Pellet Free Diet?

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Abi :)

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Hey guys, I was on instagram this morning and I saw this post about a pellet free diet. The woman claimed to be an exotic vet that specialised in rabbits as well, and she said that rabbits over the age of 6 months shouldn't be fed pellets or alfafa. Obviously no alfafa after 6 months makes sense but I was under the impression that pellets were okay as long as they were fed in small quantities. I myself only feed Bambi a tablespoon of pellets once a day, and I found that less pellets encouraged her to eat more hay.

But anyway my question was if that rabbits over 6 months shouldn't actually be fed pellets?
 

zuppa

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Hi, alfalfa based pellets are for the babies or rabbits who need an extra boost, underweight etc, also babies fed unlimited pellets. Then depending on your rabbits sometimes around 6 months, sometimes 4,5 months you should switch to timothy based pellets. As I understand that and can see from my rabbits, alfalfa is too rich for them and they simply starting getting fat you can see it and you start limiting portions and also transfer safely to non-alfalfa pellets. I know some people don't feed any pellets at all, there are many different opinions on that.
Hay is their main food and pellets only a very small portion once a day, I personally find that they love pellets and they look better and feel better when they get them. We had a situation here just a few months ago that due to quarantine I've ordered pellets online as usual but we had to wait 5 weeks for them to arrive and it wasn't clear when we get them so it was like this Tuesday, okay probably Friday, no maybe Monday, and we just had no pellets for a few weeks at all. I can tell, my rabbits were hungry, and greens were also limited, they were unhappy with that. They benefit from pellets I think, maybe she just was talking about alfalfa based pellets and I agree with that, you make transition to timothy-based pellets with lower level of protein (from 16% for the babies to 13% for adults), also lower calcium and phosphorus. When i see they start missing their cecotropes I know it's time to start limiting pellets because their diet is too rich for them and then start mixing junior pellets with adult timothy pellets gradually decreasing alfalfa pellets over a couple weeks.

I am only talking about home pet rabbits what I find best for them, commercial rabbits are different lifestyle and mission so I am only talking about home pets with their balanced diet.
 

Hermelin

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Pellets are just a small part of bunnies diet, it can be a good complement to bunnies diet when you can't provide everything.

If you give a diet that have mixed greens and a good quality of hay, you won't need pellets. It's quite common among bunnies owner that their bunny get too much pellets and get overwieght which often cause health problems and bunnies passing away earlier than normal. It's quite often people thinks bunny will starve without pellets, which means they don't understand that hay is the main part of the diet and not the pellets. I think people think the way we do with dogs and cats, where the food in the bowl is the main part of their diet, which ends up with overfeeding of bunnies. I don't know how many times I've seen pictures and video of overweight bunnies on social media and most find it really cute with their big dewlaps and chubby clumsy look.

Myself give only a few pellets bits to my netherland dwarf, I balance the diet after the droppings and his weight. But he can go without pellets without losing any weight and still being filled with energy, the reason why I feed him pellets it's to make sure he get everything he needs. I'm not giving my bunnies veggies every day and I don't know what value the hay have because I didn't buy analyzed hay. So complementing with pellets can at least be a bit to make sure my bunnies get the nutrients but I only feed my holland lop one tablespoon and my netherland dwarf get even less ☺
 

Blue eyes

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As other have noted, pellets should only make up a very small portion of their diet. But pellets do provide (and ensure that they get) needed minerals and nutrients.

If one decides to go completely pellet free, then one should also be very closely analyzing and monitoring the nutritional analysis of all of their greens to ensure that all their nutritional needs are being met. Personally, I find it simpler to just offer a limited amount of pellets to ensure they are getting their needed minerals.

Hay is primary, followed by greens. Pellets are just a tiny portion.
 

Diane R

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You're doing fine if you stick to 1tbsp a day. Think of pellets as treats. They don't really need pellets if you give a variety of hay, forage, herbs, etc. but a few pellets won't do any harm. What was the vet's name?
 

Eve84

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Hi,
Im also not offering any pallets but I feed that instead 20-30g per rabbit.

I used google translate for all the ingredients so I hope there won’t be any mistakes as I don’t know all the English names for every ingredient.

Meadow herbs and meadow grasses *, parsley, pea flakes, carob, carrots, mulberry leaves, nettle leaves, alfalfa, cornflowers, parsnips, oak bark, dandelion root, rosemary, fennel, liquorice root, marshmallow root, cold-pressed linseed oil, willow leaf
* Kauulgras, meadow foxtail, meadow fescue, red fescue, sheep fescue, woolly honey grass, red clover, ribwort, willow goose, fence wick, comb grass, meadow panicle, Swedish clover, common yarrow, meadow cumin, meadow parsley, common bedstraw, long-bellied meadow grass , Cinquefoil, red ostrich grass, meadow sage, wild carrot, white clover

Eve
 

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Cloverhouse

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In the wild rabbits have quite a varied diet so if you go without pellets make sure you provide a wide variety of greens. I grow my backyard as pasture for my indoor rabbits. Every day they get about five or six different plants and those change over the course of the year, because weeds have different seasons.

We have mild winters here so they get fresh greens from the yard almost every day. I'm not sure I could provide them with a varied enough diet just from what they sell at my local grocer. We have a special produce market about 35 minutes away that carries a wider variety of greens etc.

If you don't use pellets at all, you might want to provide them with a salt/mineral block too.
 
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