How to Choose the Best Hay For Rabbits

In the market for the right hay for your rabbit?  

We're here to help you find the best hay for rabbits with our reviews of the top 6 hays available for both adult and baby rabbits.

Today, we're also taking a close look at the world of hay. We'll discuss why it's important to feed rabbits hay, what to look for in hay, and answer some common questions on the topic.

What to Look for in Hay for Rabbits?

Choosing the best hay for rabbits can be tricky, so we'll be focusing on the most important aspects you should take into account before making a purchase.

  • Nutritional Value

First of all, you need to recognize the nutritional value of the hay type to determine whether or not it's suitable for your rabbit.

Generally speaking, most types of grass hay (such as Timothy, meadow, oat, and orchard) are rich in fibers but offer a low content of protein, calcium, and calories.

Alfalfa hay, on the other hand, is rich in fiber, crude protein, calcium, and energy.

While keeping in mind that rabbits love to eat a lot, your mission is to make sure they get high nutritional value throughout the different stages of their lives.

  • Dust-free

As a common by-product of hay, dust content should be kept at a minimum, otherwise, your bunny will reject their meals. Not to mention, dust will render the place messy and dirty.

The older the hay, the more dust it'll contain. You can find the ratio of dust in a bag of hay printed on its label, so be sure to check it out before buying.

  • Freshness and Smell

Old hay will develop a musty smell that often drives rabbits to refuse to eat it. Even if a high appetite gets your rabbit to feed on such hay, they might become sick from food poisoning.

This is why you're better off with fresh hay, which has a nice and sweet smell.

  • Budget

Finally, you need to consider a budget that you can maintain for a while without sacrificing the quality of the hay.

Hay is not a one-time purchase, and so you don't want to give your bunny cheap low-quality food.

Since quality depends on the price and all the known brands cost about the same, you should stop to consider whether or not you can keep it up because regularly changing the hay brand according to your financial status isn't an option.

Why Should You Feed Your Rabbit Hay?

Feeding your rabbit hay offers a bunch of health benefits such as:

  • Promoting proper digestion - this is due to the indigestible nature of fibers found in hay, which encourage muscle contraction in the gut for quick digestion.
  • Delivering the right amounts of nutrients - hay contains the ideal levels of nutrients necessary for rabbits to thrive. These include fiber and protein.
  • Keeping teeth healthy and worn out - rabbits' teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, so they need to be worn out by grinding and chewing to remain healthy.

How Much Hay Should I Give My Rabbit?

There's no specific rule when it comes to the amount of hay you should feed your bunny, mainly because rabbits eat unlimited quantities in the wild.

The best way to determine how much hay you should give your rabbit is by observing them for a couple of days.

You can start by filling a large hay rack with an estimate of the appropriate quantity. Then, check every 12 hours and note how much hay is gone.

Assuming your rabbit is average, they'll eat a generous amount so you'll know how much hay to add daily. If they don't eat much, you can try our tips on getting your bunny to munch on hay.

How to Keep rabbit Hay Fresh?

Since you provide hay every day, you may want to stock up for a season. In this case, it's crucial to keep the hay looking greenish and smelling pleasant.

To keep rabbit hay fresh, start by buying fresh hay from the seller.

From there, you can either buy small quantities so your bunny will finish it quickly without the need for storage. Or, you can buy a lot of hay and keep it away from moisture in a dark, cool, and breathable place.

6 Best Hay for Rabbits

Kicking off our list with a widely popular option, the 2nd Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select is highly rated by thousands of rabbit owners thanks to its outstanding quality, packaging, and storage features.

Since this timothy hay is harvested between the first and third crop, it has a very nice greenish color and soft texture.  It's pretty tasty, and the leafy stems do a great job of attracting your bunny.

This timothy hay contains low levels of crude protein, calcium, and energy, so it's easily digestible as well as delicious.

As for the packaging, you'll receive this timothy hay in a high strength corrugated box that allows airflow but keeps out direct sunlight. It's made of all-natural materials, free of chemicals and additives.

This hay is minimally handled through production and until it reaches your doorstep, which means you won't experience any issues storing it and it'll stay fresh for a long time.

This handpicked timothy hay is suitable for all adult rabbit breeds, available in a range of sizes from 2 pounds up to 20 pounds.

Pros

  • Leafy, soft texture
  • Handpicked with a pleasant scent
  • High fiber content
  • Breathable package

Cons

  • The hay is in one big box, so you'll need to rationalize it into smaller bags

Another excellent timothy hay option is from the Standlee Hay Company, which has been in the industry for over 30 years producing premium-grade western forage.

This timothy hay is all-natural and free of any additives. It offers a nice blend of stems and leaves harvested after the first cut, so your rabbit will get an ideal balance between softness and chewiness.

The Premium Timothy Grass Hay boasts an attractive green color as well as an acceptable moisture level. This company in Idaho, so it's good to know that the hay is fresh and organic.

This timothy hay is highly supportive of dental and digestive health. It includes high fiber content with low levels of protein and calories.

The Premium Timothy Grass Hay is suitable for adult bunnies of all breeds, but it's especially useful for Dwarf rabbits. Packed in a corrugated box, this affordable hay is available in packs of 18 oz, 25 pounds, and 48 oz.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Good moisture content
  • Ideal for Dwarf rabbits

Cons

  • The weight includes the box itself

Time to change things up a bit with a meadow hay option produced by Oxbow. This is actually a go-to brand for many pet owners when it comes to pet food.

