If you’ve just welcomed a bunny into your home, you’ll need to make sure you provide them with everything they need. As a rabbit owner, you should always make sure they have two main things — water and hay.
Hay is an extremely important part of your rabbit’s diet for a number of reasons. They should be eating more hay than anything else and it has a number of health benefits and will help them live a longer and happy life.
However, there can be a lot of questions surrounding hay as a new owner. Which hay should you be feeding your rabbit? And how much? Is there a certain type of hay you should be feeding them? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Below we have compiled a buying guide of everything there is to know about the best rabbit hay, answering all your questions and even including some of our top picks. Keep reading on below to find out everything you need to.
Does My Rabbit Need Hay?
The short answer is yes! Experts recommend that a rabbit diet should be largely hay based, purely because it has so many health benefits.
First and foremost, it is good for your rabbit’s digestive system. A rabbit needs to keep their insides moving, with food passing quickly, to stay healthy. The indigestible fiber that is found in hay and grass helps to keep their digestive system working properly, while also giving them nutrients that are absorbed as it is passed through the gut.
Another reason that hay is very important for rabbits is that it helps to grind down their teeth. Rabbit’s teeth are open rooted, which means they are constantly growing throughout their life. If their teeth are not worn down, then they can grow too long and become very painful. This can lead to further health issues through loss of appetite and can sometimes even be fatal within bunnies.
The best rabbit hay provides your rabbit with just the right amount of nutrients. For thousands of years, rabbits have eaten hay in the wild and this is because it is so beneficial to their health. It contains 12% protein, less than 2% fat and 14-20% fibre for maintenance. Different types of hay and different cuts have different nutrients, but we will go into more detail about that later on.
What Kind Of Hay Do Rabbits Eat?
There are a few different types of hay that rabbits can eat. The type they should eat normally varies depending on their age and their past experiences with hay.
This hay is great for adult rabbits. It can also be a great hay for rabbits who need to lose weight as it has a good mix of stems and leaves. timothy hay is the most common rabbit hay and you will find it at most pet stores.
Meadow Grass Hay
Meadow grass hay is a great alternative to timothy hay. Owners often use the two hays in conjunction with each other, as they both provide different nutrients. Meadow grass usually contains other meadow herbs such as plantain, dandelion and clover. Meadow hay is usually readily available and can be cheaper than timothy hay too.
Oat Grass Hay
Oat grass hay is the perfect hypoallergenic alternative to grass and is perfect for rabbit owners who suffer from hay fever. This hay is great for bunnies who are prone to weight gain, but is normally used alongside timothy hay. You shouldn’t buy oat hay that is not green — once it has turned yellow, it has lost it’s nutritional value.
Orchard Grass Hay
Orchard grass hay has a high protein content and is extremely palatable, so it is the hay for those bunnies who are picky eaters! With a lower fiber content, it should be used in conjunction with other higher fiber options. It can be good for weaning rabbits off a high-pellet diet, too.
Alfafa hay is actually not a grass at all but rather a legume. It is only really recommended for baby rabbits who are still growing because it has a much higher protein and calcium content than any other hay. It can also be eaten by rabbits who are struggling to maintain their weight.
What Are The Different Cuts of Hay?
There are three different types of cuts of hay. The cut refers to when the hay was cropped during the growing season.
The first cut of hay is when the hay is cropped having grown from seed. Depending on the type of hay, it can vary greatly in quality, but is usually very nutritious for all rabbits. The first cut is usually a good mix of stems and leaves but it is usually longer and coarser than other cuts. The hay may not taste fantastic but it is very stalky which makes it good for rabbits to grind down their teeth.
The second cut usually happens on premature regrowth and provides leafier and softer hay. The amount of protein, starch and sugar are higher which makes this hay tastier. If the hay grows for long enough, there can be a third cut. This is primarily leaves with stems and, while it is green, sweet and tastes good for bunnies, it does not contain enough fiber to be served as a primary diet for rabbits.
How Much Hay Should My Rabbit Eat?
Hay should make up at least 80 to 90 percent of your rabbit’s diet. You should aim to feed them an amount that is the same size as their body size every day, and it should always be fresh and available to them. You will need to throw away any wet or soiled hay, but you can leave day-old hay in their hutch and keep topping up.
