Making Your Own Hay

I wonder how many thousands of bunny owners wake up on a Saturday morning, mow their lawn, throw away or compost the clippings, and then pop into the pet shop and tut over the price of hay, that in some cases has been shipped half way around the world. Now the obvious thing would be just to cut a section of grass (with scissors not a mower) and feed that direct to your bunnies, but that isn’t always practical. Some people don’t like to feed fresh grass to buns with sensitive tums, and it’s handy to have a good pile of hay in the litter tray even if you’re topping up with grass at dinner time too. So the next option is to take the lovely fresh grass and dry it so it turns into hay! So, that’s what I did….

Making Hay Step 1: Find Grass

The first step is to find some grass. If you lovingly mow your lawn weekly, you might want to skip a week to let it grow out a bit. We may have taken that to the extreme as our lawn looked something like this:

Which was the inspiration for making hay in the first place. If you don’t have a lawn, you could try asking your neighbours – offer to ‘cut’ their grass in exchange for keeping the clippings. Just make sure they don’t use any weedkiller/pesticides.

Making Hay Step 2: Cut the Grass

Once you have located your patch of grass, next you need to cut it. It’s important not to use a lawn mower for this. Mowers chop up the grass and crush it which encourages it to begin fermenting. This is great if you want to compost it but no good for feeding to rabbits. If you’re cutting a big patch you could use scythe (don’t chop off any body parts) but I went for scissors; big hedge scissors would be quicker than kitchen ones if you’re cutting a lot. I filling up this A4 paper box in about a minute… it doesn’t take long.

Making Hay Step 3: Drying the Grass

Next is the difficult part, the grass needs to dry out (and turn into hay). There are a few options for this. You could leave the grass where you cut it and turn it a few times to help it dry. The trouble with that is you are at the mercy of the weather. If your grass keeps getting soaked it will turn into a soggy mess instead of hay. It also means your lawn is covered in grass cuttings.

It was raining almost every day when I started so I decided to pop it in my mini greenhouse now the seedlings are mostly outside. It’s important the air gets to it so I made a shelf out of some plastic mesh and left the doors open (a closed greenhouse would get too humid). Note: The foil isn’t part of hay making, it just helps my seedlings grow straight as the greenhouse sits against a wall.

You could also use a covered deck, greenhouse, shed with windows etc. or you could lay it out on a sheet and just pick it up in the sheet when rain is forecast and pop it out afterwards. The top of a wire rabbit run would be great if the weather is a bit drier.

Here is my grass all laid out ready to dry.

Making Hay Step 4: Wait

That’s it for the hard work, now you just need to wait for it to dry. It didn’t take long like this. In two weeks it smelt and looked like tasty hay.

Once it has dried out you can store it like you would normal hay. Something that breaths (like a Hessian bag or pillow case would be best) just in case there is any moisture left. If you leave it out in the sun it will loose the hint of green and go golden brown (still edible but less nutrients).

Making Hay Step 4: Taste Test

The whole point of making hay is producing something tasty for a bunny to eat, so the process wouldn’t be complete without a taste test.

I think it passed!

Conclusion

Okay, so I’m probably not going to make enough hay from our little patch of lawn to supply hay all your around, but it’s a fun experiment and certainly worth the effort if you want to cut down on your expenses, be more environmentally friendly, or just provide an extra treat.

 

 

 

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18 Responses to “Making Your Own Hay”

  1. annette says:

    adorable tester! and well worth the effort!

  2. Kathryn says:

    I always go to a local farmer and buy some high quality 2nd cutting hay. At $3-$5 for an entire bale it is so cheap compared (and better quality) to pet store hay!

  3. DIana Moll says:

    It looks yummy and it passes the taste test! Hay, my computer died and I had to get a new one, but the new one doesn’t have your email in the address book, not surprising really. Could you email me so I have it? I have a couple of questions before I start on the book. (which is gorgeous).

  4. matilda says:

    wow!so easy

  5. soraya says:

    hi, i was just wondering what kind of grass you used. i live in suriname, so grass may differ.

    • Tamsin says:

      I used normal lawn grass, but what we use in lawns might differ in the UK to where you are. Any grass will turn into hay if you dry it out so if your grass is safe for bunnies then give it ago. If you aren’t sure about grass types, try finding out what horses in your local area eat – that’s usually a good guide for bunnies.

  6. David says:

    Dandelion, alfalfa, willow leaves, etc can make better hay… matter if finding somewheres where weeds are growing so big it is like harvesting from a garden, then usual of spread out thin to dry out.

    Old potatoes, apples, etc are also possible food sources, if you have freezer space you can freeze apples that neighbours throw out (from their local apple trees)

    Silage may also work, haven’t tried yet, matter of getting moisture content right and excluding air.

    • Tamsin says:

      Adding other plants in is a great addition to hay, there are a lot of ‘weeds’ that are safe for rabbits to eat and widen the variety of vitamins/minerals they get.

      Potatoes is quite an outdated idea for rabbit food – my mum used to give it to her rabbits in the 60’s. Now we know that rabbit needs a much lower carbohydrate/higher fibre diet so they are best avoided. A little apple is okay, but the leaves/branches from pruning the trees would be a better source of food and can be dried like the hay.

  7. Jessica Keller says:

    May I ask, what Rabbit breed do you have?
    He/she looks very similar to mine, and I haven’t been really able to figure out what breed one of my Rabbits are.
    By the way I rescue Rabbit, so usually I have to figure out the breed. Now, I know most every breed, but I just
    Can’t figure out what breed a certain Rabbit of mine is.
    It would be most appreciated if you could tell me your Rabbit breed.
    Thank you,
    Jessica Keller

  8. Jessica Keller says:

    Thank you, I’m glad you liked my pictures, and I love the name Lorance too!

    At first I had wondered whether Lorance had Lop in him, however, I do not know his Dad. All I know is his Mother, because I rescued her from an abusive breeder, and she was pregnant at that time.

    Okay, I wondered about Bell’s shorter rounder face, considering wild rabbits (from what I have studied) have a longer thinner face (like your rabbit).

    Thank you very much, that was of much help to me.
    I really appreciate the time you took,
    Jessica Keller

  9. Tina Marr says:

    Brilliant! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while but had no clue how to go about it! I have a rabbit, two jumbo pekin, ducks, two battery hens and a pigeon who will benefit greatly from this and your other cost saving ideas!!!

    • Tamsin says:

      I was surprised how easy it was and how quick the grass dried, and there are lots of other plants they dry well too. It’s great because not only is it super cheap but I think gives them a better diet too! Good luck with the hay making!

  10. Hannah says:

    Hello there, I am in N. Ireland and found this site whilst trying to find out how to make hay for my horse. Found this funny as sombody commented on asking what the horses eat. I am checking what the bunnies eat lol. Love the site, very cute photos xo

  11. Wow!
    Thank you for this info. I am a farmer from Nigeria. I’ve really learnt. I’m sure that my animals will be happy to have tasty gays henceforth.

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