Rabbit Nutrition/Feeds


If you want healthy and productive rabbits, the animals should be kept clean, fed wholesome food and a regular feeding schedule should be followed. The food chart depends basically how you plan to maintain your rabbitry. The geographical location also important. Different rabbits face different challenges and problems. However, some common and certain guidelines can be followed for the success.

  • Water
  • Hay
  • Grains
  • Supplements
  • Salt
  • Table Scraps
  • Commercial Feeds
  • Storage Space

WATER

Although the water needs of each rabbit differ, all of them require a steady supply of fresh and clean water. A doe and her litter of 8 children need more than a gallon of water in an average twenty four hour a day. Sometimes the water habits also changes from day to day. At the same time a full supply of water should be always kept before them.

Never give your rabbits surface water, or the water that has been kept in an open area or container. Maybe the water had been fresh early in that day, it has the chance of getting contaminated.

When the temperature is freezing, it would be best to take the chill from the water. At the same time the water containers should not be kept in the hutch when there is a possibility of freezing. The easiest way of watering in a cold weather is to offer your animals in the morning and in the evening. Later the container can be removed after they have had their fill.

During warm weather, and especially when the climate is very hot, try to keep your water containers away from the sun. If they are subjected directly to the sunlight, the water may reach 100į F. All the time you should provide porper comfort and health to your rabbits.

It should be noted that, to prevent the water from freezing, some rabbitries use heat tape on the water. So if youa re planning to build a large rabbitry, you may face little problem with freezing water. So if the rabbitry is small, general instructions should be followed.


HAY

Hay is a good source of fiber for a well-balanced ration. A good portion of high-quality hay will supply most of the protein in a healthy diet.

Many kinds of hay contain very high protein, such as legume hays, including clover, alfalfa, cowpea, vetch, and peanut. They are also palatable. Grasses, such as timothy, prairie grass, Johnson grass, Sudan grass and carpet grass, are good but they are known to be less palatable and approximately half as much protein as the legume hays. If you are feed grass hays, make sure to add protein to the ration for a proper balance.

All grass hays should be green in color and be free of any kind of mold. The moldy, damp, and dirty grasses can cause diseases.

Good leafy, finely stemmed and well-cured hay can be fed to rabbits without cutting them. Coarse hay should be chopped into 3-inch to 4-inch length, so the animals can digest and eliminate waste. Cut grasses from a freshly mowed lawn can be fed as part of the ration as long as the grass has not been sprayed with insecticide.


GRAINS

Lots of large and small rabbitries use a variety of grains to their animals. Barley, oat, rye, wheat, soybean grain, buck wheat, and soft variety of corn is a good source of the daily ration. It should be noted that, do not feed castor beans, or poppy, golden rod and oleander seeds. They are very harmful to the digestive system of the rabbits.

Most of the grains are similar in food value. They can be alternated for one another without shifting the nutritive value of the feed.

It would be wise to avoid the finely ground feed. The tiny elements can enter to the rabbitsí nostrils and cause sneezing and irritation.

Though some rabbitries maintain to feed grains and alfalfa as feed, the successful farms have discontinued their use primarily as it takes too much time to feed. Storing grains, grass, and hay through climatic changes, and protecting it from mold, rodents, and insects, are also time consuming.


SUPPLEMENTS

Feeding hay and grain to the rabbits is not enough. Itís important to add the necessary supplement to their daily diet which will provide proper nutrition. It can be in the form of soybean, peanut, or linseed meals, which are all rich in protein. If you want healthy rabbits, itís essential that you add whatever supplements are necessary to their ration.


SALT

The rabbits need a certain amount of salt to their daily diet. This requirement however differ in various breeds of rabbits and also with different climates. So it can be provided by adding small salt spools to the side of the hutch. Then a rabbit can lick the salt as desired. It should be nited that these salt spools should not touch the wire and metal cage parts. Then the contact of salt with metal will cause corrosion.

If the salt spools are not available, 0.5 to 1 percent fine salt can be added to the mixed feed as required.


