Pet rabbits have certain dietary needs. I suggest that as a rabbit owner you figure out what your rabbit needs in his diet, especially what kind of fiber he needs. In fact, on a regular basis many people ask me about the best hay or grass for their pet rabbit.
So, what is the best grass and hay for rabbits? Typically, the best hay to give your pet rabbit is Timothy Hay. It’s nutritious, but full of fiber. Your rabbit can have unlimited eating of this hay with no stomach problems. Hay is 75-80% of your pet rabbit’s diet. You can mix types of hay, being sure to not overload your rabbit with hay that’s too rich. Your rabbit is an herbivore, so he’ll love to graze on grass in your back yard or from a bowl in his indoor cage. Keep an eye on your rabbit if he’s just starting to eat grass. Too much grass at once can cause stomach issues. Gradually add grass into your rabbit’s diet. He’ll not only enjoy the taste but his teeth will get filed down from the sandpaper effect of grass. And grass helps offset boredom in your pet rabbit. He’ll get the benefit of chewing.
What Is The Difference Between Grass And Hay?
Hay is a mixture of grass, legumes and other plants that are cut and dried for grazing animals such as cattles, horses, goats and sheep. Hay is also an essential part of a rabbit’s diet. Grass is a plant with oval shaped leaves. Grass is freshly grown, and can be easily available for your pet rabbits. Your pet rabbit can eat the grass in your backyard if it’s not been treated with chemicals or fertilizers.If you don’t have a backyard, you can grow grass in pots inside your house.
Is Grass Good For Rabbits?
Your pet rabbit is an herbivore which means he feeds on plants. Your rabbit will naturally graze on grass. Rabbits digestive system need grass and hay. Grass like hay, will help move things along in your rabbit’s gut. Feeding your rabbit hay and grass is close to their natural diet. If you don’t care to let your rabbit in your backyard, just pick some grass and put it into a bowl for him. He’ll enjoy getting to graze inside.
If your rabbit isn’t used to eating grass, begin slowly giving him just a little bit every day, otherwise he could get diarrhea. Any dietary changes for your rabbit should alway be gradual. A sudden change can set off stomach issues. Over time, build up the amount of time your rabbit grazes on grass, or how much you give him. Keep an eye on his poop droppings, if they are too soft then ease back on his grass consumption.
What Other Ways Does Grass Benefit My Pet Rabbit?
When magnified, grass blades have sharp, tiny edges. As your pet rabbit eats the grass, the edges work like sandpaper on his teeth, filing them down so they won’t get too long. Even though you give your rabbit things to chew on like wooden toys or crunchy foods, grass is essential for your rabbit. Grass contains calcium, selenium and iron. Grass is basically cellulose, that’s why it’s such a great form of fiber for grazing animals and your pet rabbit.
What Kinds of Grass Are There?
Any fresh grass that is fed to sheep, goats or horses is safe for your pet rabbit. As mentioned, be sure the grass hasn’t been treated with chemicals or fertilizers. You can grow your own grass from seed from the plant store. Some people fill trays with dirt and sow the tiny grass seeds. Grass grows quickly. Cut the grass and give it to your rabbit. Keep seeding the tray so your rabbit can have a constant supply. It’s best not to put your rabbit into the tray of growing grass so he dont’ start a habit of pooping in the grass. Experiment with other grass seeds. Other fresh grass that your pet rabbit will love include:
- Carpet Grass
- Flat grass
- Orchard grass
- Dandelion weeds
- Bermuda grass
- Also: Apple tree leaves and grape vine.
Types Of Hay and Its Nutrition?
Hay is a mixture of grass, legumes and other plants that are cut and dried for grazing livestock. Some hay is dried by the sun and some is dried by a kiln. Hay is extremely important for adding fiber to your pet rabbit’s diet. His diet should include 75-80% hay.
Types of hay for your pet rabbit:
- Timothy hay
- Orchard hay
- Oat hay
- Alfalfa hay
- Meadow hay
Usually rabbit owners mix up the kinds of hay for their rabbit’s diet. Hay is full of calcium, protein and fiber.
