Changing your rabbit’s hay is an important part of taking good care of your rabbit. Rabbits use hay for bedding, to eat, and sometimes as a bathroom. Keeping the hay in your rabbit’s hutch fresh and clean will go a long way to keeping your rabbit happy and healthy.
Hay bedding in a rabbit’s living space should be changed once a week if the rabbit uses a litter box. If a rabbit doesn’t use a little box, this hay will need to be changed once every 2-3 days. Additional hay should be added at least once daily as rabbits will likely consume this hay for food.
Don’t worry. If you still have questions. Below we’ll discuss how often to change your rabbit’s hay, how often to top it off, and what you can do to save money on bedding costs.
Determining How Often to Change Your Rabbit’s Hay Bedding
How often you need to change the hay in your rabbit’s living space will depend on how many rabbits you have, whether or not their litter trained, and how good they are about using their litter box.
- Rabbits that aren’t litter trained: If your rabbit uses hay bedding as its bathroom, you’ll need to change the bedding as often as you would change the litter box. This means once every two days or more regularly if your rabbit “goes” more than most.
- Litter trained rabbits: Change hay bedding once a week as part of your regular hutch cleaning routine.
- Inexpert litter users: You may need to change the hay more often if your rabbit isn’t an expert litter box user. How often depends on just how often your rabbit doesn’t use the litter box.
- Hutches with more than one bunny: If you have multiple rabbits living in the same space, the hay may need to be swapped out more often, especially if your rabbits aren’t litter trained.
How Often Should You Add Hay to Your Rabbit’s Living Space?
You should add a handful of hay to your rabbit’s hutch whenever you see that the hay is getting low. Rabbits require a high fiber diet, and hay is an essential part of getting the fiber they need and prevents dangerous digestive issues. Rabbits will snack on hay almost continuously throughout the day.
Most owners find that topping off their rabbit’s hay once or twice a day keeps their rabbits well supplied.
It is easy to know when it is time to top up if you use a Rabbit Hay Feed Rack. When the feeder is low, just fill it back up!
I purchased the Sunglow rabbit hay feed rack for my bunny Mocha. I loved how easy it was to install and I was really surprised by the great quality construction, especially for such a low-priced feed rack! Take a look at this awesome hay feed rack on Amazon here.
TIP: Don’t worry about removing hay when you top off. Your rabbit will use any extra hay as bedding.
Just change it out with the rest when you do your once a week cage cleaning.
4 Money-Saving Tips for Changing Your Rabbit’s Hay Bedding
The cost of hay is one of the largest expenses of owning a rabbit, which is probably one of the reasons you’re wondering just how often it is necessary to change it out. But hay doesn’t have to be costly. There are several ways you can reduce the cost of hay without harming your rabbit or making them unhappy.
1. Buy Hay by the Bale
Many rabbit owners buy their hay by the bale. A bale of hay will last anywhere from several months and up to a year, and it usually costs only between $10 and $20 for approximately 50 pounds of hay. This price will vary widely depending on where you live and how you source your hay. The best place to start is your local feed store.
Benefits of buying hay by the bale:
- Bales of hay are a fraction of the cost of buying by the bag.
- Locally sourced hay could support local farmers.
Things to consider before buying hay by the bale:
- You will need a place to store the hay, which is a bit messier in bale form.
- It may be more difficult to source inexpensive bales of hay in non-rural locations.
- When shopping, remember you’re buying hay, not straw, which is not good for rabbits.
2. Shop Around for Your Hay
If you’re picking up hay at a pet shop, you’re likely spending way more than you need to!
Here are some other places you can try to keep the cost of hay down:
- Local feed supply stores—Tractor Supply is a well-known feed supplier, but you may find even better prices at a local supplier.
- A local farmer—If you live rurally, you might find that the farmer down the road is willing to part with some hay for a steal or even for bartering.
- Amazon—Amazon’s prices fluctuate, but you can sometimes find good deals on hay, especially if you don’t live near a feed supply store. I purchase Kaytee Timothy Hay from Amazon and it is always reasonable. price. Check out Amazon’s current price here.
TIP: When shopping around, be sure to check out paper bedding. The cost difference between paper bedding and hay is usually negligible, but you never know when you’ll spot a good deal.
3. Use Washable Bedding for Your Rabbit
The best way to avoid spending money on hay is not to use hay at all! Many experienced rabbit owners switch to washable bedding and only provide hay for their rabbits to munch on. The rabbits don’t mind, and you’ll save quite a bit in the long run.
Rabbit owners who take this approach to bedding commonly use inexpensive fleece blankets. You’ll still need to change the bedding just as often as when you use hay, but instead of tossing the bedding, you’ll wash it.
Benefits of washable bedding:
- You save money in the long run, especially if you can’t buy bales of hay.
- The soft material is gentle on their paws.
- Rabbits love snuggling in the fleece material.
- Fleece does a fantastic job of keeping outdoor rabbits warm in cold weather.
Things to consider before buying washable bedding:
- You’ll want to buy a study looking fleece material. Dense fleece generally holds up better.
- You’ll incur some costs from running your washing machine an extra time each week.
- It is difficult to remove hay and hair from the fleece, so cleaning it will take some time.
- Only use a small amount of detergent and skip the fabric softener when machine washing. If your rabbit is on the sensitive side, use gentle or fragrance-free detergents.
- Some rabbits will purposefully destroy the fleece in their hutch. This may just be out of boredom, but if you can’t get your rabbit to stop, this may not be the best solution for you.
4. Litter Train Your Rabbit
You’ll save yourself some headache all around if you litter train your rabbit, and you will definitely see a savings in how much you spend on hay.
Benefits of washable bedding:
- You’ll save money on hay because you won’t need to change the hay as often. This could cut your hay costs in half.
- You’ll have an easier time cleaning out your rabbit’s hutch every week because the dirtiest parts will be contained in the litter pan.
- The hutch won’t get a smell. You’ll be able to change the litter pan as often as needed with just a little effort, and the hutch will stay fresh smelling.
Things to consider before litter training:
- Not all rabbits do well with litter training. Your rabbit might just be that kind of rabbit!
- Some rabbits will kick the litter pellets out of the box and make a mess of their hay. Admittedly, this is not as big of a mess as they would make if they weren’t litter trained.
- Never use kitty litter with rabbits! This litter can be poisonous to rabbits or cause serious health problems if they eat it.
How often you need to change your rabbit’s hay depends on how quickly they dirty it. Litter training your rabbit will go a long way to reducing the number of times each week you need to clean out the old hay and bring in the new.
But if your hutch is starting to smell even a little bit, check on the hay. It is likely dirty, and you should clean it out right away to keep your hutch sanitary and your bunny happy.