How to raise Rabbits when the lights go out

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I think it is time to separate the subjects and different "natural" feeding philosophies, and make a seperate thread about how to feed rabbits when you are not able to buy anything at all.
I have done some research into this idea, and want to say that my foundation for this topic is in a book by wartime authors , Claude Goodchild and Alan Thompson 1941 [or so] printed by Penguin press,
this is a quote from the book,
: ‘At no time in our history has this country been placed in such a critical position for the future supplies of all foods. The production of rabbit flesh is the most economical means of bridging our present meat difficulty.’
[They added:] ‘All waste or surplus from vegetables is good food, also any leftovers from the breakfast, dinner, tea and supper table. Tea leaves, coffee grounds, bones, kipper skins and other fish waste, fat, rinds of cheese, bread, porridge, apple peels, cooked potatoes and the peelings.
‘In fact, there is no known waste from human edible food which is harmful in moderation. Do not be content with using your own scraps; get others to save for you. There are plenty of people too busily occupied, or maybe some too lazy and unpatriotic to exert themselves and undertake any work of national importance.’
[They suggest,] - that a kitchen-waste diet should be supplemented with up to five ounces of cooked, mashed potatoes a day.

I have used this book as a guide from my childhood, and expanded on the information there in contained.
SO-- lets assume that there is a emergency and no supplies can be shipped in to our area. -and further assume that meat is a necessary, or at least valued commodity.
What would you do to help feed your self and community ?
How would you feed your rabbits to obtain this meat as a constant supply?
Rabbits need Protein , energy, and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals.
--so here is my sample of a diet that I know works, - in my area of Utah US
Kale, mid summer to mid winter
Chicory , early spring to late fall
weeds, April to november.
Root crops,[kept in a cellar , pit, or clamp]
sugar beet, mid winter to the following fall
Carrot, late summer to early summer
potato, september to may
Turnip, late summer to mid winter,
Swede [rutabaga] fall to late summer.
Jerusalem artichoke root, from fall to mid spring
Jerusalem artichoke tops , mid summer to early fall
fresh grass, tree leaves spring to fall
tree branches ,all year [long stem fiber, and minor nutrition ]
Hay ,gathered, and dried in summer for use all year
corn stalks [for long stem fiber and minor nutrition] dried in late summer and fall, stored for use all year
kitchen scraps, as available
dried [baked and crushed] bones as a supplement for all of us as available

In hard times fat will not be available to feed animals, it is too valuable for human nutrition.
so energy needs will have to be met by supplying carbohydrates, and sugar from greens, and root crops
It is all important to have a source of long-stem fiber available to your rabbits at all times...

so-- lets discuss this...
 

ladysown

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all that I know is that rabbits can eat a whole lot more food than people give them credit for.

When I tell my pet people to think like a rabbit and look at the weeds in their yard they are shocked. They all seem to think that they eat all the same greens that people eat and nothing else.
 
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For people who live in cold areas, "kale", includes collard, - Of all the Kale varieties I have trialed, "Yellow Cabbage Collard" was the most hardy, and could be harvested all winter, and had 100% survival rate when mulched in the fall, it is flowering right now [-being able to save seed is an important consideration when choosing varieties for your area]
 

akane

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You can't grow anything here in the winter. The ground is solid and feet of snow. That would be the problem. I did though raise rabbits over winter on alfalfa hay and grain with them still breeding and no visible health problems. I think grains are an important thing to plant. You can harvest oats as oat straw and provide warmth, food with higher fat than rabbit pellets, and some fiber from the straw they nibble. It worked great for our horses one year but the rats were horrible in the oat straw so we did not try it again. I would be much happier to have land like what we were renting off my aunt. You can't starve there. There are tons of garden plants gone wild and even more edible wild plants. In winter you can dig up bulbs and tubers with some effort. Get a darn good pitch fork and spading fork. Tons of raspberry canes could be collected in fall after the berries and stored over winter. Various trees require trimming every spring and fall because they are so prolific with the squirrels' help planting nuts and seeds and could be provided in winter. Lettuce, chard, and many other greens can be broadcast sown on still frozen ground with snow around so it will be up very early in spring. Then the wild plants will be available late spring through fall.
 

Zass

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For warm enough areas sweet potato is one of my favorites.
My rabbits seem to be able to eat the leaves and stems in massive quantities without experiencing ill effects. (Leaves are also edible to humans)
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/veg ... cts/2664/2

When dug in fall, the roots keep well when harvested and stored properly. It provides a nutritious winter food source for human families, and the raw trimmings from peeling them continues to supply a very good rabbit food.
 
