Feeding willow to rabbits

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by vikav, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. vikav

    vikav Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't sure which sticky this belongs in, if at all, but knowing that some people here feed their buns willow, I wanted to share this info.

    Lately, I've been reading a lot on different herbs and their use, and came across this document. It's mostly about Salicylic acid in cosmetics, but there is some info on tests done in rats for reproductive and other toxicity as related to internal use of Salicylic acid. It appears, that Salicylic acid is mutagenic, teratogenic, and may be toxic. Of course, all depending on the amount. It appears that it may cause resorption of fetuses, birth defects, and decreased growth rates or even death in the young. It also may cause toxicity and acidosis in adults, and prolonged gestation and parturition, with possible hemorrhaging and the loss of the babies. IDK if there is a good way to measure the amount of Salicylic acid ingested by rabbits through the eating of willow twigs, so I really can't figure out if there is a "safe" amount to feed. Could this mean that one shouldn't be feeding willow to pregnant does? IDK, but people that do could certainly check it out, if they are curious. Most of the info about this is from the middle and towards the end of the paper. Are there any scientists here, who can shed more light on this?
     
  2. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Vikav, this whole matter of feeding willow to rabbits is one that we have been reviewing lately, after concerns were expressed by Willowynd about its safety. It is difficult to find information relating directly to rabbits and I urge each person to consider the possible risks and decide for themselves.

    I have been feeding willow (weeping willow, not white willow) for over three years now on a regular basis and have seen no ill effects among my rabbits. But I realize that this does not prove its safety. Wild cottontails often eat willow bark, both kinds, especially in winter. Again, this is not proof of safety, but it is an indicator.

    Here are a couple of other articles that people may want to read while making up their minds:

    http://world-rabbit-science.com/WRSA-Proceedings/Congress-2008-Verona/Papers/W-Rizzi.pdf

    http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/pasture/peshawarproceedings/willow.pdf

    Unfortunately, neither of these articles addresses the question exactly, but both should provide "food for thought". :)
     

  3. vikav

    vikav Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that's why IDK. It seems like it would depend on the amount you feed. Someone else may have a big willow and not much more, and decide to just feed the buns mostly willow, then it could potentially be a problem ;)
    I think, weeping willow is a cross between a white willow and some other willow, not sure which one.
     
  4. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In my opinion, no one should feed rabbits huge quantities of any one fresh plant. Optimum diversity and optimum safety lies in offering a good variety. Most days I feed at least five or six different plants and never fewer than three.
     
  5. brody

    brody Well-Known Member

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    funny you'd post this today maggie - I was collecting fresh this morning and collecting plaintain, apple leaves, dandelion, queen anne's lace, clover ( dutch and red) sunchoke, parsley, a bit of golden rod, strawberry leaves, and thinking - variety realy is the spice of life :)

    the new buns are only up to plaintain, dandelion and clover (except brave luke who now tries a LITTLE of whatever he is offered)

    they just got a bit of willow from my mum's - a real treat fro them as we have no willow on our land (though I started 5 stems today .. so fingers crossed we'll have trees soon!)
     
  6. vikav

    vikav Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, not everyone understands that, or can do this. That's why a forum like this is a great place, to exchange info and learn. :)
     
  7. brody

    brody Well-Known Member

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    so true - and so easy to see how someone could think geez I don't know any of these things except (say dandelion) so that's all I'll feed :)
     
  8. Ceres Hil

    Ceres Hil Well-Known Member

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    We do a fair amount of willow mixed with blackberry and plantain. Some raspberry depending on does situation (if early in pregnancy none).

    Some grape leaves also at this time--buck is a big fan!
     
  9. brody

    brody Well-Known Member

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    my guys CHOWED on willow - just a little but I was shocked at how fast they took to it .. usually at least a couple of buns are suspicious ...

    not this time - no way no how

    hoping the five branches I have root well and get planted soon ;)
     
  10. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One point about willow that I forgot to mention is that a large percentage of what I feed is the leaves, which have a lower Salicylic acid content than the bark. Yes, there are the long willow whips that the leaves are attached to and yes the rabbits eat those too, but they do not always eat all of the bark and branch. They get a good quantity of greens and although they eat most of what they are given they are never hungry enough to have to eat it all. And they always have hay. I am beginning to believe that as long as there is a surplus of forage that the rabbits have some instinct that helps them to avoid excesses.