Tips for Transitioning to the Best Hay for Rabbits Based on Their Age
Written by The Rabbit Hole Hay Team
Rabbits have specific needs when it comes to just about everything, but especially in terms of what they eat. Fulfilling theirdietary needs is essential in order to offer them the best life possible.
Feeding your rabbit the wrong type of food could result in long term issues or even life-threatening consequences. It's vital that you understand which type of food to feed to your rabbit depending on their stage of life. So... What do you feed a baby rabbit versus an adult rabbit?
Though it may seem like a simple task, one of the biggest mistakes a rabbit owner can make is feeding their rabbit something that does not serve their particular nutritional needs.
The good news is that the experts agree when it comes to what to feed your rabbit. Knowing if and when to change your rabbit’s diet can be the difference between a healthy rabbit and one fighting to survive.
What Do Bunnies Eat Early On
Just like a human, a baby rabbit’s diet should look different from that of an adult. A baby rabbit from birth to about seven weeks should be nursing from its mother. While still nursing, Alfalfa Hayshould be introduced starting at about three weeks and should continue until about six months of age. Alfalfa Hay contains high protein, fiber and calcium. Plenty of good fresh Alfalfa Hay should be fed to a young rabbit daily along with vegetables and pellets in small amounts.
Bringing Up Bunny
By the time a rabbit reaches about seven months his diet should begin to be transitioned from Alfalfa Hay to Timothy Hay in order to ensure the health of your rabbit. Timothy
Hay has a high amount of fiber but has a lower protein and calcium content than Alfalfa Hay. Continuing to feed a rabbit Alfalfa Hay after it is no longer a baby could result in obesity and other health concerns, it's also not the best hay to keep up their dental health.
Exceptions to these diet guidelines would be rabbits who are pregnant, nursing, recovering from surgery, underweight or elderly. In many of these cases feeding an adult rabbit Alfalfa Hay may be necessary in order for a rabbit to put on weight but with any of these conditions, discussing the rabbit’s diet with a veterinarian who specializes in rabbits is highly advised.
Note: Just because Alfalfa Hay can no longer be there main source of hay doesn't mean you have to cut it out of their diet completely. Alfalfa Hay makes a great treat for adult rabbits!
Making The Switch
Rabbits will naturally prefer to eat Alfalfa Hay over Timothy Hay at first so a good way to switch over to Timothy Hay is to mix the two types of hay together as your rabbit learns to adjust to the change. As time continues you should begin to mix less Alfalfa in and introduce more Timothy Hay.
It is normal for your rabbit to not want the Timothy Hay at first but eventually he will get hungry as long as he isn’t being filled up with an excess of vegetables and pellets. By this time pellets should be decreased to only half a cup for every six pounds of your rabbit’s weight.
Though it may be difficult, resist giving your rabbit more pellets, vegetables or treats when he won’t eat the Timothy Hay. Offering these other foods will only delay the transition to Timothy Hay and too much of these foods can really mess with a rabbit’s digestive system. Fresh Timothy Hay is the most nutritious food for your adult rabbit to be eating and eventually he will adapt and grow to love it.
One reason your rabbit may not be eating the timothy hay you are supplying to him could be due to a poor quality product. Timothy hay that has gone stale is as unappealing to eat for a rabbit as rotten produce is for you. If the hay doesn’t have a pleasant smell or if the texture is dry and powdery you may want to throw it out and start over.
Your rabbit will not eat food that is not appetizing to him, and you probably wouldn’t even want him to because there is also a chance that it could be moldy. A way to ensure freshness is to buy your hay regularly and in small amounts. This way you have the option of buying only what you need, removing the risk of having a large amount of hay go stale.
Find a supplier who is honest about where their hay is grown and how fresh it will be once it gets to you. One good place to find farm fresh quality Timothy Hay is online from a trusted retailer (Like US!). Learn more about why you'd want to purchase from us.
Your rabbit’s transition from Alfalfa Hay to Timothy Hay can be a slow and gradual process. Stay strong and follow through with making the switch. Timothy Hay is the best hay for rabbits so it's important to remain patient with your rabbit, knowing that he will eventually enjoy his new diet and so will his body.
Did you know we sell samples of all our hays. It's a great way to get started transitioning your rabbit.
You can also download our Hay is for Rabbits eBook to know all about the different types of hay, the best ones to feed your rabbit based on their health status, and more!