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  #421  
Old 11/21/11, 02:10 AM
 
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The last photo of weeds there looks like lambs quarters, but I am here in WA. We use lambs quarters in salad and things. You might do a Google on pics of lambs quarters and see what you find and where it grows, it's pretty common, but it's hard to tell from those pics. I agree about the chickweed, too. My rabbits eat it.

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  #422  
Old 11/21/11, 11:39 AM
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Great!

Wow. Read the whole thing in 2 days! Great information! I don't raise rabbits for meat, But I have a mutt buck that a friend gave to me about a year ago when "all the new wore off" of having a bun and he was banned to the porch in a tiny hutch with nothing but pellets and water. So, anyways, I would love to cut his pellets out completely in the future, and go on an all natural diet(right now he still has his pellets). Now it's just starting to get cold, so I have been feeding more pellets this last few weeks, for him to keep warm(along with Hay, and greens/weeds) He LOVES pellets. Maybe its because that's what he has always had, but as soon as I fill up his bowl, he dashes over to it and starts eating. (Which stumps me. Why not eat all the fresh hay and yummy weeds and plants over the pellets?) And when it starts warming up in Spring, is when I want to cut out the pellets completely (Even though he may hate me forever) How did you cut out the pellets? Just gradually shrink the portions?

I have a question on a few plants we have around the yard, that I was wondering if anyone has any experience with.
Ornamental Kale Brassica oleracea
Gingko leaves Ginko biloba ( I have seen where a person dried and feed the leaves to her rabbits, But I am still unsure and couldnt find much research)
Orchard grass(the kind thats bagged in petstores)
Any information would be great! Thanks in advance!

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  #423  
Old 12/12/11, 05:33 PM
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Spent grains?

Hi folks!

I love this forum! I've been trying to read through everything, but I don't recall anyone addressing spent grains. Can you guys advise me on my idea?

Here's my background, so maybe you can help me figure this out:
We have 3 does and 1 buck, and breed one doe a month, harvesting one litter of 6 or so a month. We have on average 16-20 rabbits to feed. We're also facing a second pay-cut this year, so we have no 'discretionary income'. We raise these just for our family to eat. Now that we're in full production, we really want to make this work.... We're in Colorado, so the winters are cold but dry, and sunny. We'd like to keep breeding all winter, but maybe that doesn't work?

Here's my main food right now: I have a mix of rolled wheat, barley, and oats that I usually drizzle with a blackstrap-salt-water mix, and this is cheaper to order in bulk than pellets, although not much cheaper. I have lots of blackstrap (ordered in bulk), two bales of alfalfa, and 6 bales of grass hay. Right now, I alternate feeding pellets and my oat mix in the morning, and unlimited grass hay at night.

So here's my question: I have unlimited access to fresh spent grains from all my friends who brew regularly. I can freeze it in small quantities and defrost it as needed. It seems like I could make it work, and cut back on the pellets I buy, if I can replace the nutrients lost in the brewing process, and use the alfalfa I have to supplement (I'm currently not feeding it to them due to the pellets having plenty of alfalfa in them).

Can I add the blackstrap to it, and order bulk sunflower seeds or oil to mix in, and have it be nutritious enough to bulk up friers, at least? Should I mix it into my uncooked grains to make it all last longer? Or should I still give MannaGro pellets to my nursing does and kits? I need to find a creative solution to make it through the winter and am hoping this free food source can help.

I can also supplement my breeders' nutrition with treats of what I foraged this past summer: I have some pillow cases of maple leaves, apple tree branches, willow branches, corn husks, and some various dried plants stuffed in another pillow case. I grew and harvested a few jars of sunflower seeds and collected all hibiscus flowers from 3 bushes this summer. Will my supply of a treat each day (from one hibiscus flower to a small handful of maple leaves or a couple young shoots of willow), help me get by with the spent grains for my breeders or friers?

