Surprises in Your Guinea Pigs’ Hay Unlikely but Possible
In the recent news story, eleven year old Isabel Henderson of South Woodford, UK was getting ready for school when she stopped for a moment to give her guinea pigs, Ginny and Squeak, fresh meadow hay. She opened the 3.5kg bag her father had purchased at nearby Sainsbury’s supermarket when she discovered a cloven hoof poking out. Her father, James Henderson, 53, who was making breakfast in the kitchen at the time, said his daughter came running through the house screaming, “Dad there’s something dead in the bag.” Upon investigation, they discovered an estimated one foot long decomposing deer leg inside their bag of Bob Martin “My Little Friend” Meadow Hay.
James Henderson immediately called the store and spoke with customer service, who apologized, and took the £1.99 bag back to the store later that same day. The father wants compensation from the supermarket. While he was concerned and upset that his daughter had to see such a thing, he felt the biggest fear was that more parts of the animal could be in other bags for children to find. He will now be personally opening each bag of hay for his daughter before she feeds her guinea pigs. The store is investigating the situation with their supplier.
Both Guardian and the Daily Mail are reporting the following quote from a spokesman for Bob Martin. “Before being packed into little bales, the untreated natural hay is visually inspected and mechanically screened to get the undesirable material out. However, due to the nature of the harvesting and automated packing processes, preventing foreign objects from ending up in the hay, including plant life and, on extremely rare occasion’s animal matter, cannot be guaranteed.”A personal story from a veterinarian friend of ours claims a client came into their office one day with a bag of timothy hay. They wanted the vets to look at a dead animal they found inside and give advice on what to do. Completely concealed inside the bag was a dead baby groundhog. The client left the office and it’s unknown what, if anything, they had done about it.
I have personally found a grasshopper and a moth inside my hay on two separate occasions. I find it quite interesting myself. Like the spokesman for Bob Martin said, I’m sure it’s difficult to find these tidbits in the packaging process.
When it comes to hay, a brand rarely comes from a single field. Like many products produced on farms, a single bag of hay didn’t necessarily come from the official farm of the brand owner, but a network of contracted farmers across the country which have little or nothing to do with the brand itself. Farm quality varies from season to season and farm to farm, so it’s best to stabilize resources by having many people involved in supplying a single brand. For local farmers, it’s better to sell hay to a national brand than to try and sell locally or pay expensive distribution fees that eat up profits. Therefore, both benefit from the process. In the example of the recent news story, it’s probably quite difficult to find the farm which was the origin of the deer leg.
Finding something surprising in your hay can happen, but it is highly unlikely. Stories like these really are one in a million compared to the amount of hay sold each day. Still, if you’re concerned about stories like this coming true in your home, open your hay and dump into a dry storage container. Then give it a rough inspection before giving to your children or your guinea pigs.
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