Rabbit Feed

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Rabbit Feed:

Rabbit Feed should have the bulk amount of fresh hay as they are are herbivores (plant eaters) and are considered as grazers.

Some facts about Rabbit Feed:

  • Rabbits have very specific dietary needs as they have complex digestive systems and are very efficient at processing food.
  • Rabbit just need a varied and high fiber diet. They do not require any extra vitamins.
  • The normal digestive flora will be disturbed, gas and toxin producing bacteria can overgrow, and the rabbit may become very sick and possibly die if any new food is introduced too quickly, or feeding inappropriate food choices . 
  • A daily diet of a rabbit mostly consist of hay, a smaller amount of fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets.
  • A nice combination of hay, vegetables, pellets, as well as fresh water will make your rabbit healthy and happy.

Types of Rabbit Feed:

Hays:

Hay is the most important part of the daily intake of a rabbit and the majority of the rabbit diet should be composed of grass hay of any variety.
Hays should be available to your rabbit at all times as it is rich in Vitamin A and D as well as calcium, protein and other nutrients which help promotes healthy teeth and gastrointestinal tract of rabbit.
Hay is important for rabbits because the essential fiber needed for good digestive health can be provided by it.
It also helps wear down the teeth of a rabbit which continuously grow, for good dental health.
Hay can be placed at one end of a litter box which will also encourage the use of the litter box, as rabbits tend to eat hay and poop at the same time.
Unlimited, high quality grass hay, such as timothy, orchard or brome, can make up the bulk of the diet of a rabbit. 
Grass hay is critical to maintain the healthy digestive tract of a rabbit as it is high in fiber.
Any type of grass hay can be eaten by growing rabbits when they are young.
Alfalfa hay is not suitable for adult rabbits, as it is too rich in protein and too high in calcium.
Timothy pellets are preferred for older rabbits.
Make sure that the hays looks and smells fresh while choosing it for feeding rabbits.
A hay that looks brown or moldy or no longer smells like fresh cut grass should not be used as rabbit feed.
Hay should be stored in a dry place in a container that allows air flow to keep it from getting moldy.
Hay can be bought in bulk from a local farmer, which will be much more economical than buying bags from a pet store.
It is best if rabbit has been eating grass hay for a minimum of two weeks before introducing any fresh foods.
The grass hay will help to get the GI tract motility and flora in good working order so that the rabbit will be able to accept new foods more easily.
It is best to go slowly when introducing new fresh foods to any rabbit’s diet to allow the gastrointestinal tract and all its important microorganisms to adjust. 
One new food can be introduced every three days and you should keep a watch on the stools.
You might want to remove that food from your bunny’s diet if you note softer stools that persist over a couple of days by introducing new food 

Pallets:

Look for pellets that are high in fiber and low in protein while choosing it as rabbit feed.
Timothy pellets can be given at approximately 1/8 to1/4 cup per 2.25 kg of bodyweight.
Obesity and soft stool can be caused by an overgrowth of abnormal bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract) due to over feeding of pellets to adult rabbits, as pellets are generally low in fiber and high in carbohydrates.
Your rabbit’s pellet intake should be limited as he/she ages as they are high in protein can lead to obesity and other health issues in rabbits. 
Pellets that have 'treats' mixed in such as dried corn, etc. should not be given to rabbits as these additives are not healthy for rabbits and can cause digestive problems.
You must replace the nutritional value without the calories when you feed a lower quantity (or no) of pellets,, which is done by increasing the vegetables.

Vegetables:

Wild rabbits eat a lot of other fresh vegetation in addition to hay.
A varied assortment of vegetables should be a part of the daily diet of your rabbit
A variety of leafy green vegetables can be used as supplement in the diet of a rabbit every day.
Look for something fresh and free of pesticides while choosing vegetables for rabbit feed.
Vegetables should be washed thoroughly before feeding them to your rabbit.
Rabbits can consume as many vegetables as they want to each day as long as the vegetables are not high in carbohydrates, such as carrots and potatoes and as long as they do not get diarrhea.
Monitor for soft feces, diarrhea, or signs of gas pain while introducing new vegetables in their diet.
New vegetables should be introduced slowly and in small quantities.
Carrots should be fed in a restricted or infrequent manner, in small quantities, as they are very high in carbohydrate and may upset GI bacterial flora
Vegetables including the dark leafy greens like bok choy, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, carrot tops, cilantro, watercress, basil, beet greens, kohlrabi, broccoli greens, and cilantro can be given as rabbit feed.
Some leafy greens, such as collard and dandelion greens, Swiss chard,  parsley, kale and escarole, should be fed in limited quantities, as they are high in calcium and may result in the development of calcium based bladder stones if fed in excess quantity.
Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, endive, green peppers, wheat grass, radicchio, and squash can also be given as rabbit feed.
Iceberg or head lettuce are not  acceptable as rabbit feed, as it is mainly water and contains few nutrients.
Leaves from houseplants should not be fed to rabbits as many are poisonous to them.
Any leafy green that is safe for a human to eat is safe for a rabbit to consume.
Small amount of many different vegetables should be given than a large amount of one food item.
Growing rabbits, under approximately 7 to 8 months old, should be fed alfalfa pellets and alfalfa hay free choice as they need the extra protein and calcium as they grow.
A variety of vegetables can also be given to them.
They must be weaned onto an adult diet, as described above, at approximately 7 months since their growth slows down.
Fresh foods are an important part of your rabbit’s diet as they provide more moisture in the diet, which is good for kidney and bladder function.
Additional nutrients as well as different textures and tastes can be provided by fresh food.
The bulk of fresh foods should contain leafy greens of about 75 percent of the fresh part of the diet.
 