Oxbow is a family farm based in the USA and has been cultivating hay for small animals for 30 years now. These folks know what they're doing, so it comes as no surprise that they make one of the best meadow hay in the market.

Compared to timothy hay, meadow hay is longer, softer, and consists of various natural grass. As a result, meadow hay also has more fiber content.

Oxbow Organic Meadow Hay can be a terrific choice if your bunny isn't a fan of timothy or orchard hay. It's all-natural and contains no binders or additives.

This meadow hay is high in fiber to help promote dental and digestive health. It's also veterinarian recommended and certified organic.

The Oxbow meadow hay is available in 15 oz plastic bags only, and it's the most expensive option on our list.

Pros

  • More fiber content
  • Recommended by vets
  • Certified Organic

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Inconsistent texture

If you're in the market for orchard hay, then you may want to consider getting it from Small Pet Select. We already talked about this brand's timothy hay, so with the same commitment to producing high-quality hay, it offers orchard grass hay.

This orchard hay is soft, green, and leafy. It's extremely palatable, so it can appeal to even the pickiest bunnies out there.

Orchard hay tends to have a higher protein content than timothy hay, but it still delivers similar fiber amounts to support healthy digestion.

Additionally, this orchard hay can be a nice change of taste to make your rabbit more energetic and to boost their immune system.

This orchard hay is hand-selected and hand-packed in small batches. It's minimally handled to ensure maximum freshness.

This Orchard Grass Hay comes in a corrugated box that opens and closes for easy storage. It's available in 5, 10, 20, and 50-pound sizes.

Pros

  • Looks very attractive
  • Minimally handled
  • Suitable for long-term use

Cons

  • Not bagged inside the box

Making one more stop at the leading brand Oxbow, we're happy to introduce you to their high-quality oat hay.

If you're on the hunt for a hypoallergenic alternative to grass hay for your rabbit, oat hay often proves to be a fantastic solution. It's especially helpful for owners suffering from hay fever, as well as bunnies prone to weight gain.

Similar to other types of grass hay, oat hay is high in fiber content and low on crude protein and fat amounts. This makes it a fine feeding choice for all breeds of rabbits.

You can give your bunny oat hay on its own, or mix it with timothy, orchard, or meadow. The crunchy texture and savory flavor of this oat hay will be an instant hit for any picky eater as well.

Containing no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, this oat hay comes in an attractive deep green color and has a very nice scent. It's also packed in a resealable pack to extend the period it stays fresh.

Pros

  • Crunchy texture
  • Mixed well with other grass hay types
  • Resealable bag

Cons

  • A little crumbly

Last but not least, we had to include an option for pet owners looking to buy alfalfa hay for their bunnies.

This one is from Viking farmer, which is a family brand based in Utah and is now run by their 5th generation.

Unlike all the previous candidates, alfalfa hay is not grass but a legume. This means it includes more protein, calcium, and calories than any other type of hay.

As a result, alfalfa hay is widely recommended for growing baby bunnies or adult rabbits struggling to sustain their weight.

This alfalfa hay is 100% pure, containing no additives, pesticides, preservatives, or GMO products. It's also rich in vitamins and minerals, designed to promote dental hygiene, healthy digestion, and shiny coat.

The Vikings Farmer Alfalfa Hay comes in a cardboard box, available in 5, 10, and 15-pound sizes.

Pros

  • Highly nutritious
  • Ideal for baby bunnies
  • Consistent quality

Cons

  • The packaging could be better

FAQs

  • What should I do if my rabbit refuses to eat hay?
  • Cut back on the snacks, treats, or dry food you usually give your bunny.
  • If the hay is low-quality, your rabbit will refuse it. In this case, switch to something tastier of higher quality. Maybe try flavored hay instead of plain.
  • Use a hay feeder.
  • Make feeding time fun by bringing some toys to the feeding space.
  • What is the difference between “first cut” and “second cut”?

First-cut hay is typically longer and rougher. It's not very tasty but it's quite stalky, which makes it ideal for grinding teeth.

Second-cut hay is softer and leafier because it's harvested after the first-cut is removed. It's tastier because it contains more protein, starch, and sugar.

  • Can I use feeding hay for bedding?

No. Although both feeding hay and bedding hay are basically dried grass, they're very different and you can't use them interchangeably.

Feeding hay is greener, fresher, and smells nicer than bedding hay. It also tastes better for bunnies and contains way more nutrients.

Bedding hay, however, is rather dry. It's great for getting cozy but not for eating. At best, your rabbit might nibble at it but never feed per se.

Wrap Up

Choosing the best hay for rabbits can be tricky business. You need to think about several factors before making a decision, starting from your budget and the type of hay that's suitable for your bunny's nutritional needs, all the way to the hay's freshness, color, and smell.

That being said, we recommend the Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting "Perfect Blend" Timothy Hay Pet Food as the overall winner thanks to its premium-quality, great general appeal, and nice packaging. It's also fairly priced, so you can expect lots of value for your money.

It's fantastic for most adult bunnies, but if you're looking for something for baby rabbits, the Viking Farmer Alfalfa Hay would be a better choice.

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