Big Eaters? Normal for growing bunnies?

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My bunbuns are about 5 months old.

THESE GALS CAN EAT! Seriously! They Eat So Much!

They have a constant supply of fresh Timothy hay. Which they make short order of.

I give them fresh veggies according to the list. I am lucky to have an amazing market down the street from my house that has TONS of greens, herbs, EVERYTHING under the sun and they are very inexpensive.

I give them a large portion of veggies every day as best I can. They absolutely demolish the veggies. I should be super stoked to have such veggie loving bunnies, but is it normal for bunnies to eat everything in sight?!?

I've had an adult male rabbit in the past I don't recall him housing all my groceries like these young ladies do.

SO that being said, am I doing the right thing to limit the pellets available to them in their hutch? I think they'd eat those non-stop too if given the option and that's not ideal, right? Like sitting and eating McDonalds all day isn't ideal.

Also, two words: Chinese Celery. It's less stringy than regular celery... super long and thin, and LOTS of leafy greens. It's Loretta and Lucinda's new fave and luckily I can get a large bunch for $.79
 

rabitgrl

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What size rabbits are they? Larger breeds will eat more of course. I think they sound normal though. Especially for 5 months old. I am not sure when to limit pellets, but depending on breed I think you could give them unlimited pellets until they are a year.

I have a flemish giant and a dutch rabbit. The dutch is about 4 pounds and eats very dainty portions. I am not sure of My flemish giants exact weight, but he eats a terrific amount. When I give them veggies they eat them all immediately. This is fairly typical for all rabbits I have ever had. If they left any veggies un-eaten I might worry. My buns are both around a year old, and I did try limiting pellets for a while. When I was limiting pellets their bowl would be empty in the morning, and when I filled it Bob would just attack it like he was starving. Since neither of them have a weight problem I have started giving unlimited pellets again.

I have found this page helpful : http://rabbit.org/faq-diet/

Best of luck to you and your two hungry girls :)
 

squidpop

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Gosh, where I live celery cost $3 per bunch. My vet just told me not to feed unlimited pellets even to my 12 week old rabbit because they will only eat pellets and then not eat enough hay to keep their teeth in good shape. So I think- unless they are looking skinny- limiting the pellets with more hay is a good idea. :)
 

Blue eyes

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Typically it's when a rabbit reaches 6 months of age that the pellets are switched (slow transition) from alfalfa-based to timothy-based. This is also the time when pellets are decreased to about 1/4 to 1/2 cup for a 5-7lb rabbit.

Flemish Giants and similar large breeds are considered the exception and most recommend feeding them unlimited for a year. They have more growing to do!

The rabbit.org link that rabbitgirl gave shows that decrease in pellets beginning with 7 months.
That same site has another article that recommends that fixed rabbits that are getting a great variety of greens (sounds like yours are) can actually have even fewer pellets. Here's the link for that:
http://rabbit.org/natural-nutrition-part-ii-pellets-and-veggies-2/

My rabbits love to eat too. My husband jokes that they are eating machines. They eat hay constantly. The eat their greens as soon as they get them. Their pellets are the same. They go crazy for their pellets and that works great for me since that is how I get them back in their cage for the night.

As long as they have hay (and those greens), they aren't going to starve from having too few pellets.
 

Imbrium

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SO that being said, am I doing the right thing to limit the pellets available to them in their hutch? I think they'd eat those non-stop too if given the option and that's not ideal, right? Like sitting and eating McDonalds all day isn't ideal.

I have found this page helpful : http://rabbit.org/faq-diet/

The rabbit.org page is a great one for diet info! It does say unlimited pellets for growing rabbits, but most of us agree that it's better not to give unlimited. My vet specifically told me to limit pellets (at a check-up when they were 2.5-3 mos) because Gazzles was getting chubby.

Bunnies do eat like CRAZY, especially when growing. If they're avid veggie eaters and devour hay, then you're all set - it sounds like they have a very healthy and varied diet; they definitely don't need unlimited pellets (though they can certainly have more than the stingy portions adults are given).

I tend to recommend giving 2x as many pellets as they would be fed as adults until they've been introduced to veggies and are getting a good amount of those each day (so if they'd be 5 lbs as an adult, I'd suggest 1/2-2/3c pellets per day until veggies). After that, gradually cut back to about 1.5x their adult ration (you can cut back more for bunnies that are chubby, less for those who are very lean or won't eat that much veggies). After 7 mos or so, gradually cut back again until they're getting an appropriate adult portion.
 

DogCatMom

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The rabbit.org page is a great one for diet info! It does say unlimited pellets for growing rabbits, but most of us agree that it's better not to give unlimited. My vet specifically told me to limit pellets (at a check-up when they were 2.5-3 mos) because Gazzles was getting chubby.

