Choosing the Best Types of Hay for Pet Rabbits

 

Are you a rabbit owner? If so, you know that hay is an important part of your pet’s diet. But with so many different types of hay on the market, how do you select the best types of hay for rabbits? In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different types of hay and their benefits for rabbits. So keep reading to learn more!

dutch rabbit eating hay

Types of Hay for Pet Rabbits

While the varieties of hay will vary depending on your local region, there are some basic types to choose from. If you aren’t sure which is best, use this as your guide. Your veterinarian will also help you choose the best types of hay for pet rabbits.

 

1. Alfalfa hay

Alfalfa hay is good, but maybe too good to feed alone. Technically a legume, alfalfa contains a higher protein level than most rabbits need to stay healthy. Veterinarians consider this hay to be too rich to feed alone but often recommend it as an addition to other hay types.

Alfalfa hay is a type of forage that is high in protein and calcium, making it ideal for growing rabbits when fed in moderation. This type of hay is also rich in vitamins and minerals, which can help to keep your rabbit healthy.

It is an excellent choice for pregnant or nursing rabbits, as well as young rabbits who are still growing. However, alfalfa hay should be fed in moderation to adult rabbits, as it can cause weight gain if fed in large quantities.

In fact, Alfalfa hay should be limited or, better yet, fed as a blend with other types such as Timothy or Oat. Alfalfa is considered too rich to feed as the sole hay for rabbits. So, many people choose to feed a blend of Alfalfa and Timothy hay to create a better balance.

 

Types of hay for rabbits

 

Alfalfa Hay in field (left)

 

Timothy Hay (right)

Types of hay for rabbits

2. Timothy hay

Timothy hay is a type of forage that is lower in protein and calcium than alfalfa hay, making it ideal for adult rabbits. It is also rich in fiber, which can help to keep your rabbit’s digestive system healthy.

Timothy hay is a type of grass hay that is popular among rabbit breeders. It is high in fiber and low in protein, which makes it ideal for rabbits. Timothy hay is also a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and phosphorus. Timothy hay is also relatively low in calcium, which is important for preventing urinary tract problems in rabbits.

 

 

3. Orchard grass hay

Orchard grass hay is a type of forage that is lower in protein and calcium than alfalfa hay, making it ideal for adult rabbits. This grass hay is also high in fiber, which can help to keep your rabbit’s digestive system healthy.

Orchard grass hay is  popular among rabbit breeders. It is similar to Timothy hay in terms of its nutrient content, but it has a higher protein content. It is also a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and phosphorus. Orchard grass hay is also a good source of beta-carotene, which is an important nutrient for rabbits.

 

 

4. Oat hay

Oat hay is a type of forage that is lower in protein and calcium than alfalfa hay, making it ideal for adult rabbits. It is also high in fiber, which can help to keep your rabbit’s digestive system healthy.

To prevent digestive problems, vets might recommend adding oat hay to your rabbit’s food selection. It is a type of grass hay that is higher in fiber than other types of hay. It is also a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and phosphorus. Oat hay is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious option for all rabbits.

 

 

 

hay bales in barn

5. Clover hay

Clover hay is a type of forage that is lower in protein and calcium than alfalfa hay, making it ideal for adult rabbits. This hay is also high in fiber, which can help to keep your rabbit’s digestive system healthy.

Clover hay is another type of legume hay that is popular among rabbit breeders. It is similar to alfalfa hay in terms of its nutrient content, but it has a lower protein content. Clover hay is also a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and phosphorus.

 

 

6. Bermuda grass hay

Bermuda grass hay is a type of forage that is lower in protein and calcium than alfalfa hay, making it ideal for adult rabbits. This grass hay is also high in fiber, which can help to keep your rabbit’s digestive system healthy.

This hay is a good all around food source with a moderate amount of calories. Bermuda grass contains the same nutritional content as Timothy or Orchard grass. Unfortunately, Bermuda grass hay is often not liked by rabbits. Some will eat it, especially if it’s mixed with a more flavorful hay such as alfalfa, timothy, or clover.

hay drying in field

7. Other Grass Hay and Mixes

Depending on your local availability, you might find other grass hays such as rye, wheat, or barley. These can be good choices, depending on the quality.

More likely, you will find mixes of hay types. Alfalfa-Timothy is a popular choice among horse owners, so might be available for your pet, too. 

Hay Type Crude Fiber Crude Protein Calcium
Alfalfa 28-34% 13-19% 1.2-1.4%
Timothy 32-34% 8-11% 0.4-0.6%
Orchard Grass 34% 10% 0.33%
Oat 31% 10% 0.40%
Dried Grass 25-28% 12-14% 0.55%
Meadow 33% 7% 0.60%
Bermudagrass 29% 10% 0.46%

How to Choose the Best Hay for Your Rabbit

Always check the quality of the hay before you buy. You will see  a lot of variation in color and texture between the types and the lots harvested. Both the appearance and nutritional value of hay varies depending on the type of grass it is cut from, when it was harvested, and even how it was stored and how long it has been stored. In fact, there will be variation between batches as well as types.

You may need to shop around to find good hay as some bales may be old or poor quality. Likewise, even some pre-packaged pet shop hay can be quite dusty, brown and generally not good to feed to your rabbit.

Good hay should be green, smell sweet and not be moldy. It should  not be dusty or damp, either. The greener hay is, the closer it is nutritionally to grass. Hay that appears more brown than green still contains plenty of fiber but will have less nutrients.

 

How Much Hay Should My Rabbit Eat?

 

In the wild, rabbits eat a variety of grasses, branches, fruit, and even vegetables. They will run abut and forage most of their waking hours. 

Our pet rabbits enjoy nibbling their way through the day, too. And hay is the perfect food for them to enjoy. As such, most hay should be available for your rabbit in unlimited amounts. Allow them to decide how much they want to eat.

The exception is alfalfa hay. As mentioned before, alfalfa is high in protein and calcium and should not be overfed to your pet rabbit. Instead, consider alfalfa as a treat or as part of a blend of types of hay for rabbits.

But for all other types of hay, assuming you are feeding a good quality, clean hay, offer it as free choice to your rabbit every day. The fiber content helps ensure your pet’s digestive system keeps running smoothly. 

 

rabbit eating hay

 

What is the Best Type of Hay for Pet Rabbits?

So, what type of hay should you be feeding your pet rabbit? It’s definitely important to do your research and figure out which type is best for your bunny. We’ve introduced you to the main types professionals recommend. Each has its own unique benefits, so it’s important to choose the right one. And once you do, please remember to keep plenty of hay available for your pet bunny at all times.

We hope this information proves helpful to you and your rabbit. Please leave a comment below and let us know which type of hay you feed your furry friend!

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