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Hay……. It’s a really good thing.
by Joy Kretzer

I am writing this to give everybody a few pointers and reminders about feeding hay to your Holland’s.

First, and most importantly, you must start with a very clean, green, and fresh hay. Make sure that it does not have any dust in it, or smell musty. Here in Texas the best hay to feed is Coastal Hay. It is a very good hay and is loaded with great fiber and protein.

I am fortunate to live in a County that is considered to have the best hay in the state. Most hay here is irrigated and fertilized and many of the hay raisers in this area have continually won the Texas state hay show year after year. The hay is tested for protein content and fiber content, as well as texture, color, etc…

For example, the hay that won this last year tested out at 14% protein. I am fortunate to have access to nice quality hay, and all of that good quality hay has saved me many times. I have a few finicky eaters around my barn. That do not really eat their pellets well, but they love their hay! They literally stay alive and well on free feed hay. Now, only a good quality hay can give so much back to a rabbit!

All of my Holland’s get free choice fed hay. Their large hayracks are full at all times with fresh hay. Feeding free choice hay will not make a rabbit get fat. Hay does not do that. It gives them good things they need and keeps everything moving through their digestive system. J

On top of good nutrition for your Holland, feeding hay also helps prevent fur blocks. I have been feeding hay the way I do for 18 years to my rabbits, and I have NEVER had a rabbit with a fur block. So, I am pretty confident that it is from feeding so much hay. Or, I guess it could be just good luck, or maybe both… But I will bet on the hay.

Hay also plays an important part of my rabbitry by being used in the nest boxes. I use a couple of inches of fresh clean pine shavings on the bottom of my nest boxes with a nice amount of hay on the top. By using a good quality hay in the nest box it helps with several things. First, mom and babies chew on it, and you want the best for those little babies trying to grow up in there. They can get the right start in life before they ever touch the floor wire just from using the right hay in your nest boxes. Also, by using good hay, you do not have dust, molds, and bacteria growing in with your babies. Sure helps with enteritis problems also. Just make sure to keep the hay plenty and fresh. It it becomes soiled or too “hairy” make sure and change the hay in the nest box but be sure to transfer any clean hair that is still being used for nesting material into the new clean nest box.

As discussed before, having hay also helps with those finicky eaters. My first Holland “Baby” (was her name) lived almost solely on hay. She always did well and kept condition on, and went on to win many legs through the years at shows.

Another benefit of feeding hay that I have discovered through the years about feeding lots of hay is that it really cuts down on boredom for the rabbits. Instead of just laying around all day, they really have fun with their hay. Lots of my Holland’s can be seen pulling hay out of their hayracks one piece at a time, playing with it, and then

eating it. Piece after piece through out the day. Adults and babies also really like it if you throw a handful in once in a while so they can jump and burrow in it. For those that have Holland’s that weave, chew on wire or feeders, etc… etc…. hay can be very helpful to those Holland’s. They tend to just play and eat the hay all day instead of getting into trouble.

I also do not have a problem with fur chewing from Mom or siblings because of feeding hay. If they have something to do all day that is fun and tastes good… then they are less likely to “bother” each other in those methods.

Well, I could go on and on about the benefits of feeding a good quality hay to your Holland’s, but I think you have the idea.

One more thing before I go…. I do strongly recommend that you use hayracks for feeding hay. If you just throw it on the cage floor everyday, it tends to get very messy and lots of times they might go the bathroom on it and that really makes a mess. Also, it tends to fall through the floor and get wasted faster than they can eat it. You can purchase the type of metal hayrack that I use at a very reasonable cost from Vanecek Bunny Farm. Remember, they will deliver to the shows if you call and place an order, so you do not have to pay any shipping costs.

Good luck and keep your Holland’s happy-feed them hay everyday. If you have any further question please feel free to contact me anytime. Joy Kretzer

page last updated 3/1/06
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