young rabbits and veggies ?

Help Support RabbitTalk:

jaxmarblebuns

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
76
Reaction score
64
I have always been told that rabbits under 4 months of age cannot have veggies because their GI systems don't have the proper... bacteria?... acids? (I cant remember exactly what) doesn't have something to be able to process that amount of fresh, nutrient rich, food. However, some people say that if the doe eats it the kits can. Other people say it doesn't matter feed however much you want to.

Does anyone know the truth? why can't young rabbits have veggies? or can they? What is the reasoning behind why people say they can't?


THIS WAS THE CONVERSATION THAT BROUGHT ABOUT MY QUESTION.

POST TITLE: what should I feed my 8 week old bunny.

PERSON ONE: it all depends on u really. some people free feed their rabbits, meaning theres always pellets in the bowl, some feed an egg cup a day. as long as they always have veggies then its fine

POST CREATOR: I still always have plenty of hay for her but I haven't introduced veggies yet? The breeder says she 2 months old but I feel she's more than that. Is it okay to give her greens yet?

PERSON ONE: yeah its fine. when my 3rd rabbit had her 2nd litter they were eating the veggies that i gave her at like wat, 3 weeks? its completely fine, just give it to her slowly though

POST CREATOR: Okay thanks for responding back! This really helps

PERSON TWO REPLING TO ONE: Rabbits under 6 moths should not have veggies at can cause diarrhea which can be deadly to young rabbits Rabbits can eat veggies at a young age IF their mother is but since we don’t know if the mother rabbit ate veggies with the babies than it should not be done yet

PERSON ONE REPLY TO TWO: its completely fine. alot of rabbit breeders have their youngens eating veg at a young age
:joy:
im straight up in a rabbit breeding group. u rlly think they gonna keep stopping the rabbits from eating the veg? nah, its completely fine and wont harm them

PERSON TWO REPLY TO ONE: Do not laugh at me, it is extremely rude. I to am in rabbit breeding and have been for about 24 years. Young rabbits do not have the gut to handle extremely nutrient filled foods and need an adjustment period between weening and an adult diet. At around 4 months (I was typing quite quickly and did not mean to type 6 months) you can start SLOWLY introducing veggies but you cannot yet feed full portions until around 6 months, this is so that the rabbit can get used to the new rich foods.

PERSON ONE REPLY TO TWO: uh huh "24yrs"
:skull:
:joy:
breeders will let the rabbits eat the mums veggies. its perfectly fine and nothing have happened. ive done the same for the 6 that my female had, perfectly fine. my 2nd rabbit that i got off a breeder also had veggies when i got him, and hes perfectly fine. same goes for every breeder, all their young have been perfectly fine as well.
 

Preitler

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
1,047
Reaction score
231
Location
Austria
In short what this is all about as I see it, without going into detail and exemptions.

Rabbits digestion relays on bacteria. They get their first set of gut bacteria from their mum. Anything she eats is fine for the kits too. Mum had veggies - those veggies are fine. Mom had none - better wait until their digestion system matured. Not 6 months though.
Changes take time, they need to grow the right bacteria to digest new foods. Always introduce new stuff gradually. Around weaning their digestion is stressed anyway, so better avoid changes at that time and a few weeks after.

Rich food isn't for non breeding adults, how would you get rabbits to butcher weight in 10-12 weeks without it?
 
Last edited:

a7736100

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
Messages
750
Reaction score
55
Location
md
Well, I had a whole litter die on me after I gave them bell pepper. The mother was fine.
Baby rabbits need to have the right bacteria in their guts to eat vegetables. If the mother was fed regularly with vegetables the babies MAY get the bacteria from her milk. If you must give babies veges, start with a parsley leaf at each feeding.
 

Preitler

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
1,047
Reaction score
231
Location
Austria
Not from her milk, from her poop.
I feed everything I have at hand, never had any problems. Greens, forage, veggies, grains, whatever. Got those kits and the doe the peppers every day, from the start, or was it an occasional treat?
Never fed bell pepper, it's time for a celebration if I get to harvest some for myself ;)

They sure love parsley, but normally I start them with gras and random forage. They love it, and I keep rare, strongly flavoured things back as treats. Normally, because right now I have an unexpected winter litter, apart from hay and some pellets they get apple, pumpkin, topinambur, cabbage, carrots and barley.

