Advice needed: 6 week old on Timothy Hay

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PapaJoe

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Hey gang, tomorrow I pick up my new little family from a local breeder. I went out and bought the appropriate foods for 7 week old buns: Alfalfa Hay and Oxbow Essentials for Young Bunnies.

For the heck of it, I spoke with the breeder today just to see exactly what the bunnies diets currently consist of. They are still getting some mother's milk and are on Timothy Hay and pellets. I mentioned Alfalfa Hay, and they said not to use Alfalfa hay - they will get diarrhea.

SO I need your advice....

I've read how these are the VERY important development stages in bunny lives, and that alfalfa hay is higher in calcium, which the baby bunnies need.

When I get my babies, should I SLOWLY introduce them to Alfalfa Hay and get them changed over? If so, what would be the correct time frame for switching them completely over: several days, weeks ?

Being that they are SO young, I know it's recommended that bunnies should consume alfalfa hay for the first year of their lives - so if recommended, I would like to change them over so they get proper nutrition.

Thanks in advance! I want to do what's right for the babies.

Joe
 

Buttercup n Charlie

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We gave buttercup timothy/orchard/oat when she was young, but her pellets were alfalfa based. She's doing just fine :) If she takes to the alfalfa hay well (very slowly introducing it), you can give it to her, but if not don't worry, she'll be fine :)
 

ZRabbits

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My experience with babies.

Dobby and Kreacher were close to 8 weeks old when I brought them home. They were both on timothy pellets and timothy hay. Kreacher got sick and lost weight so doing research found out alfalfa would be best to put on weight. I weaned both of them off of alfalfa hay by 7 months. They are now both on Timothy Pellets and Timothy Hay.

Now that I have Neville who I got at 6 weeks old, he came home with Manna Pro which is alfalfa based pellet. Thanks to LakeCondo, I learned about Oxbow Pellets for Young Rabbits which is also alfalfa based pellets. Neville is eating Timothy hay as well. Just my observation but at 6 weeks Neville really wasn't eating much hay so the alfalfa pellets are mandatory to help young ones grow. Now at 9 weeks old he is eating much more hay as well as the pellets. I plan to keep him on the Alfalfa pellets until 7 months and will gradually switch him over to Timothy pellets due to his age and possible overweight. Now my Luna, will stay on the Alfalfa pellets as an adult when she's pregnant. Lactating does need it as well kits.

I think your 6 week old bunnies will do well with the Oxbow Pellets along with timothy hay.

K :)
 

PapaJoe

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Thanks so much for the feedback. When I pick up my bunnies tomorrow, I'm going to ask the breeder what brand of pellets and hay she's using (if local hay, where from). I will continue to use the food bunnies are used to, and start mixing in a little alfalfa hay and pellets. Then I'll continue to increasingly substitute until Alfalfa makes up 75% of each, until they get older.

Does anyone see any problems with that game plan?
 

LakeCondo

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Because of still getting mother's milk, they didn't need as much calcium from other sources. So there's no way you can continue with what they're used to unless the doe goes home with you. I guess I don't understand why the breeder didn't wean them.
 

PapaJoe

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Just a quick little update.

I ended up keeping Timothy Hay, but gave them a mixture of Timothy/Alfalfa pellets - slowly changing the pellets to all Alfalfa. They get to choose what they are in the mood for. Let me tell you...they LOVE the Alfalfa pellets!

Thanks again for sharing your stories and for the helpful information. My girls are very happy :)
 

saidinjester

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Glad they're home and healthy! I honestly wouldn't stress too much about the type of hay you're feeding, as long as they are getting plenty of good quality hay. (My bun has never had Timothy or Alfalfa hay and he's totally happy and very healthy).
 

PapaJoe

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Thanks s-i-j

All of their food is Oxbow. I read they are the better of brands. Would you happen to know of something else? Not that I'm looking to change anything on them, but just confirming that Oxbow is clean and healthy?

Thanks for the reply
 

saidinjester

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PapaJoe wrote:
Thanks s-i-j

All of their food is Oxbow. I read they are the better of brands. Would you happen to know of something else? Not that I'm looking to change anything on them, but just confirming that Oxbow is clean and healthy?

Thanks for the reply
I'd say that's totally fine. My parents have a hay farm and I get unlimited (Free & Fresh) hay from them. But if you don't have access to a local supplier, I'd say that's the next best thing.
 

Nancy McClelland

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I'd get rid of the timothy hay till they get to six months. Alfalfa has a higher protein and calcium count for the growing little ones. Then it should be Timothy pellets and any of a variety of hays--we used orchard grass cause I,m allergic to timothy.
 

missyscove

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If the bun is on a good quality pellet, they should be getting all the protein and minerals they need out of a pellet (for example, in my opinion, rabbits don't need salt or mineral licks because the pellet has the minerals included) Hay is an important component of the diet but again, in my opinion, more for sort of physical reasons like keeping the gut moving and providing more indigestible fiber than for specific nutrient needs. If yours were particularly large mature size breeds like flemish giants, protein content might be more of a concern.
 

rabbitfarmer

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glad to hear the rabbits are doing well :) Also glad to hear i'm not ruining my baby rabbits by not feeding them alpha hay. They get alfalfa pellets and timothy hay. (we were given an 80# bale of timothy hay by a guy my husband works with. Can't pass up free hay)
 

LakeCondo

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I'm with Christina on the hay/pellet alfalfa/timothy issue, in the main. I was just rereading part of Rabbit Nutrition ... & see that it says that "some grass-based pellets can actually have higher levels of calcium [and even fat] than some alalfa-based pellets ... one of the reasons reading food labels is a must."

It also mentions that besides the giant breeds, rabbits who need extra protein are those living outside, lactating or long-haired. They should have 17-20% protein, while others should get 13-17%.

It also compares the various hays in their contents of calcium, protein etc. All the non-alfalfa, ie grass hays are pretty much alike [except for clover hay, which is like alfalfa & I don't imagine very likely to be available]. Timothy hay is by far the easiest to get from a pet store or internet order, but you can get plenty of grass hays from feed stores or local farmers. Besides timothy & orchard grass, these hays are Bermuda grass, bluegrass, brome grass, fescue, oat grass, ryegrass, & wheatgrass.
 

LakeCondo

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As to brands, there probably are a number of good ones, including small companies that I've never heard of. But based on reviews on drsfostersmith etc, people seem to like Oxbow most often, followed by Kaytee.
 

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