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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
how much is hay in your area?
Right now I am making hay for the rabbits, by hand. but won't have enough extra to last longer than 2 weeks after the first snow.
The feed store has 50 pound bales for $8.50.
Would I be better off feeding alfafa pellets or hay cubes.
Does any one have any idea how much 4 full sized rabbits can eat of hay for a month?
I'll probably be doing some sprouts for them too. I am saving and drying all veggies seeds such as pumpkin.I have whole grains to sprout too.
This hay price scares me though. I guess I should have checked it out before I bought the rabbits.
 

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You say you wont' have enough extra to last longer than 2 weeks after the first snow.

To arrive at a conclusion like that, you probably have some idea of how much hay you are able to harvest yourself, and how long it lasts.

Weigh what you are producing (dry it first) and then you'll have a good guess as to how long a 50 lb. bale will last.

I'd say you'd be better off feeding pellets because the pellets have vitamins and minerals in them, and other things besides just alfalfa. They're formulated to be a complete diet. Hay is not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was under the impression that rabbits had to have hay and pellets both. i will be feeding pellets.
Right now I am supplementing their hay and pellets with garden scraps so I have no idea how long the hay will last with out the garden scraps.
The amount of hay I am making is near to nothing.
We live on 1/10 of an acre and 1500 square foot of that is garden space.
 

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They don't have to have hay. Like a pervious poster said, the pellets are a complete diet for a rabbit. Hay is just an extra treat or for those that are not wanting to eat pellets. When I feed hay (3 or so times a week)they get a handful and that is it.

Carisa
 

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My three rabbits went through about 5 bales over last winter, in addition to pellets, some dried raspberry and willow branches and small amounts of greens. I don't know what the bales weighed, but they were described as "small square bales" and I'm guessing they were likely about 50 pounds. It was an alfalfa/timothy mix and I only paid about $2.50 a bale, straight from the farmer... So for me it really cut the feed costs -- and the rabbits loved it. I've ordered 15 bales this year at $3.00 each because I expect to be over-wintering 5 - 6 rabbits and I am trying to wean them off pellets, so I want to be sure I have plenty of hay on hand. Like you, I am drying other greens, but the grass hay we save is not very good quality so we end up using most of it for litter in the poultry houses. Saves buying wood shavings at $4.50 a bale.

Did you check with some local farmers to compare prices? Around here there are always ads in the local papers this time of year.

With hay so expensive in your area :eek: $8.50 :eek: I would say buy what you can afford and ration it. Some hay all winter is better than lots and then none. Besides being excellent fibre, it also provides entertainment for the rabbits... something to nibble on and off all day and night. Branches from edible trees such as maple, apple, pear and willow are also good for this, so be sure to dry some with leaves and cut some at intervals "fresh" all winter. They love the bark and it is very good for their teeth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
because I read on here some where that peoples does were not producing litters correctely, I'm not going to stop feeding pellets to the working does and bucks. The does and bucks even now don't get near as much garden scraps as the fryers do.
I have some mini rabbits that we are not sure if we are going to breed so they only get a little grain and all the greens they can eat. If I deceide to breed them then Ill start giving pellets again.
If you don't feed hay do you increase pellets in the coldest part of the winter?
 

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SquashNut said:
because I read on here some where that peoples does were not producing litters correctely, I'm not going to stop feeding pellets to the working does and bucks. The does and bucks even now don't get near as much garden scraps as the fryers do.
That may be so. I bred my does about a week ago and we'll see how it goes. They still have pellets available, but only one doe eats them with any enthusiasm. The other doe and the buck hardly touch them most days - unless they run out of greens before feeding time. It will be interesting to compare the two litters - assuming that they both took.

If you don't feed hay do you increase pellets in the coldest part of the winter?
In the coldest part of the winter, I pretty much feed free choice. I've never had a problem with them overeating. The first winter I had rabbits I did not have hay, but I did feed regular small amounts of fresh dandelions, plantain and grain grasses that I grew in plastic dishpans on top of the cages in addition to the pellets. They were in a semi-heated porch that winte. It never got cold enough to freeze their water, so they didn't need additional feed to keep warm. Oats are a good addition in cold weather - in moderation.
 

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MaggieJ,

I'm thinking of maybe getting some rabbits this fall if I get space in the barn ready to keep them. My land and field is access to quite a bit of wild raspberries that I could harvest the young shoots and there is lots of willow. Besides that is a field of trefoil that I could cut manually and dry like hay which I think would be good winter fodder if it's palatable to the rabbits. My idea is to not be buying a lot of pellet feed which is too expensive for my thoughts to keep rabbits. I'd want to keep them by what's available from foraging or the garden. I'm growing lots of squash (seeds, too) and if the rutabagas grow good, might be some quantity of that for feed if they'll eat it. I keep thinking if there is anything else of value to pick and store over the coming growing months out in the field or forest that should be dried and kept for rabbit winter food. What about the seed stalks of pigweed seed (wild amaranth) if it's found is loaded with what should be nutritious seed. Also what about thistle, burdock root or stalk (not seeds)? There is also lots of goldenrod around, which seems to dry in both the flower/seed stage and lots of stalk with leaves. I don't know if that's safe for rabbits, or if they'd eat it?
 

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I read today while searching the 'net about rabbit teeth that rabbits need grass/hay to keep their teeth trimmed. Apparently pellets result in an up and down motion of the jaw, but hay/grass results in a side to side motion, which helps keep the teeth in check.

Is there anyone on here who feeds *only* pellets and has not had a problem with their rabbit's teeth becoming overgrown?
 

