Although rabbits are herbivores, most rodents are omnivores. Commercial rodent food is available, but some studies have shown that feeding rodents rabbit food can be pretty nutritious. Combining commercial food with meat treats such as worms or dried fruits can help meet the necessary protein and vitamin intake requirements. Many rabbits and herbivorous rodents believe that pellets diets are the best. Still, it has been proven that hay mixtures are more appropriate for these species providing the necessary nutrition to live the best life. Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas have single-chambered stomachs filled with bacteria that help digest cellulose found in plants. It is wrong to believe that these rodents cannot live a healthy and energetic life on a diet based on hay.
Timothy Hay is a well-known brand that produces mixtures of different hay strains to provide rodents with the necessary nutrients to maintain their health and vitality. Customers have left reviews that their animals have shown great improvements since switching their diets to it.
When having a herbivore animal, it is best to do some research on what specific nutrients you should be providing them with. As the name states, these animals thrive on eating plant-based ingredients. Their needs are more based on fiber, vitamins, and minerals rather than protein. Some protein is required, but its origin has to be vegetal.
Hay is considered to represent a very nutritious meal for herbivores, especially as rabbit food. It is a high fiber and high energy source with a low protein level and low calcium grass that brings benefits to the animal’s health. Timothy Hay uses the highest quality of hay to ensure the intake of the necessary nutrients. Their hay comes in three cuts which are different from each other. The first cut is the roughest but also the highest in fiber. This cut is slightly lower in the overall nutritional value, so if you want your pet to lose some weight, this is perfect for him. The second Timothy Hay cut contains a balanced amount of fiber and proteins. And the third one, while it is known to be softer and greener, also has less fiber but an increased amount of protein.
Health Benefits of Different Hay Types – Rabbit Food
Some may believe that hay grows only in one type, but this is not right. There is a range of many different hay types that separate into two big categories: legumes and grass . A rare type of grass hay called meadow hay has been added into its mixture of edible plants such as dandelion. This type can be more variable in composition than the simpler one due to the presence of these nutritious edible plants. Legumes consist of alfalfa hay and clovers. The alfalfa, also known as lucerne, found in Timothy Hay mixtures, is a greener type of hay and has the highest protein levels and calcium compared to the other types. This one is suitable for baby rabbits that need more calcium, and it is to be avoided when it comes to older rabbits that need to avoid calcium as much as possible.
In addition, rabbit food hay offers forage which represents a mixture of plant materials, leaves, and stems. This mixture requires a lot of chewing that helps rodents maintain good oral hygiene and not allow the teeth to overgrow.
Rabbits and guinea pigs that do not get such mixtures of hay to chew on tend to do more fur chewing, leading to serious gastrointestinal illnesses.
Where Does Timothy Hay Grow?
The specific type of hay used in the manufacturing process of this brand’s food products is called perennial grass, and it requires special climate conditions to grow and develop its nutrients. You will be surprised to hear that the places this specific strain grown need to have harsh winters at high altitudes and long warm summer days with chilly nights. The cold helps to kill weeds and pests, damaging the hay’s development. Heath and lack of water during summer may delay the growth, but the process goes dormant until it meets the requirements again. Water helps germination and growth, which is why drought is an enemy for the development of this hay strain. Wind is also a critical factor in this process of growing Timothy Hay . It helps the drying time to be shorter. A longer drying time can affect the quality.
Here is a list of areas most suitable to grow it:
- Lethbridge, CA
- Ellensburg, USA
- Eureka, Nevada
- Madras, Oregon
Phosphorus in Forages
During photosynthesis, converting light’s energy into a chemical one, phosphorus is triggered to be developed. This light energy is essential for the plant’s growth and full development. Phosphorus is also a key aspect to consider because it substantially impacts root growth. Its levels influence how the digestive process of dry matter evolves, and a certain minimum level is necessary for transforming carbohydrates. This element helps convert nutrients into energy, and it benefits bone structure, delivers oxygen to the organs, and helps the hormone products. It can also influence connective tissue development and maintain normal pH levels.
A shortage of phosphorus, for example, in your rabbit food can lead to severe illnesses influenced by the loss of appetite, weight, and overall weakness. It can powerfully impact your pet’s life leading to mineral deficiencies.
It is perfectly safe to feed herbivore rodents hay mixture with rabbit food. There is a wide variety of hay to choose from. The essential nutrients in hay help maintain long-lasting vitality and health. In case you consider the diet to not be enough for your pet, you can always add other dried plants or fruits as a supplement to their nutrition.
Talk to a veterinarian about how much your pet should be eating. This advice should be received only from a specialized doctor to avoid obesity or malnutrition. The transition of your pet’s diet should consist of a mix of hay and pellets to make it easier for the digestive system to get accustomed to the new intake.