Question about Alfalfa hay

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Michaela

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Hey guys

so we have a small herd of New Zealand rabbits on our homestead, that all live in tractors, which we move about once a week. We’ve been natural feeding for more than a year so their staple diet is mixed grass hay, all garden scraps, herbs and cuttings and small amounts of grain for does with kits and growing rabbits.

Today we went to buy hay and could only get bales of Lucerne hay (alfalfa). Would our rabbits be okay on this for a short while until we can get our regular grass bales again?
 

HTAcres

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In general alfalfa hay has twice as much protein as grass. If it were me, I would feed less of it depending on the total situation. It might not hurt anything with the rest of your particular feeding program. What did you end up doing?
 

Michaela

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Thanks for the response. Yeah I’m aware of the extra protein, just wasn’t sure with the issue of the extra calcium content. We’ve just moved onto another farm with very thick pasture, so the rabbits are doing great on just that with an alfalfa hay treat in the afternoon 😁
 

HTAcres

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Oh lucky you and lucky rabbits!!! I have no pasture at all. Not complaining but maybe one day...
 

HTAcres

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I’m planning on getting alfalfa hay for my grow outs and keeping the Timothy hay for my mature breeders. Am I on the right track?
Remind me what else you feed them? Personally, I would only consider alfalfa for grow outs if I were trying to either cut down on pellets or not feed pellets. I am not saying you are on the wrong track because there are many tracks, however, you may be overcomplicating your rabbit feeding.
 

KelleyBee

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Good question. I am feeding pellets Manna Pro pro formula, which is only 16% crude protein. I am using this because this is what the breeder from whom I purchased my first trio was/is using. I am not married to it, it's just what I have at the moment. To be honest, I don't even like the ingredients list, first ingredient being wheat middlings. However, my ignorance could be shining through.. Are wheat middlings considered grasses? I have no idea. In addition to the pellets, I give working does BOSS and in cold weather give smaller portions of BOSS to the bucks, too....much smaller portions. I am only on my fist two litters, but would feed them alfalfa hay once pulled from mom's cage. Does this help?
 

HTAcres

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Good question. I am feeding pellets Manna Pro pro formula, which is only 16% crude protein. I am using this because this is what the breeder from whom I purchased my first trio was/is using. I am not married to it, it's just what I have at the moment. To be honest, I don't even like the ingredients list, first ingredient being wheat middlings. However, my ignorance could be shining through.. Are wheat middlings considered grasses? I have no idea. In addition to the pellets, I give working does BOSS and in cold weather give smaller portions of BOSS to the bucks, too....much smaller portions. I am only on my fist two litters, but would feed them alfalfa hay once pulled from mom's cage. Does this help?

Yes! I currently feed Manna Pro. I think it is a pretty good feed and I have raised about 10 litters on it since I started. I just this week made a large order for Petrus Feed out of Louisiana - I hope it is as good as folks say because I am going to a lot of trouble to get it lol. But back to you! While there are better feeds, my Tamuks have done quite well on the MP. I also feed grass hay - usually a type of coastal like Bermuda because I needed to get it in larger square bales. I also do forage once a day - willow or mulberry branches or rose prunings mostly. I do that because I love to watch them enjoy it plus learning in case supplies of regular feed get interrupted. I feed my kindling does a handful of BOSS/whole oats/Calf Manna for about 2 weeks. I wouldn't be able to feed BOSS to my bucks as they are easy keepers and I already have to keep my most mature buck (3 yrs old) to 1/2 cup MP a day.

My Tamuks mature quickly and are eating and drinking by 4 weeks. When I pull them (sometime between 4-6 weeks usually) I continue giving them MP, hay and forage and so far they have done well. One of my mentors feeds her growouts similarly but uses Timothy hay. I will be honest and say I can only get timothy in small bags and it is just too expensive for me.

Having told you all that - I don't know that the alfalfa would hurt, and it might help. I do know folks that feed alfalfa to their growouts but not that I have "talked" to them enough to know why or what else they are feeding. I do know you have to be cautious with the alfalfa and personally I would be a little concerned about changing them to it "all of a sudden" when they are weaned. If it were me, I would continue with the timothy alongside the MP for the growouts.

I have used Manna Gro at times. I would use it for my growouts except that my Tractor Supply doesn't carry it all the time and it is a PITA to have to order it though now I am haha a Preferred Customer so if I weren't changing feeds, I might order it as shipping is free to me.

As you can tell, I am only a bit farther "down the road" than you are so I am sharing what I have learned. It is definitely a learning curve and so many factors go into what you personally feed your rabbits. There are many ways to do it good enough.

I wish I could tell you what wheat middlings are - I'd like to know myself.

Oh and I have been trying to figure out how to feed my new Jersey heifer so I know well that feeling of ignorance to the point of not knowing the right questions to ask. I have no pasture which makes a big difference and I am only just now to the point of thinking my current feeding plan is not going to kill her!

What breed are your rabbits and how old are your current litters? I have 6 week old grow outs from 3 litters and 8 bred does due the end of next week, most first timers yikes!
 

Olbunny

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The research I've done suggests to not use alfalfa. I haven't tried it though as it's 60 bucks a bale also. Has to be imported. Using the timothy our kits have grown well. I've not lost a single kit except for birthing issues. And no intestinal issues.
Again just what I do but it's been working good
 

KelleyBee

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What breed are your rabbits and how old are your current litters? I have 6 week old grow outs from 3 litters and 8 bred does due the end of next week, most first timers yikes!
I have a trio of Silver Foxes and a trio of New Zealand/California (NZ/C) mix. I have a litter of almost 2 weeks and the other about 1 week. Both from my silver foxes. I have a third litter due on the 19th. I bred my one of my NZ/C doe with the Silver Fox buck because my NZ/C buck is not ready to breed...that happens next month. I'll be rebreeding everyone in December all pretty much the same time. I didn't do such a good job coordinating the breeding my first time around.

Did you say no pasture for a cow? Wow! You're brave. I live in a neighborhood where farm animals are not allowed, so that's why rabbits.
 

HTAcres

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I have a trio of Silver Foxes and a trio of New Zealand/California (NZ/C) mix. I have a litter of almost 2 weeks and the other about 1 week. Both from my silver foxes. I have a third litter due on the 19th. I bred my one of my NZ/C doe with the Silver Fox buck because my NZ/C buck is not ready to breed...that happens next month. I'll be rebreeding everyone in December all pretty much the same time. I didn't do such a good job coordinating the breeding my first time around.

Did you say no pasture for a cow? Wow! You're brave. I live in a neighborhood where farm animals are not allowed, so that's why rabbits.

I think you did a pretty dang good job on your first breeding!!

Great meat rabbit breeds! Silver Fox was on my short list.

I have four grown children born in '88,'90, '96 & 2001 (I remember the years instantly, ages take me a bit longer ha). Their dad moved around for work and insisted on HOA neighborhoods (and I made due since I was able to stay home with my children and homeschool them) so I totally get that. In fact, I'm currently working on an "absolute beginner's guide to raising meat rabbits" because it is something you can do in those neighborhoods as well and it does my heart good to see so many trying it. (wow, I totally wasn't planning on sharing that yet)

Anywho, I now live in a rural "neighborhood" (kids dad looking down from heaven completely aghast) where I have 2 acres but it is all mesquite except where we cleared the mesquite and laid down chipbase (caliche which is crushed limestone rock that underlies much of the land here in the high desert of west Texas). I admit the dairy heifer is a stretch, and I am still hoping that I am being brave and not foolhardy. After she got here one day I decided I HAD to HAVE two big round bales of grass hay IMMEDIATELY and my guy, seeing the crazed look in my eye which I don't got that often, just hooked up the trailer and off we went. We get back with the hay and he asks me where to put it - like in the barn (glorified giant carport) or the cow pen or what. My usual self confidence dropped to sub zero and I became almost a blithering idiot. But now, one bale in is the pen and another in the barn and thankfully the heifer and the steer (did I mention the steer?) are not destroying it like some folks warned me off of putting it in the pen. Whew!
 

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KelleyBee

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I think you did a pretty dang good job on your first breeding!!

Great meat rabbit breeds! Silver Fox was on my short list.

I have four grown children born in '88,'90, '96 & 2001 (I remember the years instantly, ages take me a bit longer ha). Their dad moved around for work and insisted on HOA neighborhoods (and I made due since I was able to stay home with my children and homeschool them) so I totally get that. In fact, I'm currently working on an "absolute beginner's guide to raising meat rabbits" because it is something you can do in those neighborhoods as well and it does my heart good to see so many trying it. (wow, I totally wasn't planning on sharing that yet)

Anywho, I now live in a rural "neighborhood" (kids dad looking down from heaven completely aghast) where I have 2 acres but it is all mesquite except where we cleared the mesquite and laid down chipbase (caliche which is crushed limestone rock that underlies much of the land here in the high desert of west Texas). I admit the dairy heifer is a stretch, and I am still hoping that I am being brave and not foolhardy. After she got here one day I decided I HAD to HAVE two big round bales of grass hay IMMEDIATELY and my guy, seeing the crazed look in my eye which I don't got that often, just hooked up the trailer and off we went. We get back with the hay and he asks me where to put it - like in the barn (glorified giant carport) or the cow pen or what. My usual self confidence dropped to sub zero and I became almost a blithering idiot. But now, one bale in is the pen and another in the barn and thankfully the heifer and the steer (did I mention the steer?) are not destroying it like some folks warned me off of putting it in the pen. Whew!
You crack me up!

yeah, I’m in an HOA, swore I never ever would be, but it is not very restrictive and everything else about the house, neighborhood, location, etc, outweighed the HOA. No farm animals and don’t build within 20 feet of your neighbors property are the most restrictive aspects. Everything else is what a good neighbor does, anyway.

I raised 6 kids, all now grown, and homeschooled, too. Now I am homeschooling my 8 yr old granddaughter because of the school mask mandates here in PA. My son doesn’t want her subjected to that daily. So, here I am all over again. Aside from the unexpected responsibilities, it is truly a blessing to see her, sit beside her and work with her on a daily basis. Adjusting to it late summer and into the autumn was difficult because it was unplanned and I had so much harvesting, canning and many other garden responsibilities. On top of that, learning the new skills of rabbit husbandry, as I only began in August with livestock, ever! But adjust, I have done so, and things are now running smoothly.

I was thinking about the carport route for a quick and efficient weathering in solution. I really want a barn, but the cost! Especially now with lumber prices.

did I understand your post that you are widowed now? If so, I am sorry. How long ago?
 

Olbunny

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I think you're doing great ! I feel proud for you.
We also homeschooled our kids and now teaching our grandkids
 

HTAcres

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You crack me up!

yeah, I’m in an HOA, swore I never ever would be, but it is not very restrictive and everything else about the house, neighborhood, location, etc, outweighed the HOA. No farm animals and don’t build within 20 feet of your neighbors property are the most restrictive aspects. Everything else is what a good neighbor does, anyway.

I raised 6 kids, all now grown, and homeschooled, too. Now I am homeschooling my 8 yr old granddaughter because of the school mask mandates here in PA. My son doesn’t want her subjected to that daily. So, here I am all over again. Aside from the unexpected responsibilities, it is truly a blessing to see her, sit beside her and work with her on a daily basis. Adjusting to it late summer and into the autumn was difficult because it was unplanned and I had so much harvesting, canning and many other garden responsibilities. On top of that, learning the new skills of rabbit husbandry, as I only began in August with livestock, ever! But adjust, I have done so, and things are now running smoothly.

I was thinking about the carport route for a quick and efficient weathering in solution. I really want a barn, but the cost! Especially now with lumber prices.

did I understand your post that you are widowed now? If so, I am sorry. How long ago?

