Rabbits; Hay types; advice . . .

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by chickenwhisperer, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. chickenwhisperer

    chickenwhisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2007
    Chicken Country, U S A
    So, I now have 8 rabbits . . .

    I was given half a bale of green "alfalfa" for them . . .

    Evertything I read says to give them Timothy hay . . .

    Whats the difference, if any?
    How do I tell if what I have now is the right stuff?
    How much better is one over the other?

    I already bought a bag of rabbit pellets . . .

    Does anybody want some cheap cute bunnies?
    I just wanted the cage they are in, but had to take the rabbits.

    There are 2 moms with 2/3 weaned babies, and the dad- not sure what breed they are, prolly mixed and they are huge!
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  2. chickenwhisperer

    chickenwhisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2007
    Chicken Country, U S A
    Oh, and one of the females kinda growls at me when I put my hand in the cage near her babies or her, is that a normal thing?
    It doesnt sound friendly . . .
  3. chickenwhisperer

    chickenwhisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2007
    Chicken Country, U S A
    A chicken or quail or even a wild rabbit is one thing . . .
    But I dont think I have it in me to butcher a cute little PET bunny rabbit . . .

    Im not a sissy . . .
  4. rabbithaus

    rabbithaus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2009
    Triangle, NC
    Yes, rabbits (especially 'boss' does) will growl as a warning and to express their dislike of whatever is going on. Mom probably doesn't want you to mess with her babies. The alfalfa (usually very green and has lots of leaves) is good for pregnant or lactating does and youngsters. Otherwise it is too rich and can cause health problems. For the rest of the buns feed a grass hay. You can buy small bags of timothy or orchard grass at pet shops but that gets very expensive. Best bet is to hit up a feed store for a bale of horse-quality grass hay.
  5. chickenwhisperer

    chickenwhisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2007
    Chicken Country, U S A
    Ok, cool!

    So I have some regular old, cheapest-kind-you-can-get yellow hay/straw that I use for the chickens and other poultry, I just threw some in the rabbit cages for bedding or a snack . . .
    They started nibbling right away on it.
    They will eat the alfalfa right away when I put it in.

    The lady I got them from had no pellets of any kind that I could see . . .

    Timothy is a specific kind of grass, I take it?
    It comes green like alfalfa, right?

    I been reading since I posted this, and I read that the hays are used for fiber, so is the yellow kind good enough?
    I am feeding Purina Rabbit Chow pellets for nutrition . . .

    Am I on track?
    I really dont wanna keep the rabbits, but I want to take good care of them while they are here . . .

    What are the chances that growling female will bite me?
    She doesnt like to be picked up, but I can pet/scratch her except for her head.

    The rest seem pretty friendly, the babies are a bit jumpy at first but can be picked up and petted.
    The male will totally sit in my lap and be perfectly happy and nice.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  6. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Rabbits are funny animals, some of them don't mind being picked up and held, most of them just like being petted but will come up and say hello if you have them out in a pen and you're sitting quietly.

    Mom growling is normal but is a warning sign and they can be aggressive when they have kits so take her warning seriously. She will hopefully calm down once she gets to know you and her kits are gone. I have a doe that grunted when I first got her and it took about a month for her to get used to us. She doesn't do it anymore but she is definitely not a holding bunny. My male on the other hand will tolerate being held but was abused before I rescued him so even though he loves to be petted and leans into my hand still stiffens when he's held.

    On to nutrition, yellow hay/straw would only be good for bedding or something for them to chew on it doesn't have enough nutrition for them to be considered food. Good quality grass hay (like Timothy but Orchard is good too) is better for them than Alfalfa which is more stick like. If you have an entire bale (the horse size) of Alfalfa go ahead and use it but try to mix it half and half with Timothy till it's gone. If it's just a small bag of it, I would give it to the chickens and just use Timothy instead. Always have pellets on hand in case they run out of hay - I try to give my buns a big handful of hay every night, it can be their main food source but if so, it needs to be full all the time which may be why the person you got them from didn't have pellets.

