Alfalfa Hay vs. Timothy Hay: Which Is the Better Choice for Your Rabbits?

Best Hay for your Rabbit

If you have rabbits, you want to feed them the best food possible. Both alfalfa and Timothy hay are great forage options for rabbits, but which is best? Alfalfa hay is legume hay, while Timothy hay is grass hay. Both are good sources of fiber and support healthy digestion in rabbits. However, you may need to look deeper to decide which hay is best for your furry friends. Read on to see how these hays compare.

Baby Bunnies

Like any baby animal, baby rabbits must be fed differently than adults. Baby bunnies need more protein and calcium than adults, and alfalfa hay is the best option to meet their needs. Alfalfa hay’s extra calories and nutrients will help keep baby rabbits healthy, making it an ideal choice.

Adult Rabbits

Once rabbits reach adulthood, they need less protein and calcium, making Timothy hay a better option. Timothy hay is lower in protein and calcium than alfalfa but helps adult rabbits maintain their digestive health. The high fiber content in Timothy hay helps keep rabbits’ digestive systems functioning properly and helps reduce the risk of problems like GI stasis.

Pregnant Bunnies

While the average adult bunny can get by with Timothy hay, pregnant bunnies may need the extra nutrition offered by alfalfa hay. The additional protein and calcium in alfalfa hay can help pregnant bunnies get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and give birth to a healthy litter. Plus, these bunnies will have to nurse their young, so the extra calories in alfalfa hay can help to fuel that process.

Weight Concerns

Since Timothy hay has a balanced protein, fiber, and fat level, it’s best for maintaining a healthy weight in bunnies. Alfalfa hay contains more fat and protein, which can cause weight gain in rabbits. As mentioned, a growing baby bunny can take advantage of alfalfa hay’s extra protein and calcium. Still, if your adult rabbit is struggling to stay at a healthy weight, they could benefit more from the lower levels of fat and protein in Timothy hay.

Calcium Levels

Alfalfa hay has a high amount of calcium, which can often be too much for adult rabbits. Excess calcium can lead to bladder problems or urinary tract infections (UTIs). They can get bladder stones, which can be fatal if not treated. If your rabbits are prone to UTIs or bladder problems, you should opt for Timothy hay. Timothy hay helps to keep calcium levels balanced and reduces the risk of urinary problems in adult rabbits. Of course, a growing baby bunny needs extra calcium, so in that case, alfalfa hay is the best choice.


It’s no secret that rabbits can be picky eaters. Thankfully, bunnies enjoy both of these hays. However, if you want to give bunnies a special treat, they may prefer the sweet taste of alfalfa hay. While delicious, Timothy hay is grass-based and has a milder flavor that some bunnies may enjoy more.

Digestive Tract Health

The high fiber content in both alfalfa and Timothy hay is good for rabbits’ digestive systems. The type of hay you choose should depend on the age of your rabbit and any specific health issues they may have. If your rabbits are young, alfalfa hay is the best choice because of its high levels of protein and calcium. Timothy hay is a better option for adult rabbits as it supports digestive health without the risk of overfeeding them on calcium.

Different Cuts

Unlike alfalfa hay, Timothy hay comes in three different cuttings. The first cut has a high amount of stem and low leaf and is full of fiber. It’s good for overweight bunnies that need to slim down. Then there’s the 2nd cut, which has an ideal balance of nutrients and fiber. It is the most popular and widely available of Timothy hays. Finally, the third cutting has less stem and more leaves, which makes it a softer feed. So, when it comes to variety, Timothy Hay is the clear winner.

Nutritional Needs

As a pet owner, you must consider your rabbits’ nutritional needs. Talk to your vet about what is best for your rabbit, as they may need a more specialized diet depending on their age and health. For example, if your bunny has bone issues, your vet may suggest adding alfalfa hay to their diet due to the high calcium levels. Your rabbit may also have food intolerances or allergies, so consult a vet before changing their diet.

Variety is Key

While alfalfa hay may be better for baby bunnies and Timothy hay may be better for adult rabbits, the truth is that variety is key. Feeding your rabbits a mix of fresh grass hays can give them the nutritional balance they need. Alfalfa hay can be fed to adult rabbits in moderation, as it is high in calories and protein, which could lead to obesity. In nature, rabbits eat a variety of grasses, so try to replicate this in your bunny’s diet.

In conclusion, alfalfa hay is often the best for a balanced adult rabbit diet. Alfalfa hay is a tastier treat that provides extra protein and calcium but should only be fed to adult bunnies occasionally as it can lead to obesity. Alfalfa hay is the best option for young growing bunnies due to its high calcium and protein content. Variety is key, so try to feed your bunnies a mix of fresh grass hays for the best nutritional balance. If you have any questions about your bunny’s diet, make sure to consult with a vet. Contact us at David Woods Hay, a long-time supplier of alfalfa hay bale, for nutritious and clean rabbit feed today.