The topic of what to feed rabbits comes up on a daily basis. I see this question being asked nearly every single day on Facebook. I thought that the question comes up enough that it was time to write a post about it.
There is no short answer to the question of what to feed rabbits. There are a lot of factors involved. One of the most important factors to me is that I feed my rabbits whatever I can get that is fresh. I do not want to buy commercial feed that has been sitting on the store shelves or the warehouse for long periods of time. I want it fresh! Check to see what the freshest food available to you is in your area.
Another factor that is important to keep in mind is the protein and fiber content, and the breed of rabbit that you are raising. We raise American Fuzzy Lops and Lionheads. Those rabbits are smaller breeds, so they do not need higher percentages of protein like a Flemish Giant breed might. I feed a rabbit pellet that has no more than sixteen percent protein but also has a twenty percent or more fiber content. The reason I know that this works for my rabbits is because I have tested various levels of each.
How Do I know the correct levels?
The only way to truly know what is best for your rabbits is by trial and error. Everyone out there has an opinion, and what works for one herd may not be what works for another. Some rabbits do better on sixteen percent protein while others may do better on eighteen percent. If your rabbits begin to have loose, wet, or sticky poop then I would try lowering the protein percentage. Most rabbits will benefit from the highest amount of fiber that you can buy.
I’m going to be honest about hay. I HATE IT! But unfortunately it is sometimes necessary. We very rarely feed hay, but if I see that they are beginning to eat less and less of their pellets, I will offer hay. I guess they get bored eating the same thing every day. I know I would… unless it is tacos! Every breed is different. Since the pellets that I use are complete and I do not have to feed hay, I just don’t. Anyone who raises wool breeds like we do will tell you that there is nothing worse than finding matts in their fur because hay got tangled up in it. But you do you! If you want to feed unlimited amounts of hay, go for it! It is good for them.
But isn’t hay necessary for their teeth?
Hay is definitely a good way to keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy. If they do not have something to munch on their teeth can become overgrown. However hay is not the only thing you can give them to help with their teeth. If you choose a complete pellet that says hay is not necessary, try offering them pine cones or even some apple sticks. Just be sure that if you give them pine cones or sticks from your yard that you bake them in the oven on 250 degrees for about an hour. This makes sure to kill any bugs that might infest your bunny’s fur.
What Pellets Do you use?
I have tried several different brands, and the one that we chose to stick with is Lone Star Commercial Feed. I have tried both options that they have to offer, and we prefer the green bag because it has higher fiber and lower protein. My rabbits are thriving on it.
What about treats?
Rabbits love treats! One of their favorites is black oil sunflower seeds. A lot of us in the show world offer them in very small amounts several times a week when it is time to start prepping for a show. Rabbits also love strawberries, bananas, and papaya. Just be sure that you do not offer them more than a couple of times a week. If they start having yucky poop, cut back on the treats and give more timothy hay.
That’s all there is to it. Just keep it simple. You will go so many different opinions when you ask someone what to feed rabbits. But every rabbit is different, and you have to find what works for you. I hope this information gives you a starting point when you are trying to figure out what you want to feed.