Pellet storage

Help Support RabbitTalk:

KelleyBee

Well-known member
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
68
Reaction score
40
Location
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I am curious to know if a sack of pellets is best stored in the bag in which it was purchased or better for long term storage to move to 5 gallon food safe storage buckets with lids. Any experience to share on this topic? My plan is to purchase enough pellets to get thru winter before having to purchase again.
 

MaggieJ

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
17,047
Reaction score
101
Location
South Eastern Ontario
I have a bias against pelleted feed -- particularly as the main or only diet for rabbits -- so you need to take my remarks with a grain or two of salt.

The manufacturer of the pellets might have some answers for you. There should be contact info on the label or you could find them online. Ask them about the best storage method.

Do the bags of pellets have a Best Before date on them? Take it seriously -- nutrients, particularly Vitamins A and E, are lost during storage, so a feed that may be "complete" when it leaves the manufacturer may have deficiencies by the time your buns eat it in February or thereabouts.

Some questions to ask yourself. What are the conditions where you propose to store the feed? Is your climate dry or humid? Will the feed be subject to constant freezing and thawing? Why is it necessary to store feed for several months instead of making a trip to the feed store now and again? (I'm not looking for answers to these questions, but they are things you should be thinking about.)
 
Last edited:

KelleyBee

Well-known member
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
68
Reaction score
40
Location
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I have a bias against pelleted feed -- particularly as the main or only diet for rabbits -- so you need to take my remarks with a grain or two of salt.

The manufacturer of the pellets might have some answers for you. There should be contact info on the label or you could find them online. Ask them about the best storage method.

Do the bags of pellets have a Best Before date on them? Take it seriously -- nutrients, particularly Vitamins A and D, are lost during storage, so a feed that may be "complete" when it leaves the manufacturer may have deficiencies by the time your buns eat it in February or thereabouts.

Some questions to ask yourself. What are the conditions where you propose to store the feed? Is your climate dry or humid? Will the feed be subject to constant freezing and thawing? Why is it necessary to store feed for several months instead of making a trip to the feed store now and again? (I'm not looking for answers to these questions, but they are things you should be thinking about.)
Good points and I have already reasoned much of and have arrived at the conclusion it will be best to buy all needed pellets now and store in best way possible. As for feeding only pellets, I totally agree with you. I feed fresh forage, personally dried forage and hay as well. Trying to learn and do my best, especially under the restrictions we are currently being subjected to.
 

MaggieJ

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
17,047
Reaction score
101
Location
South Eastern Ontario
Good points and I have already reasoned much of and have arrived at the conclusion it will be best to buy all needed pellets now and store in best way possible. As for feeding only pellets, I totally agree with you. I feed fresh forage, personally dried forage and hay as well. Trying to learn and do my best, especially under the restrictions we are currently being subjected to.
KelleyBee, it sounds to me as if you are bringing an enquiring mind to bear on your rabbit husbandry questions. That's great! And it will serve you and your rabbits well.

Does the actual packaging contain anything to inhibit loss of nutrients? If not -- and the manufacturer would probably have that information -- then store it in whatever way excludes exposure to air, moisture, heat, and sunlight.

I was hoping some people who actually feed pellets would chime in on this. I fed pellets -- supplemented by fresh weeds etc. -- during my first two years of raising rabbits - 2005-2006. After that, I used them only if I was bringing in a new rabbit, to give it a chance to adjust. So my experience with pellets is past it's "best before date" as well. <grin>
 

eco2pia

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Messages
1,461
Reaction score
98
Location
western washington
I feed pellets (partially). I tend to keep them dry in the bag, indoors in a dry garage--it is cool and did I mention dry? I am in western washington, and that is the major challenge here. I am buying directly from the grain miller, so it is as fresh as I can get, but it is an hour away so I try to stock up.

