How Much Hay Should A Rabbit Eat?

Categorized as Bunny Diet

Last Updated on July 23, 2022 by Rei Garnet

Rabbits should eat a lot of hay, about the size of their bodies per day. But a much better approach is to just buy a huge hay rack and let your rabbit decide how much hay they need to consume.

Rabbits will usually stop eating when they are full. It’s far better to let them decide how much fiber they can consume. Limiting hay would only put your rabbit at risk of digestive distress.

As we all know, the most important part of a rabbit’s diet is fiber (hay). Without it, rabbits are at risk of developing dangerous digestive conditions like GI stasis or diarrhea.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail how much hay a rabbit should eat:

Can rabbits eat too much hay?

A black new zealand rabbit eating a lot of hay.

It depends on what kind of hay your rabbit is eating. If you’re feeding alfalfa hay (high in calcium), it could potentially cause problems when fed in large amounts.

Rabbits excrete their excess calcium by urinating. If they’re consuming too much calcium, it could lead to urinary stones.

But for safer hay like timothy hay, then no, rabbits can’t overeat too much hay. In fact, it’s much better for your rabbit to eat a lot of hay. Their digestive systems are literally designed for digesting fiber.

Rabbits that are not getting enough fiber are at risk of digestive problems. Some of these digestive problems can even cost them their lives if not treated.

Can rabbits survive on just hay?

A brown new zealand rabbit standing on its hind legs eating in a hay rack.

Yes, rabbits can survive on just hay. Rabbits’ digestive systems are designed for digesting fiber. Without it, your rabbit would become sick. Various digestive conditions caused by a low-fiber diet can also lead to death if not treated.

Should rabbits have unlimited hay?

A brown new zealand rabbit standing on a lot of hay eating it.

Yes, rabbits should have unlimited amounts of hay, especially for young, growing rabbits. Young rabbits need all the nutrients they can get to maximize growth.

Here’s a table to guide you on how much you should feed your bunnies as they get older.

AgeHay
7 weeks to
7 months
Unlimited alfalfa
12 weeksUnlimited alfalfa
7 months
to 1 year
Introduce grass
hay, decrease
alfalfa
Adult
(1-5 y)
Unlimited grass
hay, oat hay, straw
Seniors
(>6 y)
Increase alfalfa hay
fed to frail, older
rabbits but monitor
calcium levels
Source: Basic-Rabbit-Care

What kind of hay is best for rabbits?

A grey new zealand rabbit standing on a lot of hay resting.

There are two kinds of hay that are popular for rabbits: alfalfa and timothy hay. While both have advantages, alfalfa is higher in protein and calcium. This makes them preferable for growing rabbits.

Alfalfa hay could also lead to urinary stones due to its higher calcium content. That’s why most veterinarians would suggest sticking to timothy hay.

What’s the risk of not feeding enough hay to rabbits?

Two new zealand rabbit eating a hay in a hay rack.

Hay should make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet. Without it, your rabbit may develop digestive issues such as:

  • GI stasis: The cause of gastrointestinal stasis in rabbits is a diet that’s high in starch and low in fiber. This type of diet causes an imbalance in the rabbit’s gut flora.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea in rabbits is most often caused by a sudden change in a rabbit’s diet or when fed a low-fiber diet. Diarrhea in rabbits is dangerous and can be fatal. Bring your rabbit to a veterinarian if you notice any changes in their stool.
  • Soft uneaten cecotropes: Soft uneaten cecotropes are most often caused by a high-carb, low-fiber diet. It can be fixed by feeding large amounts of fiber (hay).
  • Dental problems: Rabbits need to keep eating hay in order to keep their teeth short. Without constant access to hay, your rabbit would eventually develop dental problems like overgrown teeth.

Conclusion

Rabbits should be fed unlimited amounts of hay, especially if they are young and growing.

The best kind of hay for rabbits is timothy hay, which has a lower calcium content than alfalfa.

Buy your rabbit a huge hay rack and let your rabbit decide how much hay they want to eat for the day.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (September 14, 2022) How Much Hay Should A Rabbit Eat?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-much-hay-should-a-rabbit-eat/.
"How Much Hay Should A Rabbit Eat?." Bunny Horde - September 14, 2022, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-much-hay-should-a-rabbit-eat/

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By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.