Register

Making silage for rabbits?

Provide a well rounded diet without commercial feed, including discussions of the methods and merits of growing fodder.
8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 194
Joined: January 14, 2013
Location: Hawaii
Male
Thanks: 13
Thanked: 25 in 16 posts
BunnyBucks: 1,179.00

Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby ramblingrabbit » Sun May 19, 2013 6:05 pm


Well, I've been pondering the notion for a little while now. While I have yearround forage in the area, it seems like it could save some time and trouble by reducing the daily forage cutting to have a store of silage in plastic bags handy for feeding. I could envision having some bags of mixed silage handy as sort of the base fodder ration, stored next the bin I keep the grain in, and offering it at each feeding along with some fresh cut stuff, plus extra protein greens for the does, that sort of thing. (As it is now, I tend to cut everything fresh, but I collect some stuff, mostly grasses, also tree branches, from farther afield and keep them on an improvised rick I set up next to the rabbitry--that way, we don't have to gather EVERYTHING twice a day, and can have some--slightly wilted--stuff on hand, and gather the rest quickly from the nearby garden and landscape at feeding time, which makes it reasonably efficient.)

The trouble is, while I've read breif references here and there to the idea of bagging silage for rabbits, I just can't seem to find any specific information on exactly how to go about it, what potential pitfalls to watch out for, etc. I know mold's something to worry about. Some "recipes" I found, not specific to rabbits, talked about using molasses mixed in "to aid fermentation" but not sure exactly when this would be required or how key it is--supposedly it depends on the type of fodder (which doesn't really help unless I can find more specific instructions for specific materials and methods, of course). I also read in one or two places about cutting the ingredients up really small to aid fermentation, but I can't help but wonder how key that is--it would be a big pain, it seems, to do by hand, so I'm sort of reluctant to go to all the trouble to experiment without a better understanding of the principles to guide me... I suppose I could experiment with very small batches just to see what happens to different ingredients.

Speaking of which, I'm also not so clear on the nutritional properties of silage. Is it purely a question of preservation, or does the fermentation also increase nutritional value in some way (analogous to sauerkraut)? Increase or decrease protein, for example? Neutralize toxins, perhaps? In what other ways are nutrients affected, and how does it compare to fresh forage or hay from the same plants? Does it tend to improve or reduce palatability of greens?

I could also dry things in hay, but I worry about them molding quickly in this humid, warm environment.

Hmmm... Any thoughts...? :)

8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership
Posts: 230
Joined: January 30, 2013
Thanks: 10
Thanked: 25 in 21 posts
BunnyBucks: 1,245.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby DonnerSurvivor » Sun May 19, 2013 6:40 pm


Not sure how you are going to make silage without at least a chopper and a tractor and that is serious money. Even If you already have the tractor already choppers though relatively cheap are a pain in the rear to maintain. Unless I am thinking way to large or if you have a way to gather and chop small amounts I cant see it being worth it at all.

8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 194
Joined: January 14, 2013
Location: Hawaii
Male
Thanks: 13
Thanked: 25 in 16 posts
BunnyBucks: 1,179.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby ramblingrabbit » Mon May 20, 2013 6:27 pm


I have machetes, shears, knives, hedge trimmers, a mowing machine, a neighbor with a chipper shredder machine I could hook up. And I only need enough for a couple litters of rabbits, not a herd of cows. :) But I wonder how small the pieces need to be, or better yet is it possible to ferment silage at all without shredding? What if I'm using something that already has smallish leaves, like, say, hibiscus or something? :?

If this is truly uncharted territory I may just have to start experimenting... the mold issue or potential for other toxins definitely freaks me a little though.

10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership
Posts: 1438
Joined: December 20, 2010
Location: Alaska
Thanks: 6
Thanked: 62 in 52 posts
BunnyBucks: 7,430.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Jack » Mon May 20, 2013 6:42 pm


Why ferment it is? rabbits don't chew their cud, I would think you'd have more issues trying to feed them such wet feed
Thrianta Breeder extraordinaire,
well not really, but trying damn hard.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tundra-Treasures-Rabbitry/142934279087620

Moderator
9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 18729
Joined: November 3, 2011
Location: CA
United States of America Female
Thanks: 1051
Thanked: 2490 in 1983 posts
BunnyBucks: 87,563.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Mon May 20, 2013 7:25 pm


Here are a couple posts on the topic:

chaffhaye-alfalfa-t11571.html

post136926.html#p136926
Victory Garden Rabbits

Image

Proud new owner of the highly coveted Get-away-with-it-card! (Homer's gift to me in a feeble attempt to curry favor and avoid the ban hammer.)