The open bag is in a steel trash can, with a tight lid, as rodent protection and another attempt at keeping it dry. I keep it in the bag even inside the can, because it keeps the fines from accumulating in the bottom of the bin, where they eventually will draw moisture and mold. Also, the bag is paper and a sacrificial layer--moisture in the air attacks the bag first. If I had plastic bags, I would probably put some paper in there that I could discard every so often, sort of like those sillica pouches that come with medication and similar things. In my area freezing and heating is not a major concern, and the rabbits eat enough to get thru a bag reasonably quickly. I try to buy about 3 months at a time.
 

eco2pia

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Messages
1,461
Reaction score
98
Location
western washington
@MaggieJ slightly off topic--I look forward to eventually switching to all forage year round, but that full time job really makes this rough, since the rabbits don't gather it themselves. In the summer it is doable, but once it starts being dark when I leave and dark when I return, it just gets a little too much. I have decided to breed like crazy in early spring and run them over forage as much as possible all summer, and then harvest them back into winter cages in the fall--it will be interesting to see how that works out in this new space, I look forward to reporting next fall! :)
 

Zee-Man

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
80
Reaction score
50
Location
Delaware, USA
Packaging is primarily for being able to sell goods in smaller lots. Chicken feed can be bought bulk by the truckload. If rabbits were grown on the same scale pellets would be also. The woven plastic bags that many pellets are sold in are not only containers but keep the feed dry to some extent. Even so they are intended be stored in a dry environment.

Like wood pellets, feed pellet stock is put though a roller or hammer mill under heat. the bags are therefor not water tight, so vapor can escape. Hence if you were to store the pellet bag exposed to the sky or on bare ground you would lose a significant amount of feed. I think we understand that instinctively!

The 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid is impervious to rain. It is also highly resistant to rodents and insects. The same can not be said of the bags. To the point of the OP my experience is that stored in the bags and the bags in a plastic tote I lost about 25% of my feed to weather and rodents. I am certain that if I had a better "building" than a tote that I would not have lost any to weather. Rodents might still have gotten some. That lead to me transferring pellets to buckets which I store under the hutch. They remain dry and rodent free after a year.

I do intend to build a barn/rick soon. Ah, the days grow shorter! I need a good way to store hay over the winter. I plan to have racks for buckets of pellets.

@eco2pia I do feed 99% forage through spring, summer, and autumn. Pellet and hay are for the winter months. I admit, there are times when I am too tired to forage for the rabbits, and then pellets are a good stand by. I think, that unless one lives in the concrete jungle, then the average yard has plenty of forage if one will simply let it grow.
 

Zee-Man

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
80
Reaction score
50
Location
Delaware, USA
Nutrient degradation does happen with oxidation, as pointed out by @MaggieJ, particularly with A and E. Other nutrients less so. Take the B vitamins, at room temperature they are fairly stable. Under high heat they degrade. Take, for instance, apples. When fresh they have a fair amount of B vitamins. Turning them to apple sauce loses about 50% of the B vitamins. Turning them to apple butter loses another 50% (~75% altogether). We accept those loses for the sake of preservation. Even so, those loses had to have hours of 212F.

Since only dairy products have governmental requirements of "best by" dates (and that only because the goverment believes us to be to stupid to know what soured milk smells like) we can be fairly sure that most of those dates are for marketing purposes. Empirically, even the 18 month deadline for home canning is not hard and fast. Yes nutrient losses occur, but I do not believe them to be that significant for most.
 

SoftPawsRabbitry

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 18, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
33
Location
St Joseph county indiana
I am curious to know if a sack of pellets is best stored in the bag in which it was purchased or better for long term storage to move to 5 gallon food safe storage buckets with lids. Any experience to share on this topic? My plan is to purchase enough pellets to get thru winter before having to purchase again.
I dump a few bags in the average sized storage totes, never had an issue! c:
 

HTAcres

Active member
Joined
Oct 18, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
26
Very interesting thread! I store my pellets in the large feed buckets with tight lids (I think they are about 45 gallons). I am considering buying in bulk from Petrus Mill so I read this thread with interest. I now have a barn to store the pallets in but the feed will still be in the bag. I do have two round bales of coastal hay in my barn which makes me very happy. I want to add, I ask anyone who might know about supply lines and so far, there doesn't seem to be a huge concern about animal feeds. One longtime farmstore owner told me that he has seen Purina have to use a different binder at times but that was it. He was not concerned. It did not allay all of my concerns but it helped.

Question for foragers (I am new to it) - so like when I prune my Mulberry tree for example, and it is more than one feeding, will they eat it later when the leaves are all dried up? At this point, I am still simply pruning what I need for one feeding. Today it was willow branches.
 

eco2pia

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Messages
1,461
Reaction score
98
Location
western washington
They like fresh best, but if it is not going to be fed right away you can treat it like hay and dry it, I used to hang bunches in the garden shed like herbs for the winter until I realized that the convenience of not having to gather branches in the rain was off-set by the inconvenience of having to duck in the garden shed all the time. Now more often I just pack their cages with forage and let them sort it out. the cages are 10 sqft by 3+ ft high, so they have plenty of room, and if it takes them a few days to clean up that is ok by me.

