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Posted in Facts about Raising Rabbits | 6 comments

What do rabbits eat?

Raising meat rabbits is not all that different from raising a regular pet rabbit. Meat rabbits can be given the same garden waste, vegetable scraps, twigs and so on as pet rabbits and will continue to grow on this diet. But meat rabbits will really thrive when given more protein and amino acids to help them achieve optimal weights and speed up growth. Feeding your meat rabbits is the most expensive part of raising them, but it is directly related to the quality of your end product: the meat.

Feed meat rabbits a high quality rabbit feed pellet  along with fresh timothy or alfalfa hay and other supplements. High quality does not always mean high priced but the pellets should contain at least 16% fiber to stimulate gut function and prevent diarrhea and hairballs. The major ingredient in rabbit feed should be legumous hay and is usually alfalfa.

To keep rabbit teeth worn down, supply your rabbit with twigs and branches for them to chew on. You might choose twigs from apple, fir, hazel, hawthorn, maple, pear, spruce or willow trees. You can also feed meat rabbits cuttings from blackberry and raspberry patches, including the leaves and fruit.

Don’t give your rabbits lots of cabbage and lettuce at once because it may disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the rabbit’s stomach, causing diarrhea. Corn, cauliflower and turnips should also be fed in moderation.

Meat rabbits can also be fed lots of different fruits and vegetables. Things which are good to feed them are: apples, bananas, blackberries, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumbers, endive, kohlrabi, melons, pears, plantains, pok choi, parsnips, pumpkins, radish greens, raspberries, strawberries, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watercress and even watermelon.

Or try a a variety of different herbs like basil, borage, chamomile, caraway, celeriac, chervil, coriander, dill, horseradish, lavender, marjoram, parsley, peppermint, sage and savory.

This is only a small sampling of what meat rabbits eat. To learn more, sign up for our newsletter. You’ll get a complete list of common plants, vegetables, herbs, fruits, twigs, flowers and more which are safe to feed your meat rabbits absolutely free. A complete list of unsafe foods is also included.

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  • Carol Pendergrass

    ok so what about feeding rabbits oak branches for their teeth gnawing. We live in TX and have lots of Pin Oak trees?

  • http://www.raisingrabbitsebook.com Tiffany

    Good question.
    Pin Oaks are often fed on by wild rabbits, but Oaks in general are on the UNSAFE food list. I think that’s due to the high number of tannins in the wood. The acorns and foliage are definitely restricted.

    Do you maybe have any Willow, Maple or Birch trees around? Those are safe for rabbits.

  • Doug Varney

    I have started raising meat rabbits for my consumption in March and I have kits within a few weeks of processing. I always give a small handful of freshly cut greens in the AM. They are literally jumping up and down when they see me coming with greens. The major green I provide is trefoil (a plant that my father helped develop at the University of Vermont many years ago). The bunnies seem to love this legume. My question is how much of this can I feed to the older kits. I would love to give them greater quantities after they are weaned and before processing. I am monitoring gastrointestinal output and see no issues so far. I realize that I will loose some meat production by changing the balance of pellets vs trefoil but if it makes the bunnies happy and healthy I am very willing to give up a few ounces of weight at slaughter. Do you have any recommendations?

  • http://www.raisingrabbitsebook.com Tiffany

    Hi Doug,
    Generally, rabbits can be fed as many grasses & legumes in their diets as they will eat…so if your pups are happily eating the trefoil now, I don’t see any problems with continuing to feed it to them in larger quantities as they grow. Yes, they may grow more slowly…but unless they are eating only trefoil as breeders (which will likely slow down production), I don’t think you’ll have any issues.

  • Doug Varney

    Thanks for the advice. I will be feeding both pellets and trefoil to the rabbits that I will process at 8 weeks as meat. I think that will keep us both happy.

  • Jules Tipping

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