Oxbow hay has become a top choice for pet owners looking to feed their rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and other small animals high-quality hay. But what exactly sets Oxbow apart from other hay brands and makes it worth the premium price tag? There are several key factors that contribute to Oxbow’s reputation for superior quality.
Oxbow’s Hay Harvesting and Processing Standards
One of the most important things that makes Oxbow hay stand out is the strict protocols the company follows when harvesting and processing their hay. From the types of grasses they select to the cutting and drying techniques they use, Oxbow prioritizes quality at every step.
Selecting the Right Grasses and Legumes
Oxbow sources their hay from farms across North America to obtain a diverse mix of grasses and legumes that provide balanced nutrition. According to the company, their hay contains a minimum of 8 species of plants including timothy, orchardgrass, oat hay, brome, alfalfa, clover, rye, and bluegrass. This variety helps ensure pets receive all the nutrients they need.
The farms Oxbow partners with also follow sustainable growing practices without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. This results in chemical-free hay that is safe for consumption.
Cutting at the Optimal Time
In addition to choosing the right grasses and legumes, Oxbow emphasizes harvesting the hay at the optimal time. They cut the hay before it goes to seed, when the plants contain peak nutrition and are easiest for small animals to digest.
Cutting at the right growth phase preserves more nutrients and proteins before they can break down in mature grasses. It also yields softer, greener hay that is more palatable.
Triple Cleaning and Drying Methods
After cutting the grasses, Oxbow utilizes a triple cleaning process to remove debris, dust, and impurities from the hay. First they gently aerate the hay to let small particulates sift out. Next, specialized equipment removes any large foreign material. Finally, the hay is compressed into bales to force out remaining dust and particles.
Proper drying is also critical to lock in nutrients. Oxbow quickly dries the hay from the inside out at low temperatures to avoid leaching minerals and proteins. The result is exceptionally clean, green hay with a fresh scent and texture.
Oxbow’s Commitment to Consistency
Another key factor that sets Oxbow hay apart is their commitment to consistency. They take steps to ensure each batch of hay offers the same quality and nutrition as the last.
Rigorous Quality Control Testing
Oxbow subjects all their hay to extensive quality control testing both before and after baling. They evaluate the hay’s aroma, color, texture, and nutrients to guarantee it meets their strict internal benchmarks.
According to Oxbow, their quality control experts reject up to 50% more hay than industry standards would typically allow. This selective process is essential for maintaining their reputation for premium hay year after year.
In addition to quality testing, Oxbow also implements a unique coding system to track every bale back to the field it was harvested from. This traceability allows them to constantly improve their practices and ensure absolute consistency across all their hay. It also enables quick action if any quality issues arise.
As a commitment to their quality standards, Oxbow provides a guaranteed analysis with nutritional information for each hay product they sell. So consumers know exactly what they are getting in terms of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. This transparency helps build trust in the Oxbow brand.
Specialty Hay Products to Meet Pet Needs
Beyond their classic timothy and orchard grass hays, Oxbow also produces specialty hay blends designed to meet different pet needs. They use premium ingredients and careful crafting to create products with specific benefits.
Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay
Orchard grass hay makes up the majority of Oxbow’s products because it offers an excellent balance of fiber, protein, and minerals for most small pets. Orchard grass is naturally soft and palatable as well. Oxbow orchard grass hay provides a staple food to support daily nutrition.
Oxbow Western Timothy Hay
For pets that prefer it, Oxbow western timothy hay serves as a tasty alternative high in fiber. Timothy’s long, soft stems are easy to chew and digest. Oxbow hand-selects the finest timothy hay in the western United States for exceptional quality in this product.
Oxbow Botanical Hay
Oxbow Botanical Hay provides a premium, all-natural foraging experience. It combines fragrant Western timothy with herbs, flowers, and other botanicals like chamomile and lavender. Pets enjoy the complexity of flavors and textures.
Oxbow Oat Hay
Made from ripe oat plants, Oxbow Oat Hay offers more protein, energy, and calcium than grass hays. It benefits young, old, or recovering pets that need extra nutrition. Oxbow’s oat hay retains more leaves and nutritional value through their unique harvesting method.
Oxbow’s Commitment to Pet Health
Above all else, Oxbow’s dedication to small pet health shapes their approach to crafting premium hay products. As a company founded by a veterinarian, they have the benefit of understanding pet needs and using this knowledge to advance hay quality and safety.
Strict Pest Management Protocols
Oxbow outlines strict protocols for managing pests that could contaminate the hay fields. These include monitoring rodent levels, restricting grazing animals, and regulating manure spreading. Oxbow also avoids chemical pesticides by selecting hay from farms following sustainable practices. This helps them control potential pest problems without chemicals.
Special Handling to Reduce Dust
To create hay that is gentler on sensitive respiratory systems, Oxbow bales their hay tightly to force out as much dust and particles as possible. They also forgo harsh chemical dust suppressants, instead relying on their gentle aeration method to remove dust. This results in minimal dust for less respiratory irritation.
Third Party Testing for Safety
In addition to internal testing, Oxbow routinely sends their hay to accredited third-party laboratories. They test for over 400 types of mold, mycotoxins, pesticides, heavy metals, and other potential contaminants. This provides independent verification that Oxbow hay meets the highest standards for safety.
Veterinary Advisory Board
Oxbow maintains a board of veterinary experts who provide guidance on pet nutrition and health. They use this knowledge to continuously improve their hay and tailor products to support total pet wellness. Oxbow’s commitment to veterinary oversight sets them apart from other hay companies.
Conclusion: Why Oxbow Hay is Considered Premium Quality
In the end, Oxbow has earned a reputation for premium hay because they go above and beyond at every stage of the process. From grass selection to harvest techniques to safety protocols, they take great care to preserve nutrition, minimize impurities, and reduce respiratory irritation. Their commitment to rigorous quality control, consistency, and transparency ensures consumers always know exactly what they’re getting with Oxbow hay products. With specialty blends crafted to meet different needs and guidance from veterinary experts, Oxbow remains dedicated to the health of pets above all else. Their meticulous protocols and standards are what enable them to produce exceptional hay worth the premium price.