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Feeding Rabbits | Rabbit Nutrition & Health


The amount of food energy a rabbit needs varies with gestation, lactation, outside temperature and body size. As the digestible energy content of the food decreases, the rabbit will eat more to meet its needs. If the energy content of a feed is too low, a rabbit may not be able to consume enough to grow and lactate.

Protein

The amount of protein a rabbit needs to maintain growth depends a great deal on the quality of the protein it receives. The quality of protein is related to the amino acid make-up. A well-balanced diet, in terms of amino acids, usually contains between 15 and 20 percent protein. Fur is composed primarily of protein, so if you are producing fur, a high-protein diet would provide good growth.

Dietary fiber

Rabbits do not use dietary fiber very well. As the fiber content increases, digestibility energy decreases. Consequently, rabbits have to consume more feed to provide for body functions. There is no dietary recommended fiber level, but most feeds contain from 14 to 20 percent. If you supplement your rabbits' diets with fresh greens, make sure the amount of balanced feed they consume remains stable, or their growth and lactation rates may decrease.

How much to feed

A good rule of thumb is 2 to 3 ounces per day for small breeds, 3.5 to 4 ounces per day for medium breeds, and 4 to 8 ounces per day for large breeds. Beginning on the second day after kindling, nursing does should have their feed increased daily, until they are non full-feed and should be kept at full-feed until the litter is weaned.

Feeding methods

Self-feeding

Place feed in hoppers from which the rabbits may eat until they're full. Feeding once a day, usually, in the evening, is plenty, but it's important to feed at the same time each day.

Full-feeding

Hand-feed once or twice daily. Increase the feed allowance until the rabbit cleans up all the feed or just has a few pellets left at the next feeding. This way, the stock always has fresh feed.

Restricted-feeding

A lower than normal feed allowance is hand-fed once or twice daily to herb bucks, dry does and young breeding stock to prevent them from becoming too fat. A fat rabbit has a lower reproduction rate.


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