Confused....No Alfalfa and Baby Buns ???

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by K1marie, Mar 12, 2019.

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  1. Mar 12, 2019 #1

    K1marie

    K1marie

    K1marie

    Lionel and Murphy Supporting Member

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    Just brought home a 10 week old Holland Lop. He is expected to be around 2.5-3 lbs - he will be small and is now. Breeder told me absolutely NO alfalfa. That these (smaller size) Hollands digestive system is too sensitive. I noted that the pellets she told me to use to supplement them are very cheap $$ (she said they were) and are made from alfalfa meal and soy as the first 2 ingredients....and although it says NO CORN on the packaging, there is "corn distiller's dried grains" also - don't know what that is. I was prepared to transition to Sherwood or Oxbow Pellets - but don't know if I should. Is she referring to "Alfalfa Hay"? I have this question in to her, but wanted popular opinion as well. She said that she has heard some babies having had seizures from the alfalfa. She did tell me - and I also knew to keep unlimited Fresh Tim Hay available. So what type pellets are best without the risk of introducing a GI issue.
     
  2. Mar 12, 2019 #2

    Kinley

    Kinley

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    I myself have not heard the Holland lop babies cannot have alfalfa. I have always heard that you should give straight alfalfa until they get around 3 months, then give them a Timothy alfalfa mix until they reach 6 months. From then on you should just give them Timothy hay, or another type of hay that is similar to Timothy, but do not give them alfalfa when they are over 6 months. This is what can cause digestive issues. Maybe try mixing a little alfalafa with the hay he is eating now and see how he reacts. If he does well with it, then move him to a straight alfalfa diet. I hope you have fun with your new baby! Holland lops are just the cutest!
     
  3. Mar 12, 2019 #3
    Not giving alfalfa hay is fine aslong as they are on an alfalfa based pellet until approx 6 months. This will actually make it easier when they are older as many rabbits dont like switching off alfalfa hay. Even mixing alfalfa hay with timmothy they can sit and pick out alfalfa strands.

    So ensure your baby has a juvenile food until 6months-ish them transition them to an adult pellet.
    Oxbow and sherwood are both good brands.

    No alfalfa hay is a weird rule.... but is honestly okay. Feed them timothy or orchard or whatever high quality grass hay you want.
     
  4. Mar 12, 2019 #4

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    Transitioning to Sherwood or Oxbow is perfectly fine -- once she's had a chance to get adjusted to her new home. The Sherwood website has lots of scientific information -- including info about alfalfa (as hay and in pellets).

    This page in particular (scroll down) has some great info:
    http://sherwoodpethealth.com/the-science/

    (On a side note, I would not be inclined to put much faith in the advice of a breeder who knowingly and admittedly feeds cheap, sub-par pellet feed to her rabbits.)
     
  5. Mar 12, 2019 #5

    JBun

    JBun

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    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Usually when getting a new rabbit you are wanting to keep them on their old usual pellets(even if they are lower quality, provided they aren't causing serious digestive upset or other health problems)for the first week in a new home, before gradually transitioning them on to the pellets you prefer to feed over the next 2-4 weeks after that. Reason being is that being in a new home can be stressful, which can lead to digestive problems developing, particularly in baby rabbits(and which can prove quite harmful if it occurs), and switching a rabbits food when it's first getting settled in can cause further stress. So it's best to keep everything as familiar as possible for the baby, to help alleviate any rehoming stress it could be feeling.

    Hollands can have a sensitive digestive system, so she's right to be careful about what you feed them. But usually that applies to limiting/restricting sugars and high carb foods. It might also include further pellet restrictions(also switching to a higher quality pellet) if the rabbit is continuing to have mushy cecal poop issues. As well as making sure to introduce new foods like veggies/herbs/forage gradually and slowly(keeping an eye out for mushy poop or upset stomach developing), and when switching pellet brands/types. Not all will be sensitive, but many seem to be.

    I also agree it's fine not to give alfalfa hay when you are feeding an alfalfa based pellet. It's just not necessary to feed an alfalfa pellet and alfalfa hay to young rabbits, and is what I prefer. Plus it can create problems when they are adults and you try to transition them off of alfalfa and onto a grass hay, as they tend to really like alfalfa and feeding it exclusively as their daily hay can make them very picky about eating other hay. Alfalfa itself won't cause seizures, but if the breeder linked her rabbits seizures to the alfalfa hay, then most likely it was contaminated in some way and that's what led to the seizures.

    Just because a breeder isn't feeding a high quality pet food to their rabbits, doesn't mean their advice shouldn't be taken into account or that it's all wrong. Breeders usually do have to feed bulk feedstore rabbit feeds because of the significantly higher costs of feeding a higher quality pet rabbit food. So that's pretty common and nothing wrong with it. Some of what the breeder said may not be correct, but they took the time to give you dietary information and advice on what they thought was the best thing for the rabbit, which means they do care about the rabbits well being.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  6. Mar 15, 2019 #6

    K1marie

    K1marie

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    THANK YOU!! That all makes a lot of sense - and what my thought was - but I never started out with a 10 week old and just wanted to hear from someone OTHER than the breeder. You are right - she was adoment about how they were fed - she truly cares . She did give me conflicting information - so thank you for taking the time for addressing all the points in my post :)
     
  7. Mar 15, 2019 #7

    Lauren Kiernan

    Lauren Kiernan

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    We fed our now 8mth old Holland lop Oxbow baby rabbit food which is alfalfa based ( his vet approved) and at 6 months transitioned to first Oxbow adult rabbit food, then to Sherwood professional as ours is a terrific hay eater. He has always had Timothy hay or a meadow grass blend since he was little. We added veggies at 6months at the recommendation of the vet and breeder. He is very healthy. He is a false dwarf and weighs about 4.5pd So he gets 1/4 pellets daily. I live the Sherwood. No fillers.
     
