A few questions.

Provide a well rounded diet without commercial feed, including discussions of the methods and merits of growing fodder.
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A few questions.

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Thorn » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:48 pm

Im looking to start natural feeding and have been doing research for a year and a half now, however I have a few questions and was hoping they could be answered here.


Im planning to feed approx. three parts oats, one part BOSS,and one part pellets (for minerals).Supplementing with cracked corn in winter as a heat feed. Along with alfalfa and grass hay and a lot of greens when available, as well as dried greens in winter. I am wondering if my grain diet will be sufficient for their needs.I would like to feed wheat or barley as well, but at about $20 per 20 pound bag this isn't feasible.

2:Is garlic really bad for rabbits??

3:Can rabbits safely survive off of cooked potatoes and wild plants.I read this somewhere on this form and couldn't find more information on the subject.

4:If molasses mixed with the grain fails, how are you supposed to get a stubborn doe to eat it? :angry:

5:Can bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) be fed to rabbits?

6:May add onto this later. :bunnyhop:

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Re: A few questions.

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:55 pm

Just a quick answer to Q.# 3. Here is the study done on raising rabbits on weeds alone versus weeds plus potatoes. Note the date: 1947. Britain was still under rationing at that time and people were looking for ways to raise rabbits without using restricted grain products. ... 6A714BFA17
Sojourning in 1894 . . .

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Re: A few questions.

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Zass » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:12 pm

Rabbits are really versatile on what they can thrive on, and it seems like you have put a good amount of research into it. I think you are off to a good start.

The corn probably won't be necessary with the boss already in the diet, as it's quite fatty stuff, and already the usual go-to heat feed for many breeders.

The garlic question is highly debatable, and I fear, no one can give a conclusive 100% answer. BUT, there are breeders that I highly respect who have used it with success to treat health conditions. My own limited experiments have been positive, or at least, no rabbit has ever shown any sign of harm, inside or out.

I've had rabbits survive and thrive on entirely foraged plants (15 live popples born on forage alone!) which gives me no doubt that forage + potato could work, assuming it was high quality forage.
Now I wish I had tried it instead of reintroducing pellets when the kits were born. She might have been OK on forage alone before, but that extra starch is important when they are raising a big litter.

Whatever you decide to feed, the most important bit of advice is to introduce change slowly.
Also, don't change up feed on younger kits. Older rabbits (3 months +) seem to adjust a lot better.
If you can source rabbits from someone who already feeds a more natural diet, the adjustment process will likely go a lot easier than strictly pellet fed bunners.

One thing I have noticed (with very limited experience,) is that the really fast growing commercial lines are the ones who seem to struggle the most with transitioning to a lower calorie forage based diet.

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Re: A few questions.

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Thorn » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:13 pm

The potatoes study is very interesting, although their forage feeding certainly lacked variety that could be achieved. The books you can download on this site are precisely what I've been looking for, books from back when Natural feeding was the only feeding. Ive raised mutts before but currently have American Chinchillas,which I selected for their fast growth, good furs, and heritage bloodlines. I have consider crossing them with NZ or Rex for some color though so the commercial weakness must be kept in mind. The only reason their purebred now is because a purebred sells for about 25 here, while a mutt or a NZ goes for about 5-10. Coccidiosis was a major problem last year,somehow got liver coccidiosis in my herd. I believe it was a NZ\Californian cross I introduced. Lost my Salatin rabbits and half my chins. Apple-cider vinegar fixed that and now we are slowly recovering.Moving to the farm in two months, which is when I plan to start the real switch to natural feedings, so I wanted to get all the last minute info I can.

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Re: A few questions.

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Rainey » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:57 pm

My rabbits get no pellets--each cage has a chunk broken off from the salt/mineral block we have for our goats. We feed willow every day to all our rabbits (dried in winter) and they are free-fed the same hay our goats get, cut on our farm, mixed grasses and clover and vetch and not exactly weed-free. In winter they all get fodder grown out from wheat in the morning and a piece of root (potato, carrot, parsnip) in the evening. During the growing season we feed lots of fresh forage--weeds, herbs, kale, tops from radishes and carrots and turnips, grass, cattails, Jerusalem artchoke foliage, etc. (I tend to think that variety is good, so while what is gathered changes over the seasons, there is always a mix of plants in any given feeding.)
Nursing does and growing out kits :bunnyhop: are fed grain--oats or wheat, BOSS for the does when it's cold or before the kits leave the nest box. During really cold weather all the rabbits (just breeding stock through the winter, but not being bred) get grain. If we feed more than that they get too fat. We've been feeding this way since we started in 2014 and transitioned our first 2 NZ does and SF buck off from pellets.
Hope that is useful. Good luck with natural feed!
don't know how I got that rabbit hopping in the middle of my text nor how to remove it--hope it doesn't breed like rabbits and fill the page :o

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