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I would suggest sunflowers--seeds, leaves and stalks. Seeds for fat and carbs, leaves for carbs and fiber, stems for long-stem fiber. Easy to grow in the south. Sweet potatos (all parts-leaves, stems, raw tubers) are loved, and okra leaves are enjoyed.
Here are some ideas for rabbit food that may be surrounding you and you didn't realize it. In the south, kudzu and bamboo. I have no idea of the nutritional content of either, but know they can be fed and are plentiful. Believe it or not, I don't have kudzu near me that I wouldn't end up falling down a ravine to get to--and I'm sure as heck not going to grow it--so haven't fed it to my buns.
Blackberry brambles tend to be plentiful and scattered through walking trails or parks in urban areas, and my buns have enjoyed acorns in moderation in winter, which I tried after Michael suggested it. Oaks tend to be everywhere here and the acorns fall unclaimed. There is a church and a library near me that have the tastiest. I walk my dog on the grounds of the library before hours and gather. (There is also a black walnut tree there that I discreetely forage for my own use, too.). I ask the church office folks if I can gather some of their acorns "for a project".
School grounds & play areas near them are often not sprayed in our areas because of asthma and allergic reaction concerns for the kids, so they can be useful foraging areas if you've depleted your own weeds or need more forage. Just wash everything well because there might be more exposure to people. In my experience, the school grounds are left less tended in summer. It's a great time to take a walk and gather extra dandelions, rose branches, plantain (plantago major) and other rabbit-safe weeds. Fewer people around to worry about, too. I don't ask for permission. I feel my taxes already give it to me.
If you haven't been feeding your buns this way, don't jump in with both feet or you coud kill them. I have meat mutts that I've been experimenting with for a few generations, so mine handle it. I tried it out of curiosity as well as disgust at the consistency of manufactured rabbit foods (and the price I was paying.). I do see slower grow-out rates, but I've not analyzed exact ratios of protein, etc., either, to make sure they are at optimal grow-out.
 

Zass

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don't jump in with both feet or you could kill them.

:yeahthat:

My rabbits also love hickory nuts and chestnuts.

I've been feeding both in limited quantities over the years and have been yet to see any I'll effects.

Hickory nuts are oily, so I consider them akin to feeding boss. Chestnuts are more of a sugar or starch based food, a bit more like feeding a root crop than a nut or seed.
 
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Zass":4fp0smhs said:
For warm enough areas sweet potato is one of my favorites.
My rabbits seem to be able to eat the leaves and stems in massive quantities without experiencing ill effects. (Leaves are also edible to humans)
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/veg ... cts/2664/2

When dug in fall, the roots keep well when harvested and stored properly. It provides a nutritious winter food source for human families, and the raw trimmings from peeling them continues to supply a very good rabbit food.

when I lived in Florida, sweet potato vines provided for rabbits and for steamed greens for the family, the root kept well in the ground, or harvested and stored in the pantry.
 

Zass

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alforddm":27oghymd said:
Do the rabbits just pick out the nuts?

http://skipthepie.org/nut-and-seed-prod ... uts-dried/

Yep. They like them quite a bit.
None of my rabbits would do the hard work of chewing through the shells to get to the nuts though. Given the broken ones they were fairly adept at picking the good stuff out.


Mucky at a lot of them the winter before last. :)

Chestnuts can be fed whole, shell and all.
 

akane

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I can't grow anything in the winter here either, but the crops listed are still used as stated, -

But you stated:

For people who live in cold areas, "kale", includes collard, - Of all the Kale varieties I have trialed, "Yellow Cabbage Collard" was the most hardy, and could be harvested all winter,

You could not harvest kale all winter here.
 
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akane":1nm4vwcc said:
I can't grow anything in the winter here either, but the crops listed are still used as stated, -

But you stated:

For people who live in cold areas, "kale", includes collard, - Of all the Kale varieties I have trialed, "Yellow Cabbage Collard" was the most hardy, and could be harvested all winter,

You could not harvest kale all winter here.
just because it is frozen -does not mean it is not harvested.
 

