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Question about a salt mineral block & Switching to natural

Provide a well rounded diet without commercial feed, including discussions of the methods and merits of growing fodder.
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Question about a salt mineral block & Switching to natural

Post Number:#1  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:45 am


I have been reading on natural feeding.
Thanks everyone for the great information!

My questions:

Is there a right way to switch from Pellets to natural?
(I have been told to keep greens to a minimum; as it causes diarrhea, bloat and sometimes death)

Mineral salt blocks for livestock as salt blocks....
I know there are significant differences for Goat and Sheep.... One post said they use the Goat....
Does it matter what livestock salt block is used?

Would salt block be beneficial for rabbits currently on pellets?

Thanks
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Re: Question about a salt mineral block & Switching to natur

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Rainey » Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:49 am


When we started we hadn't read so much on RT yet and we knew we didn't want to use pellets, did want to use as much possible what we could grow. So when we bought our first buck and 2 does, all pellet fed, we got pellets but transitioned them onto natural feed by the time that bag was finished. We probably should have waited for them to settle in first, but we just started giving them hay and some greens--mostly "weeds" like dandelion, plantain, etc. We didn't have any problem except that the NZW does always seemed hungry even though they were gaining weight.
We are very selective about picking wild forage late in the season to avoid anything moldy. I don't know if there is any difference between feeding green stuff that you grew yourself and feeding greens from the grocery store since we've never done the latter. We do feed more stuff we grow intentionally for rabbits than we did at the beginning.
Good luck with your transition. Keep posting as you go. I've gotten so much help from reading on here what others have done before me.

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Re: Question about a salt mineral block & Switching to natur

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Preitler » Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:18 pm


SarniaTricia wrote:Is there a right way to switch from Pellets to natural?
(I have been told to keep greens to a minimum; as it causes diarrhea, bloat and sometimes death)


Yes, there is: quite slowly. Increase the green stuff in the course of about 2 weeks (that's imho quite on the safe side)
The only rabbit I transitioned to greens was my buck, was only used hay and grains before, let him in the garden after a week or so.
I try to feed as many different plants as possible, imho that reduces the chance of any problems, whatever new plant enters their diet - it is mostly made up of stuff they are already used to.

I feed greens, mostly grass and weeds, they get hay only in winter (also apples, topinampur, pumkin, beets, willow branches...).

Mineral salt blocks for livestock as salt blocks....
I know there are significant differences for Goat and Sheep.... One post said they use the Goat....
Does it matter what livestock salt block is used?

Would salt block be beneficial for rabbits currently on pellets?



I wouldn't use artificial salt blocks, but simple, cheap stone salt, not enriched with anything.
Wasn't there an issue with the copper goats need (and which they get via special salt blocks), but that can cause problems with rabbits (at least with baby rabbits getting goat milk with too much copper)? I would be somewhat wary of that.

I think rabbits know exactly if they need salt, or not, mine ignore the block for months, and then it is gone quite fast. I just offer them a salt block from time to time.

I don't feed much pellets (90% forage when available), but they contain salt. They alsoe get a little old bread from time to time, also salted. So, if you're not feeding exclusivly hay or forage most likely their need for salt is quite covered.
Last edited by Preitler on Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question about a salt mineral block & Switching to natur

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:18 pm


I don't think that there is one "right" way to transition rabbits to a natural diet. I do think, however, that it is much easier to do in spring than in fall, since by now many sources of forage are becoming scarce or unavailable.

What I suggest is that you find a good source of local hay--preferably with some alfalfa content for the protein--and begin feeding it alongside the pellets this winter. As the rabbits get accustomed to it, you will probably be able to cut back the pellets somewhat, depending on how frequently you breed the does. Towards the end of winter you could introduce very small quantities of whole grain (wheat, oats or barley) so they become accustomed to it too. At this time reduce the pellets by about the same amount.

As the weeds and other forage start to grow again in the spring, you will be able to introduce them in increasing amounts as they become available. Plantain and the leaves of raspberry, strawberry and blackberry are especially useful as introductory greens, if your rabbits have never had greens before. I don't mean that you should limit yourself to these, but rather that they help make a smooth transition. Once the rabbits are accustomed to fresh foods, you can feed more and more.

In summer the rabbits will eat mainly fresh foods with some hay and a tiny bit of grain. In winter, they will rely more heavily on hay and grain, with small portions of fresh foods. Fodder can be especially helpful in winter, as can weeds etc. that you dried when they were plentiful.

Feed the kits exactly as you feed the does and you should have no problems. I use to worry about the kits getting greens until a member of another forum told me: "Begin as you mean to continue"--excellent advice.

I'm no expert on trace-mineral salt blocks. I used the reddish-brown ones from the local feed store, intended for general livestock. A 2 kg. block cost only a couple of dollars and it lasted a long time. If your rabbits are in individual cages, you can knock chunks off the block with a hammer and offer it in small, straightsided ramekins, the kind you get at the dollar store, 2-3 for a dollar.

They shouldn't need the blocks as long as they are getting pellets, since pellets contain adequate minerals and salt.

Hope this is helpful . . . It's certainly not the only way to go about a transition to natural foods, but it should be safe and trouble-free. You should find most of the plants in the Safe Greens sticky, since your vegetation is very similar to what we have here. I found excellent hay by searching on the local Kijiji and once I located it, I held onto the contact information for the next year.

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Re: Question about a salt mineral block & Switching to natur

Post Number:#5  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Fri Nov 18, 2016 10:02 am


Thank YOU!!!
Great feed back and information.

My rabbits already have an excellent alfalfa hay (my other rabbit friend says the hay I have is too rich for her rabbits)..... I have always given a good handful of hay every day or an alfalfa hay cube.
They occasional get parsley or mint (one or two sprigs a month)

My plan is to transition in the spring, I like to plan ahead ....
I have planted comfrey, I grow nostrum, Sunflowers come up every year.... I want will check out the list and make sure my garden is well stocked in the spring.

RE: salt... I will wait until they are transitioning off the pellets (I call it kibble...lol) before I put mineral salt block in the cages.

Thanks again everyone.....
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