Can you raise rabbits on corn feed?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by r.h. in okla., Jul 18, 2005.

  1. Just wondering. Seems like just about all other livestock eats corn or a mixture with corn in it. The other day I dried out corn husk for a day and then threw it in my bucks cage. He ate the stock all up and left the husk. The next day the husk was gone too. So right now I'm drying all of my corn husk that I pick every morning and plan on feeding it to the rabbits a little at a time. Just to give them some variety. But since have been wondering if you could feed rabbits whole corn feed also? Marble them in fat just before cooking! Corn fed rabbits!!!
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 21, 2004
    deep south texas
    They can survive on corn but you might want to add roughage and some protein also as corn has alot of calcium in it.

  3. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 18, 2002
    Just some caution, here:

    From "Rabbit Production," 8th Edition:

    Page 168: "One potential problem with the use of grains in rabbit diets is the possibility of carbohydrate overload of the hindgut, resulting in enteritis. Work at the OSU Rabbit Research Center indicated that high levels of grain may result in the stimulation of bacterial growth in the cecum, leading to the production of baceterial toxins causing enteritis. High energy grains, such as corn, may be more likely to cause this effect than low energy grains, such as oats. Corn has a waxy endosperm, which may reduce its digestibility in the small intestine, increasing the likelihood of carbohydrate overload of the hindgut."

    Pat Lamar
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
  4. Wow Pat, that was........Over my head. But I'll take your word for it. I figure their has to be a reason why rabbits aren't fed a mixture with corn in it. However I was examining my rabbit pellets and it does look to have some corn in it. I have already thrown away the label so I don't know just what the ingredients state. I'll have to check out the next sack I buy. I have always just thought that all it was is just ground up Alfalfa made into pellets.
  5. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

    Aug 25, 2002
    Central Texas

    There are a number of rabbit feeds with corn incorporated into the
    formula. I have used a 16% ration for my fryers for 7 years that
    includes corn. I have tested the feed against others and see
    an excellent rate and cost of gain with no problems attributed to
    the ration.

    For 3 years I used an 18% ration from Purina Mills that included corn.
    I saw no ill effects. In fact, I might be using it today if the price
    didn't cause me to operate at a loss! :bash:

    Taken from the Purina site:

    Q: Why is corn added to your rabbit diets?

    A: Corn is a natural, wholesome ingredient which has been used in
    animal and human nutrition for centuries. Corn is a rich source
    of carbohydrates and essential oils that provide for a good source
    of energy and helps to maintain a healthy immune system.

    Formulation of a well-balanced rabbit ration requires the use of
    several different ingredients. Purina complete rabbit diets are alfalfa
    based for fiber, with corn added as a carbohydrate source. The
    addition of corn to our diets supplies necessary energy for your
    rabbit. Corn is a safe ingredient for rabbits when used properly
    in combination with a variety of other feed ingredients.

    When I first read your question, I was thinking that you wanted to
    use corn as a primary souce of nutrition. As a supplement in limited
    quanitites, I would be curious to see if you have any adverse effects.

    As an interesting note, Dr. James McNitt, co-author of Rabbit Production,
    told us that his lactating does were supplemented with two tablespoons
    of whole corn daily. Once the kits were popping out of the box and
    beginning to eat, this daily supplement was discontinued until her
    next litter. He felt that it was not safe for young kits to consume
    the whole corn.

    If you do any testing with the feeding of corn, would you let us know
    the results? As James said, corn (shelled) is low in protein and (very low)
    in fiber.

    Linda Welch
  6. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    My MIL raised a different type of rabbit than you folks seem to. (This would have been 25 years ago.)

    Her rabbits were long and lean, and on rabbit pellets they tended to stay mostly skin and bone until they were too old for best eating. They were ALWAYS strong and healthy, just long and lean while they were growing. They grew first, and bulked up afterwards.

    She fixed this by giving the fattening rabbits corn free-choice after they were weaned. She did NOT give any to the breeders: she said it would have made them too fat.