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I live in the desert...what can be foraged here? The native trees are Mesquite, Iron Wood and Palo Verde. Most of the grasses are of the fox tail variety. I know there has to be some edibles as we have a lot of cotton tails and jack rabbits. Sorry I don't know the Latin names.. :oops:
 

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How do you keep the root crops stored for so long? Your advice really helped us this winter with how to feed our rabbits. We stored carrots, parsnips, and potatoes in our well house which we use as a root cellar. But in spring the carrots start to mold, the parsnips to get soft, the potatoes to sprout.
If it ever really warms up we'll have plenty of green feed, but we're eating and feeding the last of the potatoes now and then won't have roots again until this year's plantings are ready to harvest. We're feeding wheat and oats and BOSS to the nursing does and will offer the first two to the kits while growing--the buck gets just a taste along with his hay and green stuff or he puts on too much weight now that winter's over.

(My four week old chicks show very little interest in their grain--seem to much prefer the compost pile although I'm not sure what they are finding to fill up on in there. I thought they would really need/want the grains.)
 
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katiebear":1lo1kqtz said:
I live in the desert...what can be foraged here? The native trees are Mesquite, Iron Wood and Palo Verde. Most of the grasses are of the fox tail variety. I know there has to be some edibles as we have a lot of cotton tails and jack rabbits. Sorry I don't know the Latin names.. :oops:
If you have Mesquite, [and that is edible, especially the beans], then you also have prickly pear, -[that can be fed in quantity ,as soon as you singe the stickers off]. Most areas have some cottonwood trees [especially near the washes and river beds].Tumble weed is marginally edible when young, as is foxtail [when young and green,before the heads start to turn brown]-- and- rabbits will eat goathead [sticker] plants , Lambs-quarter, stinging nettle [wilted], saguaro fruit, cholla buds,and plant [singed, to remove stickers] piñon nuts, wild perennial bushmint and , [ I am sure there is more, but I don't remember that desert all that well from 40 + years ago, but- that is what I ate, and used for feed]

__________ Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:53 pm __________

Rainey":1lo1kqtz said:
How do you keep the root crops stored for so long? Your advice really helped us this winter with how to feed our rabbits. We stored carrots, parsnips, and potatoes in our well house which we use as a root cellar. But in spring the carrots start to mold, the parsnips to get soft, the potatoes to sprout.
If it ever really warms up we'll have plenty of green feed, but we're eating and feeding the last of the potatoes now and then won't have roots again until this year's plantings are ready to harvest.
We're feeding wheat and oats and BOSS to the nursing does and will offer the first two to the kits while growing--the buck gets just a taste along with his hay and green stuff or he puts on too much weight now that winter's over.

(My four week old chicks show very little interest in their grain--seem to much prefer the compost pile although I'm not sure what they are finding to fill up on in there. I thought they would really need/want the grains.)

A pit , or buried root cellar in a dirt bank is the best storage for carrots, Potatoes, J. artichoke, rutabaga , and beets [and most root crops]- it keeps a constant temperature and avoids problems with the warm spells in the early spring that start things to sprouting early, it also keeps a constant moisture so things do not dry out. if you have a clay soil you will have to find some sandy soil to cover the roots with. somethings naturally store a lot longer then others, Sugar beet, and mangle - will last longer then the rest if buried and kept cool and moist. - a portion of some things [depending on your area], can be better stored in the ground right where they are growing, [carrot if mulched heavily], for digging in the early spring, carrots and Jerusalem artichoke, are some that work well in my area. I am still digging good carrots from the garden, [and it was neg 15 here at one point] I mulched them with about a foot of straw/ rabbit manure / leaves. J.artichoke can be dug any time you can get a shovel in the ground [heavy mulch helps keep the ground from freezing so hard that you can't get to them]
 

MaggieJ

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Sorry I don't have time to review the whole thread in detail right now, but I remember my dad storing root crops in a barrel of sand or vermiculite in the fruit cellar. They kept well that way.

Planting a patch of alfalfa, timothy and red clover will really pay off in the long run. We had done that a year or two before we started with rabbits and it provided an abundance of rabbit feed for the next eight years or so. Eventually it will need replanting, but it is a cheap, labour-saving measure. The chickens will eat some of it too.
 

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We successfully stored beets and cabbage all last winter in out basement. The beets we buried in wet sand and the cabbage we pulled from the garden, then buried the roots in wet sand. We still have a couple cabbages, and they are still firm! The beets we finished. Both the beets and cabbage were storage varieties, so that would have had an impact on how well they stored. Carrots are supposed to store well in sand also, but we didn't try that yet. Potatoes we store in burlap bags in the basement.
Different root crops have different humidity and temperature needs in order to keep well, so it is good to have a variety of conditions available (moist cool basement, wet sand, cool dry pantry, etc)
I didn't know you could feed Jerusalem Artichoke...I guess I should start growing them! And sugar beets...
 
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