Barn dried Timothy and Meadow Hay boxes for small pets.

What's The Difference Between Timothy Hay vs Meadow Hay?

Are you debating between Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay for your small pet?

This comparison from our hay experts at HayDay addresses the essentials: nutrition, texture, and suitability for different animals.

Being a key component in the digestive health of small herbivores like rabbits, hay should constitute at least 80% of their diet.

Learn the pros and cons of Timothy Hay vs Meadow Hay to decide which hay best supports your pet’s dietary needs without overwhelming you with too many details.

Can't decide which your pet will love the most? Why not try one of our 50/50 Tasty Timothy and Moreish Meadow Hay Taster Packs? Click here now >

4.5kg Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay boxes for small pets.

Timothy Hay vs Meadow Hay Overview

  • Timothy Hay is a high-fibre grass hay suitable for small herbivores, offering high levels of fibre and protein, while Meadow Hay consists of a mixture of grasses, offering a softer texture and nutritional variety.

  • There are notable differences between Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay in consistency of nutritional content, texture, palatability and price, with Timothy Hay generally being coarser and more consistent in nutrients and Meadow Hay being softer, but varied in nutritional composition.

  • Correct storage and handling are key for maintaining hay quality and preventing any health issues for pets. Dry, well-ventilated and dark conditions are ideal for storage.


All About Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay

As pet parents, we all want the best for our furry friends so understanding the differences between Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay is vital.

Timothy Hay, also known as Timothy Grass, is a high-quality grass also used as feed for horses and livestock as well as small pets.

On the other hand, Meadow Hay:

  • Is softer texture in comparison to Timothy Hay

  • Can be used as a suitable bedding hay option. It's soft texture can avoid health issues such as hay poke

Timothy Hay

Stepping into the world of Timothy Hay, you might wonder what sets it apart. This type of grass hay is known for its high fibre content, making it suitable for, and loved by, your small animals.

As with meadow hay, which we will discuss next, Timothy hay can be used as the sole type of hay you choose to give your little ones, making it an easy and safe option to choose.

Growing Timothy Hay involves the many steps, including:

  1. Planting the seeds (drilling the seeds in the fields on the farm) and allowing the grass to grow.

  2. Looking after the grass as it grows over a number of months. Weather conditions can make this challenging.

  3. Using specialised equipment to cut and turn (ted) the grass.

  4. Drying the grass, tradtionally in the field to achieve the desired moisture content.* (Due to inconsistent weather conditions in the UK, at HayDay we have invested in barn drying facilities powered by green energy to dry our grass to ensure we achieve perfect and consistent quality hay in terms of colour, nutrition and texture every time)

  5. Baling the hay for storage.

UK grown Timothy Hay.

It’s important to adjust the amount of hay you feed your pet based on their size and nutritional needs. As a minimum, feed a portion size equal to your small pet's body, per day.

See our helpful small pet feeding guideline for more information.

Here's where to buy Timothy hay > Click here

Meadow Hay

Switching the spotlight to Meadow Hay, this type of hay is a blend of various native soft stemmed pasture grasses.

These different grasses contribute to Meadow Hay’s diverse textures and flavours, making it a delight for your pets to nibble on.

In comparison to some other hay, Meadow Hay offers a more natural and varied diet for your animals.

Meadow Hay is harvested when the seed head is in full bloom. This ensures it’s rich in fragrant nutrients. We then barn dry it, making it suitable for small animals like guinea pigs, rabbits, and chinchillas.

Here's where to buy Meadow hay > Click here

UK grown Meadow Hay.

What is the Difference Between Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay

Timothy Hay is generally lower in sugar and high in fibre, making it beneficial for many pets.

On the other hand, Meadow Hay’s nutritional composition can vary, given it consists of a blend of different grasses.

When it comes to texture, Meadow Hay is typically softer compared to Timothy Hay, which is considered a high-quality hay option for small herbivores. Some older small pets find meadow hay more palatable and easier to eat. Younger animals tend to like the coarseness of timothy hay for their teeth.

