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Do you increase the feed in the winter?

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Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:30 pm


For those with unheated Rabbitries..... Do you increase the pellets and hay in the winter?

I have made a NZ buck fat from overfeeding and I don't want to do that again, but I also don't want to underfeed in the cold...

Buck in question... American Chinchilla: He naturally is a large 13lb rabbit..... He always eats his full portion of pellets daily ... He go the same 1cup that the Fattened NZ got... The Chin has been able to "perform" his buckly duties.... but I cut him back to 1/2 cup in the fall when I realized the NZ was really packing on the lbs!!
(I realized when I went to breed him and he couldn't perform because his Santa Claus belly was getting in the way)

My question, should I boost him, the Chin, back up to a full cup with this cold? (I had a heated garage last year this time, unheated horse barn this year)

At this time I waffle back and forth, some days he gets a full cup and others he gets half... I'd rather be consistent, but if this works, I can use this method too.
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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby bigfoot_158 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:57 pm


What size cage are they in?

I ask this due to the guy I got two of my rabbits from. He had them in 18 by 2' cage which is not enough room for them to hop once across the cage. He tryed to rebreed his doe the mom of my rabbits shortly after I bought mine and he lost her on just the second litter. I believe it was due to too small of a cage and he was free feeding all his rabbits. They all looked very fat. I have since lost contact with him because I believe he doesnt know what he is doing.

I only free feed my does with litter and kits. They rest at adult age get 6 to 8 ounces once a day most of the time they dont finish them. They get this all year round. If they finish them and its cold out I will give a few ounces more for the body heat. But the biggest indicator is when you pet your rabbits. Do they feel boney or are the back bones rounded?
This is the question I ask my self all the time. I petted my kits yesterday and they felt boney so I up their feed some more. I have a hard time with more than one rabbit in a cage on judging feed ration. The adults feel great maybe a little fat even but a little is a good thing in winter. I am on a budget with little money for pellets so I dont want to overfeed them and I dont want sick rabbits from under feeding them either.

If it helps I have large and small breed Cali. What this means is that one line of cali that i have are at the 12 to 13 pound range. And the other line I have are lucky to 8 or 9 pounds. These are going to phase out soon since I am looking for the most meat I can get.
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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:35 pm


bigfoot_158 wrote:What size cage are they in?

I ask this due to the guy I got two of my rabbits from. He had them in 18 by 2' cage which is not enough room for them to hop once across the cage. He tryed to rebreed his doe the mom of my rabbits shortly after I bought mine and he lost her on just the second litter. I believe it was due to too small of a cage and he was free feeding all his rabbits. They all looked very fat. I have since lost contact with him because I believe he doesnt know what he is doing.

I only free feed my does with litter and kits. They rest at adult age get 6 to 8 ounces once a day most of the time they dont finish them. They get this all year round. If they finish them and its cold out I will give a few ounces more for the body heat. But the biggest indicator is when you pet your rabbits. Do they feel boney or are the back bones rounded?
This is the question I ask my self all the time. I petted my kits yesterday and they felt boney so I up their feed some more. I have a hard time with more than one rabbit in a cage on judging feed ration. The adults feel great maybe a little fat even but a little is a good thing in winter. I am on a budget with little money for pellets so I dont want to overfeed them and I dont want sick rabbits from under feeding them either.

If it helps I have large and small breed Cali. What this means is that one line of cali that i have are at the 12 to 13 pound range. And the other line I have are lucky to 8 or 9 pounds. These are going to phase out soon since I am looking for the most meat I can get.


I have my bucks in 24x24 and does in 24x30... I know the 24x24 are not ideal for my meat bucks (the Harlequin only get 9lbs or so, so that is a better sized cage for them) , but as soon as I have a grow-out 30X30 open or a does pen, boys gets popped into that for a few months.

