Hello! I know there has already been some discussion about meat rabbits, but angoras have somewhat different nutritional needs -higher protein- and I'm wondering how I can meet this need without feeding pellets. Is it even possible after so many generations have been bred to thrive on manufactured food? Also, what should I be planting for hay? At the moment, I only have one bunny, so I figure I should easily be able to at least grow all the hay he needs even if he's also eating pellets.
I took my angora's and new zealand whites off of pellets -
I transitioned slowly, over 6 months.
I was making my own chickenfeed and mostly fed the same to the rabbits, with added veggies, herbs, maple leaves, raspberry leaves and varied grasses/hay. Whatever I had growing at the time. I would allow them to free range and watch their choices for new ideas.
The bird feed included Black oil SS, split peas, oats, assorted whole grains, flax seed and kelp or sea salt. I added protein for the birds that I didn't add for the vegetarian rabbits.
It really isn't that hard if you vary their choices, include an 'oil' seed and mineral source.
We never had a rabbit die or become ill - and those who harvested angora always snatched up my rabbit's whenever I was willing to sell.
That's very helpful. Thank you. Your chicken feed sounds pretty similar to what I give my chickens, so it would be easy to give some to the bunny, too. Right now he's just settling in and I think he was pretty much on just pellets in his old home, and it looks like the rabbit next to him chewed off some of his fur, so I'll focus on getting him used to fresh food and growing a nice coat, and then work on transitioning off pellets.
Exactly! You've got it. Now your on your way. . . . .
I grow lots of sunflowers round here because of the left over feed that get tossed about - In the late summer I cut the heads off and toss them into the rabbit paddock - easy pesy I do the same with many plant trimmings - they eat what they like and leave the rest. This I scoop up and then toss into the chicken area, and the chickens compost what they don't want. It's all good.
thea wrote: it looks like the rabbit next to him chewed off some of his fur
You will find many rabbits are more aggressive when living separate in cages (every now and then there is an exception). When you go to breed them, males will be very rough, raping females and pulling out fur. Females can be very aggressive - all this misbehavior seems rooted in fear. So if you run into any of this, and it sounds like you are, plan on socializing the rabbits to each other in a large area - like recess on the fenced lawn, or such. This will help with their attack first because of fear mentality.
BTW - the smaller the rabbit the worse this can be (small rabbit syndrome) same for yippie dogs.
Mulberry is supposed to be able to replace up to 40% of a rabbit's diet with no loss in weight gain or litter size. I read that somewhere and it was written by the folks who wrote "Rabbit Production", so they'd know. Mulberry grows quickly and has tasty berries people can eat.
Check to make sure it's non-toxic to rabbits before you feed it to them, whatever you're feeding. Some foraged things will kill them but now with the internet, you can look up each type of vegetation before give it to the rabbits.
We forage feed a lot of things to the buns here. They can eat almost all grasses, mulberry, ti leaves, dandelions, plantain, bananas and leaves (although they aren't overly fond of the leaves), pineapple, papaya, coconuts and coconut fronds, rosemary, parsley, sweet potato vines, citrus and citrus leaves, etc. That's the list of available forage from our yard, your list might be different. Just make list of all the different forage available in your yard and look to see if the bunnies can eat it.
Once you find out what they can eat, look at the list and see if it looks like they'd need more protein or other nutrient. It's a good thing to keep weight records for a few months until you know the buns are gonna thrive on the new forage regime.
I've had some of the university extension folks recommend various sorts of nutritious plants just perfect for bunny nutrition and then the bunnies didn't get the memo on how good it was and wouldn't eat it.
Because I'm in an urban setting, I don't have enough acreage to grow my own hay. But I can plant things that benefit us and our wooler bunnies.
Mulberry tree; blackberries; raspberries; greenbrier; crossvine; roses; apples; pears; kale; carrots; fennel; lovage; mints and honeysuckle to name a few. Most offer edibles for us as fruit and herbal teas, some provide shade and food (especially for bunnies in the chikee), and others do all of this AND are pretty. I also sprout barley throughout the year, rabbits and chickens love it. !/4 cup turns into about 1/2 pound of food. Bunnies eat the greens, chickens eat the seeds and greens, worms eat the root mass. Its a triple win that save me money!
Also, since pretty much every state in the lower 48 considers phragmites (an 8 foot reed) to be a noxious weed, I can go out and cut the green canes throughout the late spring through early fall for fresh feeding and dry some in the shade for winter. UT DNW gave me permission to harvest as much as I want wherever I see it to save them the hassle of trying to mow it down. Yea, free food! If you live in an area that has kudzu you can use that as fodder.
I also score discarded produce from a couple of grocery stores, as well as stuff from the gardens of family and friends to give to the bunnies and chickens.
Pellets and hay are neccessary during the winter, but when I get my green house up and running, I should be able to phase out the pellets totally. In the mean time I mix barley, black oil SS, and flax with my pellets for most of the year and add a little cracked corn during the winter (increases body heat).
We don't have Phragmites (which sounds like good bunny food), instead we have stuff called "Guinea grass" which gets about that tall and grows like crazy. There's also elephant grass and sugar cane, the buns like all of those.
When harvesting roadside greens, it's best to be sure it's from an area that hasn't been sprayed with herbicide. Sometimes instead of mowing, our highway and County folks will use weedkiller instead of mowing. There's a period of time between when the grasses are sprayed and when they are dead, so it can look green and healthy and be poisoned.
I've been thinking some sort of grain might be nice to grow. I'd get the grain seeds and the buns would get all the leaves and stems.