Do Rabbits Need Hay if They Eat Grass?


Do Rabbits Need Hay if They Eat Grass

No, They do not need Hay, Rabbits can live on Grass and Survive just fine, but there are some considerations, that make feeding supplemental with Hay and Pellets are wise. Fresh Grass is not Available in the Winter. We are mostly describing Domesticated Rabbits, Rabbits in the wild fend for themselves.

What do Wild Rabbits eat

Rabbits in the Wild eat a variety of Items, In the summer they dine on grasses, weeds, clover, wildflowers, shrubs, and vegetable plants if they can find them

In the winter the foods they eat are different because of the weather, but they munch on bark, twigs, buds, conifer needles, and anything left green they can find.

Wild rabbits tend to most of their dining, in early morning hours, and then the hours before dusk. These Hours are probably mostly due to survival. Keeping them safe from Predators.

What are Hind Gut Fermentors – Rabbits

Your Little Bunny is what Agriculture Experts call Hind Gut Fermentors. They have a simple stomach and digestive system. It is built to be able to digestest grass, which is very challenging.

Cellouse is digested with the help of symbiotic bacteria. They have an extra Organ called the Cecum. The cecum is full of special microbes that break down and digest the various fibers and other feedstuffs that enter the cecum

Purina Rabbit Digestive Drawing Click on Image for info

The simple process is that the Rabbit eats the grass, green, it moves through on its first pass and ends up in the Cecum. Then the pellets from the Cecum, come out the Bunnys back end. The little Bunny then eats its poop and then they go through for the second Pass, completing the process.

These are called Night droppings, Night poop, Night Feces, or technically Cecotropes. If you watch closely at night the little guy will be eating poop directly from his bottom. This is a completely natural process and if you see it everything is fine.

This Gives New Meaning to being Kissed By your Bunny

Can Rabbits Survive on Grass

Yes, they can, But grass will not usually give your Rabbit all the Nutrients that he needs. Usually, Yards are full of one type of grass, he will not get the variety that he needs.

Also, the grass itself gets its nutrient levels from the soil that it is coming from, so individual grasses will have different levels of vitamins, minerals, etc.

Also, pesticides can be fatal to your bunnies, so care needs to be taken that they are not dining on grass that has been treated for weed control.

If other animals are frequenting your grass this also increases the risk of parasite contamination.

Growing your own Fodder

Can Bunnies Eat Grass Instead of Hay

Yes, rabbits do great on eating grass instead of hay, if you are using it as a main food source. It needs to be fresh and the rabbits need to be allowed to graze. The process of rabbits grazing on fresh grass and also eating hay is not only that it feeds them. but it also keeps your rabbit’s teeth healthy being worn down as they eat. rabbits’ teeth grow constantly.

If they are not worn down by the bunny eating, then they can continue to grow and cause the Rabbit distress. They can grow so large that they have been described as rabbit Tusk. They can cause infection in the mouth, even to the point the Rabbit will not be able to close its mouth. can eventually be fatal.

Growing Grass for Rabbits

Some owners enjoy growing grass/food plots for their Rabbits. This will give you some direction if you have a green Thumb, for Trays, or even if you want to plant your backyard for a Bunny Thanksgiving. Here are some suggestions.

A Variety is very important, the variety helps the Rabbit get all the Minerals and Vitamins that it needs. Just one type of food will be limited to the Rabbits only getting that single nutrition. It would be like us eating french fries for every meal. We could pig out and eventually be starving to death.

Growing Your Own Grass for your Rabbits

For Wild Bunnies

  • Clover
  • Orchard Grass
  • Bluegrass
  • Sorghum
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Corn

Food Plots for Domestic Rabbits

  • Clover ( White ) 20lbs per acre
  • Ryegrass
  • Winter grains
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Berries
  • Timothy Grass
  • Weeds – Dandelions – Thistles –

Lawn Clippings for Rabbits

It is not Recommended on feeding your Rabbits Grass Clippings. One the Grass is clipped it immediately begins to ferment. Mold and fungus can be a problem.