Treats:


Although, treat is loved b everyone, it  should be given only occasionally. 
Items high in carbohydrates like breads, pasta, pretzels, cookies, crackers, chips, or cereal should not be fed to rabbits .
Cookies, grains, nuts, seeds and bread should not be fed to rabbits as they can become overweight if fed an abundance of high calorie treats.
Chocolate should never be given as it is toxic to rabbits.
Fruit is the best option for a treat, but it should be given only in small amounts because of the sugar content.
Fruits can be fed in very limited quantities as the high sugar content in fruits (and even carrots) may upset the normal GI tract bacteria if given in excess.
High-fiber fresh fruit such as apple, pear, or berries can be fed every 1 to 2 days, but no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Always  try to purchase organic fruits that are free of pesticides.
Also, be sure that fruits are thoroughly washed before using them as rabbit feed.
Strawberries, Raspberries, Bananas, Pineapple, Apples without seeds are some fruits that rabbits enjoy.

Water:

Fresh water must always be available to your rabbit 2/7.
A hanging water bottle is a fine option if you have a cage.
You can leave the vegetables fairly wet when you present them if your rabbit does not seem to be drinking enough water.
Be sure to inspect the water bottle for clogs and fill it with clean water daily if you offer water in a sipper bottle.
Make sure the rabbit does not spill water in its cage or soil it with feces if you offer your rabbit water in a bowl.

Alkaloids and Other Worries:

A naturally occurring chemicals called an alkaloids, which are mild toxins and protect plant in the wild are present in many plants.

Oxalic Acid:

Oxalic Acid is completely harmless to animals or humans when consumed in small amounts. 
The amount of oxalic acid present in each plant can vary significantly depending on the composition of the soil the plant grew in, the time of year and the age of the plant.
Although, most of the fresh vegetables that are used as rabbit feed have a low to zero level of oxalic acid, but a few, such as parsley, mustard greens and spinach have relatively high levels.
The toxicity of oxalic acid affects when large quantities of foods high in this chemical are fed which can result in tingling of the skin, the mouth and damage to the kidneys over time.
These foods do not need to be excluded from the diet if you feed them appropriately as these are nutritious and should be a part of your rabbit's diet.
A minimum of at least three types of leafy greens a day is recommended.
The same greens  should not be fed all the time. If possible, mix it up from week to week.
A variety in taste, texture and general nutrition can be provided by rotating the greens.

Vitamin A:

A significant amount of vitamin A  can be acquired from greens as hay is rich in vitamin A.
Kale is extremely rich in vitamin A as well as most of the leaf lettuces.
Rabbits do not have to get vitamin C through their diet as they make their own vitamin C in their bodies.

Concerns About Gas:

Many of the foods that may cause gas in a human do not cause gas in a rabbit as the GI tract of rabbit is not the same as a human.
Foods that are high in starch and sugars are most common cause for creating havoc in the rabbit's GI tract because they create a change in the pH of the cecum and eventually can throw the whole system off resulting in serious GI disease.
Grains of any kind and legumes (beans, peas, etc) are some foods that are notorious for causing rabbit GI problems when fed improperly.
Starchy root vegetables and fruits if fed to excess with their high sugar and starch contain could be a problem and therefore, should only be fed as a very small part of the diet.
There is no cause for concern in feeding the nutritious foods like broccoli/cabbage family as  it would take several weeks of exclusively feeding huge quantities of these foods to see any abnormalities in the blood of rabbits.

Vegetables to Limit:

Other vegetables such as root vegetables or 'flowers' such as broccoli and cauliflower can be fed to rabbit other than leafy greens.
However, these foods should be fed in lesser amounts than the leafy greens as these are often higher in starch or sugars.
Foods in the onion family such as leeks, chives and onions should be avoided because eating these foods could cause blood abnormalities.  

Fruits Should Be Limited:

All type of fruits should be limited as overfeeding fruits can result in a weight gain or GI upset.
It is up to you to feed these foods in limited amounts as rabbits cannot limit themselves when given sugary or starchy foods if left to their own choice. 

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