Hay for Rabbits – A comparison of six different hay varieties

Hay, Hay, Hay

I needed some hay pictures for an article on the diet section on my website, so I googled around for companies offering samples and sent off to The Hay Experts for their sample pack of six different hays. Having got the photos – which you can view here: Rabbits Diet – Hay and Grass, it was Scamp’s turn to taste test the hay!

hay samples from the hay experts

Six different hay varieties, smells lovely!

The varieties under consideration were:

  • Western Timothy Hay – “A quality US timothy hay: a mix of thin stem, seed head and green leaf.”
  • Readigrass – “A short chopped and rapid dried grass. Green and rich in aroma and nutrition.”
  • Oat, Wheat & Barley Hay – “Oat Wheat & Barley – “A yummy mix of coarse stem, broad leaf and seed head. Totally tasty!”
  • Deans Meadow Hay – “A quality long stranded UK mixed meadow hay. Farm fresh and aromatic!”
  • Green Oat Hay – “A mix of green leaf , coarse stem and tasty seeds heads. Fresh and aromatic.”
  • Orchard Grass – “A sweet and very soft long stranded grass hay which is green in colour.”
meadow hay, orchard grass, readi grass, timothy hay, oat hay

Stop with the photos and start with the taste testing please!

Scamp stuck his head in the Western Timothy bag first, but I think that may have just been a case of stick head in closest bag and investigate. He then moved on to the Readigrass, which definitely caught his fancy.

so many hay varieties to pick from!

So many different nice smelling bags, where do I start?

He gave it a good dig, nibble and look quite content to make the bag his new home.

readigrass - quick dried grass - very tasty

A bag to hide in and it’s full of tasty stuff – best thing ever!

The two oat hays were definitely his second and third favourites. He couldn’t pick between them so had a good munch of each. When offered the Timothy and Oat strand by stand he picked the oat hay each time.

testing hay varieties

Nom, nom, om nom nom, om om nom.

He was less interested in the meadow/orchard hay varieties, but I get the impression he’d still be happy to eat them if the other varieties weren’t on offer at the time.

So that’s Scamp preferences! But as we know, what bunnies consider tastiest isn’t always what’s best for them.

My Thoughts

Feeling the hays, the meadow, orchard and timothy had much rougher surfaces, which are good for teeth wear – find out why here. The oat hays seems to have quite smooth stems and I’m not sure whether they’d be quite as good for that sandpaper effect.

Readigrass, has a higher protein level (around 12%) than the other hays (7-10%), so probably not good for feeding exclusively, though if that’s the only hay your rabbit will eat it’s certainly better than none. I’m very tempted to get some to feed alongside standard hay though as Scamp seemed to love the taste and it will be good for winter when fresh grass isn’t available.

I’ve always liked the idea of meadow hay because it contains a mix of grass varieties which, it seems to me, is more natural and would contain a wider mix of vitamins and minerals. Scamp usually has meadow hay and is quite happy to eat it so either he was keen on this particular variety or there was just too many other tasty foods to bother with it.

If I had multiple bunnies I would get bags/bales of several varieties and mix it together, but I don’t want to buy too much hay as it loses its vitamin content if stored too long. A small bag of readigrass or oat hay to go alongside his meadow hay might work for us though.

hay smells good!

Wait, don’t put them away yet, are you sure I’ve tried this one?

Would your Rabbit like to try Hay Samples? (UK Only)

Making sure your rabbit eats plenty of hay is probably the single most important thing you can do for their health. So, I’m going to send one of you guys the same hay samples Scamp had (not literally – I’ll order you a set, Scamp would not be impressed if I gave away his). Just tell me a little about your bunny and his or her hay habits below and we’ll draw someone on the 7th to get the parcel. Sorry it’s UK only (though I’d still love to hear about your bunny) because some countries are a bit iffy about imports of plant matter.

Edit: Congratulations Esther you won the hay samples, I hope Doughnut, Cupcake, Eclair, Creampuff, Danish and Truffle enjoy their own taste testing.

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Learn to understand rabbit behaviour

17 Responses to “Hay, Hay, Hay”

  1. Claire says:

    My rabbit, Fidget a 6 year old harlequin lop loves timothy and meadow hay combination. He would love to try a sample though! :)

  2. Kim says:

    Looks like Scamp enjoyed sampling them! My house bunnies, Peach & Jed, are very fussy with their hay and only seem to like the sweetest smelling, they refuse anything else. It’s like a gourmet dinner in their playpen with all their favourite foods. Who knew there was so much choice!!

