Updated: Mar 29
All you need to know about rabbit diet: hay.
Hay should be the majority of your Rabbit's Diet. Period.
They should have unlimited access to hay, and this isn't something you should skimp on as it is essential for proper gut health. Provide fresh hay two times daily, so they always have fresh unsoiled hay to eat. They should be eating at least their body size in hay every day. Rabbits eat hay not only for its nutritional value, but it also helps keep their teeth ground down and is important for dental health.
Hay should be 80-90% of your rabbit's diet.
Which cut should you buy?
Depending on when the hay is cut, changes the fiber and nutrient content of the hay.
First Cut- Tends to be highest in fiber. It has thick stocks and tassels.
Second Cut- Softer cut. Is high in fiber. It has thinner stocks and no tassels. It is greener in color and has a sweeter smell. This is the best cut for most rabbits.
Third or More Cut- Has the lowest fiber. Higher in protein and fat. It will be dark green. This is the best cut for rabbits that need to gain weight.
If you aren't sure which cut is best, ask your bunny-savvy veterinarian!
What hay should you buy?
Variety is going to provide your bunny with the most varied of nutritional content. Timothy Hay or Orchard Grass should be your foundation as both have similar nutritional profiles. The only difference is that Timothy Hay is courser than Orchard Grass and, therefore a bit better for your bun's dental health. However, this can be mitigated by providing chewable toys like hay mats, wooden balls, tunnels, etc. Then you can add in botanical blends and other hay/grasses as needed for a rich nutritional diet.
"If you have a hay allergy, you might find that switching to Orchard Grass could help." – Bunny Binkyland
Alfalfa Hay- is not a hay
Alfalfa hay is actually a legume. It is very high in protein and calcium and therefore should only be given to rabbits six months and younger when they need the extra vitamins (they are growing!) or lactating and pregnant bunnies (who are growing and feeding babies). Once your buns are six months or the bun mom has weaned her babies, you can slowly reduce the amount of Alfalfa given.
If you give Alfalfa hay or pellets, to a bunny who doesn't need it, it could cause bladder sludge or bladder stones. Always check with your bunny-savvy vet if you are unsure.
Want to know more:
The Bunny Lady- Hay for Rabbits, Why it's so important