EDIT: Just got remembered that my rabbits are local farm stock - kits never got any special treatment, they pretty much evolved on how I do it.
 
Last edited:

ladysown

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Dec 26, 2009
Messages
8,190
Reaction score
526
Location
near London, Ontario
honestly .... I think it all depends on the rabbit ....... seriously.

I've sold pet bunnies for years. Sometimes people listen to me, but more often they don't. in the winter when I have limited access to fresh greens I tell people DO NOT feed greens until they are at least three - four months old... and do so SLOWLY. no carrots or cabbage, just fresh GREEN feed. dandelions, parsley, carrot greens etc... And then I find out they've been feeding them carrots and cabbage etc from the get go with no ill effects. Other bunnies... you wait until a full four months old, feed a bit of parsley and they sicken and die. I've sold summer kits WELL used to greens who steal one blueberry and die.

So honestly... take it all with a grain of salt.

HOWEVER you feed your bunnies... make changes in their diet gradually. Advise anyone who buys a pet bunny from you to do the same. Slow changes. Back off if you are suspicious of ANYTHING.
 

MaggieJ

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
17,216
Reaction score
361
Location
South Eastern Ontario
There will never be 100% agreement on this question. When I started with rabbits in 2005, the 3-4 months rule seemed to prevail. This was before RabbitTalk and I hung out on another forum back then. I fed the adults dandelions, plantain, chicory and white clover in addition to the pellets and I was concerned lest the young kits ate some of them and died.

A wise member there said, "Begin as you mean to go on" and she pointed out that wild rabbits eat greens the minute they are out of the nest. The mother rabbit's cecotropes provide the kits with the necessary gut flora to handle eating weeds and grasses. This made perfect sense to me and so I tried it.

In my many years of raising rabbits I lost exactly one kit to diarrhea or weaning enteritis. And since that kit had escaped and just been recaptured, I'm not even sure that was why it got sick.

Please note, however. that rabbits are herbivores, not vegetarians. They can safely eat some vegetables, but are far better off being fed the kinds of weeds and leaves that their ancestors have been eating in the wild since the last Ice Age.

Many of the plants I fed to my rabbits actually guard against diarrhea: plantain, shepherd's purse, and the leaves of blackberry, strawberry and raspberry plants. A variety of greens is always safer than a larger portion of one or two species. And -- as Ladysown so rightly says -- all changes in rabbit diet should be made gradually.

My kits began to eat greens as soon as they bounced out of the nestbox. Young kits just taste and nibble adult foods. By the time their appetites increased as the mother weaned them, they were well accustomed to the adult food.

In my opinion, kits sometimes have a hard time going straight from momma's milk to pellets. Feeding a good quality grass hay helps prevent this. So do the plants I mentioned above.

I stopped feeding pellets to my rabbits after the first two years. The rabbits had too much fat at butchering age and I was keen to give them a more natural diet. Thereafter I fed them a good grass/alfalfa hay along with small quantities of whole grain and as much fresh green forage as the season permitted. In our Ontario winters, I did fall back on feeding root vegetables, pumpkin, cabbage, salad trimmings, occasional baked potato and so forth. I also dried the wild greens for winter feeding.

