Hay


A rabbits diet should primarily consist of hay.  I've had to source hay from far and wide so I could offer our guests, and my own rabbit, the very best hay possible.

There are various type of hay on the market and there are also various 'qualities' of hay.

High quality hay is an important source of fibre in a rabbits diet and a rabbit should eat a bundle (it's own body size) in hay - every day!

There are different types of hay available, Meadow Hay, Orchard Hay, Timothy Hay, Rye Hay, and in Lancashire there's a company that sell a very unique hay called 'Ings' Hay. Sometimes hay has additional meadow flowers or plants added like dandelions and nettles - to encourage 'fussy eaters'.


Meadow and orchard hay are very similar, Orchard hay is usually grass that has been left to seed itself in orchard meadows and has a real mix of fescue and other grasses in it and you may find lots of seed heads on the hay and broad leaves. Meadow hay is sown as a crop and harvested in the summer and is usually softer in nature to timothy or rye grass blend hays.

Timothy Hay and Rye Hay are again a crop sown from seed. Both hays are a course, more a dense, stalky hay and are excellent for dental wear. Although, Rye hay is traditionally used for horses and cattle, most rabbits like it too.

Ings Hay comes from traditional managed water meadows and this hay is filled with a variety of flowers and plants and smells sweet and natural. This hay has long stalks and is not as soft as meadow hay, but apparently it’s delicious! 

Oat Hay is the Oat crop that's harvested as the stems and leaves of the plant are still green and nutritious. Oat hay left to mature to a golden yellow in the sun, is sold on as straw after the oat heads have been harvested.

I prefer to buy baled hay for the lodge and when choosing it I'll go for a bale that has a mixture of broad and fine stems and as green and leafy as possible. If it's meadow hay then I'll choose a nice and soft hay, whereas Timothy Hay is firmer and stalkier.

Meadow Hay
Hay shouldn't smell sour, mouldy, musty, mushroomy or be dusty. Really good quality hay that's been cut in time and dried in the sun (without getting overcured or soaked in rain) will be pale green to gold in colour and smell fresh, sweet or slighty of tobacco. This is because, like herbs, some grasses have their own scents and once dried they will retain there individual aromas.

Always check your hay (whether bagged or baled) for signs of mould or mite infestation. If you find any mites then return your hay to where you bought it from or ask them to collect it if it was delivered bale. Mites can find their way in bunnies ears and cause all sorts of problems.

The hay on the LEFT is a shop bought meadow hay. There are some green leaves, but the majority of it is brown and it will smell dry or have no particular aroma.

The hay on the RIGHT is a good quality meadow hay. It's full of fine, strong stems and leaves. You'll also find this looks more green and has a pleasant fresh, sweet, and sometimes, a slight tobacco aroma.

Hay should be stored out of sunlight in a cool sheltered place. Ideally not in plastic bags as plastic can make hay sweat. Even though your hay will look dry, it won’t be as dry as a crisp, and it will have retained a little moisture. Hay stored in sealed bags and stored in the heat is an ideal breeding ground for mould and fungus. Sunlight will bleach hay, so along with the colour, hay will loose its beneficial nutrients.

Bales of hay should be stored on a pallet to keep them off the cold ground and to let air circulate around them. If your hay isn't supplied in a breathable bag, then special bale bags can be bought from Amazon which make transporting and storing your bales much easier.

Timothy Hay

Most rabbit owners will have see the lush green bags of Alfalfa Kings Timothy Hay on sale. It's gorgeous and green and shipped all the way from Nevada.  Having recently had a bunny who had to have dental surgery, we had to take a serious look at the hay available to us.

We found a company up in Stirling, Scotland called 'Timothy Hay' who sent us a sample and we found it's an excellent hay and just as nice in colour, smell and texture as the more expensive hay - imported all the way from the States.

Alfalfa King Timothy Hay

The King Timothy hay (LEFT) is condensed into a 1.8kg pack and is lush, green and has it's own distinct aroma.  The leaves of the Nevada hay are crunchier and thicker than average timothy hay and the stems are topped with 'fuzzy' seed heads.

Timothy Hay.co.uk

The 'Timothy Hay' (RIGHT) hay arrives in a 22kg bag  (or 44kg) it is lush and green and it too has that distinct 'Timothy' aroma (although not as strong) and the stems are long and crunchy with plenty of green leaves and 'fuzzy' seed heads.

Hay Suppliers

So if your rabbit is bored of the average run-of-the-mill hay, then you might want to try something different.

Why not browse these sites or give them a call.

We found each and every one really helpful and the quality of their hay was 100% in texture, aroma and visual appeal, (although we can't vouch for taste as we left that to Sally).

https://www.cheshirepetsupplies.co.uk

https://www.hay-and-straw.co.uk

http://www.petbeddinguk.co.uk

https://www.newhay.co.uk

https://www.timothyhay.co.uk