I appreciate any feedback from you guys. If you have any other ideas, I'd love to hear them too. Or good online sources I might get better prices from for pellets?

Thank you!
Samantha

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  #424  
Old 12/23/11, 03:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by peter_g View Post
OK, I looked up Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Show Formula as a reference. Note, I do not recomend their product and their ingredient list belies their 'natural' claim. But I'm trying to figure out what a home mix natural diet is missing to cause slower growth rate.

Here is their analysis:

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS
Crude Protein (Min)............................................. .......16.00%
Crude Fat (Min)............................................. .............3.50%
Crude Fiber (Min)............................................. ..........18.50%
Crude Fiber (Max)............................................. .........21.50%
Calcium (Ca) (Min)............................................. ........0.70%
Calcium (Ca) (Max)............................................. .......1.20%
Phosphorus (P) (Min)............................................. .....0.40%
Salt (NaCl) (Min)............................................. ...........0.50%
Salt (NaCl) (Max) .................................................. ....1.00%
Vitamin A (Min)............................................. ............. 4,800 IU/lb

INGREDIENTS
Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Wheat Middlings, Ground Soybean Hulls, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Wheat Flour, Cane Molasses, Soybean Oil, Ground Oat Hulls, Lignin Sulfonate, Salt, Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Iron Oxide, L-Lysine, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin A Supplement, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Ferment Product, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Manganese Sulfate, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Zinc Sulfate, Dried Yucca Shidigera Extract, Copper Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate.

https://www.rabbitchow.com/PRODUCTS/ECMD2-0019046.aspx

NATURAL, COMPLETE NUTRITION FOR RABBITS OF ALL AGES

Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Show Natural AdvantEdge™ is a completely balanced food specially formulated to produce shiny fur, rapid growth and excellent reproduction. This blue ribbon winning food contains added vegetable oils for superior fur quality and is designed for enthusiasts who raise and show rabbits and want the winning edge.

Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Show Natural AdvantEdge™ rabbit food delivers consistent, superior quality nutrition that helps keep your rabbit looking great. That's because no other rabbit food company spends the time and effort researching like Purina. New products or improvements to existing foods are only brought to market when they have repeatedly proven themselves in research trials to deliver what you expect.
OK - I just saw this ... Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Ferment Product

Why? Every single reference I've ever found says no dairy for rabbits and you don't need lactobacillus unless you're eating dairy. What gives?
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  #425  
Old 12/23/11, 06:10 PM
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Jana, you can get him off pellet,s but he will need a mineral lick. Kale must be fed in small quantities. Too many brassicas aren't good. Make it part of a balanced diet. He will need hay all the time if you cut off the pellets.

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  #426  
Old 12/23/11, 06:41 PM
 
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I may be naive but why would some one want to feed something besides pellets if pellets are a complete meal? Just seems like more work for the same results?

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  #427  
Old 12/23/11, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by notasnowballs View Post
The last photo of weeds there looks like lambs quarters, but I am here in WA. We use lambs quarters in salad and things. You might do a Google on pics of lambs quarters and see what you find and where it grows, it's pretty common, but it's hard to tell from those pics. I agree about the chickweed, too. My rabbits eat it.
You have to watch the chick weed as it is a diuretic. I always mix it with other greens, especially in the summer when its hot.
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  #428  
Old 12/23/11, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Mosherd1 View Post
I may be naive but why would some one want to feed something besides pellets if pellets are a complete meal? Just seems like more work for the same results?
Because i can grow the rabbits larger on them. Time I have money not so much.
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  #429  
Old 12/23/11, 07:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosherd1 View Post
I may be naive but why would some one want to feed something besides pellets if pellets are a complete meal? Just seems like more work for the same results?
It's a valid question. Natural feeding is not for everyone... and it definitely is more work. It is considerably cheaper per pound to raise rabbits on natural foods, even though it takes longer to get them to butchering size. The real payoffs, from my point of view, are the absence of digestive problems (No gut stasis or weaning enteritis! Yahoo!) and the wonderful flavour of the meat.
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  #430  
Old 12/23/11, 07:33 PM
 
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Alternative to alfalfa and timothy hay? I'm in Interior Alaska, not exactly known for it's lush grasses and grain fields!! Research pasture mixes for the goats, that I could double sow and cut for hay, indicates I'm looking more along the lines of fescue, foxtails and clovers for perennials. I might have a bit of luck planting something perennial as an annual, which is what they do with amaranth and quinoa.

