In the wild, rabbits mostly eat grass. They can graze up to 6-8 hours a day. Their entire digestive tract, from the teeth to the end of the gastrointestinal tract, is adapted to this diet and eating habits. Dietary fiber, entering the intestine, provides its mobility and health. Interruptions in the digestive cycle of rabbits can cause gastrointestinal upsets and be fatal. Also, grass is necessary for the health of animal teeth.
Breeders do not always have the opportunity to provide animals with fresh food. The solution to this problem is hay, which has the same properties and nutritional value.
Hay for rabbits
For full development, the rabbit needs sufficient nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The composition of the feed directly affects the fertility, growth and health of the animal. Proper feeding is, above all, a normalized diet, taking into account the physiological state of the animal, weight and season.
The diet of the rabbit can be divided into several groups
This is mostly fresh grass and greens. Due to the high content of vitamins, minerals and proteins, it favorably affects the growth, reproduction of animals and the quality of rabbit fur. However, use only green food is not worth it. If you do not add a concentrated feed, the rabbits are stunted and the females stop lactating after a month.
This group includes ׃
- legumes and cereals (winter rye, sunflower, spring vetch with oats, grass, alfalfa, peas, clover, early maize, etc.). Legumes can cause intestinal diseases, so they need to be included in the diet in a limited amount, about 60g. per adult per day.
- weeds (plantain, thistle, wormwood, nettle, burdock, yarrow, dandelion, tansy, etc.).
- leaves of root crops (tops of carrots, radishes, potatoes, beets, cabbage)
- leaves of trees and shrubs (aspen, mountain ash, linden, willow, etc.)
Some plants are poisonous, they can not be used in feeding animals. They are especially dangerous for calves and pregnant females. These are Datura, hemlock, lily of the valley, celandine, Datura, backache, henbane, hellebore, milestones poisonous or cycuta, Datura, euphorbia, black root, buttercups and many others.
Rabbits eat hay
Include in the diet mainly in the autumn – winter time (see also: how to feed the rabbits in winter). This group includes roots, tubers, silage, melons and gourds. They have high milking properties and dietary characteristics, contain easily digestible carbohydrates and vitamins, however, proteins and minerals are not enough. Especially not enough phosphorus and calcium. Among all groups, they have the lowest total nutritional value, expressed in feed units.
Carrots are considered to be the most useful root crop, and animals with appetite eat fodder beet varieties, kouziku (a hybrid of fodder cabbage and rutabaga), turnips, rutabaga, boiled and raw potatoes, and turnips.
Among the melon crops the pumpkin, feed varieties of watermelon, and zucchini are most popular.
Silo is a nutritious food that provides animal vitamins in the winter and early spring periods. Most often silage, tops of peas and carrots, corn, oats, vetch, herbs are used for silage. Silage is added gradually to the feed, 50-100g each, so that the rabbits are accustomed to feed.
Include in the diet in the autumn-winter period due to the high content of fiber.
The composition of the roughage includes hay, hay flour, certain types of straw and branches of plants.
The main component of roughage should be hay. The most nutritious is hay from legume-cereal grasses, as well as from meadow and steppe grasses, mown before flowering of plants and dried in the shade. Especially useful for young and females during lactation.
Grass meal is made from dried hay. It is used as an additive in soft food.
Only some types of straw are suitable for feeding rabbits, these include ׃ oatmeal, millet, pea and lentil straw. The remaining types of straw are used only as bedding. Straw contains a small amount of proteins and other nutrients. Rabbits eat it reluctantly.
Twigs feeds have a high nutrient content in rabbits. Harvested in summer and autumn. Raspberry, plum, apple, willow, aspen, acacia, linden, maple, willow and other shoots can be used as feed. In winter, spruce, pine and juniper branches can be used as vitamin supplements, gradually introducing them to the diet of rabbits.
The branches of wolf berries, elder, broom, Labrador tea, sumach contain poisonous substances, they cannot be given to animals.
They have high energy value, contain a large amount of protein and other nutrients. Makes not less than 30-40% of a diet of rabbits. The amount of concentrated feed should be rationed depending on the composition and nutritional value of another diet, the age of the animal, as well as its physiological state.
The composition of the concentrated feed includes grains of cereals and legumes, the remnants of the processing of grain and oil crops, animal feed, feed.
The most valuable among cereals is oats because of its dietary properties. Also, barley, wheat, corn, peas, beans, soybeans, lentils, oak acorns, oil cakes and cakes are used for food.
Of the bran is recommended to make only wheat in the diet. Rye should be used only in small quantities in an emergency.
The most valuable among animal feedstuffs is meat – bone and fish meal. Due to the high content of calcium and phosphorus, it is also used as a mineral additive to feed. Animal-based feeds also include blood meal, silkworm pupa, whole and dried milk, whey.
Mineral and Vitamin Feed
Hay – rabbit food
Use as mineral and vitamin supplements in the diet, especially in the winter and early spring periods.
These include fish oil (vitamin A and D, iodine), germinated grain or young greens (vitamin E), baker’s yeast (vitamin E, B), bone meal or ash (calcium and phosphorus minerals), salt and chalk.
Water should be given to animals every day, morning and evening, before feeding. On hot days, water the rabbits preferably three times, on cold – once.
Young rabbits up to 2.5 months. and lactating females are fed 4 times a day, the rest – at least 3 times. The mode is very important for animals.
