Fatten 'em up

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Oscar, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. Oscar

    Oscar Well-Known Member

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    Oct 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    I have a small rabbit that needs some fattening. I give her all the feed she desires, greens, etc etc. She just isn't getting ANY fatter at all. Normal stool, normal temperature. I've started giving her BOSS and she likes them a bit. Help!
     
  2. Xandras_Zoo

    Xandras_Zoo Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Richmond, BC, Canada
    When our bunny was thin, we gave her alfalfa hay.
     

  3. Michael Leferink

    Michael Leferink Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Louisiana
    Oscar,
    May I ask a few questions before I offer advise?

    1) What is her breed?
    2) What is her age?
    3) What type of feed is she getting now and what are the %'s of protein, fat & fiber listed on the bag tag?
    4) Why do you wish to fatten her up? Is she a runt and growing slow? Is/has she been sick and lost weight?

    Thanks,
    MikeL
     
  4. Oscar

    Oscar Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    In answer to your questions:
    1.) I am not sure of her breed, she had agouti fur and is small. She is a semi-dwarf variety. I got her from a friend who THOUGHT she had 2 females. (She thought they were just fighting for dominance- oops!)

    2.) She's about two years old now

    3.) Not sure of the measurements on the bag, but it is the basic "Show Rabbit" variety that one can get from TSC or Feed Mill.

    4.) I want to fatten her up because I can feel the harsh points of her spine through her skin. Up to this point I have kept her in the garage during the winters but I've built her a hutch and she's outside from now on. The hutch has a cozy nestbox, hay, some old towels, etc. Very nice digs for a bunny. I would like to be sure she has enough "insulation" on her to be able to take the chill this winter.
     
  5. Michael Leferink

    Michael Leferink Well-Known Member

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    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2003
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Oscar,

    Well, at 2 y/o she's full grown. How a rabbit turns out is a matter of genetics, feed, water quality and environment. Sounds as if your not sure of her genetic history. I'll give you the example of one of our does. She is a Silver Fox and should weigh 10 - 12lbs. She has never been much over 7lbs. no matter how much feed we give her. Her full brother never got heavy either. Both of these rabbits just turned out small for their breed, ie: genetics. This doe is boney except when she is over 3 wks. pregnant.

    Some "Show Feed" is high in fiber and low in fat and protein. This is because folks need their rabbits trim and tight for the show. Most rabbits will tend to put on fat after they reach about 10 wks. of age and it can get worse as they get older. That's why older rabbits that are not breeding are usually given a "Maintenance Feed" or "Show Feed". You may want to slowly change her over to a feed with a higher percentage of fat and maybe protein. The protein is for building muscle. Some feed is corn based and while I usually avoid corn, it can add weight to a rabbit pretty fast. You have to watch closely for GI problems. If you see soft poo, cut the corn feed back and give her hay until it clears up. Change her back to an oat based feed for the summer. Hay adds fiber to their diet and can have a negative impact on growth. They need a high fiber diet, but it must be kept in balance. Most commercial rabbitries do not feed anything except quality pellets as they are formulated to the right balance of nutrients and to add hay or treats is to dilute the formula. If a hay based diet is being used, alfalfa is best. It has the highest level of nutrients. Alfalfa is the main ingredient in most commercial feeds. If hay is given to correct GI problems, it's best to give timothy, orchard grass, bermuda, bahia or some other lower protein hay. So, give her all the quality pelleted feed she will eat and cut out everything else. Check her weight weekly or biweekly and see what happens. Be ready to adapt to changes as necessary.

    Rabbits need good clean water handy 24/7. Never let them run out and make sure the Chlorine and Floride levels are not high. Our city water contains too much chlorine and our well water is high in sulfer. Our rabbits get only filtered well water. If the water is not right or if they do not get enough, they can not digest their food properly. The first sign of a sick rabbit is a reduction is water intake.

    The last thing I can think of is parasite infection. If she is kept off the ground in a clean wire floor cage, the risk should be low. However she could still pick up parasites from contaminated hay. You wouldn't know if your hay is contaminated. Remember that rodents, birds, cats, etc. can and do leave droppings on hay bails. You might want to take a fecal sample to a Vet. and have it checked.

    My best guess is she's simply geneticly prone to be light weight and boney. She should put on some weight as the weather gets cooler. As long as she's getting good food and water she should be fine. Just keep her dry and out of the wind. With some clean hay and untreated pine shavings in her box, she will hunker down and be fine. They do much better in the cold than in the heat.

    You did the correct thing in moving her outside. Rabbits need lots of fresh air to stay healthy.

    Good luck,
    MikeL