When I was saying he gets a cup I mean a measuring cup is used.... so 8oz
I pet the buck when they are fed, but only do monthly "check ups" for nails and such... so I really don't give them the full condition evaluation like I do the does.
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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby bigfoot_158 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 4:00 pm


Yea I use a measuring cup also cheap plastic one from dollar store. I use a 30 by 36 gives a 7.5 square feet by arba standards a flemish would fit in them. I only did this just in case I move up towards going the arba route. I have read and seen videos that people use the 1 oz per pound ratio. I tryed this myself and have found that the buck that I have can or will only eat about 5 oz a day the does with out kits or not pregnant eat 6 to 7 oz. Even though I give them 8 oz. These are on days above 40 degrees . I have notice the eat just a little more on the days below 30 but still dont finish the whole 8 oz.. Maybe my rabbits are weird or just use to this ration. :)
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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Rainey » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:32 pm


I don't feed pellets, so don't know if this will be helpful. We try to keep hay in the feeders at all times. If a rabbit isn't eating any of the hay, then we cut back on the other feed. Hay feeders are checked morning and evening and if the hay feeder is empty then we increase the feed for that cage.
And checking backbones regularly (once a week for us) helps to catch any change before it becomes a problem. Anybunny who's getting fat has their feed cut a bit and anybunny whose backbone feels sharp is given more.
I wouldn't feed more just because it's winter, but when the temperatures are really low, they do eat more and we feed more calories--BOSS and more roots. (We're in northern NY and we get some well below 0 Fahrenheit, which the rabbits handle well, but they do eat more)

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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:49 pm


Rainey wrote:I don't feed pellets, so don't know if this will be helpful. We try to keep hay in the feeders at all times. If a rabbit isn't eating any of the hay, then we cut back on the other feed. Hay feeders are checked morning and evening and if the hay feeder is empty then we increase the feed for that cage.
And checking backbones regularly (once a week for us) helps to catch any change before it becomes a problem. Anybunny who's getting fat has their feed cut a bit and anybunny whose backbone feels sharp is given more.
I wouldn't feed more just because it's winter, but when the temperatures are really low, they do eat more and we feed more calories--BOSS and more roots. (We're in northern NY and we get some well below 0 Fahrenheit, which the rabbits handle well, but they do eat more)


exactly....
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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby AnnClaire » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:13 am


The only time I free feed is in the winter when temps are going to be in the teens ... I also free feed hay in the colder months.

More importantly in the winter is that the buns get fresh water 2x per day. If they can't stay hydrated they won't eat well.
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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby PSFAngoras » Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:40 am


I think everyone is giving sound advice. Probably the best you can do is start with the 1oz per pound of body weight ratio and go from there. My understanding of it is that the ounce was by weight, not volume. (Feed is often heavier, when I was control feeding my champs my food was about 6oz by volume to 8 oz of weight, so break out your scale to check.) Like everyone else said, feel his back from there. If he's heavy or skinny, adjust.

Different things work for different herds, so trial and error is best. I only ever controlled the feed with my champagnes. My FA and my meat mutts have always been fed free choice, and on 18% too, but the lines of FA I work with don't maintain a coat well if they're not free fed and I've bred my meat mutts towards being able to free feed without them packing on the pounds, so I don't have to bother with measuring out their food. But that's what works for me. Every herd is different.
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Re: Do you increase the feed in the winter?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:15 am


Thanks everyone!
I did a good sweep feel of the buck this morning and he isn't boney.... I'll pull him out tomorrow (cleanup day) and take a really good look at him.

I have a 12week old doe kit that eats her full 8oz(by volume) and I have a sister from a previous litter 16weeks that doesn't.... her feeder always seems to have extra in it.... so I guess every bunny is different....

I would like to get proper feed rations figured out for each bunny, so I am not over or under feeding.....
I try and make sure they have free feed on hay, however, I have a few that prefer to line their cage with hay and play in it rather than eat it. So, those bunnies get less hay and sometimes non, it they were particularly wasteful with the hay from the day before. (this same rabbit started the winter flipping his crock of water almost as soon as it was filled.... two days of going with out water and he is done with that habit and drinks his water like a good bunny... 2x a day, at least half before I leave the barn for the day)
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