  8. Mar 15, 2019 #8

    K1marie

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    can I ask a follow up ? The breeder did say she left the pellet bowl filled that her bunnies don’t overeat and to leave unlimited hay as well which I do ... but I am worried my little guy isn’t eating enough hay and choosing the pellets (alfalfa and 20%soy) over the hay to fill up on. I think they are maybe too tasty over the hay?. I am going to eventually transition to a better pellet which also may not be as tasty but for now - should I be limiting pellets so he eats more hay ? I want to make sure he’s eating enough - but also want to develop good habits . I put the hay right in his litter box and hang a manger also next to it .He is just under 1 lb now - 10weeks - and he will eat close to 3,Tablespoons of pellets if I let him - and I don’t see the hay disappearing much . ( it is the Pet Select 2nd cut Tim hay ) good hay .
     
  9. Mar 15, 2019 #9

    Alyssa and Bugs♡

    Alyssa and Bugs♡

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    My bun had the same problem. I limited his pellet intake to 1/8 cup (he's 3.5 pounds). Now, he loves his hay!
     
  10. Mar 15, 2019 #10

    Lauren Kiernan

    Lauren Kiernan

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    We were told by the vet and breeder to provide hay and not limit the alfalfa based food until 6mos. Once I stopped adding in more pellets, he began to eat more hay. Also, everytime I changed pellets, I dis it very slowly, blending them until fully switched.
     
  11. Mar 16, 2019 #11

    JBun

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    What I did when I raised a litter of baby rabbits to make sure they were getting enough nutrition from their pellets but also getting enough fiber from hay, was to feed enough pellets to last 8-9 hours. Then when they ran out they would eat hay for the next 3-4 hours and at the 12 hour mark I would feed pellets again. So pellets twice a day and free fed grass hay.
     
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  12. Mar 16, 2019 #12

    majorv

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    Three tablespoons isn’t a lot of pellets. Hay is good for digestion and teeth but the vitamins & minerals in the pellets are necessary for good growth, which is important at his age. You could add orchard grass to the Timothy hay. He might like it better.
     
  13. Mar 16, 2019 #13

    K1marie

    K1marie

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    Thank you everyone. I like the idea of offering unlimited pellets for a period of the day - and I think I will leave him with only hay when I think he will be most bored - and to satisfy his hunger he will have to eat hay (with maybe a little orchard grass or 3rd cut in there.!) I am also going to very slowly introduce the Sherwood Baby :) since the breeder had him on alfalfa pellets but it is a 20% soy mix.
     
  14. Mar 16, 2019 #14

    Lauren Kiernan

    Lauren Kiernan

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    If you succeed with Sherwood, when he is ready for adult food, they have 2 kinds. I believe the pro formula is for the good hay eaters and the pet health brand has Timothy hay in it for the ones who aren't. That one would be fed in a higher quantity. Hopefully yours will love hay because the longer strands of fiber are better for digestive health.
     
  15. Mar 16, 2019 #15

    K1marie

    K1marie

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    Good to know - I saw they had two but didn't look into the adult food yet. I am a little paranoid that they get enough hay - I had my lionhead in for molar trims - every 6 weeks the last year of his life (and he finally had some GI Stasis issues at the very end and and abscess behind his eye - which is why I had him euthanized at 10 - and I believe that could have stemmed from dental issues. Our beloved little Man !!
     
  16. Mar 16, 2019 #16

    Lauren Kiernan

    Lauren Kiernan

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    Hay is definitely the best.
     
  17. Mar 16, 2019 #17

    JBun

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    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    I'm very sorry about the loss of your previous bun. One thing I've found that can help buns that are prone to dental issues, is feeding orchard grass. It has a very high silica content, which is abrasive and what promotes tooth wear. One lady that I know of, had a bun that had to have molar burring done every 8 weeks. After she switched her rabbit to orchard grass, the bun went a whole year before needing another dental. So it might be worth adding that hay to your buns diet. Plus they usually tend to like orchard grass pretty well.
     
  18. Mar 16, 2019 #18

    Deludedbyreality

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    Try making hay filled paper towel tube toys to encourage more interest in hay snacking, as well as added fun of the toy, hand feeding hay will work as well for scent association to help further solidify your bond!
     
  19. Mar 17, 2019 #19

    K1marie

    K1marie

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    Thank you all for your input. It is so great to know there is always someone to bounce ideas off of and get advice from. I am slowly gaining enough knowledge and experience between my last bun and the new baby I will be able to pass along to others :)
     

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