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Home Forums DIET & CARE Transitioning adopted adult Holland lop off alfalfa hay and Kaytee Fiesta

This topic contains 4sd replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  A Fluffy Tale 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    Hi all, I’m new here, though not new to buns—my last guy, Goose, was a mini lop who thrived for nine years on a high-quality diet. And I apologize if this is a repeat topic—I imagine it’s a pretty common question, but alas, the search function is currently down.

    My new little adoptee, Snowtail, a 3-year-old Holland lop, has me stymied with his absolute refusal to eat any hay besides alfalfa. He should have been transitioned to timothy long ago but never was; now he turns his nose up at timothy altogether and although he seems to love the smell of Oxbow orchard grass, oat hay, and botanical mix, and rubs his scent all over them, he will not eat them. I’ve tried mixing them in with the alfalfa, but he just impatiently tosses them aside to get at the “good stuff”. Any ideas on how to make the healthier choices more appealing? 

    He was also accustomed to eating Kaytee Fiesta, which of course is chock full of artificially colored seeds and “treat” pieces. I’ve been transitioning him to Vitakraft Sunseed Vita Prima Adult Rabbit Formula, which still has some flattened oats (also artificially colored ), dried carrot, and other non-pellet additives, but at least it’s an improvement and he does like it. Once he’s completely transitioned to that, my plan for the next step is to slowly mix in increasing ratios of a plain pellet food—does anyone have a favorite to recommend? It’s been over a decade since I had Goose, so I no longer remember what pellet I had him on. 

    Snowtail is picky about fresh foods, too—of all the greens and veggies I’ve tested, the only ones he seems to like are carrot tops (of course!), Italian parsley, cilantro, and sometimes romaine. I’m eagerly awaiting the advent of spring dandelion greens and fescue/rye lawn grass for a little more variety in his fresh food. He also adores a bite of carrot, banana, or apple peel, but since his diet is already overloaded with treats and he has occasional excess cecotropes, I’ve been limiting these to one small piece (1/4 inch slice of carrot, half a banana chip, or one strip of apple peel) per week. 

    TIA for any input on how to successfully get this little guy eating better!


    Asriel and Bombur

    Transitioning hay first: how long do you go between non-hay feedings? If you give him only orchard or something else and then only feed him every 10-14 hours, it usually encourages hay consumption. You can also try adding forage like dried herbs and flowers and see if that helps any.

    Better pellets: Oxbow and Burgess are usually the two brands most advocated for on this website. If he enjoys the Kaytee and the Vitakraft, I’m willing to bet he’ll really enjoy the Oxbow Garden Select or the Oxbow Organic Bounty. The Garden Select has herbs and veggies baked into the pellet, and the Organic Bounty has fruity flavors in it. My boys really love the Garden Select.

    Diet overall: Until you’ve transitioned him off the junkier foods, I’d skip out the once a week treat. His pellets are a treat enough in this instance. For veggies, you can try some of the boxed greens from Olivia’s Organic (if you’re in the US). They have sweet baby lettuce and butter lettuce he might really enjoy. My boys go crazy for the baby lettuce. Red and green leaf lettuce with some dill might be a good option to try too



    I’ve heard that when transitioning off of a junky food, you can start by removing all the died bits, oats, etc, so they are left with just the pellet part of the poor quality food. Kind of labor intensive, but then you can transition from that to the new food.

    How many pellets is he getting in total? I’m wondering if maybe he can do with less pellets and that might help his hay consumption? He might go for the alfalfa regardless because it’s so rich.



    All very helpful suggestions, thank you both! Oxbow Garden Select sounds like just the thing, and I’ve placed an order for some I am indeed in the US and can get Olivia’s locally. He likes the baby romaine mix and will sometimes eat the leaf lettuce mixed in. Butter lettuce is a hit too. Offered a mixture, though, he goes for the that Italian parsley first every time—with gusto!

    Although I cut way down on his pellet intake when I got him, I think you’re right that cutting back even more would encourage more hay consumption. He’s currently getting a scant 1/4 cup; he was getting a whole cup a day before he came to me! He’s actually at healthy weight, surprisingly, but that’s probably only because he scatters most of it on the floor of his home so he can pick out the bits he likes…hopefully all that waste will also subside once there are no bits to pick out!


    A Fluffy Tale

    Hi Snowtail I’m having the same problem with my new adopted bun Peter a 2 year old Holland lop. I got him on Monday. Prior to being with me he was being fed similar food to yours but it was actually a guinea pig food mix with lots of corn and other treats. In addition to this he was being fed alfalfa hay but a very very small amount and had a whole carrot in his cage. I’m currently trying to transition him to Oxbow pellets with no luck and he’s not interested in any hay. I even tried giving him alfalfa hay just because I wanted him to have some fibre but he wasn’t interested in that either because he’s just not used to eating hay I guess i’m at a total loss I don’t know how he’s even alive. He’s curious and has plenty of energy and doesn’t seem to be feeling unwell at all. His poops are tiny very dark and rockhard and then his cecotropes are super soft and mushy. He also barely drinks water but maybe that’s because he barely eats hay. I’ve tried him on all the oxbow he types that are available here; Timothy, botanical, orchard grass, meadow, alfalfa, and oat hay.

    The amount he’s eating for the past 4 days has been so minimal I’m so worried

    I gave him a bit of romaine lettuce last night which he devoured so he’s hungry.

    His teeth are fine the vet already checked them.

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