Prospects for growing own rabbit food?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Gomanson, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. Gomanson

    Gomanson Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 14, 2009
    I'll be getting a breeding trio of Silver Fox rabbits this spring, and I'm looking for some advice on feed. Here's the backstory:

    My big thing is trying to keep ongoing cost down. I don't mind a bit of start-up cost as long as the ongoing cost can be controlled. After all, raising livestock and growing vegetables and fruits is very labor intensive, and therefore should see some return in the form of cost-saving. (I realize that on the hobby scale, breaking even is all one can hope for, and that's all I'm really hoping for as well.) Our three laying hens would have just paid for their feed IF we would have sold every egg, which we didn't. From what I've been reading, raising rabbits for meat is a feasible way to make it worth the upkeep/feed cost. SO for the sake of argument, let's forget about the cost of building the rabbitry and the original price of the breeding stock. Let's also assume with a little luck and good motherly does the meat produced will pay for the feed consumed. Now, I'm looking for ways to decrease the feed cost, so raising meat rabbits actually saves me money on meat (not to mention the intangible benefits of raising your own meat.)

    I guess I'll start by asking about a rabbit's diet. I've read a range of things regarding this, from someone who uses 100% pellets to someone who grows their own hay and suppliments with kitchen scraps. There are several sources of good inexpensive Timothy and mixed hay where I live, so I'm hoping the answer is "it can be mostly hay" but I'll see what you all say.

    Regardless of your answers on that question, I also want to know more about growing hay on a small scale. I thought I read somewhere on BYC that a fryer can be fed up to butcher weight on a 5x5' plot of hay. Can anyone comment on this? I've never grown grain nor do I know anyone who ever has. Where can I get small ammounts of seed? Is the seed easily saved? How many cuttings do I get out of a season (in MN zone 4a)?

    Thanks for any input!
  2. Gomanson

    Gomanson Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 14, 2009
    Ok, this made it to page 2 with no replies. Does anyone have any suggestions for other active boards I could post this question on?
  3. chickbea

    chickbea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2007
    I'm afraid I only know of sites for pet rabbits, and I'm reluctant to mention any of them because I have been attacked by breeders on this board who don't like the pet boards.
    My own pet bunny lived for about 7 years and did just fine with pellets, hay, and whatever fruits and veggies I had around. You can certainly talk to your local feed store and buy in bulk as opposed to buying the little bags of commercial food, which can get expensive.
    Good luck!
    Have you tried the ARBA website?
  4. secuono

    secuono Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    I would also love to know this information!
    I have been letting our grass grow long, about a foot, then cutting it and letting it dry for a few days. Then I rake it all up and put it in a container. I'm using it for chickens, but will divide it with the new rabbits I am getting.
    I have no idea if dried yard grass is better or worse than fresh grass or store bought grass like Timothy.

    Can you PM me the forum you were talking about? Most 'pet rabbit forums' are very aggressive towards you if you breed your rabbits. They are more for decorative cages, spoiled rabbits than anything else. Kind of a shame, but what can you do? It's hard to find a 'rabbit breeding forum', haven't found one yet.
  5. SillyChicken

    SillyChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 12, 2010
    I'm just starting out with a small rabbitry... not sure about some of this stuff myself. My DB cuts hay for his horses so I trade a meat rabbt for several bails of hay.... keeps cost down for me. I do know my buns love apples!
  6. secuono

    secuono Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    I've got an apple tree, will give them those when they come in! What about pears?
  7. Gomanson

    Gomanson Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 14, 2009
    I think BYC is your best bet for this kind of info.

    I've read that Timothy is the highest nutritional value for rabbits but I guess my main question is how much of their diet can be made up of this hay? What is in the pellets that couldn't be grown at home?
  8. RabbitMage

    RabbitMage Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2009
    These are the ingredients from the primary feed we use:

    Suncured Alfalfa Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Whole Pressed Safflower Seed Meal, Rice Bran, Wheat
    Millrun, Ground Wheat, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Refined Soy Lecithin, Yeast Culture, Direct-Fed
    Microbials (Heat Stable cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, Bifidobacterium bifidium,
    Enterococcus faecium and Aspergillus oryzae), Hydrated Calcium-Sodium Aluminosilicate, Dried
    Yeast, Dried Saccharomyces cerevisiae Fermentation Solubles, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, d,l-
    Methionine, l-Ascorbyl-2 Polyphosphate (stablized Vitamin C), Yucca Schidigera Whole Plant
    Powder, Vitamin E Supplement, Garlic Extract, Anise Extract, Chinese Cassia Bark Extract, Ginger
    Extract, Horseradish, Juniper Extract, Rice Hulls (Vitamin Carrier), Naturally Preserved with Mixed
    Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract, Ascorbic Acid & Citric Acid, Copper Chloride, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A
    Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite (source of Vitamin K activity),
    Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Hydrochloride,
    Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, D-Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Manganese Sulfate,
    Choline Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylene Diamine Dihydroiodide (source of
    iodine), Sodium Selenite.

    The main ingredient in any good pellet is hay, but there's so much more to it than that.
  9. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    I am also researching how to raise rabbits. Here's a link about feeding rabbits and it has a grain recipe for feeding your own mix. Go down to the section titled "Feeding Rabbits". Also, within that is some stuff about the different types of dried plants (hay) for feeding. Like clovers, vetches, kudzu, etc.

    ETA: from the reading I've done so far, pregnant & nursing does and growing kits are fed the more caloric foods like the grain mixes and cracked peas, plus the usual hay/veggies... and bucks and non-pregnant does are fed hay/veggies, with very little of the higher calorie foods.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  10. Omniskies

    Omniskies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2008
    Alfalfa and timothy hay if you want to raise for production. If you check the typical rabbit feed, it will be mostly alfalfa hay, which will put a lot of weight on rabbits fast.

    We keep our rabbits on half the recommended pellets per day and give them all of the orchard grass hay they will eat (we can't find any timothy out here). Each one has a mineral/salt block in their cage, as well. Show rabbits and nursing mothers get calf manna as a supplement.

    We're probably going to be experimenting with an orchard/alfalfa mix and cut back on the pellets a little more. Eventually I'd like to keep the pellets for the show rabbits and have everyone else on hay. However, I won't do that if litter sizes fall or the fryers grow slower. It's just something to play around with this summer when the weather isn't so miserable and we have more fryers on the ground to fatten up for the freezer.

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