Feeding rabbits isn’t difficult, but there are some basic considerations you should know to keep them healthy. Feed Formulation literally means the act of calculating the best combination of different feed ingredients so as to meet the nutritional requirement of the rabbit using the minimal cost.
We have different groups of rabbit feeds. They include;
- Weaners/ growers
- pregnant does
- Lactating does
- Pet rabbits
But most of the manufacturers can be found in most parts of the Rural Areas where Rabbit Farmers can be found to formulate one type of rabbit pellets. The most important nutrients in a rabbit diet is the energy, protein, fat and fibre. Others include vitamins (A,D,E), methionine, lysine, calcium and phosphorous.
Below are the protein, fat and fibre required in each group of rabbits.
1. Weaners and growers
4. Lactating about 8 litters
The breeders both the does and bucks should be given the breeder feed for body maintenance to avoid them being obese which is a challenge when it comes to breeding.
This are the nutritional composition of a general rabbit feed formula.
Crude Fibre 12%
Crude Protein 16%
Digestive Energy 2600kcal/kg
Trace Minerals range of 0.4-0.5% (Iron, Copper Zinc & Iodine)
Crude Fat 3.5-5.0% max
Calcium (Actual) 1.10%
Phosphorus (Actual) 0.60%
Sodium (Actual) 0.20%
Vitamin A 12,000 IU/kg
Vitamin D 1,500 IU/kg
Vitamin E 50 IU/kg
Feed formulation is all about calculations and knowing the limit of each ingredient e.g. Sunflower should not exceed 7.5%, cotton seed cake 10%…..etc.
Rabbits can also be fed with vegetables and graings. According to research, below are the recommended natural food for rabbits:
Recommended Diet for Adult Rabbits
Fresh Hay (or grass)
- Should always to be available. This is the most important of a rabbit’s diet.
- Young bunnies should be exposed to hay as soon as they can eat on their own.
- Mixed grass (timothy, meadow, oat, rye, barley or Bermuda grasses) hay is lower in calcium and calories.
- Alfalfa (and clover, peas, beans or peanut) is not recommended.
- Store hay in a cool, dry place in an open bag to allow circulation. Discard damp hay.
- Prefer loose long strands of hay compared to pressed cubes or chopped hay
Green foods are the next most important food in the rabbit’s diet. Feed at least 3 types of leafy green vegetables daily in a total minimum amount (all types of greens together) of 1 heaped cup per 1.8kg body weight. This is a minimum, as the bunny adjusts to this diet more can be fed. Greens are an important addition to the diet, but should never be the total diet.
These food products contain fibre, vitamins e.g. A & C, minerals and carbohydrates as well as providing mental stimulation for your pet.
Broccoli (leaves and top)
Cabbage (red, green, Chinese)
Celery (leaves are good)
Dandelion greens (and flower)
Parsley (Italian or flat leaf are best)
Swiss chard (any colour)
Fruits and other Vegetables (Treat Foods)
Since these items do not make up the majority of the diet, we recommend feeding these treats in limited quantities. Another reason for limiting the amount is because some rabbits like these foods so well that they will eat them to the exclusion of all others, thereby creating a potential for health problems. Foods from this list can be fed daily and you may even wish to use them as part of a reward or training system.
*TIP: Find at least one food in this list that your rabbit likes and feed a small amount daily to check on how good your rabbit’s appetite is. If your rabbit will not eat her treat food, then there may be other problems brewing and you need to keep a close eye on your pet for health problems.
These treat foods are far healthier (and less expensive) than the commercial treat foods sold for rabbits. Commercial treat foods should generally be avoided because many are loaded with starch and fat and if fed in quantity can cause serious health problems.
Bean or alfalfa sprouts
Edible flowers from the garden (organically grown and NOT from a florist) such as roses, nasturtiums, day lilies, pansies and snap dragons.
Green or red bell peppers
Pea pods (flat, NO peas)
Food to avoid
Avoid starchy foods or high sugar content foods such as; legumes, beans, peas, corn, bananas, grapes, oats, wheat, crackers, chips, bread, nuts, pasta, potatoes, chocolate, cookies, rolled oats and breakfast cereals, beans (of any kind), breads, cereals, corn, refined sugar and seeds.
We know that bunnies love starchy foods, and these can be fed in very small amounts for adult rabbits – yet it is easy to overdo, and may result in soft stools or serious stomach upsets.
Read Also: 7 Amazing Health Benefits of Cherries
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