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Bunny Care Guide: The Importance Of Feeding Hay To Rabbits

Updated on October 11, 2007

Everywhere you go, you'll see recommendations concerning the feeding of hay to rabbits. "Give your bunny all the hay it can eat!" They say, "Do not restrict your rabbit's hay consumption!" They tell us, "Bury Your Rabbits under piles and piles of hay!" Well, they don't say that, but bunnies would have a really great time digging their way out of that one, I am sure. (WARNING: To the sorts of people who put pets in the microwave to dry them off, I am NOT recommending that you bury your rabbit under a large amount of hay. Doing so may kill your bunny. It is a bad idea. Do not do it. Now go tape the oven mitts to your hands and go back to singing your little happy song.)

For those of you that are still left, here is the truth about hay.

Hay is good for your rabbit because those long fibers that hay is made from help the muscles of the bunny's gut stay good and strong. Hay keeps things moving inside the bunny's system, and can help prevent blockages that may kill your rabbit. Bunnies will chew on almost anything, they seem to have little concept of what they can digest and what they cannot digest. Keeping them well stocked with hay may also help to keep the fur and other weird foreign bodies moving through your rabbit's complex digestive system. A lack of hay can slow down your rabbit's intestinal functions and cause a multitude of problems. Hay is an essential part of your rabbit's diet, and you should no more leave your bunny without hay than you would leave it without water.

Rabbits need lots of fiber, and hay provides it to them. A good quality hay should not be too expensive, and is really essential for your rabbit's health and well being.

Is all hay equal?

NO! All hay is not equal. Like cereals, there are those that are good for you, and those that are tasty. Ideally, you should be feeding your bunny on the bran equivalent hay, timothy hay. Timothy hay is the most popular rabbit feeding hay, and probably the easiest for you to obtain, but oat hay, wheat hay and bahia hay are all also okay. Alfafa and Clover hays are tastier to your rabbit, but contain a great deal of calcium and protein, neither of which your bunny needs in large amounts.

You may be offered a choice between first and second cut hay. Once again, first cut is better for your bunny, but second cut is tastier. It's up to you to make the tough call.

That's it for this time bunny lovers. Be sure to make sure that your bunny gets plenty of hay, and he or she is sure to be a happier and healthier bunny for it!

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    • Rebekah B profile image

      Rebekah B 

      4 years ago

      Bunniez, What is the best kind of hay to feed them.

      I normal get them, Dumor-Timothy Hay, Alfalfa Chews,

      Is there any other kind of Hay they should have,

      I really wanna know because i have 5, Three week old baby bunnies, And their Mom, And Dad, And a younger Female, And i just wanna know if there is any other kind of Hay they need besides, Timothy Hay, Or Alfalfa Chews, I have had my Rabbits for about 4 Mouths,

      please Comment me back,

      Thanks

    • timothyhay profile image

      timothyhay 

      6 years ago

      Rabbits love nutritious and healthy food. Timothy Hay is usually a rabbit favorite. Timothy hay should be a regular part of a rabbit’s diet. Timothy hay is nutrient rich and has both dietary and dental benefits. More great tips and facts about rabbit care can be found at http://www.rabbitholehay.com/rabbit-facts/timothy/

    • profile image

      khan 

      6 years ago

      i recently adopt dwarf bunny its 6 weeks old i don't know how often do they poop? and how often should i feed them... fed them green pallets that i bought from pet store...need help asap

    • izzle808 profile image

      izzle808 

      6 years ago

      Hay is essential for rabbits because they can't eat large amounts of fresh grass because they can't digest the cellulose. GREAT ARTICLE!

    • profile image

      Brittany 

      7 years ago

      I have a couple questions for the editor of this article. When you define 'sprouts' as safe food for rabbits, what sprouts are you referring to? Bean sprouts, brussel sprouts, green-leaf sprouts.. there are somewhat many. I want to be safe. Also, how should I be feeding my rabbit?

      I feed her half a little petstore bowl of rabbit pellets in the morning, and at night I feed her a full of that same little bowl of veggies at night. (Healthier ones now, I will be; I really appreciate this article) This is 7 days a week I do this, with unlimited timothy hay. Fresh water of course.