  3. wendy says:

    I have 4 bunnies, all around 5 years old, three of them are rescues. Tiff is a dwarf lop and was my first bunny, she’ll eat anything, literally anything. She lives with Harry, a tiny black Netherland dwarf who was mistreated at his previous home. He loves his hay and also eating his straw bedding! Colin is a mongrol, he’s not very good at eating hay and does have teeth problems. He lives with Ellis, an albino Netherland Dwarf who came to us skin and bones. She is better at eating, but doesn’t eat as much hay as she should! As for me, I don’t eat hay, but do tend to always have some stuck to my clothes or in my hair!

  4. Esther says:

    Hi have 6 bunnies, doughnut, cupcake are not the best hay eaters i mix redigrass, oxbow and meadow hay, eclair, creampuff and my 2 new rescue bunnies truffle and danish eat thier hay but prefer redigrass and oxbow,i. Would love to get some samples of different hays as i want my bunnies on a mainly hay diet.

  5. annette says:

    so glad to see Scamp having a great time! he is so totally adorable – but ofcourse I say that every time I post here :)
    I ordered this sample pack a couple of years ago for Arabella and Wesley, to try and get them both to eat more hay. I blogged about it too – Arabella surrounded by the 6 turned-down paper bags but my buns were not as eager as Scamp :)
    I just ordered some Alfalfa hay for Wes from the Hay Experts (I’ve been buying from them for a few years now and they are super), so looking forward to that. He gets it broken up in his mash treats since he has only got 2 working incisors and not so good at snipping hay.

  6. Suzanne Jones says:

    I have already bought sample packs of hays for Spudsey in the past, but we now have Bracken too and I haven’t tried anything different with him yet apart from Oat hay alongside his normal meadow hay. Plus they were from a different company so would like to try the hay experts stuff.

  7. Lisa says:

    Well done Scamp! Buttons goes crazy for readigrass, it even smells appealing to me. So sweet! I think it must be like chocolate icecream for rabbits hee hee! I give it him in treat size handfuls once or twice a week when I remember to buy a bag (it’s pricey). The rest of the time he gets lots of standard hay from our farmer friend around the corner.

  8. Liza says:

    Adorable inquisitive Scamp. Max and Dudley are two fussy rabbits. Max was extremely poorly when he first came to live with me, he lost a lot of his body weight and would only eat grass – not ideal for a house rabbit in mid-winter. Now full of life and bonded with Dud’s they turn their nose up at anything other than Alfalfa Kings Timothy Hay. Recently we experienced “Hay Crisis,” two long weeks without being able to get their hay. There’s nothing worse than a disapproving bunny and small droppings! The sample packs are a fab idea, if we don’t find a backup at least they’ll love the paper bags…

  9. Amy says:

    Hi!
    My 3 year-old drawf Lionhead, Hobnob loves Hay! He only ever has the basic Timothy Hay from Pets at Home though – I’ve never tried him on any others but given how quickly he wolfs his down (we are constantly filling his hay rack and hutch!) I bet he’d love some other varieties. He does like the grass and dandelion mix from Wilkinsons too – we try to ration that as a “treat” though as it only comes in small bags and we buy them three at a time as it is!
    May also try putting them in brown bags too and make him work / play a little!

  10. Ria says:

    Both my rabbits, Billiejean and Dave will only eat Alfafa hay despite however many types I try them with! They are both good hay eaters and enjoy a bit of dried dandelion mix too! :-)

  11. Claire says:

    Who was chosen? :)

  12. brandi says:

    I don’t think I can get Redigrass here in Oklahoma, but it sounds superfantastic.
    Looking at Scamp inside the bag just cheered my heart! What a little nut. He IS a scamp!

  13. isa says:

    Hi tamsin! My two bunnies don’t like hay at all. They just graze on grass all day (they are used to it) will they be okay or should I make them like hay? Thanks!

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Isa, Grass is fine, just as good, if not better, than hay. With lots of tasty grass to graze on I’m not surprised they turn their noses up at hay.

      Hay is only necessary if you don’t have grass available all year around. Scamp eats a lot of grass in summer, but it doesn’t grow fast enough in winter so he eats more hay then.

  14. isa says:

    Thanks tamsin! I was getting worried! I love your blog by the way!

  15. Saba says:

    Hiya! Just got my Hay Samples from the Hay Experts today. I was so excited, more so than my bun even haha. Mine seems to prefer the timothy and the deans meadow hay. She liked them all except the oat hay (she just picked out and eat the oat hay). She absolutely BEGGED me for more readigrass but i didn’t want to overload her tum :) I love Hay Experts, they’re really helpful and have a relatively quick delivery service.

    • Tamsin says:

      It’s great fun watching them try new things :) I’m glad she found some to her taste. Scamp loved the readigrass too – I’ve started buying him the full size bags of it and he has a couple of handfuls a day. I bought a big bag of the oat hay after he gave that the nod too, but he doesn’t seem keen – must be a different brand/variety – typical fuspot bun!

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