Contrary to popular belief, rabbits do not live off of only carrots! A healthy diet for rabbits consists of various types of leafy greens, some fruits, pellets and also a few nuts. Rabbits consume a combination of these but what about alfalfa? Do rabbits enjoy that too?
Do rabbits eat alfalfa?
Alfalfa hay is good for rabbits at the early stages of their life, when they are babies. As they mature, it is best to exclude alfalfa hay from their regular diet especially if they already take pellets because those have high content of alfalfa hay in them. Therefore, baby rabbits can eat it.
Alfalfa is highly recommended for baby rabbits due to their high protein and calcium levels. This is particularly important for them because alfalfa ensures that they will have a healthy growth and development which is essential at that age.
Adult rabbits cannot indulge because alfalfa can cause obesity and also impacts the kidney and bladder as excess calcium in alfalfa can cause the development of urinary stones.
If you are thinking of adding alfalfa hay to your rabbits diet then look at the list we have curated below.
It lists different alfalfa hay products and also explains if they will be the right choice for your rabbit because the variety of alfalfa hay based food for baby rabbits can seem daunting to choose from at first glance.
Alfalfa pellets can be very beneficial for rabbits that are 7 months or younger. It will provide them with energy and also aid in their development.
However, in case of adult rabbits, alfalfa pellets should be given to them sparingly as a treat while their primary diet should consist mainly of hay because regular consumption of alfalfa pellets is not good for their body.
Rabbits can eat alfalfa sprouts in small doses. Especially when they are still young as alfalfa contains vitamins and calcium but it is pertinent to remember that alfalfa sprouts have high levels of alkaloids.
Therefore, it is best to avoid feeding alfalfa sprouts to the bunnies if they are already consuming other high alkaloid-containing greens.
It is also best to gradually stop feeding rabbits alfalfa hay as they age and switch to leafy greens which contain roughage as this will be able to help their digestive system.
Alfalfa hay cubes can be good for baby rabbits. Alfalfa hay cubes contain higher levels of protein and calcium but are low in fiber which is great for rabbits when they are young.
But it is best to break up the cubes before feeding them as the cubes can be hard to chew and eat for smaller rabbits.
Unlike baby rabbits, you cannot feed adult rabbits alfalfa cubes as an alternative to regular hay. Instead, you can give them alfalfa cubes occasionally.
Alfalfa timothy cubes:
Alfalfa timothy cubes are manufactured by combining alfalfa and timothy hay together.
Baby rabbits can eat them as it will provide them with high calcium and protein while timothy hay will provide the roughage that aids the digestive system.
Similar to other alfalfa products, it is best not to feed adult rabbits alfalfa timothy cubes on a daily basis but they are still much more forgiving then products that consist of 100% alfalfa hay.
Therefore, you can treat them now and then with a few alfalfa timothy cubes.
Alfalfa hay is an excellent nutrition filled food for baby rabbits as it helps immensely in their growth and development.
So, continue to give the baby rabbits alfalfa hay until they are 7 months old, of course with a combination of other food to balance it all out.
Alfalfa hay can also be given to rabbits who are ill, this will give them a much needed energy boost and speed up the healing process significantly.
Do baby rabbits eat alfalfa hay?
Baby rabbits eat alfalfa hay. From the moment they are born up until 7 weeks old, they will need to be nursed by their mother and during this time alfalfa hay can be introduced to their diet.
When they reach 3 weeks of age, start feeding them alfalfa hay gradually in addition to milk from their mother. They can continue eating alfalfa hay with a few different vegetables until they are 7 or 8 months old.
The protein, calcium and fiber present in alfalfa hay will be great for them at this early stage of their life and will help in developing their growing body.
Do wild rabbits eat alfalfa?
Wild rabbits might eat alfalfa hay if they come across it. But their diet mainly consists of different types of grass. It can be either dry grass or fresh grass. They will also most likely munch on leaves from trees.
Alongside this they are known to eat tender tree bark, twigs and sprouts, fruits, seeds, nuts and other nutritious food that is available to them.
Alfalfa hay is not the right choice even for wild rabbits when they are adults. If you want to feed wild rabbits, it is best to serve them oat and timothy hay instead of alfalfa hay. However, if you happen to notice any baby rabbit or an older rabbit, you can give them alfalfa hay to eat.
Is alfalfa good for bunnies?
Alfalfa hay is known to be a very good source of protein, calcium, sugar and also fiber for bunnies. It can keep them full for a long time and helps with their digestive system while also providing the right nutrition their growing body will need.
And the best part is they seem to find it delicious, if their enjoyment while eating it is any indication. So, if you are looking for hay to add to your bunnies diet then look no further. Long, loose strands of alfalfa hay will be the right choice for them.
3 reasons why rabbits eat alfalfa
We know by now that adult rabbits should not consume alfalfa hay or pellets in larger quantities but we must understand that just because adult rabbits can’t eat it, that doesn’t make it a bad food.
It has countless benefits for kits, sick or old rabbits. Let us look at some of the reasons why and which rabbits should be eating alfalfa.
Alfalfa comes with the right amount of protein, calcium, sugar and fiber that a baby rabbit needs for it to have a healthy growth and development.
This is why, many vets suggest pet owners to introduce alfalfa to rabbits as early as 3 weeks after their birth while being nursed by their mothers.
Proper food for nursing mother bunnies:
Alfalfa can be a great food for rabbits who are nursing mothers or elderly. Because usually they have trouble maintaining a consistent weight and alfalfa can help them in maintaining that.
Good for weak ones:
Sickly or weak rabbits should eat alfalfa hay or pellets. It will help in healing and strengthening their body while the high levels of protein, calcium and sugar will help to energize them.
When should rabbits stop eating alfalfa?
Rabbits should stop eating alfalfa anywhere from 5 to 8 months old. The earlier the better. The transition will be hard for them if you only feed them alfalfa hay when they are babies.
In order for them to give up alfalfa hay easily, begin to feed them grass hay as well while they are babies and when they begin to reach adulthood cutting off alfalfa won’t be too difficult for them.
It can be dangerous for an adult rabbit to continue eating alfalfa because even though they metabolize calcium and release the excess from their body by urinating.
This can end up causing the formation of urinary stones if they are fed too much alfalfa on a regular basis which is very painful for them rabbits.
How much alfalfa can rabbits have?
The eating habits can differentiate from rabbit to rabbit but the rule of thumb is to feed them ½ cup of alfalfa pellets per 6 pounds of body weight on a daily basis. You can obviously divide it and feed them at two different times.
Keep in mind that this portion is for baby rabbits. Adult rabbits should not eat alfalfa on a daily basis and should only be given maybe a couple alfalfa pellets as a treat sometimes.
Alfalfa can be eaten by rabbits depending on their age. Baby rabbits can eat them in combination with other food such as grass hay and vegetables. But as they start to morph into adults the portion should be first controlled then stopped altogether. Alfalfa is not a good choice for adult rabbits.