Feed Formulation Method for Rabbits

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;

  1. Weaners/ growers
  2. pregnant does
  3. Lactating does
  4. Breeders
  5. 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
Protein 16%
Fat 2-3%
Fibre 14-16%

2. Breeders
Protein 12%
Fat 1.5-2%
Fibre 14-20%

3. Gestation
Protein 15%
Fat 2-3%
Fibre 14-16%

4. Lactating about 8 litters
Protein 17%
Fat 2.5-3.5%
Fibre 12-14

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.

Feed Formulation Method for Rabbits

This are the nutritional composition of a general rabbit feed formula.
Crude Fibre 12%
Crude Protein 16%
Lysine 0.45%
Methionine 0.40%
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%
Potassium 0.80%
Magnesium 0.25%
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.

Feed Formulation Method for Rabbits

Baby greens
Bok Choy 
Borage basil
Broccoli (leaves and top) 
Brussel sprouts
Cabbage (red, green, Chinese)
Carrot/beet tops 
Celery (leaves are good)
Collard greens
Dandelion greens (and flower)
Leaf lettuce
Mustard greens
Parsley (Italian or flat leaf are best)
Romaine lettuce
Swiss chard (any colour)
Water cress

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
Cactus fruit
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
Kiwi fruit
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.

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2 thoughts on “Feed Formulation Method for Rabbits

  • December 31, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Thank u so much for this wonderful articles but we ve ingredients like maiza,wheat offal,maize bran,soyabean,gnc PKC,fish meal in country

  • January 1, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    I found the article extremely useful on how to formulate rabbit feeds. Could you advise on the the limit of amounts if one wants to formulate rabbit feeds from the following plant materials: Soya cake, sunflower cake, white maize, maize bran. I would want to formulate feeds for weaners, growers, breeders.


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