This year, Rabbit Awareness Week are focusing their efforts around selective feeding and why all owners should make the change from a muesli to a high-quality hay based diet.
More muesli, less nutrition
So why should owners be moving their rabbits away from a muesli based diet? Muesli is very sugary and high in starch, and can also increase selective feeding. This is when rabbits pick out and eat the sugary and high starch pieces of the muesli. Doing this will lead to rabbits eating an unbalanced diet and can increase their risk of dental disease, gut stasis and fly strike.
How to move your rabbits away from muesli
When transitioning your rabbits from a muesli to a high-quality hay diet, you should do so gradually. Over the four-week period of changing their diet, it’s important not to over feed your rabbits or increase their overall portion size. You should also make sure that your rabbits have access to unlimited high-quality feeding hay that they can graze on throughout the day.
Why is hay so important for rabbits?
- Hay and fresh grass contain a lot of fibre, which is important for a rabbit’s dental, digestive and behavioural health.
- Rabbits’ teeth are always growing, so chewing on high-quality hay can help to wear them down.
- Rabbits in the wild spend around 70% of their time foraging. Access to hay and grass allows them to express their natural behaviour
- Rabbits need fibre to keep their gut moving. Without it, they’re at risk of developing gut stasis (a condition in which the rabbit’s digestive system slows down or stops) and bloat.
Bedding hay vs Feeding hay, what’s the difference?
Although it may seem obvious, some people don’t realise that there is a difference between bedding hay and feeding hay. Bedding hay is comfortable and provides insulation, making it ideal for rabbits to sleep on. However, it’s often cheaply manufactured, can contain mould spores and its nutritional value is unknown. Whereas feeding hay is highly nutritious and contains a lot of fibre because it is grown specifically to be fed to rabbits. It is also barn-dried and dust extracted to help maintain rabbit’s respiratory health.
For more information on how to maintain your rabbit’s health, visit the rabbit awareness week website at https://www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk/.