My rabbits never had digestive issues such as diarrhea or GI stasis. Never.

~~~~~

I'd just like to say that I was appalled by the attitude of one of the posters from the forum quoted by Jaxmarblebuns. There is no excuse for that kind of judgmental and disrespectful behaviour.

Here at RabbitTalk there is plenty of room for dissenting opinions, but I am so proud that our members treat each other with the respect and politeness that we all deserve. Thank you all.

~ MaggieJ
 

hotzcatz

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 15, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
271
Location
Hawaii
The buns here get grasses and other roughage about as soon as they want to eat hard foods.

rosecaesar12days.jpg


We give the doe fresh grasses (we don't have hay) to build her nest so they start out with fresh grass. The mum bun started out eating grasses, leaves and such at an early age as well so it seems normal for her kits to do the same thing.

rosecaesar3weeks2.jpg


In the picture, they have celery leaves at about four weeks old? They seemed to like it, which is more celery than I can get my spouse to eat. Celery is pretty 'watery' though, usually they get leaves and grasses but moderation seems a key element, so a little celery was fine. They seem to prefer starting their nibbling on fresh forage instead of pellets when they're just being weaned. Possibly because the forage is easier to eat and isn't as hard as the pellets?

A friend of mine got a rabbit that hadn't ever had fresh foods, just pellets and hay, and it wouldn't eat fresh foods at all. It only liked one brand of pellets, too.

I'm guessing there's no specific 'right' answer, it all probably depends on the rabbits.
 
Last edited:

Rabbits by Accident

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 22, 2021
Messages
315
Reaction score
326
Location
Fort Worth, TX
I had no idea about any of this LOL good thing or I would have worried about what I had fed them. Mine mostly get really unnatural baby rabbit treats of branches, bamboo and briars.

IMG_20211119_145307897.jpg

We live in Texas and there's not that much grass sometimes but there's usually branches with leaves. These are some bitty babies eating hackberry leaves which they love right about the time the leaves were ready to fall off the tree so they're a little discolored. They survived! incidentally they love hackberry - the leaves are apparently sweet - even the dog likes them.

About cecotropes - another thing I had no idea about - how do rabbits in a wire bottom cage get them? Don't they just fall through? I have poop boxes for all my rabbits so I suppose the babies would have unlimited supply LOL or do they just poop the cecotropes in the nest at night when they nurse?

Enquiring minds want to know,
(👆in case you are too young to recognize it that comes from a silly TV commercial a long time ago)

Liz
 

Lewis

Well-known member
Joined
May 8, 2021
Messages
127
Reaction score
34
I have always been told that rabbits under 4 months of age cannot have veggies because their GI systems don't have the proper... bacteria?... acids? (I cant remember exactly what) doesn't have something to be able to process that amount of fresh, nutrient rich, food. However, some people say that if the doe eats it the kits can. Other people say it doesn't matter feed however much you want to.

Does anyone know the truth? why can't young rabbits have veggies? or can they? What is the reasoning behind why people say they can't?


THIS WAS THE CONVERSATION THAT BROUGHT ABOUT MY QUESTION.

POST TITLE: what should I feed my 8 week old bunny.

PERSON ONE: it all depends on u really. some people free feed their rabbits, meaning theres always pellets in the bowl, some feed an egg cup a day. as long as they always have veggies then its fine

POST CREATOR: I still always have plenty of hay for her but I haven't introduced veggies yet? The breeder says she 2 months old but I feel she's more than that. Is it okay to give her greens yet?

PERSON ONE: yeah its fine. when my 3rd rabbit had her 2nd litter they were eating the veggies that i gave her at like wat, 3 weeks? its completely fine, just give it to her slowly though

POST CREATOR: Okay thanks for responding back! This really helps

PERSON TWO REPLING TO ONE: Rabbits under 6 moths should not have veggies at can cause diarrhea which can be deadly to young rabbits Rabbits can eat veggies at a young age IF their mother is but since we don’t know if the mother rabbit ate veggies with the babies than it should not be done yet

PERSON ONE REPLY TO TWO: its completely fine. alot of rabbit breeders have their youngens eating veg at a young age
:joy:
im straight up in a rabbit breeding group. u rlly think they gonna keep stopping the rabbits from eating the veg? nah, its completely fine and wont harm them

PERSON TWO REPLY TO ONE: Do not laugh at me, it is extremely rude. I to am in rabbit breeding and have been for about 24 years. Young rabbits do not have the gut to handle extremely nutrient filled foods and need an adjustment period between weening and an adult diet. At around 4 months (I was typing quite quickly and did not mean to type 6 months) you can start SLOWLY introducing veggies but you cannot yet feed full portions until around 6 months, this is so that the rabbit can get used to the new rich foods.