How Do I Get My Rabbit To Eat Hay?
If you’re having trouble getting your bun to eat hay, don’t panic! Some rabbits need a little more encouragement than others. First of all, try them with different types of hay. They may not like the taste of one, so start with one that they do like the taste of. Once they are happily eating it, you can start to introduce other types of more nutritional hay into their diet. This can be a particularly good trick if your bunny is used to a heavy-pellet diet. Also remember to feed them good quality hay. It may be more expensive, but your bun won’t like low-quality hay.
Remember to keep other food such as pellets, fresh vegetables and snacks to a minimum, especially if your rabbit isn’t eating their hay. If they are filling up on less nutritious pellets or unhealthy snacks, they’re not going to be hungry for the more nutritious hay!
A rabbit hay feeder can be another great way to get your rabbit eating hay. This helps to keep their hay in one place all the time so they know where it is. It also keeps it off the floor, so they are less likely to poop or pee on it and will keep their cage a lot cleaner. A hayrack keeps the food at your bunny’s level, too, so they are not having to bend down to eat it.
If your rabbit is still struggling to eat hay, turn meal times into fun! Stuff empty toilet rolls with hay or hide treats within the hay so they have to forage to get to it. This will keep them having fun, while also eating hay without realizing!
Can My Rabbit Eat Other Food?
While it is recommended that your rabbit eats a diet that primarily consists of hay, you can also feed them other rabbit food to balance the diet. This could be some fresh vegetables every morning (such as leafy green vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower leaves, radish, rocket etc) and a small amount of pellets. Pellets should only be fed to your rabbit in moderation. Some owners even choose not to feed their bunnies pellets, sticking to a vegetable and hay diet.
If you’re ready to find the right hay for your bun, keeping reading below. Here are twelve of our favorite hays, all available to you on Amazon.
The Best Rabbit Hay — Reviewed
Grown in the USA, this timothy hay from Oxbow Animal Health is high in fiber for a healthy digestive system. Both flavorful and firm, this hay helps to promote dental health and the sweet smell of this hay will encourage consumption. 100% natural and with no additives, this hay is harvested fresh from farms for optimum quality and is hand-sorted and hand-packed with care so you can be sure your rabbit is getting only nutritional food. It comes in three package sizes — 15 oz, 40 oz and 90 oz.
This alfalfa hay from Viking Farmer is 100% all natural and fresh hay for your bunny. Harvested without additives, preservatives, pesticides or GMO products, this hay is rich in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals designed to promote dental hygiene, a healthy digestive system and shiny coat.
All hay from Viking Farmer is grown, fertilized, harvested and hand packaged by a family owned, 5th generation farm in Utah, which means your bun is only eating the best quality hay and nothing that could harm them. Even better, this alfalfa comes packaged in a box for lasting freshness. You can purchase this hay in packages of 5 lbs , 10 lbs and 15 lbs.
This timothy hay from Kaytee is a mixture of high quality 1st and 2nd cut, providing your rabbit with a balance and all the nutrition they need. Being high in fiber, this hay supports their digestive health, yet is also lower in protein and calcium to help support urinary health. This hay is grown in the ideal ecological location for moisture and climate control and is then stored in a protected environment to ensure the quality and superior nutritional value are maintained.
It is naturally grown without pesticides or GMO, so you know your rabbit is eating something 100% safe. This hay is designed for bunnies over the age of seven months.
Another timothy hay from Kaytee, this hay is second cut and provides superior nutritional balance. It is flavorful and, due to being hand selected, has a good leaf-to-stem ratio and is very soft. This make is a great hay option for your rabbit and, even better, it is grown in the ideal ecological location for moisture and stored in a protected environment.
It is completely safe for your bun so you don’t need to worry about anything that could harm them. Arriving in a box, this hay is packaged in a stay fresh inner package, ensuring it is fresh for your rabbit to eat. This hay is also available in a 1st cut, which offers good digestion and health benefits.
This timothy hay from Small Pet Select is taken from the second cuttings of grass, providing a leafy hay with a soft stem and a medium amount of flower heads. With the texture and fiber between the 1st cutting and 3rd cutting, this popular hay helps to promote healthy digestion and aid overall growth within your rabbit. Small Pet Select provide a high-quality and completely natural hay that is from the current crop year and therefore very fresh.
