Feeding Rabbits Naturally

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by MaggieJ, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. H2Homestead

    H2Homestead Member

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    After research in the plant forum (and reading up on some of the suggestions made there), I'm pretty sure that the sapling on the right is Honey Locust. My bunny was pretty willing to nibble at those (are the leaves/twigs okay for them? I know that wild rabbits will eat the pods, but IDK about the plants themselves).

    I haven't had a chance to yet, but I'll check later today when I get home to see if the plant stinks when it's bruised. In another forum it was suggested that it could either be the staghorn sumac/tree of heaven if it stinks or black walnut if it doesn't. Either way, my bunny turned his nose up at it when I offered a couple leaves to him. So I'm assuming that's not one they like...
     
  2. cloudhidden

    cloudhidden Well-Known Member

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    Almost seems like I remember another post (on a different thread?) discussing their horses eating tree of heaven, so it MAY be ok to feed (more research needed) but if they don't like it and you have other options, I wouldn't bother either.
    Thanks for the interesting post, tho! It's amazing how many species of saplings look like each other.
     

  3. Scoutgirl

    Scoutgirl Well-Known Member

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    Hello everyone!! I have to say, this thread is very informational!! I finally got through all 27 pages. I have had bunnies for the past 8 years now, started with feeding just pellets then slowly moved to pellets and timothy hay etc. I now have a 8-9 month lionhead buck and a non breeding rex doe that a neighbor found one day a couple years back. Both are outdoor bunnies year round. In the winter their houses are filled with straw and the buck gets a heat lamp if it's extra cold.

    The doe has a very large and spacious double dog run pen filled with grass and weeds. She has two dog igloos and a burrow or two for shelter. Our dogs keep off any predators and I've never had issues with her in there. And yes, the pen has a roof. Considering all of the greens she has during the spring and summer I free feed her pellets and give her timothy hay along with the pellets. However she wastes the hay and prefers greens to pellets. As winter comes I'll increase her hay and hopefully she'll start eating it.

    My little buck is in a large -3x8ft or so pen with wood floor about a foot off ground. I'm just wondering if his diet is sufficient. I currently feed him 1-2tbsp of a mix rabbit pellets and boss(1 pt pellets 4 pt boss) a day with either a small handful of grass hay or alfalfa hay depending on if it's 1 or 2 tbsp. he also has free timothy hay hanging above his litter box. In the summer I've been giving him about 2 cups of grass and 2 cups of weeds(dandelion,leaves,regular clover-1 leaf not 4,mint,twigs etc), sometimes more, sometimes less. Whatever he doesn't eat goes into his litterbox until the next day. He usually eats most of it, leaving some grass.

    When the pellets run out I plan on feeding a larger handful of alfalfa hay(I'm figuring a handful about the size of the bunnies head?) and boss occasionally-I love how soft it makes their fur. I'm just about out of timothy hay but I just bought a few bales of plain grass hay for them and the goats. I also just got a cattle/horse/sheep etc mineral block for both bunnies and goats. However I'm in the process of breaking it up so at the moment he just has some powder from it. They also get fruit/veggies occasionally depending on availability.

    Does this diet of alfalfa/grass hay/ weeds and mineral lick sound okay? Or do I need grain even though neither are for eating or breeding? If grain is needed would some wheat or chicken scratch do? Does the amount of everything sound okay too? I know questions about different weeds and about feeding alfalfa have been answered, but what about with no grain? Thanks for all the help!!
     
  4. viper125

    viper125 Member

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    Salem,Ohio
    Well with winter coming along, I have changed my hay from Timothy and orchard grass to a Alfalfa with a little clover mix. Started buying the 6 x 6 round bales. Than just unrolling them slowly.
    Along with that we feed pellets, about 1/2 cup morning and evening. Kits are exposed to it from day one. And by 3-4 weeks are eating a lot it seems. Hoping to cut back on the pellets.
    They get other weeds, fruits and veggys during the summer. I did chop down a bunch of wild raspberry stalks and saved. They love them fresh and seemed to like the old dry ones too. Figured id try giving that this winter.
    Hope to get them off the pellets in near future. But its hard to break the habit. So been reading all i can on this natural feeding.
    A little tougher with me as i have about 20 does going. So need a easyier way to feed too!
    '
     
  5. KatieVT

    KatieVT Well-Known Member

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    Hello! My name is Katie. My husband and I live in the, currently very cold, state of Vermont. I raised angora rabbits for years, but gave them up when I got married. Recently, we've started raising meat rabbits.

