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Home made rabbit pellets.

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets.

Post Number:#31  Unread postby MrJacobTiffin » Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:29 pm


How much sunflower should I add and how and how much soy meal. Is that what i need to add. So have you figure out a good recipe yet.

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets.

Post Number:#32  Unread postby alforddm » Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:38 pm


MrJacobTiffin wrote:How much sunflower should I add and how and how much soy meal. Is that what i need to add. So have you figure out a good recipe yet.


I never really tried to figure one out. I figured a feed mill could make the pellets cheaper than I could. I've been interested in rabbit nutrition from the point of view that if I ever couldn't get pellets, would I could feed instead to get good results.

Give me a few minutes and I'll sit down and run a few more calculations. I really want to know what you find out about cost though.

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets.

Post Number:#33  Unread postby MrJacobTiffin » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:04 am


Cost wise the best thing I could come up with is to try and grow most of what i need. That is the end goal. Thank you for your time and help. But I need a good formula to start with. Most of the big Items on my list can be dried in stored like hay and grains. Oats are a good source of straw too. Keep in mind pellet machines can be used for wood pellets stoves too and Fertilizer too.

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets.

Post Number:#34  Unread postby alforddm » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:03 pm


I'm sorry I got distracted last night.

If you do 45% timothy, 30% alfalfa, 9.4% wheat 9.4% oats, 4% soybean meal and 1% sunflower, 1% mineral, you get 16.26% protein. I haven't actually done the math but I think this will also bring your lysine and amino acids into good ranges. However, I haven't even looked at the calcium phosphorus ratio or potassium. I think you'd be fine but like I said I haven't actually done the math.

There has got to be a program written that figures this kinda stuff. :lol:

So do you grow your own alfalfa/timothy?

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets.

Post Number:#35  Unread postby MrJacobTiffin » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:13 am


Im going to start this year. Cannot wait till it starts warming up. I've winter sowed seeds. Alfalfa seed was more expensive than the Timothy. Waiting on my Income tax to purchase my pellet machine and hammer mill. http://www.flatdiepelletmill.com This is the cheapest I found but you still have to pick up at a port. Im also going to start making wood pellets from recycled material that I have already started getting for free. I also want to start making fertilizer pellets too.

-- Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:13 am --

Not sure if I trust the website. Might just go with Ebay for my purchase. Better safety.

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets - I tried!

Post Number:#36  Unread postby CO Int » Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:36 am


I'm so glad to have found this forum! I have been info hunting for months and was looking for in depth discussions from people that had hands on experience. Thank you to everyone who has posted ever - every little bit of information that I can get my hands on is like finding gold!! :D

I'm a 40yo South African woman who has an Equine Science degree and had been working in the racehorse industry for 20 years. I have always loved all animals but horses were my favorite. With some health issues popping up and just the general state of the world I've decided to stop working with horses and find a hobby. It took me months to decide on what it was that I wanted to do but I knew it had to be something with animals. However, I wanted to keep the animals on my own property and not worry about selling animals on as pets (so dogs and cats were out of the question). I don't quite know how I got to rabbits but meat rabbits seemed to be a perfect solution. I could keep the meat for myself and my dogs and have fun breeding and spinning the genetic wheel. Plus, it really is a lot of fun. I have kept every type of animal under the sun except for rabbits - so when it comes to them I'm a complete noob.

So far I have a trio of meat rabbits - a local landrace in South Africa. They are heavily based on NZ but have less dense fur due to the warmer climate and also bigger ears. Apart from that they performed similarly in meat trials that were run by various universities. They are showable if registered (we do not have 4H or similar projects here unfortunately) but the basic breed standard is no white hairs, no standard genetic abnormalities and only come in Agouti (Chestnut), Steel or Super Steel colors. Rabbit breeding in SA is a bit of a mess because no importation of any new genes are allowed. As a result, certain breeds like the English Lop has gone extinct and it's really hard to find a pure bred Flemish Giant. Most have been crossed at some stage and record keeping has been abysmal to say the least.

