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transitioning to grass fed and what forage is an absolute no no?

Discussion in 'Feeding Time - Rabbits' started by ksaunders94, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. Mar 14, 2017
    ksaunders94

    ksaunders94 Chillin' with the herd

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    Hello again! So we appear to have our first case of cecal disbyosis in one of our babies. I believe I've got it early enough on, so we've thrown some timothy hay in there to hopefully get things more balanced. I believe this happened because we weaned too young, we found a lot of websites that said weaning at 4 weeks was safe however as this is the first time we have weaned at 4 weeks and this happened, I might beg to differ lol.

    But I digress, as often happens in my researching marathons, in looking up cecal disbyosis I stumbled upon full grass feeding or natural feeding rabbits. This was kind of a slap in the forehead moment for me, I live on 10 acres of wild growing untamed plentiful natural forage and grass, why the heck am I paying for feed?? I know they say the rabbits tend to grow slower, however we raise for personal use only and frankly if it's free feed I don't rightly care if it takes a little longer lol. So my question is, for people that have done it, what is the best way to transition them? And is there any forage I should absolutely positively avoid? I'm not well versed in what different plant types are and so it would be easier for me to research the no no ones so I recognize those then to pour over lists 100's of plants.

    Thanks for your time!
     
  2. Mar 14, 2017
    mysunwolf

    mysunwolf True BYH Addict

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    I've never had an issue with cecal dysbiosis but we only kept rabbits a few years.

    As to the grass fed thing: Here's a good discussion on feeding rabbits with forage. In that thread you'll also find links to my failed experiments with feeding rabbits this way.

    I would recommend harvesting forage for them and feeding it in their cages. Some of the safest foods are vines, shrubs, and trees of the right kind (ex. honeysuckle, apple, blackberry), whereas some of the most dangerous in terms of bloat are forbes and other low growing leafy things. This page seems to be a good resource on forage.

    When you transition them it must be very, very slowly. Start with a few leaves and work up slowly from there. Always keep a complete pellet and grass hay available to them during the transition.

    As for what kind of forage is good versus bad, stick with what you know to be safe until you learn more. As a general rule, what is safe for ruminants is safe for rabbits, though I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions.
     
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  3. Mar 14, 2017
    Pastor Dave

    Pastor Dave True BYH Addict

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    I have a grass-hayfield that I bale for my rabbits. It is fescue, Timothy, Red clover, some other wider blade grass, etc.
    They love it green, but dried is so much safer.
    If there's a weed that shows up in the bale as it scales apart and I don't recognize it, I just throw it away. It might be safe, but better safe than sorry.
    There are good sources to Google on what is and not safe to feed rabbits.
    Mysunwolf is right that they forage for similar to rumens. And, slow change is best.
    I do measured feeding of alfalfa rabbit pellets in the morning with some Calf Mana and BOSS, then free-fed hay at night.
    Hope this helps some.
     
    eggbert420, Marie28 and ksaunders94 like this.
  4. May 14, 2017
    mygoldendoe

    mygoldendoe Loving the herd life

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    Our hay is Timothy and orchard grass mix.
    We grow a garden of veggies and medicinal weeds specifically for our rabbits. But we still do measure of pellets daily to may sure we aren't missing any vitamin/mineral tho.
    Growing does cut down on pellet feed cost and you can dry for winter too.
    There are a ton of veggies,weeds,herbs and flowers they like along with their grasses so easy to choose from. Just double check what you want is what's good for them.
    I feed my just delivered breeders Shepard's purse to help with bleeding and internal issues and it's jam packed with vitamin k and others so is great for that depleted state. Dandelion, chickweed, purslane all great vitamins..
    Plantain, is great as anti bacterial and respiratory aid.
    Fennel is good for milk and antiparasitic
    Sow thistle and goats rue also good for milk
    And that's just the tiny list of super common stuff, you got loads more options. Im not much for fruit and rabbits but I am for apple branches from the tree
     
  5. Jun 6, 2017
    Marie28

    Marie28 Overrun with beasties

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    We have started adding more and more greens to our rabbits diet. They love Dandelion and the young fresh grass. I started looking up the different weeds using an identifier according to our state (google "identify Wisconsin weeds/flowers/plants") and then look up if rabbits can eat it. I watch there poop really closely. And we are slowly upping the greens while feeding less pellets. We are hoping to get to the point where pellets are used sparingly. From my research variety is key for natural based diets.