What hay is better for rabbits?
The best is hay from meadow and steppe grasses, dried in a natural way. It is a rich source of calcium and vitamin D.
From herbs it is better to give preference to clover, burdock, dandelion, plantain, wild sorrel, shepherd’s bag and yarrow. An excellent food is nettle, collected before flowering.
Also, the rabbits with appetite eat some bitter and aromatic plants ׃ dill, wormwood, wild rowan, chicory. These herbs can be introduced into the diet to prevent helminthic invasions.
The most nutritious hay from leguminous plants is цет salvaras, vetch, clover, alfalfa. However, it should always be confused with other types of hay.
It is impossible to use moldy hay in feeding, it causes serious diseases in animals and can lead to death.
Rabbit on the grass
The appearance and nutritional value of hay depends on the type of grass, the time of beveling and the duration of hay storage.
There are some recommendations when choosing hay ׃
- Choose the best green hay – it indicates the workpiece in compliance with all rules.
- There should not be a repulsive smell, high-quality hay smells fresh in summer.
- For long storage hay is well dried. If it is wet or has wet spots, it will not be stored.
- The size of the grass should not be too small.
- The composition of hay should not be a large amount of clover and alfalfa. These herbs are bad for the urinary system of the animal.
How much hay does a rabbit need?
Rabbits should have access to hay throughout the day. It is necessary to control the constant flow of hay. As an approximate guide, on the day of the rabbit should eat hay, equal to the size of his body.
According to petroleum engineering norms, the daily need for hay for an adult rabbit is 300g, for a young rabbit 100-200g. In total for one adult individual it is necessary 17 kg. hay per year.
Rabbit does not eat hay
Rabbit Eats Hay Badly
Despite the high nutritional value of hay, many rabbits are reluctant to eat it. This is often due to the presence of tasty, but less healthy food, which contributes to the development of bad eating habits, which over time will be difficult to correct.
Refusal of hay can lead to diseases of the teeth (see details about diseases in rabbits) and the intestines, so some efforts should be made to change the preferences of the animal.
Below are a few tips with which you can stimulate a rabbit to eat more hay:
- Reduce the amount of dry food. Some foods are tastier than hay, but, like people, rabbits must stick to a balanced diet.
- The taste of hay. Not all hay is the same, it comes in different varieties and flavors. Try different types of hay to see which rabbit loves you more.
- Ensure that the hay is of good quality and is stored in optimal conditions.
- Rabbits tend to imitate. Give him a companion who eats hay with pleasure.
- Move the hay around the cage. Experiment with bunny toys by placing hay there.
- Sometimes you need to mix hay with dry food, fresh grass, vegetables. To get to his favorite food, he will have to pick up the hay and eat it accordingly.
- It is also recommended to tease a rabbit with a beam of hay, touching it to the antennae, the nose and mouth of the rabbit. The animal will begin to bite the "offender" in irritation. This is enough for the rabbit to start chewing hay.
- Some experts advise to spray apple juice on hay and dry it thoroughly, then give the rabbit a try. The animal should like the sweet taste of hay.
- In some situations, the use of lax hay diet.
Hay diet for rabbit
The first stage of the diet (1-3 days) ׃ reduce the amount of feed to the minimum, continue to give hay in the same amount.
Second phase (4-6 days) ׃ minimize the amount of greens and vegetables.
Third stage (6-10 day) ׃ Introduce only hay into the diet, carefully watching the rabbit. If the animal eats little, be sure to add greens, but so that it does not gorge on.
Fourth stage, the final one ׃ gradually return the old ration to understand at what amount of other feed the rabbit will eat hay.
Hay for decorative rabbits
As a rule, hay for decorative rabbits does not differ from the choice of hay for other breeds of rabbits. The main condition is still the quality of hay and its composition.
You will be interested! You can find out how to feed a domestic rabbit here.
What to replace hay rabbits
Hay is necessary for rabbits, it contains special fibers, without which the normal functioning of the animal is impossible. Even greens and roots can not fully replace hay. Hay contains certain vitamins that affect the ability to reproduce animals.
If some animal still refuses to hay, you can try to compensate for it with greens ׃ with radish and carrots, cabbage leaves, lettuce, celery. Branches of apple trees and conifers are also needed. To replenish fiber and coarse fibers, granulated feed should be included in the diet.
Hay harvesting for rabbits
It is better to start harvesting hay in summer before the flowering of meadow and steppe plants. Avoid gathering in marshy areas of the soil, there are growing acidic grass.
It is better to make harvesting of herbs in the meadows, forest edges and outskirts.
Drying herbs is recommended in the shade on special stakes, which are arranged in the form of a hedge or pyramid, in order to ensure good ventilation. Thanks to this method of drying herbs save all useful trace elements.
There is a way to get the perfect feed, a little different from the green grass, called haylage. The harvested grass is dried to a moisture content of 40-45%, preserved in a shredded state in sealed stores.
Hay from overgrown grasses, mown after flowering or caught in the rain has fewer nutrients and is poorly absorbed.
Store hay in a shed on wooden decking, at least 50 cm from the ground.
Watch your pets carefully. Each individual has different preferences for hay. Some like coarse grass blades of bitter steppe grasses, others like softer ones of meadow grasses. After studying the eating habits of the animal, you can choose a highly effective balanced food that will not only please your animal, but will also be useful.
Watch the video how to choose hay for rabbits