Kinds of Hay and Where To Buy It
Kind of Hay: timothy Hay This hay is a mix of stems, leaves from timothy grass, a perennial grass. It’s a cool season grass. It’s a coarse hay that’s low in protein but high in fiber. Rabbit owners say their pet rabbits goes through 10 to 15 pounds of hay every 3-4 months. Timothy hay is a good choice since it’s fresh from a farm, and sun dried naturally. It’s also free from pesticides. Here’s a list of several places to buy Timothy hay.
Brand Name:Oxbow Western
40 ounce bag is $9.77(free shipping)
90 ounce bag is $18.69
Company: Pet Mountain (online only)
Brand name: KAYTEE
48 ounces is $8..49
96 ounces is $15.99
Lambert Vet Supply(online only)
Timothy hay bale 10 pounds is $17.99
Kind of Hay: Orchard Hay/Grass-This hay is also a cool season hay It grows in bunches and is more drought resistant than Timothy hay. It’s soft in texture, and high in fiber, but low in protein. Orchard hay has a sweet smell. Here’s a list of where to buy Orchard grass/hay
Where to buy:
Brand name:OxBow Orchard Grass/Hay
40 ounce bag is $9.77
9 pound bag is $23.37
Company: Oxbow Orchard Grass/Hay
50 pound bag is $62.32 free shipping
Lambert Vet Supply (online)
Orchard Grass/ Hay bale 5 pounds is $14.99
Kind of Hay: Alfalfa Hay
Alfalfa hay is a great source of protein and fiber. It’s made of legumes, in the pea family. It’s a favorite of pet rabbits and you should limit how much your bunny eats or he’ll get too fat. Here’s where to buy alfalfa.
Alfalfa King Double Pressed Alfalfa Hay Pet Food Treat
16 ounces is $9.26
Kind of Hay: Meadow Grass/Hay
This hay is a natural mixture. It’s not true hay but a mixture of several natural grasses that are mixed together and kiln dried. Because the level of nutrients can vary depending upon where it’s made, it’s best not to feed unlimited amounts ot your pet rabbit like you might do with timothy hay. This is because it could have more protein that your rabbit needs and cause him to get fat. Here’s where to buy meadow grass/hay.
Oxbow Meadow Hay
15 ounces is $4.79
SMF Meadow Hay
20 ounces is $20.53
Kind of Hay: Oat Hay
Oat hay is full of vitamins, fiber and minerals. This hay is harvested before the oat head forms thus leaving husks for your rabbit to enjoy. It’s also high in fiber, low in protein and can be mixed with other hays. Here’s where to buy oat hay.
Oxbow Oat Hay Small Animal Food
15 ounce bag is $4.39
Kind of Hay: Herbal hay
This kind of hay is basically Timothy hay with chamomile, dandelion and marigold added to it. Owners with indoor rabbits often use this if their pet rabbit can’t gaze in the backyard.
Can I Mix Different Hays Together For My Pet Rabbit?
It’s a good idea to mix your pet rabbits hay to keep him from getting set in his ways with only one hay. Plus, if he eats different kinds of hay, he will eat more of the mixture. A hay combinations also gives your rabbit the best nutritional benefits.
What Do I Look For In A Good Hay?
A good hay for your rabbit will have these components:
- Fresh, not sour or musty smelling
- Free from dirt or dust
- Packaging must be in a non-air tight container because this could cause mold to grow.
What Are Cuts Of Hay?
Cuts of hay are really only mentioned in regards to timothy hay. The cut is when the hay was cut during the season
1st cut hay-This is when the hay is cut before the hay blooms. The stems are thin. This hay is full of good nutrients. There’s also higher amount of fiber in this cut. Which makes it premium food for your pet rabbit.
2nd cut hay-This is the hay you’ll purchase. There are more leaves on this hay and the stems are thinner. The protein and fat levels are higher. This is a good hay for adult animals. This cut of hay smells sweet and good.