I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery. - Thomas Jefferson

8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 194
Joined: January 14, 2013
Location: Hawaii
Male
Thanks: 13
Thanked: 25 in 16 posts
BunnyBucks: 1,179.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby ramblingrabbit » Tue May 21, 2013 3:38 pm


Thanks Mamasheepdog. My curiosity is certainly piqued now. I may have to just experiment a bit now and see what I can make...

Jack wrote:Why ferment it is? rabbits don't chew their cud, I would think you'd have more issues trying to feed them such wet feed


Jack--I would like to ferment it as a way to preserve fresh fodder for later feeding--as I explained above. I understand how rabbit digestion works, but they are already happily eating, for point of discussion, exclusively fresh-cut (or slightly wilted) forage (ie no hay) with a little grain supplement, and I don't see how a silage would have any more or less water content than fresh cut--matter never being created or destroyed, and all that... :) But if you have specific info on the nutrition of silage for rabbits or the chemistry of what happens during the fermentation I'd really love to learn! If I can get a better sense of the principles at work I can experiment more efficiently...

BTW it's my understanding that silage need not exclusively be used for cud chewers. I once talked to someone who fed a chaya-based silage to chickens, and I've heard of something similar being used for pigs. And humans eat sauerkraut. ;)

The ultimate test, of course, will be to see if my rabbits would even eat what I make... :lol:

10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership
Posts: 1438
Joined: December 20, 2010
Location: Alaska
Thanks: 6
Thanked: 62 in 52 posts
BunnyBucks: 7,430.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Jack » Tue May 21, 2013 3:46 pm


OK, I would caution, caution.
the fastest way to kill a healthy rabbit is change it's food.
as for sillage, some swear it's fool proof, others that it's an art.

I would consider either plastic barrels or large trash cans once you have your system, interesting idea.
Thrianta Breeder extraordinaire,
well not really, but trying damn hard.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tundra-Treasures-Rabbitry/142934279087620

10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership10 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 7133
Joined: July 17, 2010
Location: Iowa
Thanks: 1
Thanked: 1076 in 953 posts
BunnyBucks: 36,700.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby akane » Tue May 21, 2013 3:52 pm


Generally silage is not used for goats, horses, and rabbits because they are too sensitive to bacteria or mold that can contaminate the feed. One rip in your silage wrap and you have no more herd. Cattle, chicken and some other livestock are far more durable to such things. We send the stuff not good enough for the cattle to the chickens, the stuff not good enough for the horses to the cattle and the stuff not good enough for the rabbits to the horses. That's how the sensitivity and needs ladder goes. Rabbits are at the top of needing the purest and safest feed stock.
http://s1321.beta.photobucket.com/user/takakageri/library/
Failing might just mean you are trying to climb instead of swim https://youtu.be/evathYHc1Fg

8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 194
Joined: January 14, 2013
Location: Hawaii
Male
Thanks: 13
Thanked: 25 in 16 posts
BunnyBucks: 1,179.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby ramblingrabbit » Wed May 22, 2013 4:01 pm


Hmmmm... Thanks folks. Makes sense I guess, and maybe that's why I can't find more info about silage for rabbits specifically, eh? :? Don't want to lose the herd over this for sure, that would be, um, counterproductive! I might still try some more research, try fermenting some stuff on a small scale so I can really watch it carefully, see what it looks and smells like, and then make the call whether to try feeding a little bit to see how it takes. One possibility that occurs to me is using it to feed up the weened fryers, rather than the breeders, which is when having extra fodder stored on hand would definitely be most useful anyway, and that would minimize risk in case anything weird DID happen. Anyhow, I'm nothing if not cautious. And if I do try experimenting, of course, I'll report back. :) Cheers!

Moderator
11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 14503
Joined: January 20, 2010
United States of America Female
Thanks: 977
Thanked: 1502 in 1227 posts
BunnyBucks: 56,231.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Miss M » Wed May 22, 2013 6:19 pm


You can always select an experimental rabbit or litter, rather than taking the chance with your whole herd initially. :)
We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
- James Madison

8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership
Posts: 97
Joined: March 4, 2013
Location: Western Pa.
Thanks: 12
Thanked: 5 in 5 posts
BunnyBucks: 560.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Big Tom » Fri May 24, 2013 8:32 am


When we are chopping hay for silage, the chopper knives are set for a 5/16 cut length. Our moisture content is about 65% and we pack the silage as tight as we can get it to prevent any air being trapped in the silage. Air equals mold and mycotoxins. We store silage in upright silos, so there are hundreds of tons of weight packing the silage down as we fill the silos.If the silage is to wet you get rot, if it is to dry it won't pack tight enough and you can get mold. Mold you can see, mycotoxins you can't.

