Feeding Rabbits properly is important. Learn how to feed pet rabbits, meat rabbits and baby rabbits effectively and get recommendations on rabbit feed brands.
One of the most important aspects of caring for rabbits is, feeding rabbits. Since I have received lots of questions about how and what to feed rabbits in general, I decided to post this article with the purpose of covering some of the basics. If you are looking for more information on this extensive topic of feeding rabbits and would like advice from serious rabbit breeders, I suggest that you check out our Rabbit Books for Sale page. This article is currently divided into two sections; What to Feed your Rabbits and How to Feed your Rabbits. For more information about raising rabbits, be sure to subscribe to our Free Rabbit Breeders Newsletter. Also if you are interested in purchasing rabbits, be sure to check out our rabbits for sale page.
What to Feed your Rabbits
Most people have false assumptions about what domestic rabbits really eat. Many people are hooked on the idea that you should feed your rabbits lots of carrots and lettuce. WRONG!!! Don’t get me wrong it is ok for rabbits to occasionally eat carrots and lettuce however it should not makeup their main diet. Studies have shown that feeding rabbits lots of vegetables can get them over fat and contribute to other health conditions.
If you are into raising rabbits for production or show I highly recommend that you feed your rabbits a quality pellet based feed. A quality pellet based feed will help your rabbits grow quickly and stay in good health. Rabbit pellets generally contain all the vitamins that your rabbits will need, so you will not have to worry about vitamin supplements.
Pellet vs Organic Feed
When I tell people that I recommend feeding rabbits grain instead of organic rabbit food, the statement often leads to controversy. Particularly people who fit into the raising “urban pet rabbit” category often moan and complain, saying that organic food will help your bunny rabbits live longer. I have yet to find any real evidence behind this claim, yet I still see this statement being made in different pet rabbit publications.
If you have a large herd of rabbits it is much more time efficient to feed pellets than it would be to gather food stuff for each of your rabbits on a daily basis. As long as the feed contains appropriate levels of protein, fiber, fat and vitamins you can rest assured that your rabbits are being fed a healthy diet. If you are still obsessed with the idea of feeding your rabbits a combination of veggies, hay and other organic foods each day instead of pellets, be warned that you will have to consistently make sure that your rabbits are getting all of the important ingredients that they need from the mixture.
When Organic Food is the Best Solution
In some situations feeding organic foods to your rabbits could prove to be the best solution. If you have a productive garden and are trying to become as self-sufficient as possible, feeding organic goods might prove to be worth the effort. You may be able to reduce your feed bill and be better off if tragedy was ever to strike. Your rabbits wouldn’t be dependent upon the big corporate farms which produce crops necessary to grain production. During both World War I and World War II rabbits were commonly raised up for backyard meat production in order to feed starving families. One thing I want to point out is the fact that during any major crisis, food prices are notorious for soaring. Sometimes crops are damaged and as a result livestock feed would also soar in price. (I hope you are able to see my point here)
So after considering both points of views… here is my conclusion: Initially start your rabbits off on a pellet based feed. If you wish after a few weeks, you can begin to introduce and supplement organic food for pellets. Make sure you do this process gradually, if you switch feeds too quick your rabbits could get stressed and go off their feed altogether. For show rabbits I still recommend a strictly pellet diet, with hay as a dietary supplement.
How to Feed your Rabbits – My Method
My Rabbit Feeding Method…
I primarily raise Californian Rabbits for show and commercial purposes. Each day I feed my rabbits a food ration of approximately 5 to 6oz of pellet feed each. They also have access to hay on a consistent basis. Occasionally I will feed them grass or certain types of leaves for a treat. Personally, I don’t feed my rabbits any veggies.
The Measuring Cup and Distribution
To equally distribute out my feed on a daily basis, I use a classic Dixie cup as the scoop. Each rabbit will get 1 to 1.5 scoops per day, depending on whether or not they ate all their food up from the previous day. Occasionally I will go around my rabbit buildings with a bag of hay and place a small handful in each cage for my rabbits to munch on. Some of my older cages contain built in hay holders, however this is not a necessity. Several online stores such as Amazon sell hay racks that can clip onto your rabbits’ cages to help keep the hay contained.
When I occasionally feed my rabbits grass treats, I will use a small pair of clippers to cut the grass instead of pulling it up. I only will give each rabbit as much grass as they will eat within a few minutes. Wilted grass is not good for rabbit consumption.
Water the Most Important Ingredient
The most important ingredient in any rabbit feeding system is old classic H20! Rabbits must have access to a consistent supply of water at all times in order to stay in good health. In the summer if a rabbit goes without water for more than a few hours it can become detrimentally ill and even die.
The best solution for supplying your rabbits with a constant water supply is to use an automatic watering system! The majority of backyard rabbit raisers however simply use bowls and water bottles to hold their rabbit’s daily water supply. I could go on and on about the pros and cons to different watering methods however I don’t want to bore you. So here is a short paragraph which sums up the differences…
In the old days before the development of specialized rabbit supply products, most people used bowls to hold their rabbits’ food and water. Now the majority of rabbit raisers have began using water bottles that hang onto the rabbits’ cages. There are two main types of rabbit water bottles; Flip-Top and Screw-Bottom. Flip Top bottles will save you time due to the fact that you don’t have to take them off the cage to refill. Flip Top bottles however tend to be more expensive than the typical screw bottom rabbit waterer. Using water bottles instead of bowls will generally save you maintenance time and keep your rabbits’ water supply cleaner. Lastly there are automated rabbit watering systems. These systems will definitely save you time however they will also take an investment of either time or money to setup.
If you have a good number of rabbits, you will need to come up with a solution for transporting water to your rabbit enclosure. I have it setup so that a water hose runs from my outside water faucet to my rabbit buildings. I then have the hose attached to another faucet which I use to manually distribute water to my rabbits. I also use the same faucet pipe to run my automatic watering system.
If you are going to manually distribute water to each of your rabbit cages, I suggest that you use 2 gallon milk or water jugs. They are simple, hardy and best of all free to use water hauling devices. I remember when I first started raising rabbits I used plant watering containers to fill rabbit bowls! (That was a joke- use milk jugs instead)
So now that we have discussed rabbit watering devices, it is time to talk about rabbit feeders. I recommend that you purchase “J Feeders” for each of your rabbit cages. J Feeders are simply metal feeders that hang on the outside of your rabbit cages which allow you to distribute food from the outside of the rabbit cages. Special rabbit feeders are MUCH better than bowls for several reasons; they save you time, they keep your rabbit’s food cleaner and rabbits can’t flip them over like they can bowls.
To distribute rabbit grain each day I use a simple carrying bucket and a 5oz Dixie cup. I keep my open rabbit grain bags in metal trash cans to keep rodents and moisture away from the grain. I store the rest of my rabbit grain bags in a stack in my garage.
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