Timothy Hay is often considered more palatable to pets compared to Meadow Hay.

Tasty Timothy Hay Moreish Meadow Hay
Coarse Stems
Soft Texture
High Fibre
High Protein
Suitable for small pets

Nutritional Differences

Diving deeper into the nutritional differences of Tasty Timothy and Moreish Meadow Hay...

Analytical Constituents

Tasty Timothy Hay Moreish Meadow Hay
Crude Protein 8 7
Crude Fibre 32 30
Crude Fats and Oils 2.4 1.7
Crude Ash 2.4 3.9
Sodium 0.01 0.1

*All figures are displayed in %

Shop our hay boxes  > Click here.

Texture and Palatability

Texture plays a significant role in a pet’s diet. Timothy Hay has a coarse texture in the first cutting, while the second and third cuttings are a little softer.

The different textures can affect its palatability, with some animals preferring softer textures and others benefiting from a rougher texture for dental health.

In contrast, Meadow Hay is generally softer in texture compared to Timothy Hay. It provides a range of textures that can encourage foraging behaviour in pets.

The palatability of Timothy Hay is influenced by a combination of factors, including low calcium content, soft texture, and high fibre content. Timothy hay is usually a hit with rabbits!


Other Types of Hay to Consider

While Timothy and Meadow Hay are popular choices, there are other types of hay that you can consider for your pet. This includes Alfalfa Hay, Oat Hay, and Ryegrass Hay, each with their unique benefits.

Alfalfa hay (also known as Lucerne) contains significant levels of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium and it also has a rich content of crude protein and a moderate amount of crude fibre.

Oat Hay, on the other hand, is low in carbohydrates, high in fibre, low in protein, and low in calcium. Lastly, Ryegrass Hay offers moderate levels of calories, protein, and fibre.

Alfalfa Hay

Alfalfa Hay is a nutritious option that is high in calcium and protein, making it suitable for young, pregnant, or nursing pets. This helps meet the elevated energy and nutritional requirements of these pets.

Shop now > Barn dried, premium, coarse and leafy Alfalfa Hay

Oat Hay

Another option to consider is Oat Hay. Known for its high fibre content and low starch levels, Oat Hay is harvested in an immature growth stage.

Ryegrass Hay

Ryegrass Hay is another option that is rich in protein and can contribute to the dental health and overall wellbeing of pets. However, it should be given to pets in moderation, and it’s advisable to harvest it early to prevent high sugar content.

Its sweetness, green and stalky texture makes it a very palatable option compared to other types of hay.

 Shop now > Barn dried, premium and long stem Ryegrass Hay


How to Choose the Right Hay for Your Pet

To choose the right hay for your pet such as your guinea pig or rabbit, you need to evaluate their specific needs and experiment with different hays to find out what they prefer.

Factors such as the quality and freshness of the hay and whether it is locally sourced and grown are important considerations when selecting hay for a pet rabbit and other small animals.

When purchasing timothy or meadow hay, it is important to take into account several additional factors that can impact both the nutritional value for your animals and your budget.

Rabbit with their Meadow Hay Box.

What to look out for when buying Meadow and Timothy Hay

Buying from a reputable brand such as us here at HayDay, ensures you get the best value and quality for your small pet

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is it grown locally?

    Some hay is imported from around the world, but we actually have some of the best hay in the world grown here in the UK. At HayDay all our timothy and meadow hay is grown right next door to where it is packed! 

  • Does the hay look dust free and good quality?

    No one want their precious pet eating dust and getting gunky eyes from dusty poor quality timothy or meadow hay. We use the best dust extraction techniques to ensure that our hay is the best quality hay and nothing else. 

  • Are the stems long (better for nibbling) and green?

    Our lengthy strands of hay mean that both the need to promote dental health through chewing helps to induce natural foraging behaviour for your rabbits keeping them happy! This also includes guinea pigs, chinchillas, and degus too!

