The Price of a Horse vs. The Price of 3 Guinea Pigs

On a recent trip to Tractor Supply Company, I realized something that I didn't like. With the exception of monthly board, my horse is cheaper to keep than my guinea pigs. Let's look at a side by side comparison, shall we?

First, there's the thing they both eat: hay. My horse's hay costs me $7 a bale. I buy it from the barn owner who buys it directly from a farmer. During the summer, he gets 1-2 flakes of hay a day, and a single bale can last a week. (In the winter, however, he goes through much more hay.) My guinea pigs' hay costs me around $10 a bag. When given free access to as much hay as they want (which is what should be done), that bag of hay can last anywhere from 4 days to a week. For convenience in comparing costs, I will say that the horse eats one bale a week, and the pigs eat one bag a week.

Weekly total so far: Horse: $7, Pigs: $10

Then there's the feed. The feed I get my horse is a pelleted feed. It costs $16 for a 50 pound bag. It lasts 8 days. The pellets I get the pigs costs $15 for a 5 pound bag. It will last about 10-14 days. I could make this comparison in terms of price per pound (which would be $0.32/pound of horse feed and $3.00/pound of guinea pig food), but that would skew things. I'm going to go with the weekly cost. So, in feed alone, the horse costs $16 a week, and the pigs costs about $9.

Weekly total so far: Horse: $23, Pigs: $19

After that comes the bedding. This is where the guinea pigs start costing a lot. For my horse, he gets wood pellets in his stall. During the summer, he can get by with a bag of pellets per week. Each bag costs me $6. The pigs, on the other hand, get Carefresh in their cage. Because of the size of their cage, they need the big bag. A big bag of Carefresh usually costs $20. (This is what I was buying when I realized this. I bought a bag of Carefresh on sale for $17 and a bag of horse feed for $16 at the same time.) This big, $20 bag of Carefresh lasts one week.

Weekly total so far: Horse: $29, Pigs: $39

Finally, in the things I buy every week, comes the fruit and vegetables. The horse only gets fruits and vegetables as an occasional treat, so his weekly total for that is $0. The pigs, on the other hand, could easily go through a head of lettuce a day if I let them. It's a little tricky for me to calculate how much I spend on produce for the pigs each week as the produce I buy goes not only to the pigs, but also the birds and my bearded dragon. For ease, I will say that the pigs eat half a head of lettuce each day, two apples a week, four green bell peppers each week, and about 6 baby carrots each week. A head of lettuce costs around $0.80 during the summer, apples are around $0.50 each (I think...), green bell peppers are $0.50 each during the summer, and I won't include the costs of the carrots. So, that's $5.80 on just those things, which I'll round up to $6. They often get other types of veggies as well, but I also grow some vegetables myself, so I'll just say that all the additional vegetables they get come from the garden.

This brings the weekly grand total to: Horse: $29, Pigs: $45, or a DAILY cost of: Horse: $4.14, Pigs: $6.43 (yikes!).

Now, I did not include vet costs, nor did I include the cost of monthly board. I also figured everything on summer prices, so hay for the horse in the winter is significantly more, as is the price of fresh produce for the pigs. The vet is often more expensive for the pigs, not the horse. I also did not include the cost of occasional purchases such as new toys, treats, farrier, medications, or anything else that I do not buy on a weekly basis.

I want to spend less on both the pigs and the horse (I'm pretty content with how much I spend on the birds and reptiles), but still provide everything they need. This is especially important because I'm hoping to add a couple of new animals (I'm still not saying what I want to get--I don't want to jinx it). One place where I can cut a lot of money is the cost of hay. I can do this by buying my own hay, and buying a bale of hay specifically for the pigs. I also need to grow more of the vegetables my guinea pigs eat. But the thing I REALLY want to spend less on is bedding for the guinea pigs. Does anybody have any suggestions for that? I use Carefresh because I have found it best for odor control, absorbancy, and not triggering my allergies.

On the positive side and somewhat related note, I mentioned in my last post that my last day of work was going to be Friday. But after discussing things with my manager, I'm staying at that job until I go back to my other seasonal job, which makes me quite happy. Also, I changed my blog layout. Now, I'm off to go research how much my hopeful new pets will eat.


  1. Prices vary really when it comes to pets. Though they have different function as pets, I would like to own a horse than rodents. Horse is more of a transportation for me.

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