    I am wondering if the current custom of not feeding corn might have to do with the breed of the rabbit?

    A cornish- cross chicken may need it's feed supply restricted to keep it from killing itself from overeating: I wonder if the modern breeds of rabbit must be kept from feed that is too rich?
  7. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Jun 8, 2004
    There are different body types of rabbits, including the 'long and lean', rather than commercial meat types. Perhaps the difference is that she didn't feed it to her breeders, but just fattened kits on it. If you're going to be eating the rabbit, a potential problem seems less likely. Perhaps they were butchered before any problems could arise from the corn. If that's the case however, it may be something to look into for fattening roasters.

    Pat, does the research you quoted specify if it is referring to corn fed to an entire population of rabbits, just breeders, just pets, or butcher rabbits? It would be interesting to see how long it takes to produce enteritis from a corn supplemented diet in a young rabbit, and if it really is incompatible with just the fattening stage.

    Wouldn't be of benefit to those who leave fryers in with mom until butcher time, but for those separated for fattening, it may be worth doing some further research.

  8. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 18, 2002
    I have no idea since it only states "work at the OSU Rabbit Research Center indicated that...."

    The "Rabbit Production" I quoted from is a book (e.g., not a research paper) which is co-authored by Drs. McNitt, Lukefahr, Patton & Cheeke and who are all rabbit research scientists. Dr. Steven Lukefahr is currently the President of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA) and a professor at Texas A&M at Kingsville. Dr. James McNitt is currently Vice-President of the PRMA, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Branch of the World Rabbit Science Association (AB-WRSA) and also serves on the ARBA Commercial Department Committee and is a professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Drs. Patton and Cheeke are now retired.

    Pat Lamar
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
  9. daytrader

    daytrader Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2005
    Metro east St Louis Illinois
    You can raise rabbits on almost anything. Now, how healthy they will be is a diff thing.

    Guy about 15 miles from me free ranges rabbits. Go figger.

    He used a trencher and fenced in 5 acreas with fence 2 feet under ground.

    The land is planted with specitaly mixed grasses and he puts out salt blocks. The area has some trees. He uses a 40 food sea container as a cover and places bales of straw for nest making. He has a small lean too with a rain gutter on it as a cover. The water from the gutter is fed to a 500 gallon water tank he can turn on to fill the watering area which is a small dug out pond.

    He has done this for more years then I have been alive. He will not sell any live animals. Only dressed ready to cook meat. His rabbits are the most healthy around. He dosn't even feed them any other feed. If they pick to much he dose throw some alafalfa bales in so the ground dose not go bare.

    We quit feeding rabbits mixed or commercial feed years ago. We still had to provide minerals.
  10. Brazil

    Brazil Guest

    There are people here in Brazil who raise rabbits free range. We bought one once from someone who was quitting because they had put in a pool and their rabbits were falling in and drowning!
    But, contrary to everything we read, we feed our rabbits all the peelings and left-overs of greens from the kitchen. They love banana peels, potato peels, cabbage leaves, crrot tops - all but onion skins and orange peels. When I cut down pea or bean vines, I just shove them in the cages. They also have pellets available. In more than 20 years we have never had a case of enteritis, our does are reliable producers and we have a buck that just keeps producing - he must be 4 years old. I wonder if it is because our rabbits are not pure-breed. We can't find any near here. But they are healthy and are butchered at a nice size between the 12th and 15th weeks, whenever we have time and think they have a nice "heft". This is not for sale, just for family eating.
  11. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002
    When I was in Croatia a couple of years ago my cousins raised rabbits as their meat animal. The fed them whole ears of corn. After all of the kernels had been nibbled off, they pulled out the cob and put in another. These rabbits (and they were large and very productive) received no commerical feed, nor did they have a salt block. Besides the corn, and stale bread crusts, they were fed fresh grasses harvested (by scythe) about every other day. What wasn't fed to the rabbits went on a elevated stock for winter feed.

    See Countryside and Small Stock Journal, Sept/Oct 2001, page 76.