Meat rabbit fattening

AmberLops

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Ridgetop

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You have to be careful feeding too many sunflower seeds or oats during the summer because they will make it harder for your rabbits to handle the heat and it will delay them putting on their winter coat when they need it. Cabbage can give a rabbit bloat, and too much alfalfa can cause bladder sludge.

I wouldn't feed Beefmaker cattle feed to rabbits. Although it is probably mostly grains and alfalfa in pelleted form, it is formulated for cattle not rabbits. Rabbits are a different type of ruminant, they are copraphagous. Instead of several stomachs, they eat their 1st soft poop and redigest it to get all the nourishment out of it. Feeds designed and processed for ruminants are expensive and a waste of money for rabbits since they will not get the benefits they need from that feed. Also, often cattle and horse feeds are sweetened with molasses to make them palatable. Rabbits don't need the sugar or iron in molasses.

I feed 18% alfalfa pellets to my breeding does. Some brands are better than others so I don't know what is available in our area. I also use a mix I make myself of oats, barley, calf manna, sunflower seeds. Mostly oats and barley, and I don't feed calf manna to bucks or growers, just to litters and lactating mamas (not more that 2 oz. daily of any grain mixture) Oats produce hard flesh (meat), calf manna helps hard working does produce milk, sunflower seeds have oil for coat This was the most economical and palatable mixture. Plain oats will work too to produce good body muscle. I fed 2 oz. each morning off the oats or grain mix. I fed 1 cup pellets per meat animal - (Cals or NZW type), up to 2 cups at kindling and during early lactation then from the time the kits were out of the nest box 1 cup per rabbit in the cage with an extra cup or so additional for the litter since some bunnies ate more than others and I wanted them all to have enough. Occasionally I fed the alfalfa hay for a treat since we had it for the horses, goats and sheep.

Gypsy has it right - genetics are the best way to make sure you have heavy meat production. Whether or not yu want to show your rabbits, you want a meat breeder to have the characteristics of a good show rabbit. The the show standard in meat rabbits breeds is entirely based on where the meat is on the carcass, and how much meat the rabbit carries. This is not fat, but good solid flesh. The show standard is not just for being pretty. It is a way to determine if the animal is a good example of meat, dairy, wool or fur production, depending on the breed/species etc. A poor quality meat animal will not ever "fatten" to the same weight a good quality meat animal will since their body structure and genetics will not produce it. You don't want your meat animals to put on fat, but rather to put on meat. As in any meat animal, knowing the show standard will help you choose good breeding animals. Those animals will produce litters of rabbits that carry the same good meat genetics.

You don't have to replace all your rabbits to get better genetics. If you can only afford one good show type rabbit, buy a buck and breed him to all your does. The buck is half the herd so by buying a good buck, you are replacing half your herd in just one animal. Keep the best does and then buy another good meat buck. In couple generations (no more than 2 years) you will have a barn full of good meat genetics that will not require specialized diets to build meat..
 
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