If I really can't grow decent enough hay, would our buns still be fine as long as I make sure they get plenty of fiber and protein from another feed source? I can pretty much grow all the sunflowers, safflower, barley, oats and flax that I want... and, of course, an abundance of those restricted brassicas. I can't afford to keep them on pellets, and don't have the room to store them (worry about them going stale) since I can't get into town for 4-6 months in the winter.

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  #431  
Old 12/23/11, 07:50 PM
 
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Clover could work as a high-protein substitute for alfalfa. I'm not as knowledgeable about what grasses could be used.

Certain trees can be used as forage for rabbits and dried for winter use as well: willow and poplar are two that are excellent. Their leaves are quite high in protein and they will eat the bark from small twigs and branches as well.

You may also be able to harvest some of your wheat or barley as hay, just as it forms the seed heads.

There are lots of alternatives, but you will have to do your homework. Fortunately, winter is a great time to get on the computer and do some research.

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  #432  
Old 12/23/11, 08:22 PM
 
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I'm checking with a hay farmer up in Salcha, but I think I can grow Timothy as an annual and get two cuttings. He's not exactly the same climate as I am, but near enough, so we'll see what he has to say. I'll have to see whether haying the grains nets more nutrition per acre than letting them seed out... of course if I hay it, then I won't have as much straw for bedding Hmmm... wood chips? Have PLENTY of those after firewood processing.

I have lots of willows (mostly bebb), aspen (mostly quaking), birch, and spruce (black & white) on the property... so I'll dig up their nutritional analysis as well (goats browse them too). It's pretty easy to force the willows and aspens. I'm still in the process of hunting down nutritional data on the wild shrubs and native species... easier said than done!

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  #433  
Old 12/24/11, 09:06 PM
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Thank you lonelyfarmgirl, I have been trying to get to the Feed store to get a salt lick, but havent had time! I will definetly get one in the future when I cut the pellets out completely. They had one of the natural mineral stones at TSC but it was a whopping $20! So I am going to look at the community Feed Store and see if they have somthing cheaper.

Anyways, I was wondering how much grains such as Rolled Oats, Possibley Barley, Possibley Wheat, (Not sure yet what the feed store has, but I will definetly get one of the two, if not both)and BOSS, a single rabbit would need to eat to get efficient nutrition? Is there other stuff that needs to be added to that?

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  #434  
Old 01/10/12, 03:22 PM
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Sharing my experiences

I've read through this section numerous times, but have never posted. I am very much into natural animal rearing, having started a long time ago feeding my cats a home-prepared raw meat diet and wrote a book on feeding cats a raw diet.

Now I have a working farm with 11 dairy goats, one Jersey cow, two Arabian horses, lots of chickens, ducks and guineas, working dogs (LGD and Border Collie) and up until recently, a very nice-sized herd of heritage meat rabbits.

On December 28, I purchased three bags of rabbit food made by a local mill. I had bought food from this mill before, but bought it at a different location. Two days after I started feeding the food, I lost a New Zealand doe (with 10 babies on her); four days after that, I lost an American Chinchilla doe (with 7 babies on her); the next day a Creme d'Argent doe (with 7 babies on her). Four days later another American Chinchilla doe (who was due to kindle within days) and a CA doe (with 9 babies on her). I've been loosing baby rabbits right and left. I think of the Creme litter, I have one or two, the older Chin there's two, but I think one is going to die. Of the litter of 10 (the youngest), two are left. I don't know how many of the younger Chin litter are still surviving because they are in with a healthy Chin doe. Interestingly, this doe wouldn't eat the pellets, she insisted on oats and sunflower seeds. Two of my bucks are acting a bit dumpy, but I think they'll be okay. I threw out the offending food yesterday and went to alfalfa/timothy mixed pellets.

