Quantcast

Fodder (Barley Grass) instead of Hay?

Help Support RabbitsOnline:

Jadette

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
Southern California
I have 3 lionhead rabbits (all 5 months old) that I have been feeding a large 9"x12" tray of fodder every day with. I supplement this with 3/4 cup of Manna Pro Sho pellets that they share, and unlimited amounts of meadow hay. They are raised colony style, so I do not keep track of how much each will eat, but they all seem to eat about the same amount and are about the same size.
I would say that their diet consists of 60% fodder, 25% pellets, and 15% hay. They just don't care for the meadow hay much, and I am VERY allergic to timothy hay. They just nibble it from time to time and I'll always keep a fresh batch for them for that purpose.
My question is, I've been reading that 75% of their diet should be hay, and that fodder is a good substitute for pellets, but not hay. Even though hay is essentially just dried grass, they will need the "chewy-ness" of the hay to keep their teeth healthy.
Then again, I have also read that a complete fodder diet is fine and if anything, fresh fodder would be more nutritious for them than hay.
Is there a consensus to this?
Here's a pic when they were younger, and mowing down a smaller tray of fodder. They eat 2x-3x that amount now.
20200620_095443.jpg
 

Preitler

Loony bunny guy
Joined
Jul 19, 2015
Messages
1,370
Reaction score
950
Location
Austria
It's not the consistency of hay versus fresh grass that wears their teeht down, it's the right chewing motion that moves the incisors at each other in the right way - there's no hay in nature. Pellets, grains etc. don't get cut with the front teeth but crushed with the molars, so that type of food doesn't help as much to wear the teeth down.

I don't feed much hay whenever fresh forage is available, but I always offer a little. Hay, and fresh stuff have each their good points. Fresh forage contains more vitamins, water and such that detoriate or go away when dried. Mine sure would love fodder in winter, but there's no way for me growing enough for the herd, they have to dig up some greens in winter themselfs.

Hay is imho good when there are any digestion issues, easily digestible (drying is a little like when we cook food to break down some components in it), it's easy to store and handle, is available all winter long, contains all a rabbit needs and I can feed stuff that would be questionable or unpalatable fresh, like stingy nettles, clematis or some members of the crowfood family (some defense mechanisms and toxins detoriate too when dried)

Pellets are a good addition to make sure they dont miss anything or as a supplement when they need a lot like when nursing, but aren't really a necessary part of a pet rabbit diet. I use them as treats to get them do what I want from them, like going back home into the house or hutch in the evening.

Generally, I think keeping my rabbits diet as diverse as possible, and give them the oppurtunity to chose works fine for me.

Anyway, you'll read a lot on the internet. This is right, that must be done, this pellets with that much protein, this brand good or bad, that percentage of this and that - there's even a fraction claiming that no dry stuff must be fed because it would swell up in the stomach and cause problems (- nonsense, as can be seen every day) - there are so many ways to feed a rabbit right, all those ways work for the people claiming that their way is the right one, even when they seemingly contradict each other, and there are more ways that don't get plastered all over the net.
Please count my opinion here as just one of those :).

I would encourage you to trust your intuition, read a lot, keep an eye on your rabbits, and do as you think is right for you and your rabbits.
 

Jadette

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
Southern California
...

I would encourage you to trust your intuition, read a lot, keep an eye on your rabbits, and do as you think is right for you and your rabbits.
Thank you Preitler for such a thorough response! I really do like your pragmatic way of thinking! I am an engineer, and by nature, like to research the heck out of things before diving into a hobby. I am a little bewildered with what seemingly seems to be the common belief that if my rabbits do not eat primarily hay for their diet, or if I feed them more than 1/4" cup of pellets a day, and if I don't neuter/spay them the second they reach an age where it's safe to do so (and I need to keep them completely separated up until then else they will kill each other), I am somehow a bad rabbit owner.

I am fortunate enough to have the time, space, and means to make adjustments to their lifestyle to ensure that their habitat and diet will encourage happy and healthy rabbits. So in the meantime, I think I will take your advice and experiment a little on raising them in a non-conventional way!
 

Latest posts

Top