Which hay for my rabbits?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Boo-Boo's Mama, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have a doe that just had a litter last week and 3 other adult rabbits. I bought a bale of alfalfa...other choice was coastal. Which is the best for them?
     
  2. IcarusSomnio

    IcarusSomnio Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Alfalfa is fine for growing rabbits, but it's to high in calcium and to low in fiber for adults. Not sure whats in costal, I feed my 3+ month olds a mixed grass hay.
     
  3. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    Virginia
    If it's just for nesting material, you can use either. I use timothy hay because it's much cheaper around here than alfalfa.

    If it's for them to eat - they can eat either. I feed commercial rabbit pellets - it's mostly made up of alfalfa but they add essential vitamins and minerals, so I only use hay to feed when I've run out of pellets or to line the nest boxes.
     
  4. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    For your nursing doe and kits, alfalfa is fine. For the others and once she's done nursing timothy or another grass hay is best. I always have hay available for my rabbits. They have pellets as well and every rabbit is different. My doe gets in a total tizzy if her pellets are out even though there is still hay (which she does eat), while my buck doesn't have a preference as long as they are both full, he just nibbles here and there.
     
  5. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have one adult doe and a young (I think) buck that appear to like the alfalfa hay. The doe that just gave birth nibbles on it but not eating it like the others. My other buck is not so crazy about it.

    I don't think I will be able to get timothy hay here unless I buy it at PetSmart which is not reasonable price wise.

    I feed Rabbit Pellets from a feed mill which contains alfalfa plus other nutrients.

    Is there a problem feeding BOSS as a treat or other grains...what grains? I am currently harvesting all my basil and other things from the garden before we get our first freeze...the rabbits and chickens both love my basil...rabbits love my mint. When I have them I feed Swiss Chard and carrots. Our vet was concerned that I was feeding greens, said it would give them the runs. Told her 'no'...they ate them all the time with no problems.

    Thanks so much!
     
  6. Sumatra503

    Sumatra503 Kozy Orchard Farms

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    Sep 24, 2010
    I feed whatever is available at my feedstore. Rabbits fed alfalfa will be just fine. I've never had any problems with it. The main turn off for rabbit owners is that rabbit pellets use alfalfa in the mixture. If you feed alfalfa choos a stemmy varaiety rather than a leafy. the stemmy ones are higher in fiber.

    Grassy alfalfa is also a good one. It hase lower protien and higher fiber. mostly they just grow timothy hay along with alfalfa to get this mixture.

    Just regular orchard or Quack grass hay is just fine for rabbits. There's no reason to buy expensive timothy hay unless the others aren't available. The cheaper hay can also be used for bedding without it being a total waste.

    AS a general rule of thumb I feed any hay that is marketed as horse quality hay. This hay is usually a good fibery hay. Never feed anything that is marketed as cow hay. this is usually junk hay.

    The main reason hay is fed is for fiber. They get everything else they need from the pellets. Growing babies especially need the hay for the extra fiber needed to grow their adult coats.

    i'm feeding a quack grass mix right now and the rabbits aeem to enjoy it a lot. Before tht I was feeding straight Alfalfa. I fed alfalfa for six straight months with no problems.

    Feeding greens just depends on the type of green. Mainly your vet is talking about iceburg lettuce which is mostly water. Other greens like chard and collards and other types of lettuce, such as romain, are just fine if fed in moderation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  7. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anchorage, AK
    If you're feeding a balanced commercial rabbit pellet, alfalfa is too rich for a maintenance diet. Alfalfa hay is very high in protein and can throw things off in the rabbit's digestive tract.

    Timothy or another kind of grass hay would be better. Most of my rabbits tend to prefer the somewhat more affordable 1st cut Timothy, they like more stem than leaf. I do have one that refuses to eat anything but top quality horse hay. Orchard, Brome, Timothy...any of those would be fine as an addition to a good pellet, but I would go light on the Alfalfa. Maybe get a bale of the Orchard and mix it until you run out of the Alfalfa, if you have no other good use for it.

    On a side note, I WISH I could get a good quality Alfalfa hay up here. It is important if you want to go the more natural feeding route which includes offering a variety of whole seeds and grains, alfalfa hay, and as many fresh greens as you can provide. (If you do this, you will also need to provide kelp or a mineral block supplement as well.)
     
  8. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 7, 2010
    Anchorage, AK
    Boo-Boo's Mama :

    I have one adult doe and a young (I think) buck that appear to like the alfalfa hay. The doe that just gave birth nibbles on it but not eating it like the others. My other buck is not so crazy about it.

    I don't think I will be able to get timothy hay here unless I buy it at PetSmart which is not reasonable price wise.

    I feed Rabbit Pellets from a feed mill which contains alfalfa plus other nutrients.

    Is there a problem feeding BOSS as a treat or other grains...what grains? I am currently harvesting all my basil and other things from the garden before we get our first freeze...the rabbits and chickens both love my basil...rabbits love my mint. When I have them I feed Swiss Chard and carrots. Our vet was concerned that I was feeding greens, said it would give them the runs. Told her 'no'...they ate them all the time with no problems.

    Thanks so much!

    Once a rabbit is used to it, greens are GREAT. I would go light on the carrot treats, as well as any other sweet fruit or veggie. The high sugars is not the best for rabbits. BOSS and other grains are fine. Most any grains will be ok, I have even used COB feed in moderation but it is best to avoid corn. Many breeders I know are especially enthusiastic about oats and feed them regularly, but what, barley, etc would also be fine.

    Lately, I discovered it works best to feed the rabbits a small portion of grain and their hay in the mornings, and then their pellets at night. When I was trying to mix everything together, it promoted "scrabbling" where the rabbit would dig through the dish looking for their favorite bits and ultimately waste a lot of food.​
     
  9. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I should have said carrot 'greens'...my husband gets the carrot for snacks to take to work and the rabbits get the greens...now they will have competition with the chickens for those.

    When I asked the vet about feeding Swiss Chard (not lettuce) she had no idea what it was and said all they needed was the rabbit pellets.
     
  10. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    San Diego, CA
    Boo-Boo's Mama :

    I should have said carrot 'greens'...my husband gets the carrot for snacks to take to work and the rabbits get the greens...now they will have competition with the chickens for those.

    Mine get these too. They love carrot tops. I give mine the carrot too once in a while.
    Boo-Boo's Mama :

    When I asked the vet about feeding Swiss Chard (not lettuce) she had no idea what it was and said all they needed was the rabbit pellets.

    Really? She didn't know what Swiss Chard was? [​IMG] She's a little out of date if she thinks all they need is rabbit pellets. Most places with rabbit stuff know they need hay for their teeth.​
     

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