Saturday, May 25, 2024

Nine (9) Nutrient Requirements of Rabbits

The domestic rabbit will eat most types of green vegetables, grain, tubers and roots. Therefore, the ration may consist almost entirely of ingredients from plant sources.

Kitchen wastes such as uncooked vegetables, cereals and remain of meals can be fed to rabbits provided certain rules are followed:

  1. The waste must be fed when fresh and unsoured.
  2. It must be removed after a few hours if it is not eaten.
  3. It should represent less than half of the rabbit’s daily ratio.

1. Water

Water should be supplied ad libitum. Rabbits have high requirements for water in relation to their body. Water is necessary for maintenance, production and lactation because dry matter intake is related to water intake.

Any restriction in water intake causes a decline in dry matter consumption. However, if feeding is restricted, water intake may increase water should be clear, fresh and free from biological and chemical contaminants.

2. Protein

The quality and quantity of protein are not critical in rabbits as in poultry because rabbits can adapt to poor and low protein situations but production will not be optimum.

With high and good protein quality, however, optimum production can be achieved. Crude protein is an approximate measure of the total amount of amino acids.

For rabbits the recommended crude protein level in the dry matter of the ration is over 18% for newly weaned rabbits;

16-18% for rabbits from12 to 24 weeks; 15-17% for a breeding doe.

12-14% for all other stocks.

3. Energy

The energy requirement of rabbits is made from fibrous components of the feeds. The energy requirement is between 2390 and 2500kcal of digestive energy.

This energy can be supplied from fats grains, maize, cereal bran and fibrous feeds.

4. Fats

Rabbits can handle up to 20-25% fat in the diet depending on their age. Fat provides energy as well as supplies essential fatty acids.

Fat also provide palatability and reduce dustiness in feed.

Read Also: Principles of Housing and Sanitation for Rabbits

5. Carbohydrates

Grains are readily available carbohydrates.

6. Fibre

Rabbits eliminate fibre and digest non-fibrous components of the feed. Anti-peristalsis wave on the proximal colon in conjunction with normal contraction in the caecum is responsible for the separation and excretion of fibre. The digestion of cellulose is low.

7. Minerals

Calcium is the bone constituent which is involved in blood clotting controlling the excitability of nerves and muscles and in the maintenance of acid-base equilibrium.

Phosphorus is a component of a cellular constituent such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA) and phospholipids.

Phosphorus is also a component of the bone. Calcium absorption is experienced by its level in the feed.

Dietary phosphorus and vitamin D factors have not been critically studied in rabbits. Calcium level in the serum (sera) of rabbits is higher than what is obtained in other species, this is because other species maintained a regulated constant level of calcium through a process called homeostasis, since this homeostasis is absent in the rabbit dietary calcium level is directly reflected in the blood unregulated.

8. Vitamins

Vitamins are chemicals that are required in very small amounts to speed up chemical reactions within the rabbit’s body.

The most important vitamins are vitamins A and D, and the B vitamins are choline and thiamin.

9. Caecotrophy

One aspect of rabbit nutrition that is particularly interesting, is sometimes called refection. Caecotrophy is the eating of faecal-like pellets produced in the caecum.

Read Also: Principles of Feeding Rabbit and Feed Resources

Types of Rabbit Faeces Produced

The rabbit produces two kinds of faeces viz:

  • Hard faeces.
  • Soft faeces or caecotropus.

The rabbit has a specialized mechanism that retains ingestion in the proximal colon and caecum for microbial utilization of nutrients and also to allow the formation of the two types of faeces.

The faeces suitable for consumption are soft faeces. It originates from the caecum (cecotropes) while the other that the rabbit doesn’t eat is called the hard faeces.

Table: The composition of the two types of rabbit faeces

Constituents (%)Hard faecesSoft faeces
Dry matter52.738.6
Crude protein15.425.7
Ether extract3.05.3
Crude fibre30.017.8
Nitrogen       free extract37.936.0
Gross energy (unit)4.344.53

Read Also: Unlocking the Potential of Environmental Education


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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