Is anyone growing their own grass hay just for a small to medium herd or rabbits and guinea pigs? It doesn't seem like it would take that much land or effort for a small to medium sized rabbitry or caviary. But I could be completely wrong. Who has tried it, and how did it go? If no one has tried it, where would you start?
Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation. --Oysterband
First, you should build a storage to keep hay. In frost days or bad weather day, you will need a safe place to keep hay.
One more thing store the best quality hay you produce.
Then buy or collect the materials that you will need to create hay.
Rabbits will eat the equivalent of 5 square feet of dense grass per day at the minimum, so the math would be 5 x # rabbits = x sq. ft. per rabbit for fresh food.
For winter feeding of hay you would need to multiply the above figure by the number of days of feed needed.
The best hay is usually a Bermuda hay, it has approx. 18 - 22 % protein content for first cut, dried hay.
You could add red, crimson, white (Dutch) and or yellow (sweet) clover(s) to a pasture you wanted to use for hay making for those two species of animals.
Good info! I've been thinking about raising guinea pigs and this very topic has been on my mind the past few days.
So we have bermuda being recommended by the good doctor but any insight on timothy or alfalfa? I know you can't let ruminants graze freely on alfalfa because they'll eat too much and go pop so to keep it fenced off from them. I'm imagining a polyculture field for tractor grazing guinea pigs and making hay. Maybe 2-3 different kinds of grass plus other stuff including the recommended clover.
You can see with only one eye open, but you'll probably run into things and stub your toe. The big picture matters.
Timothy is the best, or at least most recommended for pet owners.
Alfalfa is to be avoided for the most part unless their environment is cold, as it causes their body heat to jump.
I know that red clover is a problem for some ruminants, especially pregnant ones, but I never got a straight answer as to if this applies to rabbits.
My rabbit, a Flemish Giant named Mizzou, will eat a sunflower plant down to whatever is left above the soil line, though if it's three metres high, it might take her a bit. I would see if that works, along with other plants they will eat. I wonder how nettles would go over...
Incidentally, one of the first things I read when researching rabbit ownership was that there was a distinct difference in raising a pet versus raising a meat rabbit, even if coming from the same litter. Apparently, it is desireable to limit the amount of protein the rabbit gets if you intend it to live a long time as a pet. Someone raising rabbits for meat has no such considerations, and frankly wants as much weight gain and growth as is healthy for the breed in as short an amount of time as possible. Meat rabbits don't need longevity.
So Timothy is best for pets, I think, but in cooler climates, a mix including alfalfa might be better for meat rabbits.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein