How Much Hay Should A Rabbit Eat?

Categorized as Bunny Diet
A new zealand rabbit with a lot of hay on its mouth eating it.

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

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

Rabbits would generally stop eating once they’re full. It’s much better to let them decide how much they can consume than to risk your rabbit having digestive distress by limiting the amount of fiber they eat for the day.

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 details how much hay should a rabbit 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 your feeding alfalfa hay whose high in calcium, it could potentially cause problems when fed in large amounts.

The reason is that 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 only eat hay. Their digestive system is literally designed for digesting fiber.

Without fiber, your rabbit’s digestive system would develop dangerous digestive distress that could cost them their lives.

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. Rabbit’s digestive system is designed for digesting fiber. Without it, your rabbit would become sick and could potentially die due to various digestive conditions caused by a low-fiber diet.

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 who need all the nutrients they can get in order to maximize growth.

Here’s a table to guide you on how much you should feed your rabbits as it gets 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 hay and timothy hay. While both have their own benefit, alfalfa being high in protein and calcium which is better for young growing rabbits to maximize growth.

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

Risk of not feeding enough hay to rabbits.

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

Hay should be an integral part of your rabbit’s diet, without it, your rabbit could develop digestive conditions like:

  • GI stasis – Gastrointestinal stasis in rabbits is caused by high-starch low-fiber diet which causes an imbalance in a rabbit’s gut flora.
  • Diarrhea – Diarrhea in rabbits is most often caused by a sudden change in a rabbit’s diet or when fed low-fiber diet. Diarrhea in rabbits is dangerous. 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.

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 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 (November 24, 2021) 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 - November 24, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-much-hay-should-a-rabbit-eat/

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