Food (homegrown mix or pellets)

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by seedspreader, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    If, growing for the best food to meat ratio, what would you say is best to use. A home mix or pellets. I want the best meat at the lowest cost. From what I understand the rabbits don't need a lick if you use pellets, is this correct? And with that said, what type (brand) pellets are you using?
     
  2. Vera

    Vera Well-Known Member

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    Do you want low cost or convenience? For the best meat at about no cost at all, get a mower with a catch bag and mow your neighborhood (if you're living in the country, that is) :) That way, your buns get a healthy mix of local grasses and weeds, wildflowers, chopped twigs, and seeds, and all it costs you is some of your time along with gas and upkeep for the mower. Add kitchen scraps from cleaning fruit and vegetables, some rolled oats and some chicken scratch here and there, and they'll be as happy as can be and you get delicious, clean, healthy meat. My buns don't use their salt lick at all, so I guess their nutritional needs are met by this mixed feed. They really like tender elm and cottonwood branches during the winter though (they eat the bark off)... maybe there's something in bark that they don't find in their feed or the lick, or maybe they just like the chewing part.

    I think rabbits know pretty much what they need and what suits them best. If I put a pile of pellets, a pile of mixed fresh feed and a pile of hay in front of them, they'll eat the mixed feed first - unless I add a pile of fresh mallow leaves, which is always the winner.
     

  3. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Couple things Vera,

    What do you do in the winter time? How are you making sure you meet protein needs. I want to butcher them at about 10 weeks (from all I have read, that is the correct time) and have the quickest gain from birth to then. When do you butcher and how many do you feed. The lawns we have here don't have all those berries and twigs etc in a mowing bag, plus there are concerns about poisons and pesticides and fertilizers I would think.


    According to Carla Emery a "hay and grain" home mixed diet would include hay that was "good" at 12-14% protein. What is your protein source from the lawns?
     
  4. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    I say pellets for sure. If you feed a pellet and have fresh water that is all you need. I do put hay on top of the cages for the rabbits to nibble on a couple times a week but I have hay for my other livestock so this is not really much of an additional expense. The feed I use is Nutrina 17%. Cost is under $6.00 per bag but I have to buy 3 tons at a time. I in turn will sell this feed to my other growers at cost so they are showing a better profit on their rabbits. The local mill charges close to $10.00 per bag of 18% pellets. $4.00 a bag savings is a substanial amount. Try to find other growers in your area to get the purchase power to buy in bulk.
     
  5. Vera

    Vera Well-Known Member

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    This winter, I'm feeding mostly hay (because I missed my chance to mow enough before it got too cold) and veggies/fruits plus some grain. Next winter, I'll have home-made "hay". When I first got into the rabbit thing, I read up on it all across the internet, but then decided that too many simple things are turned into high science by people with too much time on their hands... I'm more the Little-House-On-The-Prairie type than a research scientist :) I don't know or care much about protein needs. All I know is that my rabbits grow fat as butterballs on weeds and that they're healthy and tasty.
    Over the summer this year, I had roughly 50 rabbits, and over the winter, I'm keeping my breeder stock of 6 buns plus three spares to butcher when I feel like it. I butcher the ones that I don't want to keep as breeders when they feel heavy enough - they average 2-3 lbs, which is just the right weight for a two-people dinner - and sell them for $7 to strangers and for $5 to friends.

    Lawns don't work for rabbit feed, of course, and neither do treated berms. That's why I mentioned living in the country - here, none of the berms get any attention beyond some mowing, and even most people's yards are untreated (and they appreciate the mowing), plus I have a half acre that's just "there" with nothing on it, no use for it except to keep my views clear and to mow for feed. If you don't have access to natural growth within walking distance, it's probably not worth it to go for natural feed via the mower. Although I did pack my mower into the truck and drove to the other end of this tiny town to load up on virgin weeds, LOL! I also cut a good bunch of green stuff (cat tails leaves?) and willow branches along the creek.