Bunnies do eat like CRAZY, especially when growing. If they're avid veggie eaters and devour hay, then you're all set - it sounds like they have a very healthy and varied diet; they definitely don't need unlimited pellets (though they can certainly have more than the stingy portions adults are given).

...

The HRS and its website, rabbit.org, might offer good advice for "average" rabbits, but the OP has a Flemish Giant, which can grow to 20 lb, sometimes more. These rabbits need to eat like growing babies--which they are!--for almost a year to have a good shot at achieving their genetically inherited adult size. Limiting their calories may stunt their growth. The smaller rabbit doesn't need to eat eat eat for a year; the standard advice is probably just right for him/her. :)

The timothy hay doesn't contain as many calories or other nutrients as alfalfa hay does; maybe the FG could be provided w/alfalfa hay? Or are the two fed in a common area? Perhaps alfalfa hay cubes could help "split the difference" for the FG.

Still debating whether Rabbit #2 will be a Flemmie or an Angora....trying to learn as much as I can about both types prior to making the leap. (DH doesn't think Rabbit #2 will happen at all.... :whistling )
 

Blue eyes

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Typically it's when a rabbit reaches 6 months of age that the pellets are switched (slow transition) from alfalfa-based to timothy-based. This is also the time when pellets are decreased to about 1/4 to 1/2 cup for a 5-7lb rabbit.

Flemish Giants and similar large breeds are considered the exception and most recommend feeding them unlimited for a year. They have more growing to do!

The HRS and its website, rabbit.org, might offer good advice for "average" rabbits, but the OP has a Flemish Giant, which can grow to 20 lb, sometimes more. These rabbits need to eat like growing babies--which they are!--for almost a year to have a good shot at achieving their genetically inherited adult size. Limiting their calories may stunt their growth. The smaller rabbit doesn't need to eat eat eat for a year; the standard advice is probably just right for him/her. :)
)

@ DodCatMom, Yes, that Flemish Giants should be fed more for up to a year was already mentioned in my above quote. :D
 

Imbrium

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The VAST majority of HRS's information is as viable for a flemish as it is for any other rabbit breed. The ONLY thing that differs from the HRS guidelines for them is that they should be switched to an adult diet at a year old, which was already covered by Blue eyes by the time I made my post.

As for what I said regarding limiting pellets, I specifically cited it as being my own opinion/general recommendations, which differ from HRS guidelines anyway (and honestly, their thought of giving truly unlimited pellets is more likely to be viable with a flemmie than with small breeds). I stand by what I said, though - a 20 lb adult would be allowed around 1.5c pellets per day; applied to a flemish, my recommendations math out to be 3 cups of pellets per day until they're thoroughly introduced to veggies and getting a full portion daily then gradually decrease to 2.25 cups a day. I quoted my "usual" recommendations and forgot to reiterate what Blue eyes mentioned about flemmies not switching to adult portions until a year old, but then, I was generalizing to begin with anyway - exact pellet amounts depend on the individual rabbit, their tolerance for them, how well they eat hay, their metabolism, etc. On a side note, HRS guidelines specify a minimum of 2c chopped/packed leafy greens per 6 lbs body weight per day - more can always be given and quite frankly, I think upping veggies is a healthier choice than upping pellets for most bunns anyway.
 

DogCatMom

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@Imbrium: thx for the clarification. I can't read tone very well over the Internet (most people can't), so couldn't tell whether you were clashing w/Blue Eyes or not re. Flemmies. :)

Now the OP has unanimous opinion from two very experienced members of the forum (y'all) and from me, looking into maybe adding a Flemish Giant to my menagerie of one Bernese Mtn Dog, three cats, and an American Chinchilla rabbit (12 lb).
 

Imbrium

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@Imbrium: thx for the clarification. I can't read tone very well over the Internet (most people can't), so couldn't tell whether you were clashing w/Blue Eyes or not re. Flemmies. :)

Ah, yeah, a major fallacy of the internet >< I guess I assumed my post would be seen as agreeing with previous onces since Blue eyes, rabitgrl and I were all pointing towards rabbit.org (ie HRS) - now that I've really read (rather than skimmed), I can see how it might not have been clear. I had read the first post thoroughly, but there was no mention of breed in it and I didn't register the shift to discussing Flemish-specific stuff as I skimmed replies. (Also, in my defense, I can't remember EVER having disagreed with Blue eyes about anything, so I suppose I consider it a "given" that we're on the same page in our advice :p.)

But yeah, growing rabbits are eating machines as it is and Flemish giants especially so!

The heart of what I was getting at is that pellets should be limited/reduced for any rabbit regardless of age if they're getting chubby relative to the size of their frame or if they're pigging out on pellets so much that they're not eating enough hay - no matter the size or breed, hay should account for around 80% of a rabbit's diet. Younger rabbits are allowed more pellets because they eat more of *everything* - their hay intake should be higher, too, so that it's still around 80% of the total.