    I was interested in a more natural diet with my angoras. I never took them off pellets, but they had free-choice hay and I mixed oats and wheat (sometimes sunflower seeds) into their pellets. I stumbled across this thread and would like to attempt as natural a diet as possible with these meat rabbits. They do get hay and the occasional "treat". Some did get "grass time" during the summer.

    I did read all 27 pages and took some notes. Would a mixed grass hay be enough protein versus alfalfa? I'm not sure I'd be able to find a reliable source of alfalfa hay. I have even called around to local feed stores.

    The feedstore around the corner from us, unfortunately, only stocks whole oats and can order whole, organic barley (at $27/bag - no thanks!). Feedstore B sells oats, wheat, and steamcrimped barley. Feedstore C sells oats and rolled barley. Both B & C sell seed rye, not feed rye.

    I'm thinking rolled barley is more natural/better than steamcrimped. Is that correct? What I'm thinking of doing is a mix of oats, wheat, rolled barley, and black oil sunflower seeds - with a mixed grass hay. Would a 1:1:1:0.25 mix be good? Will they need added minerals?
     
  6. alforddm

    alforddm New Member

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    I wouldn't trust this. We had tree of heaven http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ailanthus_altissima at my old place and the horses never touched it and they had plenty of opportunity cause we had one thicket of small trees.
     
  7. Chandra

    Chandra New Member

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    Jan 15, 2015
    We are currently switching from all pellet fed caged rabbits to (hopefully) all naturally fed colony raised rabbits. We want to do free choice hay with an oat,barley, boss ratio of 4:4:1. ASAP we will add weeds and more veggies. They just get what the kids give them as treats now. Any advice?


    Chandra
     
  8. froggy1

    froggy1 New Member

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    Central FL
    I read here quite frequently, however, I just signed up to leave this for those interested:

    http://www.feedipedia.org/content/feeds?category=15965
    (my first post... I hope that link works)

    Feedipedia is an EXTENSIVE database of grasses, trees, herbs, etc. along with their feed values.
     
  9. myrkari

    myrkari New Member

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    Jun 2, 2015
    Hello all!

    I have a question about cow parsley (wild chervil.) There's an absolute abundance of it growing beside my house (although it has flowered now, so rather past its initial best - still plenty of leaves under the flower-heads though.)

    Firstly does anyone know whether more than a handful for each rabbit is too much cow parsley? I can't find anything that would indicate it's an "only in moderation" sort of food, so while it is there and happily growing like well... a weed... I'd quite like to take advantage of it, but want to check that no-one knows of a reason why not to first!

    Secondly, has anyone had any experience of trying to dry it for overwinter use, and if so how successful was it? There's just masses of it out there. I have inspected it all closely enough to be sure it is definitely cow parsley and not fool's parsley (or worse, hemlock :eek:) but if I were to go out there with my clippers and start hacking down swathes of it I would of course be extra careful to make sure there wasn't a single sneaky hemlock plant nestled amongst the tasty parsley that would rather ruin the whole operation :hohum:

    Essentially, I don't want to hang up a bunch of it to try and dry it for "storage" and have it end up spoiling/being wasted, when it could've just been eaten here and now. I very much want to take advantage of the great big pile o'free food in the area just outside my garden wall, but I also don't want to throw great handfuls of the one plant at my buns alongside their dandelions and dock leaves and fresh grass and hay (and pellets) when it isn't the best thing to give them lots of.

    Does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks in advance :)
     
  10. a7736100

    a7736100 Well-Known Member

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    When it's freezing I like to give them whole carrots, sweet potatoes and cabbage assuming that they get moisture and that the sugars gives them energy. Don't think they have any problems eating them. Am I right or should I just stick with water and pellets.
     
  11. FarmboyBill

    FarmboyBill Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When I had rabbits, I would give them whole shelled corn and oats, along with their pellets when they were bred, and until I took the young out of their cage. They would dig out the corn and oats to get at the pellets, thereby tearing up the screens in the feeders. Were I to do it again, Id feed the extras in a crock, so that the young bunnies when hopping around wouldn't tip it over if it was a shallow tin like pan.
     
  12. enediyne

    enediyne Active Member

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    Okay, so I've read through, but I didn't find my answer. I'm currently feeding 1/2 cup of pellet a day, with free choice grass hay. I want to switch to whole grain feed and mineral salt because pellets are getting very expensive and I already mix grains for my chickens. Would I just mix 1:1? So if I normally give 1/2 cup total pellet, would I just aim to keep the total feed volume at 1/2 cup, but slowly substituting whole grains for pellet?