Rabbits are Foragers, so their diet is naturally varied. It would be best to let your Rabbits graze themselves. They can pick and choose what is best for them

Pesticides can be a problem with Grass clippings also.

Feeding Your Rabbit

Vegetables That Can be Given in Limited Amounts to Rabbits

  • Sweet Peppers
  • Kale
  • Dandelion greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Collards
  • Mint
  • Basil

Vegetables Not to Give to your Rabbits ( Blockages)

  • Coffee / Tea Leaves
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Peas

Fruits That Can be Given to Your Bunnies (Treats)

  • Pears
  • Apples / No Seeds
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches

Can Rabbits Live on Pellets Alone

Yes, they can, But a strong warning Here. Pellets will make sure your rabbit has the required Nutrients that your Rabbits stand alone. But a rabbit’s teeth need to be worn down and if you are only feeding your Rabbits pellets.

They will get all the nutrients they need but. Pellets do not allow the Rabbits Teeth to be worn down. causing all sorts of dental and health issues from their constantly growing teeth.

The nice thing about feeding your rabbits pellets along with, grazing and hay is that you are positive they are getting the nutrients that they need to be healthy.

Nutrient Levels

Here is a Summary of the Most important Nutrient for your Rabbits, whether you have one or are breeding them for meat or wool.

  • Water – Probably the most important is clean and freshwater – most prefer water bottles, that keep it clean. You can also use bowls, just have to keep them from getting soiled. Water is extremely important when it is hot, but also when temps are cold so your Rabbits do not become dehydrated.
  • Protein – is important to maintain muscles and bones Good sources of protein are, Hay, Pellets, Grains, Cecotropes
  • Fats – these provide energy for the rabbit. It also helps with vitamin absorption. a caution here that too many can cause your Bunny to become fat
  • Fiber – this is essential in a rabbits diet, it prevented health issues by keeping the digestive system moving. Good Sources Hay, Branches, Straw, other indigestible fiber.
  • Minerals – These are essential and that is why a rabbit in the wild, diet is varied to get the different vitamins that it needs. Vitamins are strong in vegetables, It is hard to overdose on vitamins if there are too many they are excreted
  • Vitamins – Rabbits cannot produce the vitamins they need. The only option is from the Food and sunshine they get. That is also why a good Rabbit Pellet supplement to your bunnies grazing and hay diet will make sure they get their needed vitamins
  • Here is PDF of Rabbit Nutrient Levels from Merck Vet Manual

Pesticides / Rabbit Poisons

  • Medicine – Keep People Meds away they can be fatal. Most Human medicines are set for a normals person weight, which makes them 10 times a potent for a Rabbit
  • Insecticides – They will be fatal to your bunny, remember that rabbits by nature chew, insecticides in a box, or bag, or even plastic can be the death of your Rabbit
  • Rat Poison – Most Mice and Rat poisons have some grain in them and also a sweetness to attract the Rats. It will also attract your Rabbit. Make sure there is no opportunity for your Rabbit to be poisoned
  • House Plants – Many House Plants are poisonous to your rabbits this is crucial if your Rabbit lives indoors. Aloe, Apple Seeds, Begonia, Cherry trees, Eucalyptus – List of 29 Here
  • Automotive Products – Especially Anti – Freeze
  • Chocolate – contains theobromine which is toxic to Rabbits

Sunlight

Rabbits need sunlight. This would be extremely for rabbits living indoors and also maybe caged Rabbits in Sheds, or Barns. Sunlight helps your Rabbit Produce Vitamin D, Plus sunlight helps them to absorb Calcium.

Use Wisdom, not too much but a daily dose for humans in 20 minutes, say that would be good for your Bunnys also.

Parasites

Rabbits can pick up worms from eggs from other infected animals. Some of the big ones are

  • Pin Worms
  • Round Worms
  • Whip Worms
  • Stomach Worms.

There are different symptoms, but if you see eggs in Rabbits Poop, If You Bunny is straining to Poop, If he is eating fine and looks undernourished. Be a good time to get him checked with a vet. Probably wormed

We always followed our vet’s instructions and wormed our Rabbits, and Dogs Regularly as a prevention Measure.