And to touch on something you said previously about alfalfa... as you pointed out, it's unsuitable for adults (excepting pregnant/nursing does) due to protein and calcium levels, but often fed to and perfectly healthy for juveniles. In a situation where a Flemish or other large breed was being raised with a small breed rabbit of the same age, I think it would be ok to keep alfalfa in the mix for both until the Flemish was a year old as long as it wasn't more than 20-30% (at the most) of the total hay intake for the smaller bunn. Limited alfalfa in a young adult (7-12 mos) is unlikely to cause any health issues if they're switched to only grass hay after that - the real risk is in long-term feeding of alfalfa to adults, particularly when it's their primary hay. A very young adult will still be extremely active, making the additional protein less likely to be an issue than it would be for an adult that was a bit older. Of course, if weight issues arise in the smaller breed bunny, then the alfalfa may need to be cut out sooner.

I no longer recommend feeding ONLY alfalfa to juvenile rabbits in light of my own experiences and having heard similar things from others (that I wish I'd known sooner!) - it can make the transition to grass hay when they reach adulthood extremely difficult, because they do NOT want to give up that nummy alfalfa! I tried around 14 different grass hays (different brands/sources, cuts, types, etc.) before *finally* finding one my girls would eat... which was unfortunately an 80/20% orchard/alfalfa blend. I gave up and let them have it because at least they were eating a lot of grass hay even if the added alfalfa wasn't ideal.

I was so thrilled to have the "they won't eat ANY grass hay" ordeal over that I left it at that for a while. However, I did eventually place an order for one box of 80/20 blend and one of pure orchard (instead of two boxes of the blend) so that I could gradually "water down" the 80/20 mix. At a year and a half old my girls are finally willing to eat pure orchard without any alfalfa mixed in, which is a big relief for me as I no longer have to worry that I could be hurting as much as helping by letting them have some alfalfa to bribe them into eating grass hay. Had I known what I do now in the beginning, I would've had them on an alfalfa/grass mix to begin with and would've been able to wean them onto purely grass hay at an earlier age.

That said, I still advocate feeding alfalfa to younger rabbits (of any breed) to some degree for the extra nutrients their growing bodies need - a mixture of 20-50% alfalfa and the rest grass hay of some sort would provide them the extra calcium and protein with far less risk of creating picky adults. Obviously if they haven't already been getting alfalfa and someone wanted to add it to their diet, it would need to be introduced slowly so as not to cause digestive troubles - a lesson I learned the hard way, as my pre-bunny research suggested alfalfa, so I bought alfalfa... then Gazzles got mild diarrhea because they'd been getting only grass hay at the breeder, so I had to go out and get grass hay to make a more gradual transition.
 

rabitgrl

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Even though I am not the original poster I appreciate all the great information about feeding here. Especially in regards to Flemish Giants. I must admit I have been feeling a bit guilty about giving my rabbits unlimited alfalfa based pellets. It is really an economic issue for me. The timothy pellets I can get locally are so expensive, and with how much Bob eats it would cost around $30-$40 each month in pellets alone. He does also eat a ton of grass hay and veggies, and is not overweight. At his last vet visit he was 12 months and weighed 13lbs. I think he is bigger now at 15 months, but have no accurate way to weigh him at home.
When I tried limiting pellets he was still getting about 2 cups per day, but he just seemed so hungry. Now I probably give about 3-4 cups per day, I just fill the bowl when empty. They also have unlimited hay, and around 4 cups of veggies to share each day. This portion also feeds my dutch rabbit, but as I mentioned she really does not eat a significant amount. I have read that Flemish often achieve full size at 18 months, so I may attempt to limit pellets again at that time.

Assuming Bob is about 15lbs. and Iris(the dutch) is 4lbs. Does two cups seems like a proper limited pellet ration when the time comes?
 

Imbrium

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Depends on how well they share and whether they have any weight issues, but I'd say 1.5-2c would be a good combined total.

As for alfalfa-based pellets, my vet in San Antonio actually recommends an alfalfa-based pellet and grass hay for adult rabbits. Personally, I don't think alfalfa vs timothy (when used in pellets) really matters - it all comes down to the GA (the actual percentages of protein and calcium in the food).

Here's a good site about pellet brand comparisons that tells you what to look for - http://www.therabbithouse.com/diet/rabbit-food-comparison.asp . Even if the pellet you feed isn't listed, you can compare the GA to the "goal" amounts at the top of the page to see if it's reasonably close. It's worth noting that one of the very few foods in the long list that's highlighted as "ideal" is Sherwood Forest M/S, which is an alfalfa based pellet - evidence that alfalfa pellets aren't necessarily bad depending on the formula :).
 

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