I would think it be far easier to just dry your fodder and store it as hay.

9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership
Posts: 1502
Joined: February 16, 2012
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
Thanks: 22
Thanked: 128 in 92 posts
BunnyBucks: 8,226.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Frecs » Fri May 24, 2013 9:15 am


There are youtube videos on making silage on a small scale. But, after watching a good many of them and doing other research, I decided that for rabbits it is better to "make hay" or as I saw it called on one site "dried rabbit salad". IOW, dry the plant matter (guarding against mold) and mix a variety together and store for wintertime feeding. I have not begun this process yet as I have so many projects to do as it is! How to dry (especially in a humid environment) and store large amounts is one of the issues I've not yet resolved.

FYI: I know someone who takes lawn clippings and molds it with molasses into a block to feed his "feeders" (feeders being the rabbits destined for freezer camp). Not sure if these blocks could then be stored for later????
Tina
Not Quite There Yet Homestead & Rabbitry
http://notquitethereyethomestead.blogspot.com/

8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership8 years of membership
Posts: 97
Joined: March 4, 2013
Location: Western Pa.
Thanks: 12
Thanked: 5 in 5 posts
BunnyBucks: 560.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Big Tom » Fri May 24, 2013 11:53 am


I'm not sure why you would need the molasses. You can use the clippings the way they are once they have dried. Most lawn clippings, if your grass isn't to high when you mow, will dry in 5 or 6 hours or sooner. I know folks who stuff clippings in plastic garbage cans and feed it in the winter months.

9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership9 years of membership
Posts: 1502
Joined: February 16, 2012
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
Thanks: 22
Thanked: 128 in 92 posts
BunnyBucks: 8,226.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Frecs » Fri May 24, 2013 12:55 pm


Big Tom wrote:I'm not sure why you would need the molasses. You can use the clippings the way they are once they have dried. Most lawn clippings, if your grass isn't to high when you mow, will dry in 5 or 6 hours or sooner. I know folks who stuff clippings in plastic garbage cans and feed it in the winter months.


I'm not sure of the logic for the molasses blocks either other than calories. Which may be helpful if I'm reading this study correctly:http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd12/4/ling124.htm. The point for the person I'm speaking of, is to reduce the cost of feeding the rabbits destined for freezer camp down to as close to zero as possible. If molasses helps to provide energy to a diet of grass/weeds/garden waste then it serves a purpose.

I have found that my rabbits do not like fresh clippings from my lawnmower bag. I think it's because the clippings are so short. I'm not sure where I'd set up to dry large amounts of clippings that the chickens would not destroy. And, I don't have anywhere to store a large quantity of bags of hay. So, I make use of the clippings as mulch and go out first with scissors and a bucket to cut grass/clover/weeds to feed the rabbits. I stick with just cutting the clumps of Bermuda grass -- I'm NOT getting on my hands and knees to cut the other stuff! If there was a way to make the grass clippings more tasty for the rabbits, it would be very helpful.
Tina
Not Quite There Yet Homestead & Rabbitry
http://notquitethereyethomestead.blogspot.com/

11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership11 years of membership
User avatar
Posts: 710
Joined: December 27, 2009
Location: Missouri
Thanks: 34
Thanked: 54 in 44 posts
BunnyBucks: 1,864.00

Re: Making silage for rabbits?

Post Number:#15  Unread postby avdpas77 » Fri May 24, 2013 1:44 pm


The reason for molasses is probably the sugar content. Anaerobic fermentation of sugar equals alcohol which is a preservative for the fodder. Sauerkraut on the other hand is an aerobic process that produces acid, usually acetic acid.

I would be very wary of feeding a rabbit either, and I would be surprised if you could get them to eat it. If you have a rabbit you can experiment with see if you can get the used to eating a little bit of cabbage (don't feed them a lot, it causes gas and that is a problem for rabbits) If you can get them to eat a bit of cabbage each day, then see if you can get them to eat sauerkraut. I suspect you couldn't get them to touch it.

If you really want to save up your forage, get a piece of black plastic and lay it in a sunny place. Cut a bunch of fodder (I do this with Ladino clover in the early summer) and spread it evenly on the plastic. Turn it once or twice a day for two or three days until it is dry, then put it in a 50 gal drum or some other suitable container that allows the air in. you can make really terrific hay this way and the rabbits will love it every bit as much as fresh.
breeder of the Midwest's most mixed up pedigreed rabbits

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests