What is the Best Type of Hay for Rabbits?
As a bunny mom or dad, you’ve likely heard a lot about hay and how important it is for the health of your rabbits. Like all herbivores, rabbits are made to eat plant material exclusively. In the wild, rabbits eat a diverse variety of plants, including large amounts of fresh grass daily. The best and most convenient way to meet your hungry rabbit’s instinctual appetite for grass in the comforts of home is by providing unlimited amounts of fresh, high-quality grass hay. Simply put, hay is the most important part of your rabbit’s daily diet and should be available in unlimited amounts and always accessible for your rabbit to eat whenever the mood strikes.
How to Choose the Right Hay for Rabbits
When it comes to choosing the right hay for rabbits, pet parents often ask themselves, “what is the best type of hay for rabbits?” The good news is that choosing the right hay for rabbits is not as daunting as it may seem. All commonly available grass hay varieties are nutritionally interchangeable, providing the fiber, protein, and calcium required to support the digestive and dental health of rabbits. Appropriate hay varieties for rabbits include:
- Timothy Hay
- Orchard Grass Hay
- Oat Hay
- Western Timothy & Orchard Blend
- Organic Meadow Hay
- Timothy Meadow Hay
- Compressed Hay Stacks (Harvest Stacks)
Western Timothy Hay: A Veterinarian-Recommended Favorite Hay for Rabbits
Timothy hay is the most common and popular hay for rabbits and is often recommended by veterinarians as an ideal choice for bunnies of all shapes and sizes. This is because Timothy hay offers a balanced taste and texture profile that most rabbits love while providing the high fiber and balanced protein and calcium rabbits need for daily digestive and dental health. For all these reasons, Timothy hay is a great hay choice for rabbits and has long been Oxbow’s most popular hay variety.
Orchard Grass Hay: Soft, Sweet, and Simply Adored by Bunnies
Orchard grass hay is softer and slightly sweeter than Timothy hay. If you currently feed your rabbit Timothy hay or another coarser and heartier option and feel like they’re not eating as much hay as you’d like to see (for reference, they should consume a pile roughly the size of their body each day), we’d recommend offering Orchard Grass to see if they prefer the softer texture and sweeter taste. Similarly, you can mix Orchard Grass and Timothy hay together for an enriching combination of tastes and textures.
Oat Hay: Crunchy and Hearty Hay for Herbivores
Every rabbit has its own unique preferences, and some prefer hearty and crunchy when it comes to hay. If this describes your rabbit, look no further than Oat Hay. This crunch-tastic offers the added benefit of including taste, immature seed heads that rabbits love to snack on. Try mixing Oat Hay and Orchard Grass together for a rabbit hay blend that has it all.
Organic Meadow Hay: Mother-Nature Approved Hay for Rabbits
When it comes to choosing the right hay for your rabbit, there are many factors to consider. For those looking to make the most sustainable and environmentally conscious purchasing decisions possible, Organic Meadow Hay is an ideal choice – and another fantastic variety of hay for rabbits! Similar in taste and texture to Timothy hay, Organic Meadow Hay is USDA-certified organic for a healthier, happier planet!
Western Timothy & Orchard Blend: The Best of Both Worlds
The only thing better than blending Western Timothy and sweet, soft Orchard Grass hay together is treating yourself to the convenience of buying them pre-blended! Rabbits and pet parents alike love this enriching, delicious combination of tastes and textures.
Timothy Meadow Hay: An Enriching Taste and Texture Combination
Timothy Meadow Hay is fast becoming a favorite hay for rabbits all over. Available exclusively at farm & feed stores including Tractor Supply Company, Blain’s, Fleet Farm, Atwoods, and others, this enriching combination of Timothy and Meadow hays is slightly sweeter than Timothy alone, with a nice balanced texture that your rabbits are sure to binky for.
Botanical Hay: Western Timothy with an Herbal Twist
Do you have a rabbit with a refined palate and appreciation for the finer things? We’ve got just the hay for your rabbit! Botanical hay consists of Oxbow Western Timothy with a blend of enticing herbs including chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm. These aromatic, enticing additions make Botanical Hay a first-class taste experience that is great alone or mixed with other hay varieties for rabbits.
Alfalfa Hay: The Ideal Treat for Grown Rabbits
When discussing the best hay for rabbits, Alfalfa is the only hay on the list that can’t be viewed as nutritionally interchangeable. That’s because Alfalfa (a legume) is more nutritionally dense than grass hay varieties, with higher percentages of calcium and protein. Most rabbits go gaga for alfalfa, but too much of a good thing (alfalfa) can potentially lead to obesity and other health-related issues over time. For that reason, Alfalfa should only be fed in small amounts as a treat for healthy, adult rabbits. Young, growing, pregnant, and nursing rabbits, meanwhile, can enjoy unlimited amounts of alfalfa to support their higher nutritional requirements.
Compressed Hay Stacks: Less Dust, Less Mess
If you’re looking for something different at your rabbit’s mealtime, you might want to give Oxbow Harvest Stacks a try. These compressed Timothy hay stacks are less dusty and messy than loose hay and are great for travel or just as a way to add enrichment to mealtime.
Choosing the right hay for your rabbits is an important responsibility for all bunny moms and dads. The good news is that the best rabbit hay is the hay your rabbit likes best! Mix and match any of the hay varieties detailed in this article to determine which hay your rabbit likes best and to provide important enrichment every day. Happy hay day!