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Growing my bunny food

 
Posts: 264
Location: Haiti
21
forest garden rabbit greening the desert
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I'm having a rabbit and chicken house built and will start with three meat rabbits and expand from there. This is my first time raising rabbits in the tropics, and is like to grow all I can to feed them. If course the common fruit and veggie options, but I've also recently ordered the following seeds:

Amaranth (for the leaves)
Perennial peanut (primarily a ground cover, but I understand it's also a nice treat for the buns and chicks)
Black oil sunflower (will be one of their primary staples, I believe)
Nasturtium

I also recently planted a mulberry which will hopefully soon provide some for them.

Additionally, I was given some cuttings of some local forage grasses that rabbits seem to like. Hay isn't something that can be bought around here, so we have to improvise.

What other things should I be planting? Trying to keep them happy and reproductive! :)
 
Posts: 229
Location: Richwood, West Virginia
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I recently learned this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit#Digestion



Because it's called a nighttime thing I guess it doesn't matter if rabbits are raised on wire off the ground because it occurs in their nighttime quarters.
 
gardener
Posts: 2440
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
163
forest garden trees urban
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If Jerusalem Artichoke and comfrey will grow there,  plant some.
J-chokes are beloved by bunnies, and super easy to grow.
The sunflowers are in the same family,  but the black oil variety is usually an annual,  and you have to fight the birds for the seeds.
I would grow both.
Comfrey
My bunnies dont care for mulberry leaves,  but they have a lot of other choices.
Maybe find out if Moringa is OK for bunnies.
It's high protein and  I think it grows in the tropics.
 
Priscilla Stilwell
Posts: 264
Location: Haiti
21
forest garden rabbit greening the desert
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William Bronson wrote: If Jerusalem Artichoke and comfrey will grow there,  plant some.
J-chokes are beloved by bunnies, and super easy to grow.
The sunflowers are in the same family,  but the black oil variety is usually an annual,  and you have to fight the birds for the seeds.
I would grow both.
Comfrey
My bunnies dont care for mulberry leaves,  but they have a lot of other choices.
Maybe find out if Moringa is OK for bunnies.
It's high protein and  I think it grows in the tropics.



I looked into comfrey, but I don't think it will grow here. Jerusalem artichokes weren't on my radar. I'm now looking for viable seed (since I have to have things shipped).

It appears they don't love moringa. A shame, since I have access to a lot of moringa!
 
pollinator
Posts: 486
Location: South of Capricorn
136
rabbit food preservation homestead
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i am semi-tropical, so i may have some cooler things than you can grow, but worth a shot-
mulberry is excellent. I would consider growing as many mulberries as possible for forage and for you as well.
I plant the following for rabbit forage, at any given time one bed in the garden is: peas, sorgum, black oats, forage radish (like a daikon but not much root), millet, amaranth. I think you might do best with sorgum and millet considering the heat.
I also have started scouting out what is available, here when my garden is stalled i go to the parks with bags and scout out dandelion-type weeds. I clean out my aunt's yard in exchange for what's growing there.
There is a local coop that produces meat rabbits and chickens from donated kitchen waste (fresh things to rabbits, cooked food to the chickens). It's a bit of work but if perhaps you have access to the kitchen waste from the school where you live, it might be something to consider, then you only have to plan heavily for when school is out of session.
My rabbits eat very well from my kitchen waste (we eat lots and lots of veggies). What I pull out of my garden (bean and pea vines, etc) goes into the rabbit hutches as well. Worst case scenario, if I can't find food for them I have seeds I can sprout for them (peas, sunflowers, wheat berries, sorgum) or I have contact with the local fruit/veg store to take what they are throwing away. When it is corn season and they have lots of cornhusks (bunny crack!) I am there every few days picking up their trash.

(edited to add: bunnies have weird taste. keep trying different things, I know at the beginning mine ate everything, then got picky, then occasionally change their mind. Don't lose hope!)
 
Priscilla Stilwell
Posts: 264
Location: Haiti
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forest garden rabbit greening the desert
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Forgot to mention I do have sorghum seeds coming too. I need to get more pallets to fence in another garden section since the current small veggie and flower garden is pretty much maxed out and we have hundreds of goats wandering through from the community.

I plan to farm Black Soldier Flies for the chicks. There should be enough waste from the students to keep a constant flow of them if I set up 3 or 4 buckets with ramps for the larvae to crawl out to the waiting mouths of the chickens. We're only starting with 4 chickens. The house is 12x16, so it should be quite ample for this many, but we want to go slowly rather than introducing any problems.

I have jack beans planted which are beginning to cover the fence of my original veggie garden, and which are quite good for bunnies. We also get a lot of sugar-cane scraps that I use for mulch in the garden (from the guys selling pieces of fresh cane for snacks on the street). I know the inner core has a lot of sugar (clearly), so I assume too much should be avoided, but does anyone know if the outer hard part is suitable for them to chew on?
 
Tereza Okava
pollinator
Posts: 486
Location: South of Capricorn
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rabbit food preservation homestead
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fence in that sorgum! it is sweet and everyone loves it. Maybe find some surgical tubing and some sticks and make yourself a slingshot in the meantime!!!

i would give the rabbits sugarcane leaves, but not any part of the stalk (here they are skinned, like with a veggie peeler, and then run through the mills whole, so there is not a difference between the inside and outside).  
 
Priscilla Stilwell
Posts: 264
Location: Haiti
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forest garden rabbit greening the desert
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Tereza Okava wrote:Maybe find some surgical tubing and some sticks and make yourself a slingshot in the meantime!!!



Ordered this last week. It should arrive around the same time as the seeds: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07MQN37TZ?ref=ppx_pt2_mob_b_prod_image
 
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Twigs and prunings might provide enough roughage to make up for the lack of hay, and chewing on them will help the rabbits keep their teeth trim. Just make sure the tree isn't toxic. I don't have the full list of safe trees for rabbits, but I know maple and willow were both on the list. Also, bramble branches like raspberry or blackberry work well.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Pear and apple branches are THE most desired bunny treats at our house.
They are meh on maple(box elder) .

Let me clarify that I have only been listing healthy foods.
In my experience, bunnies love sugary foods as much as humans.
Banana, apple, berries of all kinds are all very occasional treats.
Banana is what we use to get an escaped bunny to present itself for capture, it's that good to them.
We have bunnies as pets,so we don't even feed alfalfa hay, just orchard grass hay, for fear of too much protein shortening their lives.
Meat rabbits on the other hand, might "benifit" from a less restrictive diet.
I imagine that sugary foods like banana and sugarcane might fatten bunnies quickly.
This might make for a fatty meat,  and they still need  fiber to keep their guts moving, but it expands the choices we might want to consider.

At my house I have insisted that any new rabbits would live outside and eat strictly from the yard.
No more pets, only manure makers.
A very different but still nice lifestyle.
 
Priscilla Stilwell
Posts: 264
Location: Haiti
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Well, I'm in Haiti, so apples and pears will be hard to come by. But I'll experiment and research.

I understand that the green coconut husks can be quite good for them. And any part of a banana plant.
 
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