Choosy Rabbits Choose Timothy Hay

Before I started raising rabbits I thought that hay was hay was hay. I certainly didn’t think my rabbits would be picky about what type of hay they liked. The breeder that I purchased them from said to use either orchard grass hay or Timothy hay. We happened to have both on hand as chicken bedding, though I couldn’t have told you which was which. On close examination I can now see the difference, which is important because my rabbits have absolutely no interest in eating the orchard grass hay. They’ll ignore it for the most part, or if they run out of pellets then they’ll munch on it a little, but mostly they just slept on it.

When I put Timothy hay into their hutches it is a completely different story. They will abandon the feeder of pellets for Timothy hay. Sometimes Leo won’t even wait for me to put it down, but he’ll start snatching it from my hand as soon as I get within range. The kits think it is a gourmet feast. It is funny to think that they have such discerning tastes when it comes down to something that to me is just dried grass. I suppose it’s a lot like apples. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of types of apples. Each has its own distinct flavor. Some are tart and sour, some are sweet and juicy, and we all have our favorites, but to someone who doesn’t care for apples they are just fruit.

The chickens show similar preferences. They will do just about anything for cantaloupe or watermelon and their seeds. They will peck at your toes if you are picking blueberries and don’t share. I learned the hard way not to pick blueberries while wearing flip flops. But they will turn up their noses at raspberries. You couldn’t interest them in it if it was the last food on the planet.

I just didn’t have any clue that animals would be so choosy. I guess I just thought that livestock ate what you fed them and that was that. I am happy to give them what they prefer, though. Having happy rabbits and happy hens makes me happy.

Speaking of happy, I got to have a major snuggle with the smallest kit today. She didn’t even struggle when I picked her up. She was very calm and content. She was also curious and while she didn’t want to leave my arms, she sure wanted to look around. She is usually back in the far corner of the hutch so she hasn’t been handled too much. But since she was up front today I wanted to make sure she’d be docile when picked up. I keep thinking of them as food, even when I’m holding them. I don’t want to ever let that concept leave my mind.

I will be ordering some cages from Bass Equipment tonight and the rabbit wringer and butcher station. DH just got okayed for a bunch of overtime so we will use some of it to pay for the cages. Because he’ll be working extra he won’t have time to build cages, but we should have enough free time to make PVC pipe frames for the cages. At least they are letting him bring the work home with him. Originally he was going to do a six week hitch, but they didn’t have the extra bed, so they are sending him home with the work instead and he will do it during his normal time off. The extra money will be nice, especially since we overspent a bit on vacation.


8 thoughts on “Choosy Rabbits Choose Timothy Hay

  1. It’s funny; my outdoor rabbits eat both (we use a mix of both) but my indoor lops only had timothy hay for years because we fed petstore hay. They flipped their little bunny heads when we brough home hay full of weeds and new fancy orchard grass. Also, orchard grass leads to a sweeter meat, while timothy is better for longevity of life. Fun facts!

    • LuckyRobin says:

      We’re using hay bales right from the start. The pet store stuff is ridiculously expensive in comparison. I didn’t know that about the orchard grass. I guess I’ll continue to use both then.

      • Well, I kept rabbits for the last five years as rescues and pets. They were a loosing fair project for someone and a misguided petstore purchase by my sibling. So of course we went to the pet-store for our pet supllies. Pfft. We paid $2.50/lb for the nicest, cleanest timothy hay you’ve ever seen. Orcahrd gras was even more. Now we pay $0.30/lb in exchange for some weeds and dust.

  2. We’ve also noticed preferances in quality. We got a few bales from a friend of a friend and it ended up being not a good deal. The bales have a lot of dried leaves and weeds mixed in. Every hay-eating animal we have turns their nose up at it. Wont make that mistake again.

  3. Grace says:

    You know, my rabbits have never even tried Timothy! I actually forgot the name of the stuff we do… it’s right on the tip of my tongue but I can’t remember.

    I don’t know how anyone could ever kill a bunny wunny. 🙂 I am way too much of a softie to do any of that kind of stuff. Killing, that is. I will tag lamb/kid ears and band their tails, but I can’t kill things. You go girl, just for having that mindset!

    By the way, I love the title.

    • LuckyRobin says:

      Well, my husband is going to do the actual killing part. I figure I can handle it after that, but not doing the deed myself.

      • Grace says:

        Yep, that’s what I do with chickens. 🙂 I am the one to pull guts out and break legs off. How is that any better, you ask?

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