I decided to start off with pedigreed animals but haven't really made up my mind if I will show or not. So far I have an Agouti buck, a steel doe who was pregnant when I bought her and a Super steel Doe. Both the buck and Super steel Doe weighed only 3.7 pounds at 6 months (when I got them) and the steel doe only 7 pounds at 8 months. I was very worried about them making it as meat rabbits - those are really low weights but the breeder was of the opinion that they only needed grass as that was what they were bred to thrive on. They definitely did not thrive but at least survived.

At the beginning I fed them free choice grass and then started adding alfalfa. After another week I started adding in rabbit pellets and within only 8 weeks both the buck and Super steel doe weigh 6.5 pounds and the doe that was pregnant (who had kindled six very healthy consistent kits) weigh 8.5 pounds. It's still not record numbers but considering the lack of adequate nutrition I am absolutely stunned at how quickly they have grown.

I will post pictures of them and my rabbitry in future as I also have questions on weaning and management but at the moment I'm stuck on the feeding issue and I really don't know what to do.

I literally have a choice of four brands of pellets:
Pellet 1: 14% Protein, 14% Fiber, 2.5% fat which is the one I'm currently feeding as it contains no animal byproducts or growth hormones;
Pellet 2: 18% Protein, 10% Fiber, 2.5% fat - contains growth hormones and animal byproducts
Pellet 3: 17.5% Protein, 3.5% Fiber, 5% fat - contains animal byproducts
Pellet 4: 16% Protein, 7% Fiber, 2.5% fat - contains growth hormones and animal byproducts

After reading some of the animal byproduct information it might not be such a big issue as I though but I don't want anything to do with growth hormones. So the only other option really is pellet 3 but with such a low fiber count I'm expecting problems. My rabbits are now eating less grass and more pellets - the buck won't touch grass anymore. Also, with such a high fat count I'm not sure my resting herd would do well and I don't want to be chopping and changing between brands.

Our grass is also an issue is SA - we do not have soft, broad leafed hay such as Timothy. All our grass is long stemmed but has very little to no leaf. Teff is the highest in quality for proteins followed by Eragrostis, then Oat hay. One thing we do have loads of is quality Alfalfa. So not being happy with what I have available and being a horsey girl I went looking under the horsey products.

I found Alfalfa cubes with 15% Protein (min), 20% Fiber and 3% Fat - a bit low on protein and high on fiber but at least it was somewhere to start. The cubes also had added minerals which balanced out the calcium:phosphorus issue. They were almost perfect until I realized that they were 0.3 inch in diameter. Far to big for the rabbits. They do seem to eat it but they take a bite and chuck the rest on the floor. On top of that I was worried that my lactating doe would not find this sufficient, nor would it be ideal for my kits so I found another horsey product ( a Balancer) with micronized ingredients that is heavily fortified. It really is the best in the business as it was develop by Kentucky Equine Research and I have seen what it does for the horses. It's high in protein - 25%, low in fat 2% and have about 6% Fiber with all the essential amino acids added in. If I could find a way to combine the ration I could make the perfect mix of 18% Protein, 18% Fiber and 2.5-3% or higher Fat depending on how much BOSS I added. I also did not have to worry about the ca:ph ratio as it had been dealt with in both products.

I gave it a go - adding molasses meal (4% Protein, 10% Fiber) to increase palatibility at 5% of the mix. I ground down everything to a powder (it's already been prepared so easy to do), put it through a meat grinder and got 0.1 inch size pellets. It smelled and looked great. My issue came with drying but to cut a long story short, I managed to dry the pellets to 8% moisture in an oven at 140 degrees F. So I have my perfect mix pellet and it is surprisingly strong. I was expecting a brittle pellet that would break easily but it is not breaking up at all.

So after all my research and happy cooking I gave it to my rabbits aaand they HATE it! I know they ate the Alfalfa cubes before processing - they were not keen on the Balancer which is why I added molasses. They still prefer the original rabbit pellet - what I don't understand is why. This is how the ingredients are listed on a typical label: Grain-and-grain byproducts; Forage Products; Plant protein products; Animal protein products; Oils and Fats; Minerals; Vitamins; Registered growth stimulants and/or therapeutic remedies. It is impossible to get a more detailed breakdown, but I know that the majority of grain and grain byproducts are corn. It's all the left overs of production for poultry, sheep and cattle rations - yet they still prefer it to a much better quality (if not tasting) horsey home made product.

