Is Alfalfa Good for My Rabbit?
Alfalfa for Rabbits
The difference between alfalfa hay and Timothy hay is one that often confuses many rabbit owners, especially first-time owners. It is popular belief that Timothy hay is the better and healthier option for rabbits while alfalfa contains too much calcium for a regular rabbit diet. While this is true when strictly speaking about hay, all of that changes when using it in an extruded pellet diet.
Alfalfa, when used as an ingredient in a balanced diet, provides lots of valuable nutrients. This is different to using it as a hay where it would be making up a larger proportion of the diet. Compared to Timothy, alfalfa offers fiber plus a host of other nutrients, particularly calcium, essential amino acids and vitamins. These natural nutrients are more bio-available to the animal so they make a greater contribution to the rabbit’s diet requirements. Additionally, alfalfa is lower in sugar than grass hay, which encourages a healthier diet and a lower chance of your rabbit becoming overweight.
So, if alfalfa is so good for your rabbit, why is there so much controversy about it? Well, much of the pro Timothy information relates to the hay portion of the diet. Feeding pure alfalfa as a hay is very different being featured as a balanced and complete feed. When used in the form of an extruded pellet, alfalfa offers the rabbit higher nutrition and therefore makes for a very healthy and happy bunny!
In summary, alfalfa as a part of a balanced diet does not present the same issues associated with using alfalfa hay (in relation to high calcium and protein). Additionally, when alfalfa is harvested at the optimum time, it provides more digestible fiber than grasses. Compared to Timothy, alfalfa offers fiber and a host of other nutrients.