    Oh, another note on protein and other nutrition: my winter rabbits live in a chainlink pen that's open to the elements on 3 sides, including the weather side (with a roof overhead). We've been having night frost since the end of September, including several nights where it went down to 9 below zero, the average night temp being in the 20s. The rabbits are doing fine and dandy and will sit in the swirling snow rather than cozy up in their houses, and I haven't heard a sniffle or seen a teary eye ever since I started this venture, so I guess their nutritional needs are fulfilled adequately to sustain them in weather like this. I want stock that's strong and healthy by nature, not by scientific means :cool:

    On weight gain: This may be more a matter of breed than of feed. I got my original breeding stock from the feed store, $5 rabbits that were sold either because someone got tired of his pet or cute Easter bunnies. No telling what breeds they are, but I get a good variety of sizes, colors and weight. The same doe and buck that produce litterbox-trained "siamese" babies also put out ginger-colored unfriendly ones that always grow bigger and heavier than any of the others. There's some Rex-genes somewhere in this group, so I also get the occasional small (not mini) rex. As you can see, the scientific approach isn't my cup of tea, LOL!
     
  6. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Thanks for the information! I hope to be the scientific kind... but I know myself too... LOL
     
  7. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    Hi, I am new at this but have been using both pellets and a mix. I know others don't agree but I am trying to cut costs. I feed my 13-14% grain mix in the mornings with fresh hay/oat straw/or alfalfa hay depending on what's available and the rabbits being fed. I don't give my bucks or unbred does the grain but do give them a treat if they want it (20% range cube made for beef cattle--some rabbits love them others don't). I give everyone the 18% pellets at night. I try to butcher at 12 to 18 weeks old. I have been butchering at older ages lately so the pelt is a little nicer. I don't keep track of the butcher weights but I think they range from 2 to 4 pounds (I raise Satins not the larger breeds).
     
  8. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    There are lawns, and then there are lawns. Mine would make EXCELLENT rabbit feed, as I have a good deal of clover in it.

    I haven't used chemicals on it since my kids were toddlers, because I did not want them to put anything in their mouths. They are 10 and 11 now, and do you know I STILL do not use chemicals? :eek:

    I guess I see no need for it, now. :)

    The only problem is, my only rabbitr is a pet and he won't eat hay of any kind! :haha: :haha: :haha:
     
  9. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    I use 17-18% protien in a commerical grade feed. Rabbits need the higher protien content to grow muscle. I found 12-14% is ok for dwarf breeds.

    I want to acheive 4.5-5# dress out weight at 8 weeks. The longer it takes me to get to this weight the more it costs me.

    I only feed a handful of roughage ...alfalfa but prefer to feed a small bunch of parsley once a week...so easy to grow.

    A commerical feed has been formulated with everything a rabbit needs nutritionally, I can't do that by mixing my own. The rabbits pick what they want and waist the rest.
     
  10. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

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    Well Put.
     
  11. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    correction..

    waist should be spelt waste! :eek:

    The error is due to a mis-wired keyboard! ? :no: maybe a mis-wired brain :eek:
    ...better yet my spell checker must be on strike and isn't reading my mind today! :haha:
     
  12. 2horses

    2horses I'm a silly filly!! Supporter

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    I have two pet buns (mini rex), and my lawn grows a good crop of clover every spring. Is it safe to pick that and feed it fresh to my guys?

    Also, I buy them the bagged timothy hay from the pet store, plus have horse quality coastal hay I give them, and my guys like that too - one more so than the other! When I put them outside in their playpen, they like to nibble on the dead sycamore leaves that fall in there, and so far it hasn't seemed to bother them.

    Which brings up the following question - knowing that rabbits are foragers, do they instinctively know not to eat that which is bad for them, or will they eat bad things if left to their own devices? The sycamore leaves are a good example - at first it worried me, but then I figured they wouldn't eat them if it would hurt them. Am I wrong in that assumption? I know this isn't about meat production, but I appreciate the info anyway.

    Pam :cool: