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Amanda
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Yesterday, I butchered the two bucks I asked about in another thread. The NZW had a layer of fat inside his rib cage about 1 inch thick. He had enough fat that you couldn't see his kidneys. This is one of the bucks from the rabbitry I bought out.

The Silver Marten was just as fat. The odd thing about him though, was he had no testicles at all. He had the scrotum, but no testicles. Have any of you dealt with this before?

I figure they were too fat to do their jobs. If my other rabbits are like this, how do I put them on a diet? Do I just cut back on the pellets, or give them straight hay or what?

My rabbits get about a yogurt cup of feed a day, except for my Flemish giant, and she gets about a yogurt cup and a half. Is this too much?
 

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Depends, how much does a yogurt cup of your feed weigh?

As I recently found out, a cup of feed can weigh something totally different, I had "thought" I was feeding 6 ounces, and I was only feeding about 4 ounces. Plus I had to go buy more bowls, since the ones I had don't hold enough of the new feed!

I seem to waver between OMG they're starving and OMG they're FAT! I think we recently swung too far one way, plus I am noticing some smaller animals here, now, I don't know if they're smaller because genetically they are meant to be smaller, or if I have somehow short changed them, or if they just grow slower. I hate those slow growers!

I know they say an ounce per pound? But that means 10 ounces for a adult SF, that seems like alot of feed, don't you think? Since fat bunnies don't breed!

I'm also having trouble figuring out when they go onto "adult" rations, and do Jrs get the adult ration, or a slightly smaller amount built up to adult rations?

My adult bucks get a cup and a half of the new feed, which is approx 6 ounces. I think I am going to bump the Jrs and does up to 2 cups though. I need to find a new feed or cut back on bunnies!
 

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This is one of those questions I have been mulling over a lot lately. I put rabbits in cages with limited space (30" x 36") and little to do except toss around the odd toy and EAT... and I wonder why they have a tendency to get fat?

Does with litters keep active, of course, and the extra demands on their systems from pregnancy and nursing - and evading the youngsters once they are mobile - and are usually pretty trim... but bucks and dry does get fat easily, especially in winter when one tends to feed more concentrates (grain or pellets) than during the growing season when greens are abundant.

We've been late getting our new hay this year but we have it now, and so I have cut the grain back by half. I've also discontinued Basil's pellets. I bought a bag of them when I purchased Basil and Ginger at the beginning of September so I could transition them gradually to natural feeds and there are still some left. I'll be feeding them to the chickens, because Basil, although only 6.5 months old, is as thick as Tao, who is 3 years old. Not good.

So, more hay and less grain... more branches and other foods they have to work at, limit the root crops etc. and we'll see how it goes. My son helps quite a bit with the rabbits now and tends to be overly generous with the goodies :nono: so I'm going to have to be vigilant, now that the greens are in short supply.

Tuppence is days away from freezer camp (she is still resisting being bred) and I'll bet she is fat. She's bigger than Patches or Polly, with a bigger frame... but even allowing for that I'll bet she has as much fat as either of the bucks.

As long as rabbits have decent hay fed free choice, they are not going to starve. I'm not saying that hay is a complete diet (although there are studies that show rabbits can live on just hay) but I am saying that a rabbit with hay in front of him is not a hungry rabbit any more than a person with a plate of vegetables in front of him is a hungry person. If they don't eat it, it's because they are holding out for something they like better.
 

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I think I read on here somewhere that a good rule of thumb is to give them whatever food they will eat in five hours. I"m not sure if that is twice a day. Mine get about four ounces in the morning and four ounces in the afternoon. I feed around 8:00am and around 8-9:00pm. If I give about four ounces in the morning, there are still pellets in the feeder around noon but they are usually empty by mid afternoon. They have all kinds of things to chew on in the cage, toilet paper rolls, blocks of wood, rolls of cardboard, etc. so I"m sure they eat their share of that too. Of course, lactating does have a full feeder all the time. I can't believe how much they eat and the avalanche of poo from a lactating doe!:eek:

I've also read that an excessively large dewlap on a doe is an indication that she is fat, not sure if that's true.
 

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So, "bout how many cups do you figure you're feeding a doe/litter? I'm talking NZish size and an average litter of 6ish...

We've been sorta limit feeding, cuz man, can they eat! I have some does who GAINED weight during nursing when we first started. And those fryer had gobs and gobs of fat too! I was feeding twice per day, went down to once, didn't like the results, back up to twice per day. I feed an average litter about 3-4 cups per time. Been debating though if thats enough though...

I don't want FAT fryers who scrabble their food, the lean ones are fine for me and the dogs, but not for what I'm looking for on the show table (rather, what the JUDGES are looking for!)

My "natural" feeding experiment didn't go well, some won't eat grains, it seemed too rich for the Jrs (ask me how I know this!) I've been trying to add some whole grains to the pellets so it will "stick" with them more, again, the Jrs tend to not digest it as well, not that it seems to bother them to mush poop all over the place!

It occurs to me, I'm trying very hard to reinvent the wheel! LOL

On the positive side, my rabbits seem to be used to variety, and most will eat just about anything. We went to convention, and our feed was not there... I was NOT one of the breeders running amok terrified that my bunnies would either not eat, or drop dead from new feed, or get poopy butt and drop dead. I kinda went, eh, so this week we're eating Manna Pro. Bunnies could have cared less about the drastic feed change, same with the water (OMG, you didn't bring gallons of water from home???) Ummm, no, where would I have put it? Besides, I have sulpher well water, any water has got to be better than what they drink at home, right?

I had a few who got mush poops, I just tossed hay at them. Had a breeder ask what I had done to the Jr in the meat pen who had mush poo, she was positive it was going to have explosive diherria, and I should go get it bread and pepto, etc etc. I said, nothing, I threw hay at it and forgot about it.

Now, it could be that Mother Nature has already culled out the rabbits with weak digestive systems, I often wonder about that, how you can have a bad batch of feed or whatever, and there will always be a couple Jrs in that cage that are perfectly fine!

Sorry, major thread drift! ;p
 

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So, "bout how many cups do you figure you're feeding a doe/litter? I'm talking NZish size and an average litter of 6ish...

We've been sorta limit feeding, cuz man, can they eat! I have some does who GAINED weight during nursing when we first started. And those fryer had gobs and gobs of fat too! I was feeding twice per day, went down to once, didn't like the results, back up to twice per day. I feed an average litter about 3-4 cups per time. Been debating though if thats enough though...

I don't want FAT fryers who scrabble their food, the lean ones are fine for me and the dogs, but not for what I'm looking for on the show table (rather, what the JUDGES are looking for!)

My "natural" feeding experiment didn't go well, some won't eat grains, it seemed too rich for the Jrs (ask me how I know this!) I've been trying to add some whole grains to the pellets so it will "stick" with them more, again, the Jrs tend to not digest it as well, not that it seems to bother them to mush poop all over the place!

It occurs to me, I'm trying very hard to reinvent the wheel! LOL

On the positive side, my rabbits seem to be used to variety, and most will eat just about anything. We went to convention, and our feed was not there... I was NOT one of the breeders running amok terrified that my bunnies would either not eat, or drop dead from new feed, or get poopy butt and drop dead. I kinda went, eh, so this week we're eating Manna Pro. Bunnies could have cared less about the drastic feed change, same with the water (OMG, you didn't bring gallons of water from home???) Ummm, no, where would I have put it? Besides, I have sulpher well water, any water has got to be better than what they drink at home, right?

I had a few who got mush poops, I just tossed hay at them. Had a breeder ask what I had done to the Jr in the meat pen who had mush poo, she was positive it was going to have explosive diherria, and I should go get it bread and pepto, etc etc. I said, nothing, I threw hay at it and forgot about it.

Now, it could be that Mother Nature has already culled out the rabbits with weak digestive systems, I often wonder about that, how you can have a bad batch of feed or whatever, and there will always be a couple Jrs in that cage that are perfectly fine!

Sorry, major thread drift! ;p
I don't think it is a major thread drift, Beaniemom... there are so many facets to the feeding question - and the obesity question. And I do think hay plays a large role in managing all these feeding problems.

My popples start on rolled oats but quickly make the transition to whole oats and barley with a little cracked corn. (I am so glad to see the proportions of cracked corn going down and down in the scratch.) I buy a large bag of Quaker large flake oats per litter and top-dress the grain dish with it. (If momma is a piggy, I distract her with a smaller top-dressing of oatmeal and then then give the youngsters their own supply.) As the level in the bag goes down, I give them a little less and a little less until it is gone. After that it is just whole grains. When they get to the voracious stage I add the blackstrap/sunflower oil mix to the grain. It seems to satisfy them better and they certainly love the taste and it definitely helps growth rates. It is surprising because the amounts added are really very small. I think the fact that the blackstrap is extremely rich in minerals may have something to do with it.

I think perhaps the reason I have had so little trouble with popples and grain may be because they usually attack the greens first and perhaps take the edge off their appetites before they start on the grain. Just a guess, however.

But they always have hay, as much as they want. I've seen them leave the greens or grains to eat some hay... as though they crave a mix.

Regarding obesity... I am convinced that I need to feed my bucks differently from the does. Very little grain, unlimited hay and go easy on "rich" fresh foods like root crops.

I'm working pumpkin and squash into their diets as a winter "fresh food." They don't like it raw, but will eat the skins with a bit of flesh attached from cooked pumpkin or squash. I'll be baking up a lot of ours soon and freezing the pumpkin and squash flesh for us, but will peel it thickly so the buns get some flesh attached to the skins and freeze it in sandwich bags, enough to be fed for my rabbits for one meal. I'll be saving all the seeds I can too. (The chickens get the pulp and any seeds I miss. I just love how little gets wasted.)

Last year I had my does together in a large floor pen and the buck in a smaller floor pen adjacent to them. No one got too fat last winter and I believe that exercise made the difference. My DS hated the arrangement :shrug: so I agreed to try cages this year. I find it much more work already and I have a feeling I will regret it. But we'll see.
 

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I've also read that an excessively large dewlap on a doe is an indication that she is fat, not sure if that's true.
I think this idea has about as much validity as the reasoning that large breasts on a woman are an indication that she is fat. :p A fat woman may indeed have large breasts, she probably does... but we all know women with large breasts who are in excellent shape. I suspect heredity plays more of a role in the "endowment" of these secondary sexual characteristics.
 

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Amanda
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks guys! I went out to feed this evening, and the rabbits with pellets still in the feeder from yesterday, didn't get fed. I make sure they all have hay, I guess I need to cut back on the pellets. I have been going through about a bag and a half a week. That was for 29 rabbits.
 
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