    Rabbits also love treats and will warm them up to you much faster. I just posted a rabbit treat list a couple days ago. Here's the link...

    Good luck with them, I love rabbits! I'd love to see yours if you don't mind posting a picture or two. Here are my babies.

    My boy Dusty

    And my girl Sugar (Brown Sugar really but I only ever call her Sugar)
  7. terri9630

    terri9630 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2009
    New Mexico
    We raise New Zealands for our local fair. If you have the rabbit pellets then you can use the alfalfa as a treat or something for them to pick at. It not something that they have to have and shouldn't be their only source of food. I bought several young rabbits that were living on an alfalfa farm and that is all they were fed. They had plenty but were still thin. They were lacking.... something. Not sure what but since I have them on a good rabbit food they are now nice and fat and growing.

    One of our does will raise her head, lay her ears to the side and show her teeth when she doesn't want to be messed with. She will come after us if we ignore her warning so keep and eye on the doe that is growling when you are messing with her. She will bite if she gets annoyed enough. My buck is a "lap bunny". Give him a bit of oats and you can do anything you want with him.
  8. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    A mostly hay diet is better than a mostly pellet diet. Rabbits and similar herbivores benefit from good quality long stem fiber with limited carbohydrates and fat. Pellets often have a fair amount of grains or other stuff to make it cheaper and help it keep shape. There are a few exceptions. First pregnant, lactating, or growing animals need more energy and nutrients than they will usually get out of grass hay. Alfalfa or larger amounts of pellets are used in those cases. The second is that pretty much any animal grown for meat is fed higher energy more concentrated feed both to cut costs and to get them to grow faster. Usually that is not the best for long term health though.

    Hay should be green. Anything brown has lost most of it's nutritional value. Actual straw is a byproduct of growing grains so the plants are older which means tougher and they've already used all their nutrients up making seed heads. Good for insulating and keeping warm but not useful for food and questionable for bedding in some situations since it will insulate not only heat but also moisture making areas that get peed on wetter than if you'd used no bedding.
  9. chickenwhisperer

    chickenwhisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2007
    Chicken Country, U S A
    Thankyou for all the useful info!

    I will probably go get some timothy hay tomoro.

    Good news tho, I sold 2 of the bunnies today, a black one and a really fluffy one that was getting to be my favorite.
    Thats good tho, I dont want to have favorites.

    My problem is, I really just need to get rid of these bunnies before I start getting attached to them, after all they ARE pretty cute.
    I took a couple of pics with my phone, but they didnt turn out so good, Ill try again tomoro.

    The way it has been going, I put a bowl full of pellets and a grabfull of the alfalfa, they will eat the alfalfa all day long and not touch the pellets, but every morning everything is gone.

    The bottom of the cage has a kind of formed sheetmetal floor, it has holes and spaces for stuff to fall thru, but it is not wire and it is not solid, it looks manufactured and not homemade.
    I dont see too much food or hay under the cage, so they must be eating all of it.

    IThe cage has dividers, so I separated the one female from her babies in hope that she will settle down.
    She seems much calmer by herself.

    I really like the male/dad rabbit, he is huge, light brown/almost butterscotch, and full of friendliness and personality.
    He will take single pellets from my fingers, and always comes to attention when I am near the cage.
    I might just have to keep that one . . .

    I really dont need to get into rabbits, I knew this was gonna happen and knew I shouldve avoided the entire situation . . . [​IMG]
  10. Rafter 7 Paint Horses

    Rafter 7 Paint Horses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 13, 2007
    East Texas
    You have gotten good advice on feeding, so I won't address that. I'm glad you separated them.
    Were they all in one cage together when you bought them?
    If so, your female may be pregnant right now. There is no way of telling how long they were together, so you might want to prepare for babies at any time. Doe's will breed back right after having babies, so she could be having a litter very soon if she was left with the male at her previous home.

    Just wanted to let you know, because the growling at you could be because she is pregnant. I have some that get very grumpy while they are pregnant.

    Good luck...I would take them all if you were close to me.


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