What are the best forage crops for rabbits?

Owl
Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

I’m growing sweet potatoes, parsley, celery and cleaning out the last of the broccoli plants for them but I’m growing out a huge crop of rabbits for the freezer and I’m running out of crops to supplement their feed. Using tractors is not practical in my situation due to uneven terrain and a huge coyote population. I would love suggestions for something that I could plant in the greenhouse for winter feeding as well. I would also like to know (before I totally stunt my sweet potato crop) if trimming the runners from them will result in a diminished harvest.

Comments

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    My experience is limited to two angoras for about seven years, but one thig my bunnies especially liked was lamb's quarters. Around here it will grow into a big plant, 5 feet tall and almost as wide if it's growing in a spot it likes. Sometimes I'd just break off a big plant and let the rabbits eats their way into it--they liked to play in it too, so that was as much to relieve boredom as to feed them. Mostly I fed them the younger, more tender plants. Around here at least Lamb's quarters grows wild and abundantly, so it was an easy supplement for their food (as well as mine!)

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    Apparently the sweet potato greens won’t hurt them. I’ve been feeding them for weeks now without any problems. I’m told that they are good for people greens too but I need forage worse than groceries.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    Sweet potato is a totally different plant from potatoes, and while potato leaves can be toxic for bunnies, sweet potato greens should be OK. I rarely fed mine to my rabbits because ate them myself! Found a good article here on TGN about sweet potato greens:


    Seems like there would be an article about rabbit feed too, but I couldn't find one. Have you thought about growing sprouts or microgreens? I wasn't growing them back when I had rabbits, but I grow them now for myself and my chickens. The chickens love them, especially in winter when there's not much else green. Seems like rabbits would appreciate them too?

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    That is a great article on sweet potatoes. I have a neighbor who grew sweet potatoes one year. I think that she got a decent crop. I would like to try growing sweet potatoes, but not this year. Trying a lot of other new things. We shouldn't have any problem with them taking over. We have a fairly cool climate, and if they were to escape, the deer should probably take care of them.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,102 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Love the tips and ideas. We are thinking of adding rabbits and the feed was one of the biggest drawbacks.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    I hadn’t thought of the microgreens. I would need to grow a bunch with so many mouths to feed but with their high nutritional content, maybe not. I do have an unusually abundant amount of white clover in my pasture this year, I’m thinking about cutting an armful every day but I would love something I could grow in the greenhouse to feed them through the winter months.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    MaryRowe, thanks for an excellent article! Sweet potatoes are extremely easy and forgiving as well as drought resistant. I have a crop that has volunteered from shoots left in the clay soil in the floor of my greenhouse that I’m experimenting with. I cut off the shoots when they get over a foot or so away from the plant base and use them for fodder. I want to see if the harvest will be better than last year since the plants are not devoting so much energy to running all over the place.

  • archer777
    archer777 Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    The book. ‘Beyond The Pellet’ is a good book for anyone wanting to supplement their rabbits feed. 


    Here’s some things for feed. 

    Comfrey, 

    willow, shrub willow. 

    Dandelion 

    Blackberry leaves 

    Raspberry leaves

    Strawberry leaves

    Crabgrass 

    Plantain weed

    Violets 

    Yarrow 

    A lot of herbs can be fed to rabbits 

    Kale (can be winter feed in a lot of places)

    Turnip leaves 

    Chard

    Radish leaves 

    Salisfy planted in spring and summer will have green leaves all winter in a lot of zones. 

    Apple branches with leaves (give a bigger chunk of a branch for chewing)

    Pear branches with leaves. 

    Moringa if living in a climate too cold for it to winter over. Grow the moringa in a bed like an herb fill the whole bed with seeds and when about 6 inches tall cut harvest and dry it. Able to get numerous cuttings throughout the summer. Can buy moringa seed in bulk on Amazon. 

    Sweet potato vine. I don’t feed it until I know my tubers are big or I put a separate patch for rabbits because my experience the tubers are smaller if the vine is cut before 90 days. I also dry the sweet potato leaves for winter feed

    Cut your clover and dry it. An old style push reel mower with a catcher that cuts the green instead of chopping works well for cutting and then lay it out to dry for winter feed. Do the same for your lawn as long as no chemicals are used. Old feed bags with holes punched in them works well. 

    All the things currently being fed fresh can be dried and stored for winter feed. 

    Also for winter start a grain fodder system. Can set that up in your greenhouse. Just be sure to get organic grain so it hasn’t been desiccated at harvest with an herbicide.

  • Momma Mo
    Momma Mo Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    My rabbits enjoy comfrey leaves, alot! I agree with drying greens while they are abundent and feeding them in the winter. We do that with our lawn clippings, henbit, and other medicinal plants that grow wild here.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    That’s great! Do you have a way of drying in bulk like lawn clippings that I could use? I guess I could use my car. Here in the South, that’s a real oven anyway, especially lately!

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