3rd cut hay- This cut of hay is leafy. It has the higher levels of protein and fats, but surprisingly, lower levels of fiber. All the nutrients can’t make up for the lack of fiber, which is really the most important part for your pet rabbit. This cut of hay shouldn’t be used for daily food, but more of a treat. If you give too much of this to your rabbit, he might get a bad tummy and diarrhea.
How Much Hay Do I Give My Pet Rabbit?
Typically, your pet rabbit’s diet should be 75-80% hay. Mix timothy, meadow and orchard hays together best nutritional mixture with the highest amount of fiber for your rabbit. Your pet rabbit can happily eat an unlimited amount of this hay mixture. But Alfalfa hay should be kept to a minimum for adult rabbits because it’s too high in protein. Younger rabbits can benefit from alfalfa since they’re growing and need more protein.
What Is The Benefit Of Hay For Rabbits?
Hay is good for your rabbit because:
- It has long fibers that help your rabbit’s gut stay healthy and strong
- It stimulates digestion, absorption and and helps bowel movements
- It keeps your rabbit’s teeth from growing too long
- It alleviates boredom in your pet rabbit
- It gives your pet rabbit an opportunity for lots of chewing which he loves
- It keeps hairballs from staying in your rabbit’s stomach, helping them to get moved through the bowels.
Is Hay Good For Bedding?
People get hay and straw mixed up. They actually look very different when you study them. Straw is hollow cut plants that have very little to no nutritional value. Hay has strands of grass in it while straw is hollow and yellowish in color. Hay is used for food for livestock. Straw is used for bedding.Straw makes better bedding for your pet rabbit than hay especially in outdoor hutches. Hay gets soggy when wet. Plus, straw won’t mold or mildew like hay does. Straw is also more economical than hay.
How Do I Store Hay For My Pet Rabbit?
As already mentioned, pet rabbits can go through 10 to 15 pounds of hay every 3-4 months. This means you’ll need a fair amount of hay on hand to keep your rabbit well fed with hay. Hay will mold or get soggy if not stored properly. Here’s some tips on how to store a large amount of hay for your pet rabbit.
- Store hay in a well ventilated plastic container so it won’t mold
- Store hay bales in your garage in an area that’s not damp, stored up on a rack so ventilation can get to the bottom of the hay bale
- Store a large amount of hay bales in a shed or small hay barn
What Is A Rabbit Food Pyramid?
The rabbit food pyramid explains how much of each kind of food your pet rabbit needs to eat. The foods at the top are the smallest part of the pyramid with the lists of foods at the bottom being what your pet rabbit can eat the most.
Here’s the rabbit food pyramid by the Red Animal Shelter.
● Top of pyramid-Treats, fruits, oat hay, green peppers
● The middle layer of pyramid-Radish Tops Carrot Tops, Dandelion Greens, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro Mixed Greens, Boston Lettuce, Green or Red Leaf Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce (bigger font means more of this food group)
● The bottom layer of the pyramid– Orchard hay, Timothy Hay, Unlimited High Fiber Hay
How To Encourage Your Pet Rabbit To Eat More Hay?
If you pet rabbit has suddenly stopped eating hay it could be because he doesn’t like the mixture of hay you’re giving him. You should try another mixture of hay to see if your rabbit likes it better. It’s important that your rabbit eats hay, lots of it, because if he doesn’t his digestive system will slow down, causing him to be constipated. His teeth will not get the friction they need. Sometimes your pet rabbit doesn’t like where you’ve placed his hay rack. It might be too hard to reach or be too close to his litter box. Check the hay you’re using, it could be dusty or older hay that has a musty taste or smell. Rabbits can be picky eaters. They are also picky about cleanliness. If the hay is old, get rid of it and get fresh, clean, sweet smelling hay for your rabbit. If none of these changes work, give your vet a call and explain your pet rabbit’s change of diet and lack of interest in hay. It could indicate the beginning a health issue.