TABLE SCRAPS

As a few rabbits are kept as pets, itís possible to feed them directly with scraps from the table. At the same time this should be determined that whether these scraps provide a balanced meal. If not, the missing nutrients should be supplied to assure healthy rabbits.

Uncooked leftovers, such as vegetable greens, carrot and beet tops, lettuce, and potato peelings, are favorable to the rabbits.

Various fruits, like apples and pears can be fed too. Also stale breads that do not contain mold can be fed to the rabbits.

It should be noted that, never feed your rabbits spoiled, sour, or greasy leftovers. Do not feed them meat scraps, fresh or cooked. Though the rabbits will eat meat scraps, they usually are not acceptable to their digestive system and it may cause sickness.


COMMERCIAL FEEDS

In united states, more than three-fourths of the rabbit owners, from the person who got one pet rabbit to the owner of a large commercial rabbitry of five thousand or more animal, use commercial feeds solely. It had been established to be more easier, more cost-effective, and in the long run, it provides more nutritional value per daily ration than hay and grain.

Which brand and type of commercial feed are good to be used is up to you. To know more, you should check with the other local rabbitries and hobbiests in your area. Try to find out, what are they using which ascertain a successful result. Also while purchasing a rabbit, try to use the kind of feed the breeder you buy from uses. Even, if you have no other rabbits in your rabbitry, you will be better off using the same feed. Or else, you should provide a gradual change over of feed, which may become difficult to do successfully if you are a beginner.

If you live anywhere, where there is no chance of choosing variety of feeds, there is no need to worry. As long as you have supply of fresh and clean feed, they are sufficient to raise healthy rabbits. Actually most commercial feeds include the required nutritional needs for healthy growth, the majority exceed this necessity by a large margin.

Always follow the companyís printed instructions, when buying any commercial feed. All feed companies also publish helpful booklets describing the feeding system for a beginner. They even include excellent instructions of how to feed the animals or general care of the breeds.

There are three fundamental types of commercial feed that one should look into. Pick the one that you feel best suits your particular rabbitry program. So you should not rush but make a careful decision. You should always consider of the area you are leaving. For example, supplements are more likely to be available in rural areas but usually not in the cities.

The first kind of commercial feed is the all-grain pellet, which must contain a quantity of hay served with it to maintain a balanced diet. It is an excellent feed but at the same time you should remember that there are additional expense and labor with feeding the hay.

The most commonly used commercial feed is the complete ration pellet, which is usually dark green in color. This pellet includes all the required nutritional necessities which help to produce a healthy animal along with excellent growth in the young.

It should be noted that none of these types of pellet contains medication. So it is advisable to add medication to the water to help prevent diseases.

Some manufacturers also make a complete ration pellet which contains all food requirements along with medication. Actually all rabbits are greatly at risk to respiratory problems and the dreaded coccidiosis, medication put in the pellet establishes a long way towards a successful program of preventive medicine.

It is found that, a medicated feed is the most successful feed to use and the added cost is negligible. in fact, feeding a medicated pellet will include about 3 Ĺ cents to the cost of raising a rabbit to its full maturity. So it is a reasonable price to pay for a healthy animal.

A proper feeding program is a key to a successful and healthy animal. This will not only produce strong and healthy litters but also a good source of excellent meat.

While purchasing a feed, never accept any container or sack that have been opened and then taped or stapled shut. So if you have any doubt about the feed, do not purchase it. So cheap feed is no bargain.

When you are opening a new commercial feeding sack, remove the label from the bag and keep it until the feed has been used. If for any reason the feed causes sickness or death to your animals, the tag should immediately be sent to the feed company. Then they will be able to verify from the code stamped on the tag where and when it was produced.


STORAGE SPACE

All the rabbit feed, whether it is hay, grain, or commercial feed, must be stored in a place that is rodent and insect free. The feed should be kept in dry places which are protected from dogs, cats, rats, and chickens as they are the carrier of disease to your rabbitry. So after opening a sack of feed, put the remaining inside a container with a tight lid. A plastic or galvanized garbage can, with a tight lid will also provide useful and economical security for the feed.