02 Dec 2018
What Is Best Hay For Rabbits In South Africa
Posted By : Guest Filed Under : Nutrition | Rabbits | Burgess Excel | Timothy Hay | Pet Care
Rabbit owners are delightful people. You know that they are rarely loud and obnoxious (their rabbits would never stand for it); they have plenty of patience (because getting to know a rabbit takes time); and you can be certain that they are full of love and laughter (because that is exactly what rabbits inspire).

So, if you have gotten yourself a pet rabbit, welcome to the club. Your new baby bunny is sure to hop his way into your heart (or thump, depending on how stubborn you are about it). Rabbits are truly easy to love, as long as you give them just a few basics. Bunnies of all ages can be skittish, so avoid loud noises when you can. They also love to keep their feet on the ground, so be prepared to build ramps up to the couch. And, above all, rabbits have a specific diet, which undoubtedly should not be altered as it will affect the health and happiness of your pet.

Rabbits (and other small furries, including chinchillas and guinea pigs) are fibrevores. They are not herbivores; they are that plus an incredible need for fibre. The amount of fibre that a rabbit needs in proportion to his weight and diet is impossible to translate to a human diet. If people ate as much fibre as a rabbit needs, they would never leave their bathrooms. And, obviously, if rabbits need such an enormous amount of fibre, it has got to come from a concentrated source. Considering the amount of time rabbits spend eating already, a primary diet excluding incredible sources of fibre would mean that bunnies have no time to sleep or play. It would also make them ill.

Fresh grass (or hay) just so happens to be that incredible source of fibre that rabbits need. Teff and Eragrostis are perhaps two of the more widely used hay varieties in South Africa. The major disadvantage of these hays is that the nutritional value can range from good to extremely poor quality. The quality will ultimately depend upon stage of growth when cut, fertilization, and environmental factors.

There are, of course, other hays and grasses that rabbits can eat, such as imported
Timothy Hay which has such an intense amount of fibre that it makes remarkably little sense to look elsewhere. This is especially true considering that the British countryside is an ideal location for growing Timothy Hay. Not only that, but, because the grass naturally resists drought, it clings to its nutrients once it has been harvested and packaged for sale. This hay also retains a sweet, meadowy smell that lingers, meaning that feeding your rabbit is a pleasant experience for everyone. Timothy Hay has got everything a rabbit needs – and nothing it cannot digest, meaning it is the singularly best food your rabbit can ever have.

Another reason why imported Timothy Hay is so popular in South Africa is because it has a high digestibility factor. Let's say for the sake of comparison, that you are feeding your rabbit, chinchilla or guinea pig a portion of a 2nd cutting hay that was cut when the plant was relatively immature, the nutrition and digestibility are high, and the cellulose content is low. Your rabbit, chinchilla or guinea pig would be able to digest more of the nutrients out of this hay and would achieve maintenance or weight gain depending upon the size of the servings and amount of exercise he is able to do in his environment.

If this same field of hay had been allowed to grow for another week, for example, the indigestible portion of the plant would have increased, making the hay less nutritious and less palatable, and the amount of digestible energy that your fibrevore is able to extract from that hay is decreased. It would now become necessary to feed a larger size portion of this more mature hay to achieve the same maintenance levels for your pet.

This digestibility factor is the determining factor as to how much "good" your rabbit, chinchilla or guinea pig will get out of a particular type of hay. You can feed a large volume of hay that is low on the digestibility scale and keep the rabbit, chinchilla or guinea pig at his ideal body weight, but if feeding a highly digestible hay (high in nutrients) one would obviously need to feed a smaller amount to maintain the rabbit, chinchilla or guinea pig at his ideal body weight. Within the confines of each cutting (1st, 2nd, 3rd) it is possible to have varying percentages of "digestibility" depending upon the stage of maturity of the plant at the time of harvesting.


As leaders in small animal nutrition, Burgess have developed their unique British-grown Burgess Excel Feeding Hay products which we like to think of it as a new fragrant "superfood" for rabbits! Exclusively grown for feeding, every step of the harvesting process is designed to keep the hay as dry, fresh and green as possible. The crop is turned several times a day, machine dried and stored in dark, closed barns – with the whole process from field to pack taking just 48 hours. In fact, it’s so good; it’s even used to feed racehorses.

Small fibrevores, like rabbits and guinea pigs, have exceptionally sensitive digestive systems. There are simply a lot of things that rabbits cannot digest, and, therefore, should not eat. And, once your rabbit has adjusted to a particular type of hay, it is rather uncomfortable for them to switch to another food. Responsible rabbit breeders are aware of this and will start baby bunnies off on the food that is best for them. And, once again, the answer to that question is Timothy Hay. This is just one more of the reasons that your pet should be fed on Timothy Hay from the moment you bring her home. And, if she has had another diet, then it is a brilliant idea to switch her over to Timothy Hay soonest as there are some foods that negatively affect rabbits.

Unfortunately, muesli has long been regarded as rabbit food at certain pet stores and supermarkets. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In 2013, hundreds of pet stores across the UK removed rabbit and guinea pig muesli food from their shelves after new scientific research by University of Edinburgh revealed how dangerous it is.

Muesli is severely detrimental to rabbit health. Not only is it difficult to digest, it is also unsuitable for oral hygiene. And those are two areas of well being that rabbits are ill advised to compromise. Muesli has also been known to induce urinary tract infections and obesity. So, although the muesli may have tempting packaging (and possibly a price to match), ensure that no muesli is ever fed to your rabbits. One of the reasons that muesli is so hurtful within a rabbit’s diet is that bunnies will chew this up and down. Although that does not sound ridiculous, it truly is. Rabbits, along with other small furries, have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lifetime. Without proper care, these teeth will only become unmanageably long and frightfully dangerous. These animals require a food that they naturally chew from side to side, like hay.

Rabbits eat hay by gnawing it back and forth in their mouth, which obviously promotes teeth grinding. While people are not encouraged to do this, it is essential for the health of small furries. Better still is the fact that your rabbits love hay. It is not just beneficial for them; they enjoy it. And, they like it more than just for eating. Rabbits can be rather playful, and one of their best toys is something they should have plenty of in their hutch – Timothy Hay. The pile that you put in the cage will likely become a plaything as well as a meal. It is, after all, fun for rabbits to find treats hidden in hay, or to move it into exactly the right area before promptly eating it (you see why rabbit people are always so patient, right?). If a food can be fun as well as nutritious, then why would you feed your pet anything else?

There are just a few quick tips to feeding your rabbits. Each one of your bunnies needs a pile of Timothy Hay as large as himself, and they need this amount every day. You can always give them a little extra, but you should never give them any less. Timothy Hay is the most crucial part of a rabbit’s diet; anything else needs to be considered additionally. This includes leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach and of course, fresh water. Specially formulated treats are also not a bad idea, but only if they were specifically produced for rabbits. Although you may want to treat your pet to a carrot, try not to do this too often, as they have plenty of sugar. If you genuinely want to spoil your rabbit (as rabbit people are prone to doing), offer her more Timothy Hay – she honestly does love it.

Tags : What Is Best Hay For Rabbits In South Africa , Pet Rabbit Food South Africa , Best Grass Hay Rabbits South Africa , Timothy Hay South Africa
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