original Publish date : 2017-02-26 12:57:22
Large water bottles.
I have found that the Water Bottle with the SPRING mount is best for me. I can usually get the bottle out and in single handed while I find the wire holders tend to slip more often and seem easier for a mischievous rabbit to knock off their cage. one thing about water bottle is that you have to keep and eye on temperatures outside since they do freeze. Their are other ways to water your rabbits, many people have set up gravity fed inline water systems with nipples, which I'd like to test out once our barn is built. But in the mean time check your water bottles twice daily. They DO make heated water bottle for rabbits that run approx, $20 each. The Does and grow outs drink a LOT more water than Bucks or dry rabbits. and on hotter days rabbits will drink more. Watering winter is often neglected so remember you should make sure that they can drink at least twice a day. Standard Large Water Bottles cost between $5 and 7$ each, and can be purchased at Walmart and most feed store. I get mine at Rural king normally. In 2019 I upgraded to Gravity water system in the summer, and I like the blue nipples best becuse they are easy to take apart and clean .
Alternately: Gravity Waterer
I now use gravity waterer with nipples as long as it is above 35 degrees out, and use water bowls changes out 2 to 3 times a day in the winter. the gravity waters make it possible to get away for up to 48 hours with about 4 rabbits per 5 gallon bucket and just having a friend swing by once a day to check the nipples are not clogged. Doe cages has at least 2 nipples .
Hanging J feeders-
These average $5-$7 each, and can be purchased at most farm stores. J feeders hang on the outside of the cage and are accessed thru a slot cut to size in the wire. This makes feeding easier since you don't have to disturb the rabbits by opening the cage and is USUALLY more efficient and less likely for rabbits to poop in the feeder. Although if they want to be brats they will find a way. I recommend buying the J feeders with the mesh bottoms to allow for dust, and small inhalants to fall out of the food. this helps with controlling respiratory illness and they can be easier to clean.
Rabbits only actually need a Good quality complete pellet. 16%, and 18% Rabbit pellets ( make sure there is NO corn in the ingredients) Corn is very hard for rabbits tot digest and I suspect that is what killed my does last summer. Rural king had changed the recipe for the country lane rabbit pellets and I had bought a bag of that as interim feed since they were out of my regular pellets. I lost my Doe 2 days letter. I had fed MannaPro, GRO 18%, and PRO 16% formula. 18% for nursing does and grow outs, and 16% for bucks and all other life stages. Alternatively, I have been experimenting with other feed. Right now I am trying 17% Durmour Alfalfa pellets, mixed with 1/4 whole oats. I add about 1/8 cup Sunflower seeds to my nursing does, and grow outs. I also add sunflower seed over the winter because they increase heat and fat content of the food.
Recently (2020), I had been feeding ADM Pen Pals 16% and 18%, it was my favorite rabbit feed I felt that the rabbits wasted it the least, and I was getting good growth rates . Unfortunately our Feed Mill quit carrying it. and we had to switch to Kalmbach 17%, in 2021 our feed mill started getting the Kalmbach in 16% and 18%, I do not feel I'm getting as good growth rates on the Kalmbach as I was on the ADM Pen Pals, but I'm going to try switching to just the 18% and see if we do any better.
I mostly reserve hay to over winter and nursing does, Hay can also be medicinal if you expect coccidia or the beginnings of bloat, with bloat pull all pellets and just feed hay for a few days .I buy a bale of decent mixed Orchard grass/ timothy /alfalfa hay. Pack this into the feeders as needed. hay can free fed. I like to give my nursing does a nice weedy mix with Red Clover to help with milk production. Why not hay? Hay will slow growth rates in young meat rabbits so for grow outs you want a nutrient dense pellet to encourage quick growth rates.
Rabbit roughage. Rabbits don't actually need hay if they are on a complete pellet. I do give high quality hay in the winter and on cold nights for 2 reasons, Hay can help increase body temperature and gives them something to burrow into on chilly nights, Generally I give hay as nesting material to does ready to kindle, and to rabbits that seem board.
I have made my own hay racks for my bunnies based on an idea from some YouTube videos, out of 1 by 2 wire. Cut to about 10 by 6 sheets and bent back around and attached on the cage side just over the J feeder. The theory from the video was that the J feeder should catch the extra hay that spills and help keep the cages cleaner. I t generally works in theory, but my execution wasn't the cleanest so I cam planning on making a more precise cut hay rack with wire and j clips for the new cages. You can also buy premade rabbit hay racks commercially for $8-$12. Alternatively, I use 6" PVC pipe cut to about 6-8 inches and stuff the hay inside it pretty tightly. This seems to help a lot to keep it from being wasted, although I have one Doe who will drag ALL her hay out of the feeder every time and play with it. So I have given up on her and just toss it into her cage.
Appropriate sticks, or chew toys.
I have given many of the following as chew toys for bunnies to keep them busy: apple, willow, aspen branches; untreated fresh pine lumber attached to the cage so it doesn’t move–piece of molding, 1″x2″s, or 2″x4″s; compressed alfalfa cubes. I think it important for their mental health as well as their teeth, even if they are being used as Food animals I want to make sure my animals are happy. I also occasionally get them store bought chews and I had one Doe who enjoyed playing fetch with a kong.
Rabbits and Fresh Foods:
Start them off SMALL, too much fresh any thing too quickly Will cause a rabbit to bloat and die. Remember your buns only need a proper balanced high quality pellet so Fresh foods should be limited to treats and supplements ! A NEW addition should ONLY be given the pellet they are familiar with and hay for the first week, then slowly transitioned to the new food. Failure to do a slow transition can cause your rabbit to bloat and die.
( just the stick)
|Safe Plants||Safe Fruits||Safe Veggies|
Rabbit mineral ring blocks and hangers
If you are feeding a complete pellet , these actually aren't necessary. You can have mineral available . Little red round mineral blocks contain salt and nutrients needed to balance out your rabbits' diet if you arn't feeding a complete high quality pellet. They also can be used as toys. Mineral blocks come with hangers that you can fasten to the wire cage, although they can eventually break off. You can also get other mineral additives to add to the rabbit food and water. Typically I only add mineral blocks to late stage pregnancy's and nursing does.
Packet of livestock electrolyte
Food additives, Everything on my farm gets Electrolyte Vitamin packs in the water during stressful weather. Rabbits can also get Apple cider Vinegar, and baking soda mix similar to goats and sheep, the following is the dosing and rotation.
Apple Cider Vinegar For Rabbit
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to a gallon of water. Then fill bottles. This can be done daily or for 1 week every month on rotation. Adding ACV to a water bottle in the summer can help with keeping algae at bay on hot days. other uses for ACV: a few drops in the ears can help prevent mites, adding to water will help boost the digestive tract absorption and immune system. Baking Soda can also be added to water .
I use Livestock stock solution for everything on the farm. Vitamins & Electrolytes ''Plus'' for Livestock and Poultry by AgriLabs, Mix 1 pouch (4 oz.) in one gallon of water to prepare a stock solution. dosing is 1/2 cup stock solution to 5 gallons of water. I fill the bottles from my 5 gal bucket.