I do not know much about making silage, but I suspect rabbits would love it.

The only thing you don't want is mold. Mold is my enemy, and as an archvillian, I am pretty sure it is constantly winning.
 

MaggieJ

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
17,047
Reaction score
101
Location
South Eastern Ontario
Nutrient degradation does happen with oxidation, as pointed out by @MaggieJ, particularly with A and E. Other nutrients less so. Take the B vitamins, at room temperature they are fairly stable. Under high heat they degrade. Take, for instance, apples. When fresh they have a fair amount of B vitamins. Turning them to apple sauce loses about 50% of the B vitamins. Turning them to apple butter loses another 50% (~75% altogether). We accept those loses for the sake of preservation. Even so, those loses had to have hours of 212F.

Since only dairy products have governmental requirements of "best by" dates (and that only because the goverment believes us to be to stupid to know what soured milk smells like) we can be fairly sure that most of those dates are for marketing purposes. Empirically, even the 18 month deadline for home canning is not hard and fast. Yes nutrient losses occur, but I do not believe them to be that significant for most.
Regarding nutrient degradation in pellets, it is mainly the vitamins A and E that concern me, since quite often breeding reluctance and failure seem to result from shortages of these in the rabbits' diet.

Best before dates on dairy products are important to me. Milk here is sold in plastic bags, three pouches to a four litre bag. Since the outer bag is mostly opaque, it would be difficult to see the actual milk -- and impossible to smell it -- in the store.

In addition, I prefer to know how long I can reasonably expect to store the milk in my refrigerator. I won't buy milk with less than a week leeway because with only the two of us there is no way we can use it before it sours.
 

SoDak Thriver

Well-known member
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
238
Reaction score
19
Location
South Dakota near the river.
Wow.what a great group of people on this site! Thank you all for your insight. Supply chain issues, trucker strikes, etc., is the motivation behind my line of questions and efforts to be prepared.
Yeah, we're pretty amazing. :cool:

If you're looking to store pellets longer-term, like you're preparing for supply disruptions that appear to be on the way, 5 gallon pails with tight lids are best. Throw an oxygen absorber in there (like one of those disposable handwarmers) and it will keep for years.
 

MaggieJ

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
17,047
Reaction score
101
Location
South Eastern Ontario
Yeah, we're pretty amazing. :cool:

If you're looking to store pellets longer-term, like you're preparing for supply disruptions that appear to be on the way, 5 gallon pails with tight lids are best. Throw an oxygen absorber in there (like one of those disposable handwarmers) and it will keep for years.
I've never before heard this particular idea, SoDak! Could you tell us more about it -- example of the handwarmers and how it works -- so that more of us know about it and how to use it?

Would it work to keep whole grains "sproutable" too? I used to grow wheat grass in winter for the buns as well as our chickens, geese, and moggie (see my avatar), but twice in a row I got grain with an extremely low germination rate. The first time, after much discussion, the feed store replaced the wheat. The second time I switched feed stores. That solved my problem, but it made me aware that even whole grains may lose nutrients and viability in storage.

I had thought of using silica gel in bulk -- you can reuse it many times if you dry it out in the oven on low -- but never actually got around to trying it.
 

HTAcres

Active member
Joined
Oct 18, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
26
Regarding nutrient degradation in pellets, it is mainly the vitamins A and E that concern me, since quite often breeding reluctance and failure seem to result from shortages of these in the rabbits' diet.

Best before dates on dairy products are important to me. Milk here is sold in plastic bags, three pouches to a four litre bag. Since the outer bag is mostly opaque, it would be difficult to see the actual milk -- and impossible to smell it -- in the store.