    Also my current chicken ration is below, could I use this for the buns too? Protein is somewhere between 17-20%. It'd be nice to not have to mix two things up. We are in Northern Ontario, so snow in ground for 5 months a year, so collecting weeds is not in the cards for me.

    -3 pounds Rye

    9 pound Barley

    9 pounds Oats

    9 pounds wheat

    4 pounds black oiled sunflower seeds

    3 pounds Flax
     
  13. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    All the ingredients in your chicken feed can be fed to rabbits, but I am not sure about the ratios. Flax can be quite laxative. My feeling is that it might be best to mix your chicken ration 50/50 with a plain grain like barley, oats or wheat.

    If you use just the same volume of grain as you are feeding pellets at present, your percentage of protein is going to go way down. Neither grass hay at 8-10 % nor grain at 12% has enough protein.

    In my meat-mutt colony, I fed an alfalfa/grass hay (about 80% alfalfa) plus about 1/4 cup of wheat per rabbit per day and as much fresh food as the season allowed. In winter this was mainly small amounts of root crops, cabbage and vegetable trimmings. Sometimes pumpkin. In the growing months, the quantity of fresh foods went up and the rabbits ate less hay and grain by preference. I did gather weeds, branches of poplar and willow etc. for them and fed a good variety.

    Be sure to make all changes to diet slowly, especially when introducing fresh foods. The mineral salts are necessary if they're not getting pellets.
     
  14. JudyM

    JudyM Well-Known Member

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    Jefferson County MO
    I will be picking up my first 3 rabbits this weekend. I plan on feeding them exactly what they had been getting before and then hopefully gradually introducing some of the many weeds we have growing. Last year we had an abundance of Queen Anne's Lace - way more than in prior years. It is still standing but dead. I read to be sure not to give them any seeds but does anyone have any experience with whether the buns will eat the dried stalk and leaves? (I had already checked to be sure it wasn't a field of hemlock last summer).
     
  15. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't know for certain, JudyM, but I would think that being out in all that weather would have caused the nutritive values to diminish. You can certainly dry weeds for winter use, but they should be harvested while they are still growing vigorously. I'd wait and start them on the fresh greens as the spring season advances.

    http://www.sisterzeus.com/qaluse.htm

    You are quite right about the seeds. Queen Anne's Lace seed is a proven contraceptive for women. Not something you'd want to feed to your rabbits!
     
    JudyM likes this.
  16. JoannaCW

    JoannaCW Well-Known Member

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    Have any of you fed your rabbits tops or tubers of groundnuts (not peanuts; the scientific name is Apios americana)? It looked plausibly like an easy-to-grow high-protein addition to our natural rabbit feed when I saw it in our garden catalog (Fedco).
     
    Sumatra likes this.
  17. skngslfsuff

    skngslfsuff Member

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    Michigan
    I just got a netherland dwarf buck who wouldn't even eat hay, he was fed only pellets his entire life until I got him. I have been feeding him a little bit of pellets and a little bit of black sunflower seeds and then I hide them under a bunch of hay so he has to pick through the hay to get to them. Its been a week but now hes been eating the hay...I also lead the way in to his cage with some hay when I'm going to fill his bowl up, he starts to eat it since its right in his face.:D
     
  18. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    I give my New Zealands free feed pellets, but also give them apple slices and one of those tiny carrots a day. They also usually get either fresh or dried strawberry leaves, and dandelion leaves. They eat all the fresh/dried stuff before hitting the pellets.
    the baby buns, born April 10, also prefer apples to feed, but when they go for the feed, they waste 3/4 of it as it gets dropped on the ground beneath the cage.
    In the fall when I clean up the strawberry beds, I keep about two feed bags full of the dried leaves, to feed over winter, and use my apples until they run out...then buy them until the next season.
    Pampered...not much!!!

    P.S. Is there a list of natural materials or do I have to go through all 27 pages?
     
  19. equine@apex.net

    equine@apex.net Member

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    have been experimenting this year with having rabbits loose in 1/4 acre fenced in pen with pond. So far - all is well as long as the fence is tight. They do some digging. Feeding them as naturally as possible. Pick lots of fresh Kale each day for them and throw it into their pen. Looking for a flemish giant doe to add to the mix. Have a dozen bunnies now in two pens.
     
  20. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There is a list of Safe Plants for Rabbits that is also stickied. It's a good place to start, but you will likely want to work your way through the pages of this thread as well.