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Sugar Ray's Rabbits

Feeding Advice
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Feeding Advice

Feed Recommendations for Rabbits

One of the most common questions I am asked by old and new breeders alike is, “What are you feeding?” They all seem to be looking for a miracle feed.

“NO FEED” will be a quick fix for poor health practices and an unsanitary environment.

There are several different theories on the proper way to feed a rabbit.

Some of the commercial rabbit feed dealers tell you to “Feed our variety of feed,. It has everything essential for balanced growth and nutrition.”

Some breeders use several different types of additives to improve the general health of their animals. Everything they introduce into their animals’ diet changes the balance that the feed company has already balanced for the nutritional needs of a rabbit.

I feed a small amount of Timothy hay twice a week. The fiber and protein seem to help digestion and increase the animals’ activity levels. I can see a general improvement in the animals the day after I feed the hay. Make sure you select a high quality hay that has a sweet smell and a nice dark green color. Watch for mold, dust or a damp feel to the hay. Hay will mold very quickly so store it in a dry area. Never put hay on the ground or on a cement floor, it will absorb moisture and mold.

Here are some feed facts that might be interesting:

Timothy hay:

Crude Protein 15%

Fat 6%

Calcium 25%

Alfalfa hay:

Crude Protein 15-20%

Fat 7%

Fiber 30%

Alfalfa hay may be too high in protein for young rabbits to digest and may cause diarrhea.

Oat hay:

Crude Protein 7%

Fat 1.5%

Fiber 30%

Great for nest boxes and a great source of fiber, may help with diarrhea problems

Sunflower seeds:

Crude Protein 16%

Fat 25%

Fiber 30%

The natural oils found in black sunflower seed are high in fat. These oils help with digestion, and add a nice sheen to their coat.

Fruits

Fruits are a great treat but the natural sugars, (fructose) if given in large amounts, may be harmful to the rabbits digestive system.

Apples, Bananas, and Papaya should be fed in moderation.

Apple seeds, I have been told, will cause diarrhea problems. I have not seen this in my animals.

Fresh Papaya and Pineapple may help stimulate a rabbits diet.

Other green vegetables that are palatable to a rabbit:

Kale: rich in vitamins A and C, feed sparingly contains oxalates, which are toxic

Collards: rich in Calcium and vitamin A

Arugula: good source of vitamins A and C

Mustard greens: vitamin A, folic acid and calcium

Chard: potassium, magnesium and calcium

Endive: vitamin A and foliate

Broccoli: vitamins A and D, feed in moderation, creates gas and diarrhea

Rosemary: iron and calcium

Basil: iron, calcium and vitamin A

Mint: vitamin A and magnesium

Parsley: vitamins A and C

Cilantro: vitamins A and C

Rolled oats: high source of fiber and calories

When using any of these fruits or vegetables, select only those varieties that are of the highest quality. Make sure that they are fresh and show no signs of mold or being spoiled.

When introducing any new type of feed, (even if it is just a new grain) into you rabbits’ diet, introduce it slowly. Adding large amounts of any new type of feed will disturb the normal flora of the digestive tract.

Mix the new grain into their old grain in small increments. One quarter of the new grain to three quarters of the old grain. Then increase the amount of new feed by one quarter increments as time goes on.

The digestive tract of any small animal is fragile and will shut down if a huge change is introduced rapidly.

Make sure that the animal is digesting (eating) the new additives by monitoring the fecal matter to see if it looks normal.

 

Salt

 

Salt is an important item to introduce into the normal diet of a rabbit. If the rabbit doesn’t need the added salt it will just extrude it. A salt lick or just sprinkling it on their feed is sufficient. Added salt will increase water consumption and decrease the amount of blockages in their intestine.

Water

Water is essential to a rabbit’s diet. If the rabbit doesn’t have access to enough clean, clear and fresh water nothing else is going to matter. Change their water daily, and in hot weather check it twice a day.

Water is the cheapest thing you can feed them!!!

 

Grain

A high quality grain from a reputable grain dealer is the most important part of your animal’s diet.

Look for a dealer that has a high turn over of grain. Sometimes a small dealer will buy grain in bulk, and store it too long.

A good 16% protein grain is sufficient to maintain a good balance of growth, nutrition and condition.

Don’t buy feed with pretty treats in it. It is just full of sugar that the animal doesn’t need.

With any feed, watch for mold or any changes in appearance. If the feed looks or smells different take it back to the dealer.

Do not buy more feed than you can use in a reasonable amount of time.

Always store your feed off the ground, in a clean, cool and dry area away from other animals or insects.

If you store grain in a barrel make sure you empty it each time you refill it. The grain on the bottom may have spoiled.

Check the grain in the rabbit’s dish or feeder. In hot weather it can spoil quick.

 

These are just a few facts that might enlighten you to alternative types of feed.