In addition, I prefer to know how long I can reasonably expect to store the milk in my refrigerator. I won't buy milk with less than a week leeway because with only the two of us there is no way we can use it before it sours.
Sure it makes sense to have expiration dates on milk. But too many people do not realize that the bulk of expiration dates are not some hard and fast deal where one day it's good and the next day it's bad. Meat is possibly a better example as it also will smell bad but is not necessarily inedible as soon as it hits that sale by date. I have to say that I love my fresh rabbit for how freaking long it stays fresh unlike store-bought poultry. I'm surprised I can even eat store-bought chicken after working in a processing plant for a year many moons ago.
 

northernnevadahollandlops

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
70
Reaction score
32
Yeah, we're pretty amazing. :cool:

If you're looking to store pellets longer-term, like you're preparing for supply disruptions that appear to be on the way, 5 gallon pails with tight lids are best. Throw an oxygen absorber in there (like one of those disposable handwarmers) and it will keep for years.
I did not know hand warmer work as oxygen absorbers! Can the spent ones be used like that? We ski and my kids always like having one or two in their pockets on cold days. That would be a great use instead of throwing them away after the heat is gone.
 

Zee-Man

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
80
Reaction score
50
Location
Delaware, USA
I'll let SoDak talk about hand warmers. Oxygen adsorption can be super inexpensive. If you have something made of iron and a file, have at it. Iron filings in a sachet will do a fine job of removing O2 from an enclosed space. Why filings over just a hunk of iron? You want the most surface area you can get. A grinder? That isn't a great choice. Yes smaller particles thus more surface area, but the heat of friction has already done a good job of oxidizing the iron. It also goes past Fe(II)O to Fe(III)2O4 which inhibits oxidation. Particles from sanding might be good, though.

To make the sachet a coffee filter provides a good material. Look for the old percolator filters, although any will do the job. Make a small envelope using scotch tape,, fill with filings, tape closed, and pop it into your container. The size of the envelope and amount of filings depends on your air volume. Things with large interstitial space like rice and pasta need more O2 adsorption (those are bad examples, while they have a lot of interstitial space, O2 doesn't bother them much), Containers with lots of head space will need more adsorption.

O2 removal and seeds expected to sprout don't mix. Seeds, while dormant, are alive and need O2. Remove it and they begin to die. Since we have been talking about nutrient loss, hypothetically, O2 removal begins nutrient degradation also. While oxidation might not be happening, the seed is dying and the vital aspects should also be devolving. I don't know of any actual research on this so I am just speculating. Even so, O2 adsorption causes seed death and lack of sprouting.

Feed grain is sometimes irradiated as a preservation method. That also kills the seeds and prevents sprouting. @MaggieJ I expect that was why you had poor germination, and changing source solved the problem. I believe both the USA and CANada require irradiation to be on the label.
 

Zee-Man

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
80
Reaction score
50
Location
Delaware, USA
In addition, I prefer to know how long I can reasonably expect to store the milk in my refrigerator. I won't buy milk with less than a week leeway because with only the two of us there is no way we can use it before it sours.
While I really hate the arrogance of government, I have to agree that dairy sell by dates are useful. If, instead, we had "packaged on" dates, that would be much more useful. If you knew the packaging date, you could make an even better choice. Would a younger package maybe last a few more days and be fully consumable? You can only assume the "sell by" date indicates a younger package. It does not mean that, though. You could also compare different packagers instead of relying on a mystical mandated time period. Might spoilage in the same time frame be an indication of sanitary procedures? You can see why I think the government, in its arrogance, proclaims us too stupid to think for ourselves.

Side note: Here in the US we still have milk sold in cardboard cartons. I look for bloating. Even a small amount of contamination results in bloating (also with the HDPE bottles/jugs). With the pouches sold elsewhere in the world, bloating is harder to detect. Milk, specially buttermilk, is sold in opaque bottles since it is a live food and light kills kills it (specially the bacteria cultures). Butter, also needs to be protected from light which causes degradation and rancidity.

To be better able to rely on dairy products one can turn to UHT and enjoy shelf stable. Instead of the clock ticking from the bottling plant it starts ticking from the seal break date. I don't know about UHP for dairy, but that would be a nice option to have since that results in less nutrient degradation.
 

Preitler

Well-known member
RabbitTalk Supporter
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
926
Reaction score
68
Location
Austria
I use little pellets, so a 25kg bag lasts long.

I store them in the paper bag it comes in, in a cool, dry room, on a closet with an upside down chair on it, the bag is held upright by the chair legs.
Reason is, the bag must not touch a wall. The wall can be cooler than the air, espacially at the spot where the bag touches it, and that leads to condensation inside the bag - and mold. Had to throw out a bag once, now I take great care that the bag doesn't touch anything cool, not walls or the floor.
 

Latest posts

Top