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Some of you will have been following along as I have been transitioning my little rabbitry from a pellet diet with green and hay supplements to a greens and hay diet (with pellets available but often not eaten.)

It has gone really well on the whole, but this past week I've hit a small snag and want to share it with you. Remember my "hunger strike" pregnant doe from last summer, who refused pellets and demanded greens only? Well, Tuppence is pregnant again and twice in the past week has had a touch of morning diarrhea.

I treated with the "regulatory plants" (raspberry leaves, strawberry leaves, plantain and shepherd's purse) and gave her grass hay to nibble and in both cases her droppings had returned to normal by evening. She acted fine throughout, very chipper in spite of fairly hot weather, and interested in everything, as usual.

The other two rabbits -- her mother, Patches and our buck, Tao -- are fed exactly the same way and were fine.

I was puzzled and began to look for something that was different that might account for it. Yesterday the penny dropped and I realized that the problem was probably the result of Tuppence's own greediness. :rolleyes: She's the one that will eat all her greens as soon as they are served. :nono: The others have a nice little meal and save some for overnight. Often there are some least favourite plants left in their cages the next day and I remove them.

I think that the solution lies in giving two smaller meals to Tuppence (and I will do the same for the others as well) instead of one big feeding in the early evening. I started this today and hope it will solve the problem. Just wanted to share the story as something to watch out for when "feeding green". Any input or suggestions are welcome.
 

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well Maggie, I am sure this was on the other thread, which I read parts of, but . . . . how did you say you'd handle the 'green food' aspect in winter? We live in Maine, and there aint any green around then!
What will you do?
just curious,
Sherry
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I will have to feed more hay and supplement with dried greens (I dry the same ones as they eat now, especially easy to bunch and hang ones like raspberries, willow, goldenrod and grapevines.) I may also feed limited amounts of grain (crimped or rolled oats for preference) in the coldest parts of the winter. I grow "grain grass" in plastic dishpans for cheap, fresh greens and can also bring branches of apple, maple and willow into the house to put in water until they start to sprout. No doubt I will come up with other ideas as I go along.

Last winter, I was feeding pellets, but found the rabbits were happiest with large quantities of hay plus whatever I could give them of the other things. I only had five bales of alfalfa/timothy and they used most of it. This year I am better prepared. I have fifteen bales, some alfalfa/timothy and some good quality grass hay.

This winter I may breed right through the season, except January/February. So I will need a lot more hay than I did last year. I was lucky to find a source just down the road a piece and although $3 per sqare bale is a tad pricy, it looks wonderful, the rabbits love it and it's still much cheaper than pellets and has to be better for the buns. At a guess the cost of raising rabbits for the year will be perhaps $75. With an average of four litters of 8 per doe, dressing out at a conservative 2.5 pounds per fryer
that is about 160 pounds of meat at less than 50 cents a pound. On pellets, the price per pound was over $2.50.

Now, theory is all very well, but this is still experimental and if I run into problems, I won't hesitate to supplement with pellets over the winter... but if all goes well the current bag of pellets may well be their last.
 

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I have a bred doe with the same problem. But it comes and goes on its own.
Part of the problem was I just bought her and had none or her own pellets to mix with mine. But even after the problem should have been over with 3 weeks later she is still having problems. They are just not so bad that i worry about it. I do feed the greens twice a day and as her pregnacy progresses she is becoming a pig about eating.
Unless it gets worse I'm not going to worry about it.
 

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No, it is probably not a matter for concern, Squashnut, but if you give her more of the regulatory herbs and less of the others, it may make her more comfortable. Tuppence was a little perturbed at getting some of the soft poop on her feet. She is as fastidious as a cat. Also, it may attract flies and she doesn't need that.

I guess it is important for me to learn how to manage these little problems naturally, if possible. There is not much written about a natural system of feeding rabbits, and I am hoping eventually to have enough experience to change that.
 

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Sounds like your doe is much worse than mine.
 

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Hello people! I'm new to this site but when I found it I was glad to see people like me trying to raise animals not so much in the regulay way. :rolleyes: Anyway, I wanted to jump in here and say I had a friend in LA. that two rabbits and he only feed them grasses and such from his yard, never bag feed. He keep this two as pets for as long as I knew him. Just telling you this to help pick up the spirts and let you know that it can be done all year round. I just started trying the same thing myself right now but have not hit the winter with them yet. We'll see what happens.
 

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Welcome to the forum, Shade 26000! I'm always glad to welcome another "green feeder" aboard. :)

Thanks for the encouragement. Southern Ontario is a far cry from LA, Whether you mean Louisiana or Los Angeles - and so is Maine - but I'm not too worried about the winter. It helps that my rabbits don't really like the pellets all that much... so they only eat them if there is nothing else. I think the alfalfa content in my hay will help a lot when they are not getting it in pellets as well.

If green feeding interests you there are lots of threads about it over the past year or so. Well worth a read.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
SquashNut said:
Sounds like your doe is much worse than mine.
The one morning she had stepped in it and was not a happy camper. It wasn't liquid, just soft and sticky. She was fine this morning with the smaller meal last night and I'm hoping she stays that way.

Do the soft stools have anything to do with pregnancy do you think... or is it just a dietary problem?
 

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Don't rabbits have soft stools anyway along with the hard ones? They eat the soft ones.