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Maggie:

Definetly keep us posted on the litter size! What are you going to feed them in the witner for their fresh greens? I need to look online to see what vegs are high in Vit E besides parsley and wheat germ, Vit E is suppossed to increase fertility.

I bought hay here for 2.50 a bale from a farmer, than bale was alot of straw and weeds though. The other bales were 3.30 for Timothy, and 4.00 for Timothy/alphalpa mix. I think they were around 50 pounds or so. Can you find a local farmer for hay? They'd have to be cheaper than the farm store!

Dawn
 

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moonwolf said:
MaggieJ,

I'm thinking of maybe getting some rabbits this fall if I get space in the barn ready to keep them. My land and field is access to quite a bit of wild raspberries that I could harvest the young shoots and there is lots of willow. Besides that is a field of trefoil that I could cut manually and dry like hay which I think would be good winter fodder if it's palatable to the rabbits. My idea is to not be buying a lot of pellet feed which is too expensive for my thoughts to keep rabbits. I'd want to keep them by what's available from foraging or the garden. I'm growing lots of squash (seeds, too) and if the rutabagas grow good, might be some quantity of that for feed if they'll eat it. I keep thinking if there is anything else of value to pick and store over the coming growing months out in the field or forest that should be dried and kept for rabbit winter food. What about the seed stalks of pigweed seed (wild amaranth) if it's found is loaded with what should be nutritious seed. Also what about thistle, burdock root or stalk (not seeds)? There is also lots of goldenrod around, which seems to dry in both the flower/seed stage and lots of stalk with leaves. I don't know if that's safe for rabbits, or if they'd eat it?
Moonwolf, you must have missed my recent thread Draft Safe Plant List for Rabbits. http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=194063
There's lots of plants out there to gather for winter. If the rabbits are getting good hay (and they can handle an alfalfa/timothy mix nicely when not getting too many pellets) and with the assorted dried greens and a bit of grain they should be fine. I also get some dollar-store dishpans and grow grain grasses and pot up some dandelions and plantain for fresh greens. I give then the odd apple or carrot too.

Goldenrod and wild amaranth (pigweed) are fine. Also lamb's-quarters. Be sure to check plants by botanical names because the common names vary in different regions, although since you're in Ontario the chances are we use the same ones.

There is a difference between what is SAFE and what the rabbits LIKE. I've been noticing that they sometimes leave the larger grape leaves, pigweed and apple and maple leaves. They do like the apple and maple bark. The willow is NEVER left, nor dandelions, raspberry, plantain etc. They have their preferences, but are less picky in winter. Mine wouldn't eat rutabaga and since I had the idea it might be 'gassy' I did not offer them more than a very thin slice.

Maybe we should continue this discussion on the Safe Plants thread. I don't want to hijack SquashNut's Hay thread.

Beaniemom, definitely will update about the litters when they arrive.... although I would not build too much on one summer breeding. My does are mother and daughter and usually produce 6 - 9 excellent kits per litter. They were bred to the same buck, who is actually son and brother to the does. So far the inbreeding has produced very nice kits. Another experiment. :)
 

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Squashnut, one thing to keep in mind, even with that high hay price (and I'm sure you can find it cheaper than at the feed store if you keep looking) is that rabbits just don't eat that much. A rabbit might eat, oh, 12 ounces a day or so. Call it a pound, and that bale feeds the rabbit for almost two months. That's not too bad. If you supplement with pellets it's going to go a lot longer. If you are just looking at raising a half a dozen rabbits for your own consumption hay is probably a good way to do it. If you want to raise them fast, for commericial purposes, then it's not going to be such a good thing because you need to move them through the system faster, but for your own use it would be fine.

Jennifer

Edited to add: Pellets at $10 for 50 pounds is not a whole lot more than the hay at the feedstore, so you definitely need to find a cheaper hay than the one you quoted. If my hay was $8.50 a bale I'd just use pellets. But hay at $3 or 4 makes a lot more sense.
 

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WildernesFamily said:
I read today while searching the 'net about rabbit teeth that rabbits need grass/hay to keep their teeth trimmed. Apparently pellets result in an up and down motion of the jaw, but hay/grass results in a side to side motion, which helps keep the teeth in check.

Is there anyone on here who feeds *only* pellets and has not had a problem with their rabbit's teeth becoming overgrown?
We feed only pellets and put a chewing log in each cage with the rabbit. I use apple wood or maple but most any wood will do. Keeps their teeth in shape and keeps them from chewing on the hutch.
 

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Interesting discussion-- A local here raises hay as a cash crop-- and a 1,000 pound round bale, kept dry ( no rain-- he bales and stores the same day) is 37 dollars. He told me he has some early cutting timothy for 4 dollars a regular bale-other locals are selling their regular bales of mixed grasses for about 2.50 per bale. In my estimation, the round bale is the better buy-- the issue-- storing it in a manner that does not cause any of it to start rotting. ( no matter what, people who feed round bales stored outside waste an awful lot of the stuff.
My Amish neighbor does not bale his hay-- it is stored the old fashioned way-- piled into the haymow and stomped down to make room for more-- so he estimates his needs by the number of animals he is overwintering, and how creaky the barn floor sounds. When the floor starts to groan, it is enough to last 20 large animals the winter...and over half of those animals are heifers he raises and breeds to sell as springers...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
once in a while my rabbits chew on their wood rest boards.
 

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Mine have toys to play with to keep the annoying chewing on the cage thing to a minimum. Some have EZ Rest mats that they fling around, some have cat bell balls that they actually roll back and fourth with me, some have baby link things (some baby toy I found at the store that you link together to make a chain) They toss them around and put them into water dishes. They love to chew up all my wood nest boxes too.

Carisa
 
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