Part of providing a healthy diet for your rabbit is making sure she eats hay every day. Hay is a source of the fiber and nutrients your rabbit needs to properly digest her food and to stay healthy. Stuffing a hay rack full of grass hay will provide hours of grazing pleasure. If you've never used a hay rack before, you might wonder whether it's worth the expense or if it's just a useless accessory.
Some Are More Effective Than Others
The rabbit section of pet supply and feed stores offers a variety of different types of hay racks, some of which work better than others. For instance, the way some racks are built pull the tiny leaves off of clover and alfalfa hay stalks. Since those leaves are a yummy treat for your bunny and are the most nutritious part of the hay, using a rack that doesn't have a trough to catch the leaves is a waste. Other designs might not be secure enough to hold the hay in once the supply inside has dwindled down. You don't want your rabbit eating hay that she has been sitting on, walking on or otherwise soiling in any way, so you'll have to throw out any hay that the rack has allowed to fall out onto your rabbit's hutch floor. Keep in mind too that the effectiveness of even the best hay rack depends on your individual bun. If she doesn't like the rack or how it works she might not use it, making the rack doubly worthless, because you will have spent money on a rack your bunny doesn't use and she won't be getting the nutritional benefits from the hay.
There are two different types of hay racks. One is used inside your rabbit's cage and is a wire holder that secures a supply of hay in place, allowing her to pull free a stalk or two of hay at a time. The other type is a three-sided box with a bottom and no top that is attached to the outside of your bunny's cage. Your rabbit can pull the stalks of hay through the wire of her cage. Some people prefer one type over the other, but which one you choose depends on your bunny. You might get her a rack that fits inside her cage only to find that she empties it entirely onto her cage floor and only nibbles a few pieces of hay, making it obvious that an exterior mounting hay rack would work better for your little diva.
If your bunny's cage has a wire top instead of a solid one, you don't need a hay rack at all. With a cage made entirely of wire all you need to do is put your bunny's daily ration of hay on top of her cage and she'll reach up and pull the stalks through.
Fashion Your Own
You can purchase a hay rack at a pet supply or feed store, but they are simple enough to make. Plus if you aren't sure which type of hay rack your rabbit might prefer, making one can be more economical than buying three or four feeders and finding that none of them work for your bun. U-shaped plate racks or wire shoe racks are both easy to modify items that can get a second life as a hay rack for your rabbit. Bend them into a V shape and use wire or zip ties to attach them to the side of your rabbit's cage. The V shape creates a front and a back that holds hay in place up off the floor of your rabbit's cage until she pulls it out. Put a piece of cardboard, plexiglass or plywood behind your homemade hay rack to act as a barrier that will keep hay from falling outside your bunny's cage, creating a loose hay mess on your floor.
Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.