All along I've been feeding good grass hay alternated with alfalfa hay. I am in NC and I use low tunnels so my garden is still producing weeds and greens which I have been feeding to my rabbits all along.

I've talked to numerous local rabbit breeders and many of them have said that they've heard or experienced problems with this particular mill. They have recommended Manna Pro (which I've fed in the past), but at this point in time, I'm afraid to go with any commercially-prepared food.

My dairy goats get almost all whole grains while all the milk stand, this year when they freshen, it will be all whole grains, no commercial mixtures; ditto the dairy cow. My horses all get a home-prepared mixture.

I sure wish I had not been pushed to this decision by the death of so many rabbits, but I guess that's how you have to learn sometimes. Most of the local breeders that I spoke to frown on natural feeding, but I feel sure they all live in fear of the same thing happening to them. You just don't know what these big or small manufacturers are putting in these pellets or grain mixtures.

Most of us started homesteading because we wanted to take control of what goes into the meat and other food that we eat. While it's a whole lot more work, I think the only real way that we can do that is to completely ditch commercial mixtures and make our animal food from scratch. I truly think that feeding a variety of different foods is what is going to work in the long run, not some commercially-prepared mixture based on some scientific guidelines which may or may not be accurate for the animals we are raising.

Just my two cents.
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  #435  
Old 02/06/12, 04:59 PM
 
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How heartbreaking to lose so many rabbits to bad feed. I'm sorry you had to go through that.

You are fortunate, however, that you have the acreage and the know-how to make the switch to natural foods for your rabbits. I'm not saying one couldn't get a bad batch of grain, but it is less likely with whole grain than with pellets.

How nice you can gather greens for your rabbits right through the winter. We have to get inventive here, feeding some fresh vegetables and windowsill grown chard and wheat grass. We also dry greens - weeds and tree branches with leaves - for winter use. Along with the alfalfa hay (some grass content) that is the mainstay of their diet and the small amount of whole grain plus a bit of BOSS now and again, they do very well. The fryers do take a bit longer to grow out, but some of the latest batch are ready at 13 weeks.

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  #436  
Old 04/13/12, 03:37 PM
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Hello,
I'm new to the forum... I don't know if I missed it while reading this thread, or if no one has mentioned it, but how do you dry or preserve the clover, or grass, or blossoms you pick for your bunnies? How do you keep the foodstuff from wilting? How long will it keep?

Thanks for this thread, it's really helpful!

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  #437  
Old 04/13/12, 04:12 PM
 
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You can dry most of the greens mentioned. Yes, they wilt but then they dry like hay would. Once thoroughly dry they will keep from harvest through the next winter. It really helps for winter feeding.

I use the large onion or orange mesh bags for drying greens. Do not stuff the greens in... the air needs to circulate. I drive some nails in a wall and hang them up until needed.

You can also dry greens on screens if you prefer. As long as they dry before they have a chance to go mouldy, they will keep a long time.

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  #438  
Old 05/13/12, 08:29 AM
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I dried some dandelion leaves to make hay and the rabbit really loved them.

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  #439  
Old 05/18/12, 09:03 PM
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Wow, there is a lot of great info in this thread! We just switched our rabbits over to a grain mix, ourselves. We mixed it with the pellets for a couple weeks to help them adjust. Between the grain and hay, they have all the things they had in their diet before. Our feed store was really helpful, its even got molasses and vitamin and minerals mixed in, the rabbits seem to love it! I'm thinking it will even help them taste sweeter too, like when we give our goats extra grain to finish them. Not to mention the cost, it is much more affordable this way than it was buying those 50# bag pellets!

