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  #281  
Old 07/31/09, 06:46 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 435

i have had to let the rabbits out into a colony they seem to realy like sorghum/milo as green feed and grain also nopal cactus im not sure of the
exact species but it is the large thornless variety.

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  #282  
Old 08/01/09, 02:45 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: KS
Posts: 60

Maybe I should plant some it for them and see what happens? Might be to late in the year but I could try next year..

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  #283  
Old 08/01/09, 10:35 PM
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NY
Posts: 504
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Originally Posted by chris weins View Post
hello Im new here to the group and have 8 little rabbits that have just come out of their nesting box 3 days ago they are ready for food?I was feeding mama pellets and the babies are eating them?I wanting them to be raised organically so I see I have to get rid of the pellets and make up a feed myself.I have heard these pellets arent organic.I have a bag of organic whole barley should I crush it Up for them.Any good recipes..... what about soybeans?thanks Chris ......Oh I have California rabbits
I feed mine organic pellets. They are twice more expensive, and I get them shipped here, but it's worth it to me. I also buy certified organic grass hay locally.
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  #284  
Old 08/02/09, 08:57 AM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by vikav View Post
I feed mine organic pellets. They are twice more expensive, and I get them shipped here, but it's worth it to me. I also buy certified organic grass hay locally.
Sounds like an excellent product and a good solution for you, Vikav.

We can get an organic mash for rabbits here from Homestead Organics, but unlike yours it contains soybeans. Roasted soybeans are okay, in moderation, for rabbits... but I do not eat soy products even at second hand. And organic feeds are very expensive.

http://www.homesteadorganics.ca/
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  #285  
Old 08/02/09, 09:36 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggieJ View Post
Sounds like an excellent product and a good solution for you, Vikav.

We can get an organic mash for rabbits here from Homestead Organics, but unlike yours it contains soybeans. Roasted soybeans are okay, in moderation, for rabbits... but I do not eat soy products even at second hand. And organic feeds are very expensive.

http://www.homesteadorganics.ca/
Some feed mills will pelletize your mix for you, and in theory it's cheaper and easier to find organic ingredients and put it together. However, it would not be practical for a backyard rabbit production, but would only work for a larger operation. We also don't have a mill here that does organic stuff only, and when it does the conventional pellets, even if you convince to make a small batch of organic stuff out of your own ingredients, it would have some conventional stuff mixed in it, just because of the way the equipment works.
Thanks for posting the link to homestead organics. I've been looking for organic feeds closer to NY, as currently I pay an arm and a leg for shipping. Homestead Organics seems to have a distributor in NY, I may contact them to see what they offer and what they want for it. Thanks again.
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  #286  
Old 09/11/09, 06:21 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: OR
Posts: 486

I have read this entire thread and some of the others concerning natural feeding and grain feeding and while I have learned a ton from everyones experiences, there are some specifics I can't find. I checked my current food/cost/growth ratio and am finding that if I look ahead at future plans, I will not be making much profit. I am looking at shifting over to a 50/50 grain blend of oats and barley, adding molasses, BOSS, and free feeding hay (thoughts on quality grass w/ clover vs. alfalfa) as well as adding a mineral salt spool. In doing this does the molasses need to be the blackstrap?

The place I used to work is a bean and pea processing plant and I can get raw barley at next to nothing prices. As I don't know much about grain, I'm assuming that raw is what I would find at a feed store? It's not processed in any way?

And lastly, what would the growout rate of my buns look like? We have a buyer that is looking for 4.5-6 lbs., between 8 & 12 weeks. Would I be able to meet those guidelines?

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  #287  
Old 09/11/09, 06:54 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by pfaubush View Post
I have read this entire thread and some of the others concerning natural feeding and grain feeding and while I have learned a ton from everyones experiences, there are some specifics I can't find. I checked my current food/cost/growth ratio and am finding that if I look ahead at future plans, I will not be making much profit. I am looking at shifting over to a 50/50 grain blend of oats and barley, adding molasses, BOSS, and free feeding hay (thoughts on quality grass w/ clover vs. alfalfa) as well as adding a mineral salt spool. In doing this does the molasses need to be the blackstrap?
If you are feeding a pelletless diet of grains and hay, I really must recommend that you also feed some fresh forage as often as possible. I feed mainly safe weeds from May to November and such things as carrots, beets, pumpkin, grain grass (grown in plastic bins), outer leaves of romaine etc. from November to April when nothing much is growing here. Tree branches and leaves (fresh in season, dried for winter use) from apple, pear, hard maple, sycamore, poplar, willow, elm are also good.

The molasses does not have to be blackstrap, but blackstrap is far more nutrient dense than fancy or table molasses. If you google blackstrap molasses nutrients and then fancy molasses nutrients you will see what I mean. Blackstrap is from the third boiling of the sugar cane juice and is one of the few "waste" products that is far more nutritious than the primary product (sugar).

If you are not feeding pellets you will definitely want to feed quite a bit of alfalfa hay or perhaps an alfalfa/timothy mix. They will need the protein in it, since they are not getting pellets. You may also want to feed some grass hay for its benefits to the GI tract, but do not depend on it to put weight on your fryers.

