Best Hay for Rabbits

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by CountryDreams, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. CountryDreams

    CountryDreams Well-Known Member

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    I didn't want to change the course of the rethinking feeding fresh alfalfa thread so I'm posting this separately.

    I would really like to know what the best mixture of hay is for rabbits. I had been feeding alfalfa but now I'm considering a timothy mixture. We have a lot of horse ranches around here so there is an abundance of timothy hay (depending on the drought) but it seems that it's mixed with things like orchard grass and some other types of grass that I can't think of at the moment.

    What hay do you all feed? What mixture is it?

    My angora rabbits get hay on a daily basis and the NZs get it as a treat every so often.
     
  2. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    I would use the mixed grasses...each "type" of grass, forage plant, etc pulls a different set of nutrients from the soil. each type can also free up different nutrients for other plants to use or to recycle back into the soil. By using a mixture-- you can supply micronutrients to your animals that may be getting destroyed or altered in the processing of their feed pellets.
     

  3. BellsBunnies

    BellsBunnies Well-Known Member

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    We use grass hay. One thing to remember no matter what type of hay you decide on - make sure their is no mold- mold will kill the rabbits.
     
  4. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I tried hay once, and they wouldnt touch it. Why do you only feed your NZs sometimes instead of daily?
     
  5. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

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    we used what was called Prairie hay back in kansas, it was a mix of all the natural native grasses and weeds grown in the pastures and was great for horses and rabbits and cattle, we would treat them to alfalfa some times but the main thing was the prairie hay
     
  6. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You may have a different kind of problem in switching the rabbits over to the Timothy hay. Seems that once they've had alfalfa... they won't touch anything else! I'd test them on it, first, before going to any expense or labor.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  7. CountryDreams

    CountryDreams Well-Known Member

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    Pat, that is an excellent idea. Our goats are picky critters too when it comes to their hay. I guess I shouldn't expect anything less from the rabbits. I'll buy one bale and see how they act. Thanks for the advice.
     
  8. Fla Gal

    Fla Gal Bunny Poo Monger Supporter

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    Pat, I thought alfalfa had too much calcium to feed to rabbits. What am I missing, that I thought I knew, and probably forgot or didn't know to begin with? :help:

    Please give a clarification on feeding alfalfa hay and if it's too much calcium or too rich for the rabbits.
     
  9. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

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    freash green alfalfa is too rich for mamalian livestock but alfalfa HAY is fine, it is still rich but wont hurt them, the majority of Rabbit Pellets is Alfalfa anyway, so feeding straight alfalfa hay wont hurt them at all
     
  10. CountryDreams

    CountryDreams Well-Known Member

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    The alfalfa that I feed is not green. It's aged some and is pretty much a golden brown color. I've not had any problems with mine so far. The only reason I was even considering changing was the cost and availability. I can get a timothy mix much cheaper and more easily than I can find alfalfa.
     
  11. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's the small breeds, like Netherland Dwarfs, which seem to have more of a problem with the calcium in alfalfa hay. Rabbits are such that they simply discharge any excess and/or uneeded calcium in the urine. If a rabbit is unable to do so, then, there's something wrong with the rabbit and not the hay.

    I've raised rabbits for over 25 years and always fed alfalfa hay. I never had a problem of "too much calcium" and always performed necropsies on any rabbit which died of unknown causes. Too much calcium would have definitely showed up as calcified stones in the bladder.

    Pat Lamar
     
  12. Fla Gal

    Fla Gal Bunny Poo Monger Supporter

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    Thanks for the clarification on the calcium and alfalfa hay, the information is much appreciated.
     
  13. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Pat, this is very reassuring to me, but I am still wondering about feeding freshly cut green alfalfa. Could you take a couple of minutes to share your take on the subject in view of you vast experience with rabbits? The link to the other thread "Rethinking feeding fresh alfalfa to rabbits"is below. Thanks so much!

    http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=131708
     
  14. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Unfortunately, I'm short on time, right now, but so far... the only references I can find on "fresh" alfalfa would be alfalfa shoots and the fact that fresh will be 80 to 90 percent water. Also, the percentage of TDN goes WAAY down in fresh over hay. I'll try to do more research on it later on today.

    Pat Lamar
     
  15. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks, Pat! I look forward to your reply but please, do it at your convenience. I have stopped feeding fresh alfalfa for the time being, but there are lots of alternatives this time of year... so no rush. What is TDN?
     
  16. Honorine

    Honorine Carpe Vinum Supporter

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    I feed timothy every day, like to get some grass hay when its available, use the grass hay for nestboxes as well. Don't use alfalfa because too much of it seems to go to waste falling thru the cage floors, that can happen with the grass too.