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  #440  
Old 06/22/12, 04:59 PM
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great thread!

This is such a great thread. I have been feeding our rabbits naturally. I am not sure for how long but within the past year. Much cheaper. The pellets were costing us $18 per 50lb bag and that was just ridiculous when we had lots of bunnies running around.

We have 3 does and a buck but we raise rabbits for meat so we always have more than that running around. We also raise the rabbits to feed our dog.

My yard has totally been converted to food for us and for the animals (rabbits, goats, chickens, ducks). It is definitly more work but we feel it is worth it.

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  #441  
Old 08/24/12, 03:17 PM
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After thoroughly enjoying the solid time-tested research of this thread, I have to say, very much, thank you!

We just brought home our first two rabbits, a male and female, both new zealand's. i am eager to get them off pellet as much as possible, but will still have it available for them if they want it.

So the very first day i gave them some grass from our place. we must have 5 different varieties of grass, and i think one of them is plantain. jealous, right? the doe took right to it and has hardly touched her pellet since, and the buck will only eat the grasses once he has run out of pellet. should i be worried?

my yard has green grass most of the year, but i probably will be overseeding with winter rye this fall as i have for the last couple of years, it makes the place green all year and enriches the soil. do you think the buns will have trouble switching to rye instead of bahia and crabgrass and other stuffs?

to the gentleman who posted about Bidens alba, thank you. this weed was somewhat a bane of mine as it seeds very well in my neighborhood, until today, when the doe sucked it right down with no ill effects. awesome! she loved it!

i'm curious as to how they will like sycamore leaves. someone earlier posted it was safe, and i'm excited, because my tree is huge and beautiful and now finally useful. do any others have success with this as a forage? do you substitute it for the grassy components in your recipes? what about maple leaves? same questions.

i have read they also love sweet potato vines, bamboo, and banana leaves...but can only assume that all are low in protein and should go in the greens or grassy categories of their overall diet. i'll be planting more sweet potato if for nothing more than their nutritious leaves. thoughts?

as for the protein parts...since alfalfa does not grow here...or comfrey, chickweed, never seen a lambs quarters, blah blah blah, i can only suppose that the best ways to incorporate protein from the garden is by using the greens of leguminous plants, like peanuts, beans, peas, etc. i just planted some cowpeas and black beans hopefully for the fall growing season, but that isn't going to be much. what is everyone else in the south doing for proteins? what about leguminous trees, like mimosa or acacias? even if they are good forage they can be difficult to find at nurseries. sigh.

thank you for the information about apples and pears and roses. apples do not grow well here, but it seems i am constantly pruning that pear tree.

also please be aware that cherry laurel trees, naturalized to the south and originally from india, are not safe forage even though birds eat the little black fruits. this tree is much more common than the bay laurel which looks similar and is edible. cherry laurels are in the prunus family and are naturally crazy high in cyanide, as are the pits of all prunus. i would not be putting in plum or apricot leaves or branches in with my bunnies if i had the choice not to.

has anyone tried citrus peels or leaves? the peels of most citrus are bitter to us, but bunnies might like them, and should be safe. in florida we spray our citrus so be careful of source.

i see a lot of people feed their rabbits grains like corn and oatmeal. which don't grow here well. have you tried sprouting your corn? it should still have all that lysine and other goodness in the sprouts, plus be much more digestible as it is for humans. same for millet and sorghum.

anyone know if sorghum leaves and stalks are higher in protein? it's the only grain i've had success with. and some limited success with BOSS, are the greens from those higher in protein?

Also purslane should be mentioned here, it is a small flowering succulent that is high in omega 3 acids (read : Proteins) and very good for humans and rabbits. i have a lot in my yard, but rarely see it naturally occurring in other parts of florida. it could always be planted though. it's annual and low growing, tolerant of full sun and drier conditions.