PERSON ONE REPLY TO TWO: uh huh "24yrs"
:skull:
:joy:
breeders will let the rabbits eat the mums veggies. its perfectly fine and nothing have happened. ive done the same for the 6 that my female had, perfectly fine. my 2nd rabbit that i got off a breeder also had veggies when i got him, and hes perfectly fine. same goes for every breeder, all their young have been perfectly fine as well.
Did person one mean an actual egg?
 

arachyd

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
624
Reaction score
121
Location
NJ
"About cecotropes - another thing I had no idea about - how do rabbits in a wire bottom cage get them? Don't they just fall through? I have poop boxes for all my rabbits so I suppose the babies would have unlimited supply LOL or do they just poop the cecotropes in the nest at night when they nurse?"
Cecotropes are sticky and clump together so they don't always fall through the wire. My rabbits would literally sit on their backsides, hunch over and nibble them straight from the tap. Sometimes the babies join in.
 

northernnevadahollandlops

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
174
Reaction score
100
Not from her milk, from her poop.
I feed everything I have at hand, never had any problems. Greens, forage, veggies, grains, whatever. Got those kits and the doe the peppers every day, from the start, or was it an occasional treat?
Never fed bell pepper, it's time for a celebration if I get to harvest some for myself ;)

They sure love parsley, but normally I start them with gras and random forage. They love it, and I keep rare, strongly flavoured things back as treats. Normally, because right now I have an unexpected winter litter, apart from hay and some pellets they get apple, pumpkin, topinambur, cabbage, carrots and barley.

EDIT: Just got remembered that my rabbits are local farm stock - kits never got any special treatment, they pretty much evolved on how I do it.
We have two lines, one I call our farm rabbits. They definitely have stronger constitutions! I can give them lots of things and they are fine, but my other pedigreed rabbits are much more sensitive. I never thought of it in terms of genetics before, but it makes sense!
 

rockyhillrabbits

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
53
Reaction score
42
When I got my 4 adult Rex in march, I don't think the breeder had ever given them grass. One doe was already bred when I got her and I started them on grass slowly and gave them "safe" greens like plantain, dandelion, etc. Everybody was fine and when the babies started coming out of the box they'd get the same grass and weeds mom got and everyone has been fine. If I sell a litter who hasn't been started on grass, I make sure to let the buyers know to start them slowly.
To echo what someone else has said, make any changes to their diet slowly. I also send along transition feed with each rabbit.
 

ladysown

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Dec 26, 2009
Messages
8,190
Reaction score
526
Location
near London, Ontario
Well, I had a whole litter die on me after I gave them bell pepper. The mother was fine.
Baby rabbits need to have the right bacteria in their guts to eat vegetables. If the mother was fed regularly with vegetables the babies MAY get the bacteria from her milk. If you must give babies veges, start with a parsley leaf at each feeding.
It might not have been the bell pepper and it might have just been a coincidence too.
 

ladysown

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Dec 26, 2009
Messages
8,190
Reaction score
526
Location
near London, Ontario
General rule of thumb regardless of the age of the rabbit, but particularly true with young rabbits due to smaller size and lack of mass. Rabbits need the proper gut flora to digest a variety of feed.

If you don't know what baby ate with mom, proceed with caution. It's always best to ask lots of questions before bringing a bunny home from the breeder. If buying a pet store bunny, assume it was raised on pellets only.

If baby bunny grew up with a mom eating a wide variety of greens, you'll be pretty safe feeding however/whatever you please.

If baby bunny grew up with a mom eating only lettuces, feed lettuce and other lettuce type plants and starting at about four months add in additional fresh feeds slowly.

One way of playing it safe is feed a new fresh food along with a good supply of hay.

I find that straight up grass (that is growing, with the dew burned off) is the safest fresh green to give to bunnies, followed by plants such as dandelion, parsley and thistle type plants.

Some plants, particularly those in the tomato/bell pepper family and well as the brassica family, will require buliding up too. they are not what I call a first introduction fresh feed.
 

MsTemeraire

Active member
Joined
Feb 1, 2022
Messages
44
Reaction score
38
A wise member there said, "Begin as you mean to go on" and she pointed out that wild rabbits eat greens the minute they are out of the nest. The mother rabbit's cecotropes provide the kits with the necessary gut flora to handle eating weeds and grasses. This made perfect sense to me and so I tried it.
There is an excellent article by a vet in the UK about this, entitled "Gas". It goes into rabbit digestion and the part that gut flora plays; definitely worth a few minutes of anyone's time to read it.

Gas
 
Top