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Thread: How much hay?

  1. #1

    Default How much hay?

    Hi folks, first time post on here, grateful for any help and advice. We acquired two rabbits, both born June 2020 and both mini mini lops. We've had them since July this year and are getting along great, they seem like fab family pets and I think they've settled in well with us. They are in a large outdoor hutch with attached run and I'm currently thinking about putting them into a shed over winter (ie moving the whole hutch and run into a shed) as we're in Scotland and it can get very cold. The previous owners supplied a thermal cover and said they were fine outside last year but I'm not convinced at all. Anyway, this is a long winded intro to my question about feeding, and specifically how much hay the rabbits should get, and how to feed them the hay. Since we've had them my daughter feeds them once a day, very diligently, and gives them a handful of greens each(or carrot instead occasionally), a large handful of nuggets each in a bowl, and puts in couple or large bundles of hay (difficult to describe how much, Maybe the equivalent of a football in size, at this point you'll realise I'm the dad). We put some of the hay in a bundle on the floor of the run and some in the upper part of the hutch. I belive this is consistent with how the previous owner was feeding them. I do see them munching on hay quite a lot but at the end of the week when I give the hutch a full empty and clean I feel like I'm basically putting a weeks worth of hay in the bin. I've read they should have access to unlimited hay and they need it for their teeth but they don't seem to be getting through it at all. They both se to have put on a bit of weight since they've been with us so it's not that they aren't eating enough. My questions really are how much hay do other people get through, how much seems to be going in the bin at the end of the week and how do you feed it, should we just be chucking it ib like we are doing(with most of it seemingly seemingly getting spread aroubd the hutch rather a than eaten) ir should it be putting it in one of those wire basket things that hangs on the side? If its the later do you need to top that up a few times a day as it would hold drastically less hay than we've been giving them. Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    Moderator Zoobec's Avatar
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    Hi, and welcome to the forum rabbits should eat a pile of hay at least as big as themselves every day. They will often eat nuggets/veg in preference to the hay and if you give them too many nuggets they will fill up on them first and not eat so much hay. I realise that often the advice on the packs of nuggets is often to feed them more than is healthy. If you gradually reduce their pellet ration to say an eggcupful per day between them they will hopefully eat more hay. Often finding a hay they like is also the key to them eating more. On the subject of waste, if you line the hutch floor with non slip vynil floor and just put hay in a large litter tray that will reduce waste. Some people do use hay racks but the ones sold for rabbits are often too small to hold enough. They like to eat hay and poop and pee in the same place so that will encourage them to go to the toilet in one area.

  3. #3
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    The more hay they eat, the better. They also need some for bedding, and extra in winter. There will inevitably be some 'wasted'. I tend to put hay in a hanging basket (cheap, round, garden one) and fix it on a hook at head height on a shortened chain so they can pull the hay out through the holes. Make sure they can't jump in it as it could damage legs. Rabbits tend to eat and toilet at the same time, so putting a litter tray (eg large cat tray or underbed storage tray) underneath the hay feeder will help to reduce mess and wastage, as fallen hay will go (mainly) in the tray. Woodshavings are not recommended for rabbits, so use eg newspaper, paper litter, wood litter, hemp etc in the tray with a layer of hay on top and spot clean daily, with a full clean eg once or twice a week.

    If the rabbits seem to be putting on excess weight, I would cut the pellet rations down a little - and use a fixed measure so you know how much they are getting. They won't starve if they have free access to fresh hay all day. They may also need more space to exercise, so the shed may encourage them to move around more if they have access to it, as well as the hutch for shelter.

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    Hay is also cheaper to buy in bales eg from local equestrian suppliers. A standard 2 string bale will fit in a 240 litre wheely bin. Keep it in the shade to stop it sweating and going off, and off the ground if it's eg in a shed.

  5. #5
    Mama Doe Orenoko's Avatar
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    Rabbits will gravitate towards nuggets, they're I guess like the equivalent of eating your favourite treat, you can cut down on the nuggets or potentially cut them out completely. My mini lops get an egg cup of nuggets to share between them and I've recently cut that down to every other day instead of daily. If you cut down the nuggets you should find they eat more hay. As well as equestrian providers you can buy from places like timothyhay.co.uk which also works out much cheaper than pet shop hay.

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the advice everyone, much appreciated. I think in the short term ill cut down the nuggets (an egg cup each will be far less than they are getting at the moment) and ease up on the hay a bit as well, and just adjust if I feel they are getting through more of it. Good advice on the hay as well I've just been buying the large compressed packs from pets at home.

  7. #7
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    Hay should be available at all times for them to eat - don't let them run out as they need to graze continually to keep their guts healthy, although I appreciate that wastage can be managed to some extent.

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