Grown in the USA, the small batches of this food help to ensure the quality and nutritional value. So, while this hay is more expensive than many others, you can be sure your rabbit is eating only the best!
These Kaytee alfalfa cubes are tightly compressed blocks of nutritious sun-cured alfalfa. A great fiber source for small animals, these cubes can be fed to your bun in addition to other hay or as a treat and offer high protein as well as supporting digestive health. This hay has no artificial colors or flavors and are completely safe and nutritious for your rabbit. They are great for helping to grind down your rabbit’s teeth and can be used as a way to get your bun interested in eating hay! Grown in the USA, these cubes are a great addition to any rabbit diet.
This timothy grass from Standlee Hay Company is an all natural and additive-free hay that provides your rabbit with an excellent source of fiber and is naturally low in protein. The long stem fibers of this grass encourage the natural foraging instincts of your rabbit and helps to stimulate chewing, promoting digestive and dental health. Perfect for all life stages, this food is also great for guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and chinchillas!
This mini bale of timothy hay from Grandpa’s Best is high in fiber and low in protein, stimulating digestion and giving your bun something yummy to chew on! Helping with their dental health as well as their digestive health, this hay is cut when at it’s most nutritious and is hand packaged before being sent, making it very fresh and safe. There is minimal dust and waste in this bale thanks to the minimal handling it goes through and, being additive and preservative free, you know you are only feeding your rabbit something that is nutritious and healthy.
This Timothy Gold hay from American Pet Diner is naturally green, sweet and aromatic, providing your bun with broad leaves and soft stems that meet all their needs. This hay supports digestive health with essential fiber and helps to satisfy chewing and foraging urges that your rabbit has. It is completely natural, non-GMO with no additives and is also gluten-free, nut-free and lactose-free. Packaged in a resealable bag, this hay is kept fresh from the moment it is cut to he moment that your bunny eats it.
From Vitakraft, this timothy hay is hand selected and harvested for the best leaf and stem quality available. Supporting good dental hygiene, this hay provides your rabbit with protein as well as vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy. Great for all life stages, this hay doesn’t contain any pesticides, artificial colors or artificial flavors and is 100% grown in the United States, so you know your bun is only eating safe and nutritious food.
The compressed pet sized bales that this hay comes in keeps it fresher for longer, while also providing a hassle free way to feed your bunny. The bag is also resealable, so you can maintain the freshness.
This orchard grass hay from Small Pet Select is a sweet and tasty hay that’ll get your bunny excited about eating it! Green and soft, this orchard grass hay is hand selected for the best quality and to ensure your rabbit is eating only the healthiest hay. It is hand packed into small, high-strength corrugated boxes, so that it stays much fresher for longer and retains the nutrients and minerals that your rabbit needs. It is also minimally handled for maximum freshness and there is nothing in this hay that could harm your bun.
Another hay from Obxow Animal Health, this orchard grass hay is grown in the USA and harvested fresh by hay experts. High in fiber, this hay provides your rabbit with a healthy digestive system and good dental health and, being all-natural, there are no additives or binders in this hay that could harm your rabbit.
Often recommended by veterinarians, this Oxbow hay is de-dusted and hand sorted to ensure your rabbit is getting only the best hay and provides them with a soft texture and a sweet flavor. Even better, this orchard hay comes securely packaged for lasting freshness. It is available in either a 9 lbs bag, a 25 lbs bag or a 50 lbs bag.
For more reading on Rabbit Care Products, check out these other guides:
- Best Rabbit Hay Feeders
- Best Rabbit Water Bottle Guide
- Best Rabbit Litter Box Guide
- Best Rabbit Toys
- Best Rabbit Bedding Reviews
- Best Rabbit Food Reviews
Hay is the most important part of your rabbit’s diet and so finding the right one can seem like a real challenge! With so many different types of hay out there it can feel daunting finding the right kind, cut and brand, but we know you’ll love the hay in our list above. Always make sure your rabbit has enough fresh hay and water in their hutch and remember to clean out any soiled or dirty hay. If your rabbit doesn’t like hay to begin with, keep persevering — they will love it soon enough!