As you almost certainly know, hay is the foundation of the healthier rabbit’s diet plan. Hay is the finest approximation of the rabbit’s organic diet regime of grass and leafy plants, and must comprise about 80% of what your rabbit eats. But not all hay is alike- based on the particular assortment of grass it was reduce from, how mature that grass was, what circumstances it grew in, how several occasions it was reduce in a developing season, and the manner in which it was cured and stored will all influence the qualities of the finished product. Right here is some background details on what goes into the hay you feed your rabbit, and how to pick out the finest hay probable.
Most critical is the plant the hay was derived from. Hay can be cut from either grass, or legumes. Legumes are the household of plants that consists of beans, peanuts, soy, and similarly higher-energy bearing plant foods. For our purposes, the legume we are interested in is alfalfa (also identified as lucerne), 1 of the most widespread feed stocks in use today. The word “alfalfa” is believed to derive from the Arabic “al-fisfisa”, meaning “fresh fodder”. As you can see, alfalfa has been popular among domesticated animals for a lengthy time. Rabbits are no exception. In truth, most rabbit pellet foods are primarily based on alfalfa meal. Its rich, higher protein content material is to rabbits as a slice of pizza with further cheese is to us. By the identical logic, it is by no suggests an ideal staple food for most rabbits. With a protein content ranging averaging involving 13% – 22%, if overfed it may well bring about the very same kind of challenges in rabbits you may possibly anticipate in a human who ate nothing at all but cheese pizza- namely, diarrhea or constipation. This doesn’t imply that alfalfa is terrible for your rabbit, merely that it ought to be offered in restricted quantities and supplemented with a variety of other foods. Simply because of its attractive (to a rabbit) qualities, it’s a excellent feed for underweight or incredibly fussy eaters, as nicely as young or pregnant rabbits that need lots of energy. Try mixing in some alfalfa with your rabbit’s grass hay to stimulate his interest and get him digging in rapid!
Timothy hay is a grass hay that is extra suitable as a staple feed for rabbits. Introduced to the Americas by European colonists, the name is believed to have been offered to the grass by Benjamin Franklin, in honor of Timothy Hansen, who initially cultivated the grass for sale in America. It is valued as a feedstock for many animals, from gerbils to horses, due to a number of characteristics. It has a low protein content- typically about 9%, based on maturity at harvest- which prevents digestive ailments and obesity. It also has a really low calcium content material, around .three%, which is desirable as calcium intake has been tentatively linked to a wide variety of urinary tract troubles in animals such as rabbits. It also has a very low moisture content, which permits it to store for extended periods of time without spoiling. If alfalfa is your rabbit’s additional cheese pizza, then Timothy hay is its broccoli and brussel sprouts. Though very nutritious, even in high quantities, it is not as appealing to them as alfalfa. If your rabbit declines to consume Timothy hay, you can mix in a little alfalfa or even hide a treat or two amongst it.
There are other grass hays that will do a fantastic job of nourishing your rabbit, apart from Timothy hay. Orchard grass is 1 instance. Bearing a fiber content material from 30-35%, it is equivalent to Timothy hay in terms of nutrition. Orchard grass is distinguished by a sweet odor and flavor that some rabbits find much more palatable than Timothy hay. Orchard grass hay, as well as grass hays from similar plants such a brome grass, bermuda grass, and meadow grass, are totally suitable for use as a free of charge-choice staple feed for rabbits.
The plant from which the hay is produced is only 1 portion of the overall equation, however. alfalfa hay for sale is harvest at least twice per year, based on climate and other factors. Sometime in spring, the tall grass is cut and produced into hay. Some weeks later, the grass will have regrown, and it is cut again. This approach may possibly be repeated a third, or often even fourth time in a single year. The act of cutting the grass provokes changes in its growth, which signifies that second-cutting hay has various properties than initially-cut hay. Namely, second or third cuttings have a tendency to produce grass that is leafier, greener, and softer. In nutritional terms, leafy, green, and soft all mean high protein, high power, low fiber hay. Several rabbit keepers prefer second- or third-cutting hay for its higher palatability and nutrient worth. This is not necessarily an perfect strategy, having said that. Think of such wealthy, leafy hay as being far more like alfalfa, with a higher calorie count and much less fiber which means that your rabbit will need to consume less of such meals to retain its ideal physique weight. Also, maintain in mind that feeding rich hay can provoke digestive ailments such as diarrhea and constipation.
Even additional so than which cutting it comes from, the nutritional content material of hay is determined largely by its maturity at the time of cutting. The grass begins with a high proportion of leaf to stem, and of protein and nutrients to indigestible fiber. As the plant matures, it becomes browner, a lot more stemmy, less leafy, and usually significantly less nutritious but a lot more fibrous. There’s no explanation a rabbit can’t get a full complement of nutrients from such mature hay, if it is prepared to consume sufficient quantities of it. Most, having said that, will turn up their noses at these offerings, and some have been reported to starve themselves to death rather than eat hay that doesn’t match their requirements.
As an finish-use consumer, you are not probably to have a complete picture of exactly where the hay you invest in falls into within these different categories. Unless you are on personal terms with the farmer who grew and processed your hay, you probably will not know when it was harvested, at what stage of development, or possibly even where it was grown. Even if all these things are recognized, the idiosyncrasies of daily weather and soil circumstances and other ecological aspects make it impossible to establish challenging-and-speedy rules for shopping for hay. You’re a great deal greater off providing it your finest guess, and then watching your rabbit’s condition closely. If it suffers from diarrhea, or puts on an unhealthy quantity of weight, switch to a browner, more fibrous selection of hay. If it seems skinny or malnourished, or refuses to consume, give more wealthy, leafy hay. Often attempt to introduce adjustments gradually, so as not to present a shock to the rabbit’s delicate digestive balance. With these guidelines in mind, you should have no issue maintaining your rabbit nourished and healthy.