There are literally as many ways to feed rabbits as there are people who own them. It’s amazing to me the diets that rabbits can get accustomed to. Natural feeding (no pellets), Pellets and Mixed diets tend to cover the most commonly found methods.
That fact there are so many ways to feed bunnies is, I think part of the reason it irks me when people insist there is only one way to feed rabbits. BUT people are who they are right? It’s easy to think that your way is the only way, or at least the best way. So let’s talk about the different ways to feed bunnies.
There are many many rabbit breeders who insist the only way to feed bunnies properly is with a pelleted diet. Essentially kibble for rabbits. Most pellets are made with an alfalfa base, some are also made with timothy hay. A good pellet should contain everything that a rabbit needs to remain healthy, and many rabbits are raised to do well on a pelleted diet.
This method is most common with serious breeders. It makes it easier to feed exactly what each rabbit needs, gives them a stable diet, and is less fuss when travelling on the road. The disadvantage is if a rabbit goes off feed, it can be hard to get them going again if they refuse to eat pellets.
Pellets Plus (mixed diet)
An equal number of rabbit people will raise their rabbits on pellets plus something else. This could be a show or breeder supplement, or additional feed sources such a hay, green feed, oatmeal, or mixed grains.
In this diet you want to feed your rabbit a grass type hay, which is one that is lower in calcium to prevent bladder sludge in your bunnies. Green feed consists of rabbit appropriate fresh food like dark lettuces, safe garden weeds, dandelions, parsley, chicory, apple branches and the like.
This tends to be a favourite method of people across the board from breeders to pet companion people.
Pros: wide variety of feed available, if the rabbit rejects pellets, you can offer more grains, and you can adjust feed to seasonal variability. Cons: harder to balance the diet and some rabbits will become picky eaters.
The hobbyist is most likely to feed a non-pelleted diet, choosing to search out needed minerals and salts for their rabbits, along with a variety of hays, branches, mixed grains and green feed. This is a more labour intensive way of feeding rabbits.
In the non-pelleted diet, the hay you want to feed is alfalfa hay as it has higher protein levels. You also want to make sure you feed a wide variety of plants and fresh greens to cover a good nutrient load. Do not wash everything first as trace nutrients are to be valued.
Pros: feeding a rabbit like they are meant to be fed. Cons: It’s a lot of hard work gathering, storing, drying needs feeds and ensuring a balanced diet.
Right and Wrong
Part of the problem people have when feeding mixed diet is people frequently forget to think about balance in the diet. A method frequently espoused is “feed bunnies all the hay they can eat, lots of veggies, and just a little bit of pellets.”
The question is… if you aren’t giving the bunny all the trace nutrients, minerals and salts they require. Items commonly found in their pellets, where are they getting them from? Are they getting them from the washed grocery greens? Are you giving them a rabbit safe salt/mineral supplement? It’s good to ask these questions, to make sure that the diet you are feeding your rabbits is good for them long-term.
A big part of me wants to espouse how I feed bunnies, but I’m not going to. I think how I manage their diet them for the most part works. Occasionally I wonder if I need to tweak it a bit, but I am not quite sure either if I should or how. I don’t want to fuss about it, and my buns are doing well.
Others in this Series
Letter F Link Up
Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.