Pellets

There are many Brands of rabbit Pellets. We would recommend them as supplemental feed for your Rabbits. As we mentioned before total reliance on Pellets for food can result in Dental Problems. We found this great ingredient table for various Rabbit Pellets. – From WabbitWiki – Smile

Times of Rabbits needing different Pellet Formula – Especially Breeders would be

  • Pregnant Does
  • Bucks
  • Feeder Rabbits
  • Older / Maintenance – so they don’t get overweight.
Rabbit Pellets

Wool Block in Long Hair Breeds

Wool Block is often a problem with the Rabbits that are bred for wool. As they groom themselves they can have balls of hair that can Block their entire digestive systems. Fibers from hay and grasses are vital to keeping them scrubbing through their system to keep them flowing. Here is a list of the Wool Breeds for Rabbits so you can be aware.

Rabbit Giant Angora Fur Profitability Table

RabbitsRabbits Born / Yr0z wool / Year
40 OZ / Rabitt
Average Price / oz
$10.00
Feed Cost / Yr
$ .30 per day / $ 110 per Year

Total Revenue Possible
1843,360$ 33,600$ 9,240$ 24,360
21686,720$ 67,200$ 18,480$ 48,720
542016,800$ 168,000$ 46,200$ 121,800
1084033,600$ 33,6000$ 92,400$ 243,600
20168067,200$ 672,000$ 184,800$ 487,200
302520100,800$ 1,008,000$ 57,200$ 950,800
403360134,400$ 1,344,000$ 369,600$ 974,400
504200168,000$ 1,680,000$ 462,000$ 1,218,000
1008400336,000$ 3,360,000$ 924,000$ 2,436,000
20016,800672,000$ 6,720,000$ 1,848,000$ 4,872,000
Rabbits Have Average 7 Kits (Babies) /Month - Some have had up to 14
Average Giant Angora Weight 10lb
40 Oz shaved Fur per Rabbit per Year
Feed $ .30 per day for 10lb Rabbit

What Are All the Different Types of Hay

here is a list of Excellent Types oh Hay

  • Timothy
  • Oaten’
  • Wheaten
  • Pasture
  • Paddock
  • Meadow
  • Ryegrass

What Type of Hay is Best for Rabbits

Hay has several qualities that help to determine the Quality of hay. Also, the type of hay you are able to find might be dependent on the place in the country you live in.

  • Type and species of Grass it is
  • How many weeds are in it
  • Moisture content when harvested
  • Soil Nutrient Levels
  • How it was stored
  • Avoid hay that feels, Looks smells moldy
  • Avoid Hay if it is warm to touch
  • Check hay for an abundance of Insects

Some of the Best Grass hays

  • Timothy Hay 7 – 11% Protein Level
  • Alpha Hay 17 – 20 % Protein
  • Oaten Hay 15 – 17% Protein
  • Orchards Grass 8-13% Protein

Can Rabbits Live on Hay Alone

Yes, Rabbits could live on Hay and water alone. But it is recommended that green items are included in their diets for mineral and vitamin content. A better choice if you are only able to feed them hay, is to supplement them with a good Nutritious Rabbit Pellet.

Can Rabbit Eat Too Much Hay

A Rabbit can eat all the hay it wants. It will be fine, if you are feeding other supplements, would recommend them to prescribed amounts so as not to cause obesity. Limitations are mostly on pellets.

Rabbit Feed should be tailored to the stage and condition of your Bunny, these guidelines from Michigan State University gives some detailed Guidelines for following in what life stage your Bunny is in

Dry Does, Dry Does, Feeder Bunnies,

  • 12 – 15% Protein
  • 2 – 4% Fat
  • 20 – 27% Fiber
  • 43 – 47 % Carbohydrate
  • 4 – 7% Minerals

Pregnant and Nursing Does

  • 16 – 20% Protein
  • 3 – 6% Fat
  • 15 – 20 % Fiber
  • 44 – 50% Carbohydrate
  • 4 – 7% Mineral

Rabbit Breeders Associations

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