Quote:
The place I used to work is a bean and pea processing plant and I can get raw barley at next to nothing prices. As I don't know much about grain, I'm assuming that raw is what I would find at a feed store? It's not processed in any way?
That is correct. "Raw" barley is what you want. Barley and oats are the best grains for rabbits. Wheat is also fine. Corn is less desirable (lower protein). Whether you decide to go "pelletless" or merely supplement the pellets with barley, you will find that it is an excellent grain and very palatable to the rabbits once they are accustomed to it. Do not overlook the possibilities of sprouted grains - excellent nutrition and they counts as "fresh". Just beware of mould.

Quote:
And lastly, what would the growout rate of my buns look like? We have a buyer that is looking for 4.5-6 lbs., between 8 & 12 weeks. Would I be able to meet those guidelines?
I doubt you can meet this goal without feeding pellets - or at least some pellets. Rabbits raised on hay/grain/greens typically take considerably longer to reach that magic 5 pounds. If you have excellent stock you may be able to reach it by 14 weeks. I have meat mutts and usually raise mine to 16 weeks. you may be able to score points by playing up the "natural" diet. I do believe that the meat from rabbits raised on hay/grains/greens is tastier and leaner.
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  #288  
Old 09/11/09, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MaggieJ View Post
I feed... Tree branches and leaves (fresh in season, dried for winter use) from apple, pear, hard maple, sycamore, poplar, willow, elm are also good.
How do you harvest and dry the leaves? I have been kinda stumped on that one. I have been trying to figure out how to do this for my goats and of course my rabbits when I get them...
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  #289  
Old 09/11/09, 07:16 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by smwon View Post
How do you harvest and dry the leaves? I have been kinda stumped on that one. I have been trying to figure out how to do this for my goats and of course my rabbits when I get them...
Well, I can't comment on goats because I have no experience with them, but for the rabbits I either hang the small branches with leaves in bunches (as you would herbs, but larger bundles) or cut them up and dry and store in bushel baskets (which allow very good air circulation, so no worries about mould as long as you don't cram them in). Burlap sacks, open at the top, would likely work as well.

BTW, plants such as blackberry, raspberry and cattails can also be dried using these methods. Smaller weeds can be dried in mesh onion bags - the 10 pound size are great. I just hammer nails into the walls of the rabbitry, as high up as I can reach, to hang these bundles and bags. An old sheet with knots tied in the four corners and zip-tied to nails makes a great sling for drying plants. Once they are thoroughly dry, just fold the sheet in half against one wall and it stores them well, allowing air circulation but keeping off the dust.
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  #290  
Old 09/11/09, 07:18 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: OR
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Thank you Maggie. I wonder how much of the pellet I would need to use in order to achieve my 'target'. I guess I could start transitioning one of my new does before I breed her and use her and her litter as test subjects. The cheapest pellets I can find are 16% and 12.49, and only if I buy by the ton.

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  #291  
Old 09/11/09, 07:27 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by pfaubush View Post
Thank you Maggie. I wonder how much of the pellet I would need to use in order to achieve my 'target'. I guess I could start transitioning one of my new does before I breed her and use her and her litter as test subjects. The cheapest pellets I can find are 16% and 12.49, and only if I buy by the ton.
That's a question I cannot answer. When I quit feeding pellets, I quit! Except for the buck I got from Moonkitten a couple of weeks ago (he's still in transition) none of my current rabbits have ever tasted a pellet.

I hope as you work towards your best feeding program that you will post results so that other people can benefit. There has to be an optimal formula for people wishing to feed some pelleted food for faster growth and some hay/grains/greens for economy/flavour/variety.
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  #292  
Old 09/11/09, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by MaggieJ View Post
Well, I can't comment on goats because I have no experience with them, but for the rabbits I either hang the small branches with leaves in bunches (as you would herbs, but larger bundles) or cut them up and dry and store in bushel baskets (which allow very good air circulation, so no worries about mould as long as you don't cram them in). Burlap sacks, open at the top, would likely work as well.

BTW, plants such as blackberry, raspberry and cattails can also be dried using these methods. Smaller weeds can be dried in mesh onion bags - the 10 pound size are great. I just hammer nails into the walls of the rabbitry, as high up as I can reach, to hang these bundles and bags. An old sheet with knots tied in the four corners and zip-tied to nails makes a great sling for drying plants. Once they are thoroughly dry, just fold the sheet in half against one wall and it stores them well, allowing air circulation but keeping off the dust.
I intend to feed my rabbits pretty much like I feed my goats. The feed requirements seem very similar. The ideas for storing them are great! And using bushel baskets is a great idea! And the sheets are very imaginative - good idea! Perhaps open bins would work as well...
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  #293  
Old 09/11/09, 07:35 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Open bins would certainly work... perhaps with a "dust cover" of burlap once the plant materials are dry.

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  #294  
Old 09/11/09, 07:39 PM
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Thank Maggie!

