Timothy hay is a special crop that can be harvested three times in one season. With each cutting, you have different results! When putting together the perfect diet for your rabbit you’ll need to understand 2nd vs 3rd cutting Timothy hay.
Sara's talking all about these two cuts of Timothy hay on YouTube!
While the earlier cuttings have more fiber, they’re also harder to chew for certain rabbits. So if your rabbit isn’t able to chew the thicker stems then they need a later cutting to get enough fiber!
The 2nd vs 3rd cutting Timothy hay debate depends heavily on your individual rabbit!
But before we talk all about our rabbits, let’s sort out these different cuttings of Timothy hay!
Harvesting 2nd vs 3rd Cutting Timothy Hay
Timothy hay is first harvested at the beginning of the summer, usually in June. This is 1st cutting Timothy hay and it yields the crunchiest hay. 1st cutting Timothy hay is where you will find mostly stems and also some flower heads.
Flower heads are the reward for being a strong chewer!
The farmer will leave 4-6 inches of hay behind to continue growing into 2nd cutting Timothy hay! 2nd cutting Timothy hay has some leaves and is generally not as fibrous to chew as the 1st cutting. So, the fiber content is a little less than 1st cutting.
This second crop will grow for around two months before it’s harvested and the third round begins. Not all farmers continue for a 3rd cutting which makes this late-season crop rare. This is mostly because it’s harder to get lucky with mother nature as you move into the fall.
The farmer that harvests perfect 3rd cutting Timothy hay basically wins the nature lottery.
But when you do get farmers dedicated to that 3rd cutting Timothy hay you end up with a very soft and leafy hay. 3rd cutting has the least amount of fiber compared to the earlier cuttings.
Which Cutting Is Best For Your Rabbit?
There are a few things to consider when you’re picking out hay. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get your rabbit to eat as much hay as possible. So there can’t be a one size fits all answer to the best hay, because if your rabbit won’t eat it, it’s not the best!
A rabbit can turn their nose up at any type of hay, especially if it’s low-quality hay. High-quality hay has little dust and smells excellent! So if you're going to test out different types with your bun, make sure they are all high-quality fresh hay!
The general recommendation for healthy adult rabbits is 2nd cutting Timothy hay. This is because it has enough roughage to keep their teeth worn down but it’s still soft enough that it doesn’t deter most picky rabbits! It also has a great carb: fat: protein ratio for rabbits.
If your rabbit is young, old, picky, or not in tip-top health then you may have a few more things to consider.
Your Rabbit’s Teeth
A rabbit’s teeth are always growing which means they need to be always chewing! They need enough roughage on their teeth to keep them worn down to a healthy length. Overgrown teeth can become extremely painful which stops a rabbit from eating enough hay.
For this reason, you want to have the tougher 2nd cutting Timothy hay if your rabbit will go along with it. If your rabbit has a history of overgrown teeth then 1st cutting may be better to keep encouraging that rough chewing.
Some veterinarians recommend softer hay for rabbits currently struggling with pain or other health issues, but check with your vet for your specific bun!
Your Rabbit’s Digestive System
A rabbit has a very delicate digestive system that needs lots of fiber moving through it every day. The more fiber, the more movement.
GI Stasis is a life-threatening condition where a rabbit’s digestive system slows down. If your rabbit has a history of GI stasis then it’s important that they are eating high-fiber hay. And again, you just want to give them the most fibrous hay that they’ll go for.
Your Rabbit’s Health and Energy Levels
A rabbit needs to do a lot of chewing every day which can take up a lot of energy for an older rabbit or a rabbit with health issues. If your rabbit doesn’t have the energy to chew up 2nd cutting Timothy hay then 3rd cutting Timothy hay may be just what they need.
Rabbits who have low energy may eat less in general. 3rd cutting Timothy hay is slightly higher in fat and protein than 2nd cutting making it higher in calories. For this reason, it may be included in a diet plan for rabbits needing to gain weight.
Some rabbits may have plenty of binkie energy but are just picky or lazy when it comes to hay. In this case, 3rd cutting may be best or some parents will mix 2nd and 3rd together when debating 2nd vs 3rd cutting Timothy hay.
Your Rabbit’s Age
Young rabbits need alfalfa hay which is higher in fat and protein. This is perfect for rabbits who are doing a lot of growing! As they get older they’ll need to transition to Timothy hay.
3rd cutting Timothy hay can be a good transition hay as you move from alfalfa hay to 2nd cutting Timothy hay. It’s a softer texture for those picky young rabbits before they adjust to the tougher stems.
And as we mentioned before, sometimes older rabbits can’t eat and chew as much. In this case, it’s perfectly fine to move them to the 3rd cutting. Because the more hay the better!
Time to get your hay!
Use discount code HAY5 at checkout to get 5$ OFF 2nd or 3rd Cutting Timothy Hay. We recommend trying both at first to see which one your little one prefers.
To redeem this offer, simply visit our store and select 2nd or 3rd cutting timothy hay (or both!) Once at checkout, input discount code HAY-5 to receive $5 OFF!
*Minimum purchase of $20.00 for discount to be applied. One use per customer.*
Get To Know Your Rabbit
When you first bring home a new adult rabbit, you’ll probably grab the 2nd cutting Timothy hay to try it out. If you have multiple rabbits then 2nd cutting is probably what you’ll grab as well.
If you want your buns to try a little of both, and a few other types of hay, consider grabbing the Sampler Box. This has 2nd cutting Timothy hay, 3rd cutting Timothy hay, Orchard hay, and Oat hay. Open up the box and see which section disappears the fastest!
As you bond with your rabbit, you’ll learn their preferences. If they have any issues you can adjust accordingly. Finding the right hay is all about listening to your bun and getting them the best options and quality that you can.
We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.
Before adding any new product, please consult your exotic veterinarian. If your pet is acting unwell and you have concerns for their well being, please contact your vet immediately.