Sooooo...technically I am a divorcee who is now under common law marriage in Texas.

Due to very difficult to explain circumstances, I left my children's dad when my youngest was 12. Then he died tragically in a car accident 18 months later. My own father did not pass until I was in my 40s so that was quite the challenge to shepherd my children through especially with some unfinished relationship issues going on. However, they are all doing pretty well and they all currently pay their own bills which is terrific IMHO in today's culture. I did love their dad and, as time has passed, I miss him and am also very sad when something special happens that he is not here to witness.

It's very cool that you are homeschooling your granddaughter. I can't even hardly think about the mandates. I also am so excited to see people raising rabbits in neighborhoods! I don't know why I never thought of it especially as I had raised rabbits once for a 4-H project. I mean, they are QUIET. I'm smiling thinking about multiple "which breed of chicken is the quietest" threads I have read knowing that they can all be too loud and too distinctive to get past any but the very least restrictive HOA. I hear on that, however, I did always study the, shoot, what is it called? Not contract, anyhow, where I moved from Charlotte, some HOAs were ridiculous. I will never quite understand the one that wouldn't let people park cars with work decals on them in their own dang driveway.

A carport can be a good solution. Mine got a little pricey because for one thing, it's pretty big - 18 x 50 and starting at 7 ft at the sides (which made a big difference). I got a vertical roof (has better structure and also matched our metal home better), strongest gauge of the metal tubing and the certified tie down because Texas wind over flat desert and metal on the sides to the ground. All of that contributed significantly to the almost 10k price. We will have to add doors to the back soon because it is a big wind tunnel (not a surprise). The distributor I used had extensive livestock experience which helped a BUNCH. Otherwise, you really need to know what you want and need.

What was this thread about? HAHAHAHAHA
 

MuddyFarms

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Good question. I am feeding pellets Manna Pro pro formula, which is only 16% crude protein. I am using this because this is what the breeder from whom I purchased my first trio was/is using. I am not married to it, it's just what I have at the moment. To be honest, I don't even like the ingredients list, first ingredient being wheat middlings. However, my ignorance could be shining through.. Are wheat middlings considered grasses? I have no idea. In addition to the pellets, I give working does BOSS and in cold weather give smaller portions of BOSS to the bucks, too....much smaller portions. I am only on my fist two litters, but would feed them alfalfa hay once pulled from mom's cage. Does this help?

Wheat Middlings- "Byproduct of wheat flour production obtained by the milling of wheat grains (Triticum aestivum L., also known as Triticum aestivum L. subsp. aestivum). It consists principally of fragments of the outer skins and of particles of grain containing variable amounts of endosperm. Wheat middlings are often mixtures of different types of milling offal. They are typically richer in starch and less coarse than wheat bran, and poorer in starch and coarser than wheat feed flour. The composition and nutritive values are provided for "average" wheat middlings representing the whole range of starch content."

 

MuddyFarms

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I’m planning on getting alfalfa hay for my grow outs and keeping the Timothy hay for my mature breeders. Am I on the right track?

Good question. I am feeding pellets Manna Pro pro formula, which is only 16% crude protein. I am using this because this is what the breeder from whom I purchased my first trio was/is using. I am not married to it, it's just what I have at the moment. To be honest, I don't even like the ingredients list, first ingredient being wheat middlings. However, my ignorance could be shining through.. Are wheat middlings considered grasses? I have no idea. In addition to the pellets, I give working does BOSS and in cold weather give smaller portions of BOSS to the bucks, too....much smaller portions. I am only on my fist two litters, but would feed them alfalfa hay once pulled from mom's cage. Does this help?

It is usually best to have a pellet that is based on a hay like timothy or alfalfa as the first ingredient. But it can be hard to find the kind of pellet one wants to feed close enough to actually get regularly. :( I think that feeding hay with the pellets is definitely a good thing. As far as calcium goes, feeding alfalfa to your growouts and timothy to the adults is probably a good way to go. Gradual changes though when changing the growouts over to alfalfa.
 
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