All ABOUT HAY
We all know that rabbit needs LOTS of hay in their diet. But it can be mind boggling with so many types and brands to choose from. While there is no 1 size fits all, there are important ‘hay matters’ we all should know to ensure the right choice for our precious ones!
1. TYPES OF HAY
In general, there are 3 main types of hay packaged for rabbits: (1) Legume (2) Grass (3) Mixed. Legume hay are commonly sold as alfalfa hay and it has high mineral content and protein suitable for growing rabbits (<6 months old). Grass hay like timothy and orchard will be most suitable for adult rabbits as they contain higher fiber and lower protein to maintain their weight. Mixed hay can be a blend of the above with some oat, wheat or barley hay which are fibrous yet flavorful to entice picky eaters. At the wonderland, we feed a mix of timothy and oat, wheat & barley hay to give variety.
2. CUTS OF HAY
The different cutting of hay is defined by when the crops were harvest in any given year. First-cut hay are generally longer and coarser. The hay may not taste fantastic but they are very stalky which makes it good for rabbits to grind down their teeth. Second-cut hay is harvested after the first cut is removed and the hay is leafier and softer. The amount of protein, starch and sugar are higher which makes them tastier. If the growing season is long enough, the farmers may harvest a third-cut which are primarily leaves with few stems. They are very green and sweet but do not have enough fiber to be served as primary diet for rabbit. We will recommend that you feed a mix of first- and second-cut hay to a healthy rabbit and reserve the third-cut for an unwell rabbit that needs enticing.
3. BRANDS OF HAY
With 40 rabbits to feed daily, we realized that the brands of hay play an important role in ensuring quality and consistency. International suppliers such as Oxbow, APD and SPS have well-controlled logistics to ensure freshness and reliable supply from US to Singapore. Popular brands such as Alfalfa King and Momi have very tasty hay but their quality & supply can fluctuates based on our experience. If you decide to pick a hay that is less reliable, do mix in with a more reliable brand to prevent your rabbit from going on hay strike!
4. STORING HAY
Hay needs to be stored in a cool and dry location where there are no sunlight. An airtight container will not work as hay has high moisture content and need to breath else will turn moldy. You can store hay in its original packaging or in a storage box with the top loosely closed. We will also place a disposable dehumidifier in the box to absorb any extra moisture. In tropical Singapore, it is common for insects to incubate and we have found weevils, ants or flies in our hay before. In times like this, we will dispose all contaminated hay and ensure we don’t order more than 1 month’s worth so they don’t grow funny things.
At the end of the day, the best hay for your rabbit is the hay that he eats the most. If your rabbit is a good hay muncher, feeding him a variety can help to maintain interest and even out any nutritional differences. However, if your rabbit is a picky eater, you will need to encourage him by switching brands, types, cuts or even frequency of top-up. Hay is too important to settle for less and we need to be disciplined. As rabbit owners, it is definitely our duty to know our hay well!