Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Importance of Hay

The most important part of a rabbit's diet and health is hay, which should compose the main part of your rabbit's meals. A plentiful, hay-centric diet includes nutritional, medical and psychological benefits.

Besides its delicious taste, hay is full of the necessary fiber, minerals, and vitamins your rabbit needs. It provides perfect nutrition—rabbits bodies are meant to live off entirely of hay and vegetables. The type of fiber in hay is critical in maintaining healthy digestion. Digestive problems, such as gastric stasis and diarrhea, are the most common ailments in house bunnies. The answer is often simple: more hay!


With healthy digestion come various medical benefits. Besides ensuring regularity, good motility allows hairballs to pass naturally and prevents bacteria from overgrowing in the cecum. Along with healthy digestion, the high fiber of hay prevents obesity, which, as we know, can cause all sorts of problems. Hay is necessary for dental health as well. Chewing on the tough stalks wears down the constantly growing teeth and prevents molar spurs and other tooth-related problems.


Chewing is a necessary mental activity for rabbits and they love to graze on hay— it's so fun!


Not all hay is equal. Different types contain varying concentrations of fiber, protein and calcium. High fiber, and low protein, low calcium grass hays are the best. Healthy types include Timothy (most commonly available), orchard, brome, and oat. Avoid alfalfa and clover, as they contain too many calories, protein, and calcium, and not enough fiber. All hay should be green, not brown, and smell fresh, not dusty or moldy.

Where to buy
Purchasing hay in bulk from a nearby farm can be cheaper and likely fresher and higher in quality. For instance, Sweet Meadow Farm in Sherborn Massachusetts provides an assortment of high quality products you can order online. You can also find hay in smaller quantities at most pet stores and through various websites.

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