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What do you feed your rabbits? — The Grow Network Community
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What do you feed your rabbits?

chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

So my husband and I are getting back into raising rabbits for meat. We have both raised rabbits before, albeit for show and not food, but got out of it as family life took over. Now we would like to raise a heritage breed (silver fox or champagne d'argent) and hopefully feed them naturally from things we plant or have growing at our house. I have even bought wheat grass seed to sprout and grow for the winter months when fresh greens are not as available, but have not had the courage to try it yet... Anyone have some experience to share here? I have only ever fed pellets and hay before, so feeding naturally is a bit daunting... How much do you feed? How often? What are your go-to's for food? I have a good list of foods that are good for the buns to eat, and foods to avoid, but I am worried about under feeding them or making them sick!

Comments

  • JensJens Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 there are some great articles and even a course on rabbits on the grownetwork.😉

  • JensJens Posts: 359 ✭✭✭
  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

    @Jens thanks :) I had checked that resource out and didn't think there was anything on natural feeding, but I did watch it over a year ago! I will revisit it :)

  • JensJens Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    If you have comfrey you can feed them this. It is a very good feed. Also willow or hazel are good and foraged dandelions.

    And you can have them in rabbit tractors much like chicken tractors to grow them out to slaughter weight. I need to do some searching I know I have seen videos on this.

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 131 ✭✭✭
    edited March 12

    In the winter months I resort to dried hay (they do love and need it for the fibre) and pellets. For the life of me, I don't know why organic pellets haven't been invented - at least not near where I live. But they do offer lots of minerals and vitamins that seem to keep them healthy. Our local co-op also offers huge bags of 'compost' produce for free taking, so once a week I can find a few fresh and organic things for the rabbits and chickens this way in the winter.

    IN the summer, our property is pretty wild outside of the gardens, so I spend time every morning and night foraging from the 'weeds' for the buns. I also grow a whole field of oats and berseem clover ( which grows profusely). The two mixed is quite a nice meal for the rabbits, can be cut more than once a season and it continues to grow. So, I just go through the field cutting a little at a time, one meal at a time.

    I have found a huge resource on wild plants that rabbits can and can't or shouldn't eat and medicinal food for rabbits from the people at : https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen rise and shine rabbitry is where I got my list as well :) Great resource! As for organic pellets, Modesto Milling sells them. We usually get a 50 pound bag through Azure standard shipped to us, but I have gotten it through Amazon as well in a pinch (just more expensive...) If you happen to live in Western United States, you may be able to find it in a local feed store since I believe they are based in California...

    So for foraging... How much do you feed them??? Do you just give them a variety and as much as they want and get rid of what was not eaten??? Do you still offer pellets to help supplement and lack of minerals etc? I assume that you still offer dried hay as well? Thanks for the help :)

  • KarinKarin New ZealandPosts: 233 ✭✭✭

    I'd like to try raising rabbits for food, but that would have to wait till we moved into a suitable property, although I did have a friend who was raising rabbits in a little suburban garden. I haven't checked out the videos here yet but will do so. Would really like to use rabbit tractors and let them do their own foraging - surely that would be easiest?

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 131 ✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04

    IN the summer I usually have lots of rabbits - after mating- so it would take me too long to forage for all their food most of the time. I will fill a bucket and divide it up amongst the critters. Once my Berseem clover/oats planting comes along, though I can cut as much as I need every day and it will grow back.

    My rabbits get as much fresh as I can wrangle off our good season land ( or in the winter from an organic co-op that has a great produce program which allows people to pick up their culled veggies and fruit for livestock or compost. Second, they always get a generous handful of hay and a small portion of pellets. They LOVE pellets - who wouldnt when it is laced with molasses!

  • tammyrichardsmt9tammyrichardsmt9 Posts: 107 ✭✭✭

    Thank you for this! My husband wants to raise meat rabbits, so this was very timely and informative!

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen thank you for your input on what you do :) I probably just need to jump in and see what works - just nervous I guess!

    @kmartin.mail We also live in the suburbs, so a tractor is not suitable for our property either...😔 It is a good idea though for those with the space :)

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 131 ✭✭✭
    edited March 16

    One thing about foraging. If your rabbits have never or for a while haven't had fresh greens, you must (re)introduce them slowly. Their digestive tracts are finnicky. When I get a new rabbit from someone, I ask for a weeks' worth of feed and ask how they fed them so I don't shock their systems with what I think they should have.... Always using the list of OK foods for rabbits. After that, I give them as much fresh greens and dried hay as they want . I restrict pellets - just enough to get extra vitamins. They don't need much of those. And some people say they don't need them at all.

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 131 ✭✭✭

    Another thing about foraging: If your rabbits haven't had fresh greens ever, or for a while, you must slowly (re)introduce them. Rabbit digestive tracts are finnicky. They need to get used to anything new. Even when buying a new bun from somewhere, I always ask for a weeks worth of whatever food they were giving them and I get details of how they were fed, so I don't shock them with whatever I think they should have...... Basically, though, once that adjustment takes place, I will give them as much as they can eat of fresh and dried plant matter - not fruits or anything sugary - according to the lists of beneficial rabbit plants. I do very carefully restrict their pellets. Just enough to get extra vitamins and salt. They don't need very much of them.

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 131 ✭✭✭

    Another thing about foraging: If your rabbits haven't had fresh greens ever, or for a while, you must slowly (re)introduce them. Rabbit digestive tracts are finnicky. They need to get used to anything new. Even when buying a new bun from somewhere, I always ask for a weeks worth of whatever food they were giving them and I get details of how they were fed, so I don't shock them with whatever I think they should have...... Basically, though, once that adjustment takes place, I will give them as much as they can eat of fresh and dried plant matter - not fruits or anything sugary - according to the lists of beneficial rabbit plants. I do very carefully restrict their pellets. Just enough to get extra vitamins and salt. They don't need very much of them.

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