Thank You Again!

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  #442  
Old 08/24/12, 05:28 PM
 
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The protein content in sweet potato leaves looks pretty good really. See below. You might want to try the Japanese sweet potatoes that are purple. The greens are tastier than the regular orange sweet potatoes. We eat the leaves in salads, stir fry, and also in blender drinks.

Mac


Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Sweet potato leaves, raw [Sweetpotato leaves]

Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Sweet potato leaves, raw [Sweetpotato leaves]

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Sweet potato leaf meal: 16.5% crude protein.

EFEECT OF INCREASING PROTEIN LEVEL FROM FISHMEAL AND SWEET POTATO LEAF MEAL IN DIET ON PERFORMANCE OF GROWING PIGS UNDER VILLAGE CONDITIONS IN CENTRAL VIETNAM

EFEECT OF INCREASING PROTEIN LEVEL FROM FISHMEAL AND SWEET POTATO LEAF MEAL IN DIET ON PERFORMANCE OF GROWING PIGS UNDER VILLAGE CONDITIONS IN CENTRAL VIETNAM

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Sweet potato leaves (SPL) had a crude protein (CP) content of 25.5-29.8% in dry matter, which was markedly higher than in the stems. The leaves can be preserved as feed for pigs by ensiling with either cassava root meal, sweet potato root meal or sugarcane molasses as additives.

Sweet potato leaves for growing pigs - Epsilon Open Archive


Sweet potato leaves for growing pigs - Epsilon Open Archive

----------------------------------------------------------------------

In addition, the CP content in the DM of sweet potato vines (vines and leaves) ranges from 16 to 29% (Dung, 2001) and the protein has a reasonable amino acid (AA) pattern (Woolfe, 1992; Ishida et al., 2000).

http://www.google.com/url?q=http://w...WgJYbyAsF2TLXQ

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  #443  
Old 08/24/12, 05:31 PM
 
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There is a list of forages and protein contents at beyondorganichomesteading.blogspot.com (Millet, rape, crimson clover, abruzzi rye)

You may be surprised at the protein content.

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  #444  
Old 08/27/12, 04:35 PM
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Here is a link to a study on meat rabbits finished on sweet potato forage that I found interesting.

Sweet Potato Forage Study

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  #445  
Old 08/28/12, 01:03 PM
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Deep Deep Deep South Forages

A biology research paper, written in 1934, and published in the Journal of Mammalogy in 1936, discusses the diets and habitats of the Florida Marsh Rabbit. Unfortunately the paper is not available for public viewing, but I would like to share with you the information gleaned from the rabbits.

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1374414?

About 9 rabbits were captured from Newnan's Lake area, east of Gainesville, Florida, and fed plants found in the surrounding habitat. Sixty-four different species of plants were offered. Some were eaten right away, others eaten only when hungry, and others were not even on pain of starvation (yes, bunnies died during this experiment).

Trees and Vines Eaten Readily :

  • French Mulberry (Callicarpa americana)
  • Dwarf thorn (Craiaegus uniflora)
  • Blackberry (Rubus betulifolius)
  • Dewberry (Rubus continentalis)
  • Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
  • Common elder (Sambucus canadensis)
  • Red bud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Ward's willow (Salix longipes)
  • Yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempivirens)
  • Water oak (Quercus nigra)
  • Groundsel tree (Baccharis halimifolia)
  • Saw brier, Green brier, wild bamboo, jackson brier, sarsparilla (Smilax spp.)


