownership, research, talking with breeders, owners, and vets, and going to advise people to do the same. As far as I know a quality pellet and hay diet is not some "fancy diet" and is what is currently advised in the pet owner community (like online groups, but not all owners are members so not all owners get that info, likely those are the ones calling crying in the middle of the night, not the ones being told to feed a strict quality pellet and hay diet, but I could be wrong). Treats are advised to be given very limited, and are mainly certain herbs and flowers, and don't include fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, sugars, grains, or animal products.

I will also say, if true, I am surprised I haven't heard anyone say anything about all the hay in the US being contaminated with a unknown toxin and killing lots of animals (I would assume a toxin in hay wouldn't just kill chinchillas) or of ANY of the major small pet hay companies recalling their hay do to contamination or "some sort of weird toxin"...
I agree with Amethyst. If you want your pet to live a high quality life then your chin need hay. She has owned chinchillas for a long time and knows what shes talking about! I don't know a whole lot about chinchillas but I do know that their diet is supposed to be mostly hay. I guarantee that any vet/experienced owner would tell you just same thing. Not trying to seem rude if I do, but not giving a chin the proper diet they require when you know what they better is kinda silly.
 
Last edited:

Pepperpot

Chin Mum & Fluffslave!
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
299
Location
North West England.
I would never not feed my chins unlimited amounts of good quality hay. All my herd is fed premium quality English Timothy hay and I've never had any issues in nearly a decade. I cannot understand why any chin keeper would not feed hay, except to reduce overheads, which is wrong.
 

Pepperpot

Chin Mum & Fluffslave!
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
299
Location
North West England.
I find some of the comments on this thread regarding not feeding hay very disturbing. A responsible keeper will source the best possible pellets, taking note of the ingredients/composition.
 

Latest posts

Top