The essential and main diet for a rabbit is hay and fresh grass.
Hay must be fresh and top quality.
You will NOT get that in supermarkets. You rarely get that in pet shops.
Oxbow hay is the best we have in Australia. It is packaged in bags and quality control checks are in place. If you have more than one or two rabbits and are on a budget you might like to explore buying hay in 'bales'. A bale of hay is around 1 metre long and 40cm across. If you store it up off the ground in a dry, dust free part of your home or garage then it will last you quite a while.
Where to buy bales of hay for rabbits
Agricultural Produce stores stock hay in ‘bales’. Depending where produce stores buy the hay in from it is either top grade and fresh or poor grade and old. Old hay is known as ‘Shedded’ hay.
I recommend 3 hay types of hay. Having various hay racks will be handy. To keep the bunny's gut and teeth healthy the 3 hays are working in different ways to support that.
Hard Hay: Oaten Hay
Soft Hay: Timothy or Rye or Teff
Treat & Tempter Hay: Lucerne
All the 3 hays should be fresh cut and top quality. A fresh hay tends to have a greenish appearance. Lucerne should be very green and leafy.
I suggest a hay bag or large hay rack on the side of the playpen with a large litter tray underneath.
Ikea sell a plastic bag holder which we have found awesome as a hay rack.
A hay bag can be made in minutes from a fabric shopping bag. Just cut a hole in lower front of bag. Hang it from a hook (S shaped hook) from Bunnings.
How do you tell if hay is good or not when purchasing?
Look carefully and closely at the hay. It should have a fresh green tinge. It should not be brown and dull. That would mean it has been left in the rain in the paddock. If you are checking a bale of hay then look inside. The outside of the bale might be sun bleached but if it is greenish inside then it is good.
Smell the hay. A fresh, good quality and well harvested and stored hay should smell fresh and not mouldy or dusty.