I put 30 doe bunnies out in tractors last month straight from cages with pellets to nothing but greens. Didn't have any problems at all. With the dry weather we've been having now though I am giving them some supplemental pellets as well.
 

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Maggie and others

My rabbits have always gotten some green feed each day, but you've inspired me to at least increase the green feed and reduce the need for pellets, even if I can't go completely off pellets...just for logistic reasons. But next year, I think I'll try planting a 'rabbit's garden' just to raise rabbit food and see how it goes. Can't hurt to try!

Thanks for all the information you've been posting on it!
Meg
 

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Glad you're finding the info interesting and helpful, Meg. So what plants are on your list? Are you going to make room for the wonderful "weeds" as well as regular garden plants?

If you don't have a lot of land, consider planting white clover in your lawn and letting the dandelions etc. grow.-- or whatever works well in your area. They won't show much because you'll be picking them for the buns as fast as they can throw up new leaves. I see weeds in a whole new light since I started raising rabbits.
 

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I already snag the dandilions and other weeds for the buns, along with carrots and whatever greens are in season, and papaya, of course. Apples and tomatos...No time to do much foraging at the moment, but I can plan! Next year hubby will be home, and I'll be healed, and I'll be able to do more gardening and foraging.
 

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MaggieJ said:
This winter I may breed right through the season, except January/February. So I will need a lot more hay than I did last year. I was lucky to find a source just down the road a piece and although $3 per sqare bale is a tad pricy, it looks wonderful, the rabbits love it and it's still much cheaper than pellets and has to be better for the buns. At a guess the cost of raising rabbits for the year will be perhaps $75. With an average of four litters of 8 per doe, dressing out at a conservative 2.5 pounds per fryer
that is about 160 pounds of meat at less than 50 cents a pound. On pellets, the price per pound was over $2.50.
I was wondering how long it took to reach butcher weight compared to feeding with all pellets.
 

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MaggieJ, I don't have anything helpful to say, and no questions to ask... I just wanted you to know I'm following your experiment closely and appreciate the effort you're going to with it, and also the time you take to post here and comment on your observations.

It's wonderful being able to learn from another person's efforts and experiences. Heaven knows we don't each have time to do/learn it all ourselves. Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
SquashNut said:
I was wondering how long it took to reach butcher weight compared to feeding with all pellets.
It's going to take longer, I am sure, but since I have extra cages and their food is costing so little, I can afford to be patient. My guess is it will take 14 - 16 weeks than 10 - 12, but we won't know for sure until we try.

I may end up buying feed grade rolled oats to supplement the fryers' greens and hay. I usually feed them a bit of old fashioned rolled oats from the kitchen but in the long run the feed grade would be a lot cheaper and I expect I will need it over the winter for everyone.

You do realize, I hope, that although I am trying to think ahead, I am working this out as I go along. :hobbyhors Any thoughts would be welcome!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
turtlehead said:
MaggieJ, I don't have anything helpful to say, and no questions to ask... I just wanted you to know I'm following your experiment closely and appreciate the effort you're going to with it, and also the time you take to post here and comment on your observations.

It's wonderful being able to learn from another person's efforts and experiences. Heaven knows we don't each have time to do/learn it all ourselves. Thanks again.
Thanks for letting me know, Turtlehead, that you are following along with interest. I hope if you get any ideas that might help the process that you will post them.

I don't want to bore anyone with these posts, but I figure that the folks that prefer or must use pellets can always skip right by them. They see my name, they must know what they are going to get!

I'm hoping that over time these threads will provide a set of notes that anyone can use. That's why I think it important to post snags and set-backs are well as successes. :hobbyhors
 

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Just to update... Tuppence has had no more problems. She is eating well but not as voraciously as before, so I suspect her ravenous appetite had something to do with the stage of pregnancy that she is at. No further poop problems, I am pleased to say and I put a lot of faith in the plants that I gave her: raspberry and strawberry leaves, plantain and shepherd's purse. The nice thing is that they will stop diarrhea without causing constipation.

Our weather is extremely hot - over 90 - and I have given the rabbits a frozen water bottle each. They've never needed them before and seemed a little bewildered by them, but they were checking them out and Tuppence was enjoying licking off the cold condensation. Never mind that she had cold fresh water in her bowl too... she obviously was enjoying the novelty.

Both Tuppence and Patches are due to kindle over the weekend and I am keeping a close watch on them. I think there must be buns in those little ovens because the two of them are getting very thick and are beginning to rest a little to one side so their tummies stick out. They have also become very affectionate, welcoming nose rubs and ear scritches that they normally don't ask for. So all looks back on track and we are just waiting now... hoping for the usual good litters. I admit that I am a little nervous, wondering how the kits will be from mommas who have been on a mainly green diet. They should kindle within hours of each other: I bred Tuppence first and Patches the next day because she typically has hers a day earlier than average.
 

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Cheribelle said:
Maggiej, I too am following and learning. Keep up the good work!
Thanks... I'm enjoying this experiment. It's nice to see you over here, Cheribelle! I PM'd you when I saw your name here the other day, just to say hello and welcome...wasn't sure it was you until I looked in over at TWF and saw your rabbit post there.

Tuppence kindled yesterday - about 8 nice kits, I think. Patches, the only one of my original rabbits that we kept when we culled last fall, is busy pulling fur as I type. It's fresher today and not so hot... so it is a good day for kindling. :)
 
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