Alternative feeds

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by BeesNBunnies, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. BeesNBunnies

    BeesNBunnies Schnauzer nut

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    I know that the pellets from the feed store are supposed to be a complete and balanced ration but I just can't help 'tweeking'. I'd really like to cut down on my store bought feed(who wouldn't). I supplement their pellets with sunflower seeds....not because they are cheaper, I'm not yet growing my own, but because it seems to improve their coat and health. I'm thinking of trying a new supplement and thought I'd run it by ya'll to see what you think. Especially with winter just around the corner I figure fresh green food is important for all animals. I'm thinking about sprouted wheat(gotta do something with the dozen buckets I have left over from Y2K!). I know the sprouts are nutritious. Of course you wouldn't want to feed too much. I'd think it would have a bit of a tonic effect especially with shorter days. What do ya'll think? Also feel free to suggest other supplements.
     
  2. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    I know there's some controversy about this, but J.D. Bellanger highly recommends growing comfrey for rabbit feed. Very productive and high protein. A little tricky to dry, but probably very doable for a homesteader!
     

  3. BeesNBunnies

    BeesNBunnies Schnauzer nut

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    I've fed comfrey to rabbits with good results in the past. I'm having trouble locating some root cuttings to get a patch started on my new homestead(forgot to get some roots from my old patch). Rabbits absolutely LOVE comfrey. I think where the problem comes in is when it is taken to extremes. Everything in moderation.
     
  4. Tucker

    Tucker Well-Known Member

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    :) Hi Bee ,, Umm how much do you need to start you a patch ,, I have 3 clumps in a huge tub ,, I have it next to my hutches and all summer every day or three I have given each rabbit 1 leaf ,,

    I'm parinoid about giving too much greens at any time ,, due to inadvernatly killing my ONLY buck (at that time) ,, by giving too much green stuff one day ,, direaah next day ,, next morning dead :(

    I will probably have to thin these clumps this fall and the fellow who gave me these three warned me not to throw it down anywhere I didn't want it to take over ,, lol ,,

    I'm sure a couple of roots wouldn't cost too much shipping ,, would it ??
     
  5. BeesNBunnies

    BeesNBunnies Schnauzer nut

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    Sent you a pm Tucker. When I had comfrey I fed a couple of small leafs to my rabbits every day and never had any trouble. Possibly because I used it so often the leaves never had a chance to get big. I definately noticed that they don't like the bigger leaves. Maybe it is a bit like poke salad(some folks call em inkberry). Ok when the leaves are small and young but not when they get bigger.
     
  6. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Mind if I ask you guys how big is a small comfrey leaf and how big is a big one? (Just starting with rabbits, and my comfrey is only four inches tall.)
     
  7. Tucker

    Tucker Well-Known Member

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    Well let me think ,, most of the time the leafs were about 10 - 12 inches long ,, as you said when they get much bigger they tend to ignore them ,, maybe they get bitter ??

    Thats why I'm going to thin out the tub ,, all summer I had about 10+ adults and a few fryers here and there ,, now I've reduced down to a trio ,, with the 10+ rabbits ,, I would just take my scissors and snip snip snip 1 each ,,,

    now going to have more than I need ,, I 'am' going to plant some out 'waay' on the end of the property ,, lol if it grows a lot maybe wild rabbits will find it ,,,
     
  8. Ann Mary

    Ann Mary Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Many rabbits won't like comfrey at first...I find it is best to start them out when they are about 8 weeks old with a LITTLE bit and gradually increase the amount as they grow. My bunnies get a comfrey leaf both in the am and pm and I've not seen any problems. One thing I also do to make their coat VERY nice is to give them about 1 teaspoon of flaxseed (for a 4-6# bunny) in their treat bowl...like the comfrey, some will not take to it at first and also you MUST introduce it slowly, like 1/8 teaspoon at first...remember, just like with people, fiber has a tendancy to constipate if you get too much! But the omega oils in the flaxseed can take care of dry skin and really make their coat shine!
     
  9. BeesNBunnies

    BeesNBunnies Schnauzer nut

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    I fed very small leaves. I fed em anywhere from 3-7 inches long. Much bigger than that and my rabbits weren't as thrilled with them. The leaves that are 3-4 inches long they loved.
     
  10. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    To save on the cost of feed, we responded to an ad in the pennysaver. There is a local micro-brewery in our town that is giving away cracked barley and hops after it has gone through super-duper hot water.

    Up side is that it's free, the animals (except the emu, geese and a few ducks) like it.

    Downside is I don't have a way to get over there every week, it comes wet and needs to be dried, and stinks.

    So I think I will supplement every so often, especially when $$ is low. I figured it would be excellent as a finisher.
     
  11. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Brewer's grains are actually a protein supplement. You're just getting them while they're still wet, but most of the carbohydrate has been taking out in the brewing process. When I used to get them, I picked them up still hot from the brewing process, and they smelled like delicious hot cereal! It was hard to beat the pig guy there, though, and when I went back to working full time, I had to give it up. Too bad. Excellent feed for free!
     
  12. Mountain Lady

    Mountain Lady Member

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    Thanks for sharing about the flax seed. I have several buckets and I could add a little of this. We give ours a little bit of greens each day of dandelion, nasturums (sp.) and a little basil. I just give them a few leaves of each from the garden. They love it. About once or twice a week, I will bring carrot slices (and tops) and an apple or pear to cut up and share between them.

    We will have to try that with the hops! DH has a friend that makes his own beer and just throws the stuff out. What's the best way to go about drying it out?
     
  13. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    My rabbits enjoy all sorts of treats from the vegetabel garden but their favorite is sunflower leaves and the occasional immature sunflower head. Size of leaf doesn't seem to matter, they like it all. I'm going to get some comfrey from a neighbor and start a patch for them as the sunflower season just doesn't last very long. I'm also going to experiment with the sunflower stalks. I have an expendable buck who gets to field test all the treats!