If there’s one thing that every rabbit owner needs to know about, it’s Timothy hay. Timothy hay for rabbits is the fuel for every binky. Making sure your rabbit gets enough hay, as well as high-quality hay is a top priority. That’s right, the rabbit world runs on Timothy hay.
So let’s take a deeper look at the hay pile!
Types of Hay
With just a glance you’ll notice there’s Timothy Hay, Alfalfa Hay, and Orchard Grass in the rabbit world. But when you look closer you’ll see there are actually different types of Timothy hay. With different nutrient profiles!
Timothy hay can be harvested 2-3 times every season. Each time it’s cut it yields slightly different results. They call this 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cutting.
1st Cutting Timothy Hay
1st-cutting Timothy hay is the leanest of the three types. This is because it has the highest percentage of stems. Stems have a high fibre and low fat content. While leaves have lower fibre and higher fat content. 1st-cutting Timothy hay is also tougher to chew, so it’s not a good choice for lazy eaters or senior rabbits who have less energy. It is, however, a good choice for rabbits that need to lose weight. The tough stems are great for wearing down teeth.
It also has the most flowers compared to the other cuts. And we all know how much the buns love the flower heads!
2nd Cutting Timothy Hay
2nd-cutting Timothy hay is the perfect middleman. It has more leaves than the 1st cutting but more stems than the 3rd cutting. This is the cut that most rabbits will thrive on. It has the perfect amount of fat, protein, and fibre to keep your rabbit happy and healthy.
3rd Cutting Timothy Hay
3rd-cutting Timothy hay is rarer than the other cuts. This is because not all Timothy hay makes it to the 3rd cutting. You need to have a farmer that times the harvests very well. And you also need a very understanding mother nature who will give you a nice and long growing season, without any surprises.
We sure are grateful for the farmers who make the effort to get the 3rd cutting because this cut is perfect for senior rabbits or less healthy rabbits who may need to gain weight. The 3rd cut is the softest cut and the easiest to chew. That combined with the higher fat content makes it the perfect choice for these rabbits.
Why Rabbits Need Hay
Walk down the small pet aisle in any pet store and you’ll see bags of rabbit food. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is the main dish your rabbit needs. Rabbits don’t actually need to have much variety at all.
Look at the wild rabbits eating grass all day. They don’t need much variety!
Rabbits need hay to wear down their teeth, and also to make sure they’re getting the right amount of fat, protein, and fibre to keep their digestive system happy. When you put Timothy hay in, you get loads of energy out.
To Wear Down Their Teeth
Wild rabbits spend most of their day foraging for food. They chew all day long. This helps them wear their teeth down. Which is crucial for their overall health because a rabbit’s teeth never stop growing! Any dental problems will lead to a rabbit eating even less hay. Cue digestive problems!
To Keep Their Digestive System Moving
A rabbit also has a very sensitive digestive system. They need a lot of fibre to help keep everything moving as it should. A rabbit can’t throw up so a blockage in their system is a very serious condition.
Timothy hay makes the perfect food for rabbits. It needs to be given as free-choice food. This means that it’s always available.
To Avoid Overfeeding Pellets
Many rabbit owners make the mistake of relying too much on pellet food for their rabbits. The truth is your rabbit may not even need pellet food. Pellet food should be used as a supplement, with hay as the main focus of their diet.
And when you do decide to buy rabbit pellets, they should be made with hay! Choose a high quality pellet.
Baby rabbits need more fat than adult rabbits. Alfalfa hay has a higher fat content and is used for young rabbits who are still growing. These young rabbits can also have more pellets than an adult rabbit would for this same reason.
It takes a skilled farmer to grow high-quality Timothy hay. It also takes some good luck. Weather can be unpredictable, even in the same area year after year. For this reason, the best hay doesn’t always come from the same farm every year.
Small Pet Select travels around to visit many farms to check out the hay. And every year the best hay is chosen. There’s a smaller number of organic farmers, so finding organic Timothy hay that is up to the high standards of Small Pet Select can be challenging.
But not impossible! Organic hay is grown without pesticides or synthetic chemicals. It’s also only fertilised with real manure. Pesticides and fertiliser are used when growing hay to keep away pests and weeds so that the final product is nothing but great Timothy hay. Great organic farmers are able to accomplish this with only the most natural methods.
Small Pet Select has gotten lucky recently and has a fantastic Organic Timothy Hay available.
Don’t forget, a rabbit can never have too much hay. If they need to lose or gain weight just adjust the type (or cut) of hay you’re giving them. So once you have determined the perfect type of hay for your bun, pile it up!
Blog by Small Pet Select.
Visit their UK website here… smallpetselect.co.uk
And for everyone in the US… smallpetselect.com