      So my questions are what do you mean my sprouts?

      And how should I be feeding my rabbit in a daily routine?

    • profile image

      em 

      7 years ago

      i really want to get a bunny but i don't know if they are a lot of work or if they get along with cats if they need a litter box or not? please help meee

    • profile image

      JAYLEN 

      7 years ago

      thxs for da important facts

    • profile image

      mary 

      8 years ago

      if your bunny refuses to eat hay you have to force it giving him veru few pellets in order to get hungry.doing so he ll eat the hay that is very important for its health

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      well you said that you could feed your bunny broccoli but my dad said that it could give them gas and they cant like birp or pass gas. so i wanted to know if i could still feed it broccoli.

    • profile image

      Pari 

      8 years ago

      My bunny doesn't drink water or milk nothing. Is it ok?

    • profile image

      cathryn 

      8 years ago

      My boyfriend has very bad hayfever but he seems to be ok, when i buy the dust free timothy hay. It's a bit more expensive than normal hay but been using it for a year and he's had no problems.

    • profile image

      andy m 

      8 years ago

      i live in the best country; new zealand. We have plenty of fresh clover in our back yard. Can i feed it this? But then in our country fresh fruit n veg are cheap as anyway. Jealous much? a hahahahahhaha

    • profile image

      Donna 

      8 years ago

      Hi, my bunny will NOT eat Hay of any kind. I have tried and tried to no avail. We have had her for close to 3 years now and she is very healthy and happy, but now smells like a skunk?? She also does not eat her droppings?? Any suggestions?? Thanks

    • Wally owns profile image

      Wally owns 

      9 years ago from Earth...

      Hello, I have a Jersey Woolly bunny, Wally, who needs a constant supply of hay.

      He eats it when he is lying down, when he is in the litterbox, everywhere!

      I just wanted to know if I should be giving him a certain amount of hay...

      Thanx ;)

    • profile image

      Sasha 

      9 years ago

      hi. is it fine to feed rabbits eragrostis curvula and e. teff, and lucerne

    • profile image

      Tina 

      9 years ago

      Something your rabbit will be lacking if you choose leaves and branches instead of hay will be silica, which is necessary to wear down their teeth. Grass blades have a high content of silicates, which provide rigidity to their form. Your rabbit may have a difficult time wearing down its teeth without hay or straw.

      Corn leaves also have a high silica content. So do cattails.

      Something to avoid: Equisetum (horsetail/ scouring rush) has a high silica content, and since it produces spores rather than pollen, it's hypoalergenic. Unfortunately it is carcinogenic. I don't recommend feeding this to your rabbit.

    • profile image

      Tina 

      9 years ago

      Hayless, are you allergic to oat straw as well? You might want to give it a try.

      Fiber is the key to rabbit digestion. You can give your rabbit seagrass, often easy to purchase in woven mats. Dry leaves are an excellent option for fiber. Fruit tree leaves will not harm your pet, though I'd stay away from the anthocyanin-rich purple leaves of an ornamental plum.

      Also, if you happen to have apricot, plum, peach, almond or cherry trees, their "root suckers" - thin stems that pop up from the rootstock - are thin, fiberous, and easily nibbled by a rabbit.

    • profile image

      Hayless 

      9 years ago

      Hi, I am severly alergic to hay ( timothy and alfalfa) and was wondering if there were any alternatives, as i know hay is so important to a bunny's digestive system.

    • profile image

      Riggatoni 

      10 years ago

      One of my new baby bunnies fractured his jaw and cannot chew solid foods until his jaw heals. I have made my own bunny food recipe and was curious if you saw any problem with it. It is made of pellets soaked in hot water, timothy hay blended into tiny pieces, cooked carrots, pineapple juice and some baby food to help make it creamy. All of these ingredients have been liquefied in the blender so that he just has to lap it up. He loves it! Do you forsee any health or digestive problems with this recipe? He will only have to eat this (hopefully, if his jaw heals properly) for a few weeks.

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