Is Orchard Grass Hay Good for Rabbits
Pet rabbit owners have been debating the facts about what the best hay for rabbits to eat is for many years. For the most part people argue Orchard hay vs Timothy hay, a few others include oat grass and Bermuda grass into the debate.
The truth of the matter there is little difference between most approved grasses/hays for rabbits. What is truly important is that your rabbit eats as much hay as possible. Hay is the most important part of a rabbits diet and it has been proven that consuming the recommended amount of hay daily will increase how long your pet rabbit lives.
Orchard hay is a good choice
Orchard hay is an excellent choice for any breed of pet rabbit. It has plenty of fiber to keep your rabbit’s digestive health in tip top shape. Mr. Bunny, my current pet rabbit eats mostly Timothy hay which is considered to be the best hay for rabbits. I do mix in other grasses from time to time including orchard grass hay and oat hay.
Verity is a good thing but if choose to feed only Orchard grass hay to your rabbit that is okay. You should feed your rabbit whatever hay he or she will eat the most of except for Alfalfa hay. Alfalfa should only be fed to rabbits less than 5 months old since it contains a lot of protein and calcium. If adult rabbits are fed Alfalfa regularly it can cause bladder and kidney problems.
The best orchard grass hay for rabbits
Having had rabbits for over 20 years has taught me a lot. I love my buns and give them the healthiest and best life possible. I have tried every brand of pellet and hay under the sun. I do favor Oxbow for pellets but not hay.
The best orchard hay I have found is from Small Pet Select. All of my buns love eating it and it is always fresh and packaged properly. Now I will insert this cleverly placed advertisement below so i can bay my rabbits bills!
Like I said it is always fresh and there packaging is better than other suppliers. Orchard grass hay, or any hay for that matter should not be stored in a plastic bag or airtight container for any length of time. As you can see in the photo below the hay is very uniform, dry, clean and not full of chopped pieces.
Storing orchard grass hay
Hay needs to be able to breath but also stay dry. Small Pet Selects Orchard grass hay comes in a cardboard box which allows it to breath a little. I suggest punching a few holes into the box after you get it to allow more air circulation. This will keep your hay from molding or fermenting.
If hay is exposed to even a small amount of moisture over time it will become moldy. Depending on the type of mold that forms it could cause you or your rabbit harm. The best storage area for your hay will be in a dark, cool and dry area of your home.
Orchard grass hay vs Timothy hay
If you are really interested in the small differences between Orchard vs Timothy, then you should check out this article I wrote.
Here is a brief overview; Timothy hay may contain about 1-2 percent more fiber on average (depending on whether 1st, 2nd or 3rd cut) than Orchard grass hay. This means that Timothy is better for your rabbit’s digestive health only marginally.
The more notable difference is the texture. Orchard grass hay tends to be softer than Timothy hay. The difference in texture will have an impact on your rabbits dental health. The coarser and harder the food your rabbit eats the better it is for his or her dental health. This is why I am such a big advocate for choosing a hard pellet.
Bottom line is pick whatever hay your rabbits loves to eat the most of except for Alfalfa. The marginal benefits of Timothy hay should not be the only determining factor in what type of hay your rabbit eats.
Alfalfa hay should never be substituted for Orchard grass hay under any circumstances for adult rabbits. If you feed your pet rabbit Alfalfa, he or she will end up having health problems down the line. It has too much protein and not enough fiber. Only feed Alfalfa to young rabbits under five months of age.
How much Orchard hay should your rabbit eat
Your rabbit should be eating as much orchard hay as he or she wants. You should be offering fresh hay twice a day, once in the morning and then in the evening. A good rule of thumb is that rabbits should eat a large handful of hay each day. My post on how much hay should rabbits eat for more information.
Mixing Orchard grass hay
Verity is almost always a good thing and your bunny may end up eating more hay in the long run. There is no problem with feeding the same type of healthy hay all of the time either. Mr. Bunny, my pet rabbit eats mostly 2nd cut Timothy but I do mix in Orchard grass from time to time and he seems to enjoy it. You can also mix in oat and meadow hay.
How long does orchard grass hay last?
Most people will tell you a year, but I believe under the proper storage conditions it will last longer than that, like two years. Remember that you want to store your orchard grass hay in a dry area with plenty of ventilation.
Orchard grass hay is an excellent food choice for any breed of domestic rabbit. Feed in unlimited quantities, use a hay feeder to keep contamination down and offer toys made from orchard grass to encourage eating and dental health.
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.