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  #295  
Old 09/11/09, 11:18 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: OR
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I will definitely post what I do. I will also have tons of questions as I go along. My husband and I have been having a great discussion on alfalfa pellets vs. alfalfa bales vs. general rabbit pellets and now I'm completely lost.

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  #296  
Old 09/12/09, 07:52 AM
aka avdpas77
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: central Missouri
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If one is not going to feed rabbit pellets, the they should use alfalfa hay. Alfalfa cubes or alfalfa pellets are going to end up costing you as much as regular rabbit pellets by the time you add the costs of all the other stuff you will need to feed.

The only trouble with the hay is that the rabbits tend to waste a lot. Since I use regular rabbit pellets, I feed grass hay. Losing 25-50% through the wire doesn't bother me as it is cheap and goes into my garden as compost anyway. Some people feed alfalfa in regular hay feeders (the sheet metal kind) and then put a tray under it in the cage so the leaves fall into the tray instead of being lost. I have never done this myself, so I don't know how well it works.

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  #297  
Old 09/13/09, 09:20 PM
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Plaintain Seeds (giant)

Found this while googling plants. http://www.carolinapetsupply.com/cat...f37f57d7f3927f
Thinking of putting a small patch of weeds and other greens next spring specifically for the rabbits and thought these giant plaintain would do well with clover and dandelion.
Does anyone have any experience with feeding Austrian Winter Peas, Cowpeas, Mangels, or fodder turnips adn greens to rabbits?

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  #298  
Old 09/14/09, 07:29 AM
 
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Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by breckenmore View Post
Found this while googling plants. http://www.carolinapetsupply.com/cat...f37f57d7f3927f
Thinking of putting a small patch of weeds and other greens next spring specifically for the rabbits and thought these giant plaintain would do well with clover and dandelion.
Does anyone have any experience with feeding Austrian Winter Peas, Cowpeas, Mangels, or fodder turnips adn greens to rabbits?
Imagine a giant version of common plantain! Very cool!

A bunny garden is a good idea. Plantain will grow almost anywhere, as will dandelion, chicory (they have seeds for it as well), clover etc. Maybe some lemon balm and common mallow (malva spp.)

I have no experience with Austrian Winter Peas, Cowpeas, Mangels or fodder turnips. Old timers have cautioned against feeding mangels before Christmas and say that one must never feed the leaves to rabbits. (This was from a 1942 Young Farmer's booklet on raising rabbits, but I have seen the same advice elsewhere.)

I have fed pumpkins, beets, carrots and apples as "fresh" in winter and I grow grain grasses in dollar store dishpans. You could also grow plantain, clover and dandelions indoors.
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  #299  
Old 09/18/09, 10:44 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: PA
Posts: 35
newbie help!

Hi! I am new to this site and when I found this thread last night, I stayed up late and read the whole thing! I have been looking forever for information on alternative ways to feed rabbits. Just a couple of quick questions:
1) How are you harvesting the weeds/plants? pulling them up by the roots or cutting them off at the ground?
2) how much raspberry leaves do you feed at one time? a couple of leaves or a whole handful?
3)How are you feeding the dried weeds/plants to the rabbits? I put them in the hay bins and they just disintegrated. I am not sure the rabbits got any of them.
thank you for your help! I have just bought some new zealands, and while I will probably feed the young ones (being raised for meat) pellets because I really don't want to spend 16 weeks waiting for them to reach butchering size, I would love to feed the breeding stock mostly what I can grow in my yard. thank you again!

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  #300  
Old 09/18/09, 01:47 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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Hello Pafish6 and welcome to the rabbit forum!

Please add your state or province (and maybe a direction like NE or SW) to your profile. So many rabbit questions are location-related that it helps a lot. Thanks!

I normally cut the weeds rather than pull them. There are some roots (dandelion and chicory come to mind) that are edible and valuable as feed, and since these are plentiful I occasionally treat the rabbits to them. In general though, if you are harvesting over a period of years from an area, you stand to lose some valuable feed plants if you pull them roots and all. I take a large bucket and a pair of pruning shears when I go gathering. Many weeds, like mallow, sow thistle and prickly lettuce, will send up new growth very quickly after being cut back.

If your rabbits are new to greens you will want to go slowly at first. Raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, and plantain (plantago major) are all very safe... they will cause neither diarrhea or constipation. You can start with a few leaves and work up to a good handful after a week or so. By the end of a month you will not have to limit amounts. Chicory, clover, dandelion, mallow, sow thistle and prickly lettuce are all widespread and valuable as feed. Dandelions can be slightly laxative but are not usually a problem. In fact they can be very useful in that regard. It's just knowing what to expect and not rushing the rabbits... and being vigilant for any adverse effects.

Try serving dried greens in a pie plate or on a heavy dinner plate or even on a cardboard box cut down to an inch high. You night have to put a brick on the cardboard if your rabbits are rambunctious, but it should solve the problem of crumbling leaves. Leaves that are still on the stem seem to hold together better.

Hope this is enough to get you rolling... but do ask other questions as they occur to you.

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Last edited by MaggieJ; 09/18/09 at 01:59 PM.
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