Herbs and Small Plants Eaten Readily :
  • Centella (Centella repanda)
  • Marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle spp.)
  • Cattail (Typha latifolia)
  • Rush (Juncus effusus)
  • Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia)
  • Smartweed (Persicaria hirsula)
  • Ground cherry (Physalis floridana)
  • Nightshade (Solanum sisymbriifolium)
  • Water hyacinth (Piaropus crassipes)
  • Ruellia (Ruellia parviflora)
  • Golden club (Orontium aquaticum)
  • Violet (Viola esculenta)
  • Yellow woodsorrel (Xanthoxalis langloisii)
  • Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
  • Golden fumeroot (Capnoides aereum)
  • Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
  • Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)
  • Chain fern (Woodwardia arealata)


Eaten when no other food was available : Saw palmetto, Lizard's tail, Hackberry, Cabbage palm, Water starwort, mushroom

Absolutely refused : Papaw, Wild plum, Poison ivy, Persimmon, Magnolia (grandiflora), Holly, Muscadine grape, Red mulberry, Wax myrtle, Gallberry, Deer tongue, Spanish Moss, Bonnets, Pokeweed
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  #446  
Old 09/03/12, 09:33 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 4

WoW...what a thread. I stayed up half the night reading, what an eye opener. Thanks.

Let me tell you just a bit about my history. I grew rabbits commercially back in the late 80's and early 90's and sold to Pel Freeze. Had about 125 does at one time. Only fed commercial pellet.

All this came crashing down (literally) in February of 1993 when we had an 18 inch wet snow storm and my rabbit barn, which was 28 x 50, collapsed under the weight of the snow with over 500 rabbits inside. Before you panic too much, we actually did save nearly all of the rabbits, but what a nightmare over the next month, trying to keep them alive in another barn in a colony setting and some makeshift and salvaged cages, till we could finally grow them big enough to sell out and butcher the rest. Anyway, after that, I swore I would never touch a rabbit again!!!

But in the last year or two, I've been thinking about getting just a few for our own meat purposes.... we also have a couple horses, pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats..... and I sure do miss that rabbit manure on my garden also.

This is some great information and I think I have just about everything here around my 100+ acres, so I'm sure I would go this route when raising again.

One thing we do have a lot of around here that I haven't seen mentioned is Sericea Lespedeza.... Goats eat it great..... Cows will only eat it as a hay, but how would the rabbits do on it both fresh and dried. Has anybody fed it? I know it gets a bit stemmy when mature and does have quite a bit of tannin at that point, but young and tender the tannins are lower, and not supposed to be as bad either when dried as hay.

Thanks so much again for all the great information.

Lee

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  #447  
Old 09/06/12, 07:19 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: the Ozarks Mo.
Posts: 353
Smile WOW where was this five years ago!!

I am so glad I found this. I have been looking for information on feeding rabbits a non-pellet diet. I have raised New Zealand Whites off and on my whole life and currently have a small bunny barn going...I have just recently picked up a couple of standard rex does. I CANNOT get the one doe to eat pellets so I started looking online again for information. So glad I did. I know some bunnies who are in for a real treat!!

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  #448  
Old 11/30/12, 11:17 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: East Tennessee
Posts: 14
Such a helpful thread!

Phew! It took me a few days, but I got through all 15 pages! There is such a wealth of information here. When I started in page 1 I knew almost nothing and now I feel pretty confident that I can tip toe my way through a natural diet for the bunnies! Thank you to everyone who contributed.

I'm new here, and new to rabbits in general. My parents have been planning on getting rabbits for several months now, and are scheduled to pick them up tomorrow. Just last week my husband and I decided to jump in as well. We live in the city, but have a good sized backyard and love the idea of raising our own food.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mama View Post
To start with dh and I ended up jumping into rabbits suddenly, that wasn't the plan, but that is how it happened, so forgive my ignorance as I am trying to do catchup research now.
[/B]
Me too, crunchy mama!

I've been reading everything I can about rabbit care for the last week, and still have SO much to learn. I'm bringing three silver fox's home tomorrow, and I think at this point I can at least keep them alive and begin to transition them to a natural diet. One of the does was bred this week so we'll have kits soon, too!