I really wish I had a pelletizer to see if it made a difference but at this stage I'm not sure. My bunnies are so offended by my attempt at given them a "better" option that the buck is back on grass and the other doe has scratched everything out - I gave her alfalfa as I'll be breeding her soon and I want her to gain a bit more. I did not change the lactating doe's diet as I didn't want to cause issues with her or the kits.

Because all of them are young I should have no issue feeding as I did - rabbit pellets at oz-lb and and add lib alfalfa but when they get older I'm worried about bladder sludge and them getting fat.

Does anyone have any ideas or should I write it up as lesson learned and scrap the project?

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets.

Post Number:#37  Unread postby hotzcatz » Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:01 pm


Aloha CO int,

Welcome to Rabbit Talk, it's a great forum.

If you don't get enough answers to your questions, starting a new topic may be useful but hopefully you will get answers here.

As you've found out, bunnies don't always like the food that's best for them. Someone at the local university gave me some cuttings of a plant (I forget the name at the moment) which was supposed to be an excellent bunny food. Fortunately, it still had some leaves on it so I fed those to the bunnies to see their reaction. Every single one of them took one bite and spit it out. Wretched buns! So, I didn't plant their great bunny food.

There are some possible tree crops which may grow in your area that are also good for buns. Moringa and mulberry are both good rabbit feeds. The 'Rabbit Production' folks mentioned "mulberry can be good for up to 40% of the diet with no decrease in weight gain or litter size" if I remember correctly. So feeding can be more than either pellets or grasses.

We're feeding angoras which have a different feed requirement than meat bunnies, but the mix can be adjusted to suit the requirements. We start with high protein pellets and add in rolled barley and some Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS). They also get a day of forage once or twice a week to not only cut down on feed costs but to keep high fiber running through them so they don't get 'wool block'. That won't be a consideration with your shorter coated rabbits.

For a scholarly reference on rabbits, here's a link to one produced by the United Nations Food & Agriculture division in 1986: http://www.fao.org/3/x5082e/X5082E00.htm#Contents Most of it is still relevant a couple or three decades later.

For tracking pedigrees and keeping a database on your bunnies, I've found Kintracks to be extremely useful. It's also a fraction of the price of the other more common show rabbit database. https://kintraks.com/ Once you buy it, they upgrade for life and if you have an older computer system, it's a free download.

The bunnies here get alfalfa cubes as chew toys and the smaller alfalfa pellets when our local feed store is out of bunny pellets. I'm in Hawaii which is a small speck of land in the middle of a pretty big ocean so sometimes there's things we run out of. What with this current pandemic and less people flying around, there's also less container ships coming in. And our local inter-island ocean barges are going to increase their rates by 46% starting September 1st. Not sure what that's gonna do to feed costs, but it sure won't lower them. How to cost effectively feed bunnies is a major concern for most folks raising rabbits at any scale above the family pet.
Hula Bunny Yarn from Hillside Farm Hawaii
http://www.hillsidefarmhawaii.com

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Re: Home made rabbit pellets.

Post Number:#38  Unread postby CO Int » Fri Aug 21, 2020 5:58 am


Aloha Hotcatz

Thank you so much for your reply.

This pandemic has been tragic in so many ways. I don't know what is worse - losing people or watching them suffering. And then it carries over to the animals. I feel so helpless.

On a happier note - I didn't know bunnies can eat Moringa - it's deathly poisonous to horses. :lol: I used to have acces to both Mulberry and Moringa trees but unfortunately I have to now make do with what I have in the garden. I'll read through the UN link - thank you so much. I just might find something there that works.

I have looked at kintracks before but with quite a few programs to choose from I really wasn't sure which one would be the best - but I will definitely go for it.

Also - the two rabbits I put on my horsey diet finally gave in - it took the buck about a day to decide it was nicer than grass so he has been chowing down like mad. The doe took about three days and still isn't very keen but I have been giving her ad lib alfalfa as she is molting heavily at the moment and I also want her to gain a bit more before I breed her in two weeks time.

So I'm setting up to make another batch this weekend with some mild tweaks to my formula.

I will create a new thread and do a proper post with pictures so it's a bit more interesting.

Thank you again for your help!

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