what is balanced diet? (breeding)

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doggy_

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hi,
so I started my breeding does on pellets alone. Everything has been going well, and out of 100 kits we have only lost 2 to GI. We tried getting them on hay but some problems there, first it seems that ALL the hay we give them is wasted, we have tried different hay feeders which help a bit but not nearly enough, like they only eat 2 strands of the body sized handfull we give them. the second problem is that all the hay i can find around here is alfalfa or alfalfa timothy mix and never just timothy or no orchard grass. We have started them on hay cubes now and they seem to like them more and eat about 1-2 cubes / day.
My next plan is to remove or minimise the pellets they eat and replace with veggies and hay cubes only.
We have also started them on veggies and one thing they can all agree on is swiss chard. My plan is to grow all the veggies they require. But when i search the veggies to give them the basic responses are a little bit of everything + pellets, which is not feasable.

My question is:
1) are hay cubes enough hay suppliment for them to fill their hay portion of diet without the pellets? (of course i will provide unlimited # of cubes for them.)
2) What are the Key Staple veggies I should start them on and how much, before i start to wein out the pellets? I can only grow 4-5 different types, will that be enough and what should those be to continue to provide proper diet?

any advice!
Thanks!
 

odyssey~

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My question is:
1) are hay cubes enough hay suppliment for them to fill their hay portion of diet without the pellets? (of course i will provide unlimited # of cubes for them.)
2) What are the Key Staple veggies I should start them on and how much, before i start to wein out the pellets? I can only grow 4-5 different types, will that be enough and what should those be to continue to provide proper diet?
hi!
1- i personally think that fresh grass or grass hay is the best way to go since it should generally be about 80% of the diet. i'm not sure which type of hay cubes you are using, but i've heard of problems with hay cubes because they're stuck together with sweeteners and/or things rabbits shouldn't have much of. have you considered looking at small pet select for hay? small pet select is an online pet shop that sells hay and ships throughout the USA (i think) and they have different types of hay there.
2- i would start them on dark leaf lettuces as i've found they're generally not as problematic. romaine lettuce is a good starter, and i'd start off with minimal amounts and gradually increasing it so they get enough veggies a day. 4-5 types is fine, generally rabbits should eat about 3 types of greens a day. veggies like parseley should be fed in moderation because of high oxalic acid, and kale, chard and others have high levels of calcium so they should also be switched out.

i hope this helped!
 

doggy_

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yes thank-you, everything helps when your a newb, and I am aware that all changes are gradual, so just to clarify would you say per day:
20% chard
70% romaine lettuce
10% any other filler

would be a good balance?
 

Dandy&Tuli4693

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I have found that my pickiest bunny loves collard greens and strawberry leaf (not the tops),
My other bunny loves everything but especially her romaine

I would get a little bit of everything at your grocery store and see what they like best!

Here's a small list of bunny healthy greens that can be given on a regular basis that you can find at the grocery store:

Collars greens
Romaine
Green leaf lettuce
Red leaf lettuce
Eacarole
Carrot tops
Bok choy

Here are some healthy herbs:
Peppermint
Spearmint
Fennel
Dill
Lemon balm
Lavender
Chamomile


I dont recomend all hay Cubes
But if you limit their pellets to only a tiny bit then they will have to start eating their hay in order to get full
 

Dandy&Tuli4693

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And yes that would be a good balance as long as you only feed around 2-3 cups a day depending on the size of the bunny.
And call around to all your local feed stores and see if they have orchard grass, timothy, or oat hay
 

odyssey~

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yes thank-you, everything helps when your a newb, and I am aware that all changes are gradual, so just to clarify would you say per day:
20% chard
70% romaine lettuce
10% any other filler

would be a good balance?
no prob!

maybe add some other veg? my bun loves herbs such as mint, basil and cilantro and those are super easy to grow as i've done it myself!
 

doggy_

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basil is a great idea and grows nicely for my system.
also i never thought about strawberry leaf which would also be great since im going to grow a ton of strawberries too. as long as picking the strawberry leaf doesnt impact the berry production side of things!?

ok so how bout this ratio:
40% basil
40% romaine lettuce or leaf lettuce
10% chard
10% strawberry leaf

that would be great for me to grow, would it be good enough for the buns?
is that good ratio?
 

odyssey~

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for the strawberry leaves, i'm pretty sure you should leave the leaves on when the berries are still growing and pick them once the strawberry is ready too. not too sure though.

sounds good! i'd really recommend mint as it grows like a weed- it quickly grows and spreads a lot so you'll almost never be out! I feed mint to my bun everyday (about 1 cup of mint a day) and I have never run out this summer yet!
 

SableSteel

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imo if you are breeding you are best to stay on pellets. Pellets are designed to be a complete diet for breeding rabbits and yours seem to be doing okay on them.
If you want to save money on pellets or add greens to their diet you want something higher protein than most "pet" diets. Try looking into growing fodder. It's high energy and quite a few homesteaders and breeders grow it for their rabbits. It's a high fiber, high protein way to add "greens" into their diet. IMO most greens are veggies are far too sugary to give to the rabbit as a regular part of their diet.
 

JBun

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Feeding a pellet free diet is possible, I know there are breeders that do a pellet free diet. But you have to be really careful to balance out the nutrition. Especially with nursing does and growing kits, needing extra protein and calcium. So good quality alfalfa hay has to be an essential part of that diet. If you're intent on doing this, I would suggest doing a ton of research first before making any changes. And that shouldn't be research on pellet free diets for pet rabbits. Pet rabbits dietary requirements are completely different than rabbits that are breeding and growing.
 

doggy_

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thats it exactly JBun., my hay cubes are alfalfa for horses, and reports are saying my buns like them better than the regular hay.

plus a huge problem with regular hay is that it clogs up my plumbing system like there is no tomorow.

so would you suggest a higher percent of the chard, say:

15% basil
15% romaine lettuce or leaf lettuce
60% chard
10% strawberry leaf

or even:
80% chard?

any chance you know what the other pellet free breeders are doing?
 

JBun

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Hay cubes require a lot of work for a rabbit to chew off enough to contribute enough to their diet, especially when they are going to be a primary source of food with no feed pellets. Loose hay would be the best to feed, but if you for sure won't use loose hay, then I would suggest using hay pellets instead of hay cubes. They're just the same as hay cubes, plain compressed hay, but in a smaller form and easier to consume for rabbits. I've used the Standlee brand in the past and prefer it's quality over a local feed stores own pellet.

I haven't done any research myself, into feeding a pellet free diet to breeding rabbits, so can't comment as to what would be a good balance and what foods are needed for the proper nutrients. I only recall seeing some threads on FB groups, where a person would make a comment about what they were feeding their rabbits. Research it, see what you can find.
 
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Martha2000

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No to the hay cubes, mix in pellets in their hay and add dandelions as well in the mix and they will probably eat the hay just to get to the dandelions!!
 

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