Can rabbits eat meadow hay?
Yes, rabbits can eat Meadow hay, it is an often-overlooked hay that can provide rabbits with the nutrients they need. Many pet bunny owners are told that 2nd cut timothy hay is the “best” or “only thing” you should feed your rabbits and that is simply not true. There are a number of other hays that are well suited to rabbits and meadow hay is one of them.
The question you should be asking yourself is which type of hay will my rabbit eat the most of. I can not stress how important it is that your rabbit eats plenty of hay. I promise it will greatly increase how long your pet rabbit will live.
Nutritional value of Meadow hay
Meadow hay contains plenty of the proper nutrients for adult rabbits. Fiber is the most important part of hay, if rabbits do not get the proper amount of fiber, they can be stricken with a terrible medical issue call GI Stasis. This is when the digestive tract slows down and then stops altogether. This is a deadly condition that can kill a rabbit in 24 hours.
Meadow hay contains (on Average) 33% fiber, 7% protein and .6% calcium. This is the perfect blend of important nutrients that adult rabbits must have in their diet. It is important to keep in mid that hay is also very important for dental health.
Here is a chart of the most common hays for rabbits and how they compare.
Other hay options
If you have tried out Meadow hay and your rabbit is not a fan of it, you can try a number of other options.
- Orchard Grass Hay
- Timothy Hay
- Oat Hay
Alfalfa hay should only be fed to young rabbits under 5 months old. If an adult rabbit is allowed to eat Alfalfa the high amounts of protein and calcium will cause kidney and bladder damage. You can see the huge differences in Alfalfa vs Timothy here.
Meadow hay vs Timothy hay
Nutritionally speaking, meadow hay is almost identical to Timothy hay, the only difference is that Meadow hay may have about 2% more fiber than Timothy which is a good thing.
The most dramatic difference between the two hays is that Timothy is much more course and hard. This is a good thing when we are talking about your rabbits dental health. Timothy, specifically speaking 2nd cut Timothy (Differences in cuts) is the best hay for your rabbit but keep in mind that the hay that your rabbit will eat the most of is truly the best hay for your rabbit.
Is Meadow hay safe for rabbits?
Yes, meadow hay is very safe for rabbits to eat in unlimited quantities.
How much Meadow hay should your rabbit eat?
I have a post all about “How much hay rabbits should eat” if you need in depth information. In brief rabbits should eat about one large handful a day of Meadow hay or any other type of hay like Orchard grass, Timothy or Oat hay. Your rabbits’ diet should be made up of 80% hay, then timothy based pellets and vegetables. Fruit should only be used as a treat!
Hay management and hygiene
Leaving Meadow hay lay on the floor of your rabbit’s cage or feeding area can become contaminated with urine and poop. Using a hay feeder will keep your rabbits hay clean and up off the floor. I have noticed that my pet rabbit, Mr. Bunny enjoys pulling out strands of hay from his feeder, it’s entertainment for him. Anything you can do to encourage your rabbit to eat more hay is always a good thing.
About the Author
My name is Vanessa and I love my buns. My current house rabbit is Mr. Bunny, he is a black and white Dutch that just turned 9 years old.
I believe that rabbits are a magnificent animal that make great pets for SOME people. My mission is to share what I have learned about rabbits over the past 20 years to improve the relationship between our pets and us. Please contact me or comment if you have any questions or comments.