Why we have chosen not to sell Ryegrass Hay

A question that is becoming more and more frequent is whether we sell ryegrass? The simple answer to this is no, but it's important to know the many reasons behind this decision and the potential consequences of feeding ryegrass.

Ryegrass, sometimes marketed as 'sweet hay' has recently gained more interest in the last 12 months from brands introducing this into the marketplace. 

Ryegrass has been used as a staple in intensive farming setups, the milk and beef industries are heavy users of this grass as it's a quick and cheap grass to grow that provides high levels of growth for the animals needs. It's a grass that is high in fructans (natural sugars), which make it a very palatable feed with high energy. It's also been used in the racehorse industry where large amounts of energy are needed in short bursts to fuel intense energy needs.

Most animals (rabbits included) will happily enjoy consuming this grass due to the sugars within the plant. Just because they are seen to be happily eating this grass doesn't necessarily mean it's the best or most appropriate diet to feed. 

To better understand why ryegrass is not a good option, we're going to go into some of the specifics below -

High in fructans

As mentioned above, ryegrass can potentially be high in fructans. Some forms of ryegrass have even been genetically modified to produce very high levels of sugar. For an animal that does not require consistent high energy level requirements, these high sugar levels are not suitable as a long term feed and may lead to health concerns.

Potentially higher risk for GI Stasis

One of the leading factors in cases of GI Stasis is due to a build up of bad gut bacteria. More often than not, this is due to certain foods that cause fermentation to happen within the gut. Due to the higher fructan levels within ryegrass, it has the potential to cause higher fermentation levels within the gut, leading to a build up of bad bacteria over prolonged periods of feeding. 

Ryegrass Toxins

Ryegrass is a grass that is inherently susceptible to mycotoxin build-ups. One mycotoxin, 'Lolitrem B,' is notorious for inducing staggers across livestock. Another, 'ergovaline,' has the potential to trigger heat stress and reproductive issues. While some strains claim to be endophyte-free, the risk still lingers, as the infection can spread without certainty.

There are better alternatives!

For these compelling reasons, we've chosen not to offer rye grass as a feeding option. It's a grass that carries risks that outweigh its benefits, particularly when compared to other nutritious hay alternatives. Some individuals in the industry may sell it, often marketed as "Sweet" hay, but it's crucial to scrutinise the composition and ascertain whether high amounts of rye grass are present.

Never forget, the mere presence of a product on the market doesn't automatically equate to its suitability or safety. At Hay Box, we stand firm in our commitment to your animal’s well-being. Our ethos revolves around one steadfast principle: offering only feeds that are unequivocally safe and completely natural. In a world filled with options, we strive to be your unwavering source of trust and assurance, ensuring your animals receive nothing but the finest. 

Most scientific and veterinary research has been carried on larger mammals such as horses, however more research is starting to be undertaken on the consequences of feeding ryegrass to smaller animals such as rabbits. 


Ryegrass Poisoning - Special Pet Topics - MSD Veterinary Manual (msdvetmanual.com)

Rye Grass Questions | Calm Healthy Horses

Annual ryegrass toxicity in livestock | Agriculture and Food