  • How is your hay grown and dried? Are sustainable farming practices being used?
    Sustainability is what makes the farming world go round, and new ways to dry hay and keep our carbon footprint down at the same time have been developed. All our hay is dried using solar power. So not only do we make hay while the sun shine, we dry it all year round too! 

  • What is the packaging like? Can you be more environmentally friendly by purchasing eco friendly packaging?

    As we rely on the perfect environment to grow our meadow and timothy hay, looking after the environment is one of our core values. Our packaging is therefore eco friendly, and not only that fun for your small pets. Be it climbing in and out or having a little nibble, you can be sure it is pet friendly too! 

  • What pack size can you purchase? 

    Everyone knows that buying in bulk means savings and hay is no different. The more you buy the more you save. Here at hayDay though, you can make savings by subscribing rather than buying in bulk. This means that your hay is as fresh as possible, and you don’t have to worry about storing your hay around your home! 

If you want to introduce new types of hay to your pet’s diet, start by offering small amounts along with their regular food in a separate feeder or hay rack, and increase the quantity gradually.

Not sure if your small pet would prefer timothy or meadow hay? Why not try one of our 50/50 Tasty Timothy and Moreish Meadow Hay Taster Packs? Click here now >

Assessing Your Pet's Needs

When choosing hay for pets of different ages, it is important to consider their specific nutritional needs. For example, young pets such as baby rabbits may benefit from alfalfa hay due to its higher calcium, fat, and protein content.

When choosing hay based on a pet’s health condition, insufficient hay can lead to dental issues and gut health issues. Therefore, selecting hay that aligns with the evolving nutritional requirements as pets age is essential.

Experimenting with Different Hays

To introduce new flavours and textures to your pet, it is advisable to start by offering small amounts of different hays alongside their regular food and gradually increase the amount. Adding a new hay to your small pet's diet should be done across a period of 7-14 days.

Observing your pet’s behaviour can guide you in determining which hay your pet enjoys most.

Fresh hay should have a sweet, grassy scent reminiscent of fresh grass; a strong or unpleasant odour could indicate that the hay is mouldy or of a poorer quality.


Hay Storage and Handling Tips

To maintain the quality and freshness of your pet’s hay, you need to store and handle it properly. Preventing mould growth can be achieved by storing the hay in a dry, well-ventilated area.

Spoiled hay can be identified by its dark brown colour, wet or damp texture resembling wet hay, mouldy smell, and strong or unpleasant odour.

Proper Storage Conditions

Hay should not be stored in airtight containers because it naturally contains some moisture and requires ventilation to avoid buildup and mould formation.

Ventilation plays a vital role in hay storage by preventing moisture build up and mould growth, thereby ensuring the hay remains dry and fresh.

Regularly Refreshing Hay

To ensure a constant supply for your pets, refresh the hay daily or as often as required.

You should ensure there is always fresh water available, perhaps add this into your routine with refreshing the hay and checking your small pets.

If you buy your hay in bulk, here are some handy storage solution tips!



We’ve explored the differences between Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay, delved into their unique characteristics, nutritional values, and compared their textures and prices. We’ve also outlined other hay types such as Alfalfa Hay, Oat Hay, and Ryegrass Hay.

Remember, the right hay for your pet depends on their age, health, and personal preference. Always ensure to store the hay properly to maintain its freshness and quality.

With this guide, we hope you’re better equipped to choose the right hay for your pet. Because at the end of the day, a pet with a happy tummy means a happy pet parent!

If you have any questions about which hay is best suited for your pet, feel free to get in touch with our team at HayDay where would be happy to help.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is meadow hay fine to feed to rabbits?

Yes, meadow hay is great for rabbits as it helps with dental wear and digestive health. It's one of the ideal hays to feed them.

What are the benefits of Alfalfa Hay for pets?

Alfalfa hay is beneficial for young, pregnant, or nursing pets due to its high calcium and protein content. It provides essential nutrients for their growth and development.


Relevant Advice

Is Timothy Hay Suitable For Rabbits?

The Benefits of Feeding Long Stem Hay

What Is A Hay Box Subscription?

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