It's winter here, and although the winters here in TN are fairly mild, I will have to get creative for green foods for them for a time. I'd like to tell you all what I have planned and hear your thoughts and suggestions.

I have a hay bale that is a mixture of Timothy, orchard grass, red clover and fescue that I plan to free feed and use as bedding for nests. Even better that's its only $5 and grown locally!

In the future I plan to grow alfalfa or feed alfalfa hay in addition to the grass hay, but for now they will get their alfalfa from Sherwood Forrest's pellets (after they are transitioned off the crap pellets they are already being fed at their current home).

I have deals with several local farmers that I talked to at the farmers market last week that will bring their unsaleable veggies to the market for me to pick up. I'll have to sort through them and find things that I know are safe. I plan to plant a garden in the spring so I don't have to rely on outside sources.

As far as other greens go for the winter I'm thinking about getting a couple of sweet potatoes growing in jars, and sprouting some peas, and sunflowers indoors. I need to educate myself in different sprouting methods, but someone mentioned tying seeds in cloth bags and swishing in water a couple times a day until they sprout and grow. Does anyone else have experience with this method? It sounds so easy!

I plan to feed my pregnant/lactating does and growing fryers rolled oats with molasses/salt water drizzled on them, along with a few BOSS and pumpkin seeds.

As for water ill add 1 tbsp of act per gallon of water.

How does that diet sound? Am I missing anything? Any suggestions?

How quickly can I transition them off of their crap pellets and onto the higher quality pellet? They are already accustomed to quite a bit of greens and hay, so I'm thinking I can up their intake slowly over the course of a month or so until they lose interest in the pellets altogether- as long as I can find another source for alfalfa until I can grow my own.

I have 5 apartment style cages right now, but have hopes and plans to get DH to build a tractor for them. I've been youtubing and googling different types and have a rough idea of a plan and layout. I really want my buns to be able to run and jump around, plus I super despise mowing and would love to have the buns do it for me. I'm not allowed to keep a goat in the city limits. lol

I have no idea what my "lawn" is made up of-tons of different varieties of grass and weeds. Does anyone with rabbits in pasture ever have problems with them eating anything in the lawn that makes them sick? I know I have a poisonous berry type thing that grows near a tree back there, so ill definitely keep them away from it.

I have a mulberry and a curly willow tree, and my mom has a big tuplip poplar so I need to look up their botanical names to double check their safety, unless anyone with experience can tell me about them.

I know I have more questions- just can't think of them right now. I'll be back!


Quote:
Originally Posted by peter_g View Post
Ok, a few thoughts on their feed:

16% protein, nothing special there

The fat may be higher than alfalfa + grain free choice?

There is serious vitamin and mineral supplementation in there, which would be lacking in a hay/greens/grass feed. Much of this could be put together for a custom mineral supplement or custom mix feed if someone is feeding lots of rabbits. It would be harder for a pet owner though. Of particular note is the Lysine which is NOT natural (only synthetic sources are available for feed) but is critical for growth and grass and grains are deficient in it (except barley).

A number of these ingredients are likely for making up for no fresh green feed (such as vitamin A and B) but the lysine won't be present much in green feed. That goes also for salt, calcium, and some of the other elementals.
Peter_g, I really appreciate your posts on this subject. I was doing some reading ops out Sherwood Forest food and thought that maybe their mention of amino acids in the right proportion for optimum growing might have something to do with growth rate. Ill go fined a link.
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  #449  
Old 12/02/12, 06:57 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: FL, Zone 8b/Sunset 27
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What better time than now to transition them off their feed? just slowly start intorducing greens to them along with hay. i would do the hay first actually. My rabbits now jump and mob me when they see me in the yard because they think they are going to get a banana peel or some weeds

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  #450  
Old 12/02/12, 06:14 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 868

I was just told not to feed corn to rabbits even to the extent of avoiding pellets with corn. Anybody have info about this?

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