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RABBITS AND REDWORMS- Sustainability Above and Below!

Creme D Argents over worm bin

WORMS AND RABBITS TOGETHER

When raising rabbits if you have a few cages or a large rabbitry you can raise, grow, and harvest worms and compost under your rabbit cages or hutches. Raising worms under your hutches this will help control the smells and insects that can be a problem with the acculmated waste under the cages and hutches. The worms will reuse the rabbit manure and wasted feed from the hutches and turn it into a dark, nutrient-rich, finely-textured humus

Raising rabbits and worms together works so well because the nutrients in rabbit droppings and the wasted rabbit food and hay contains the perfect mix as a food source and as a bedding for the worms.  You can also raise the worms in compost bins or vermicomposting bins using the rabbit manure as a top dressing, for worm feed, and also as a worm bedding. Keeping worms under the rabbit cages also allows you to raise worms for fishing bait, chicken food, vermicomposting and this adds another bartering item you have on your homestead. This helps you to produce another potential source of income from your homestead and also improving your sustainability and another great fertilizer for your gardens.

Growing worms with rabbits is easy, I am in no way a worm expert. This post is what works for me in my rabbitry.  I have found that the best kind of worm to use under rabbit cages is the red worm or Eisenia fetida. They are also known as brandling  worms, manure worms, tiger worms, panfish worms, trout worms and many  other names. But whatever you call them, they are the best choice of worm for under your cages and for composting.

I started by building my worm beds underneath my existing rabbit hutches back in the early 80s.  I dug a trench under the hutches extending 6 inches out from the cages on all sides. Digging the trench about 12 inches deep to make my beds. This worked fine and I raised MANY worms for fishing bait using the trench system.

The rabbit cages should be at least three feet above the worm beds. I have also constructed beds under hutches and cages from 1x12s or 2x12s and putting them on their sides and screwing together to make a raised worm bed under the hutches. This can be built very inexpensively as the wood frame can be made from scrap lumber or pallets. Just try to make the worm bed about 12 inches deep. Remember to make the worm bed itself about four to six inches wider than the hutch or cage area to catch all the rabbit droppings, urine, and wasted feed. You can use the pit or trench system as mentioned earlier. It is best if you can add a base layer of sand or gravel for drainage this is weather you are using either the trench or raised bed method.

Placing 5 to 6 inches of bedding material in the bottom of the worm bed is sufficient for starting the worms. I use a mix of carbon type materials such as shredded paper or cardboard, leaves, hay, straw, and peat moss. Most worm growers prefer peat but I like what I can get around the homestead for free. I have found that the worms will general only use the top 6 inches of bedding unless certain circumstance’s make them go deeper, such as cold weather.

Moisten the bedding with water and let your rabbits do their thing until the surface is covered with 1 to 2 inches layer of rabbit manure. Mix the rabbit manure and bedding material together and wet it down. Rabbit manure is considered a cold manure, but by mixing the carbon and nitrogen materials it will generate some heat due to the natural composting processes, so keep mixing the bedding and lightly water it once a day for about 2 to 3 days.

On the third day, do the hand test by putting your hand into the bed to feel for heat. If the bedding material is hot, keep mixing it once a day until the heat is out of the bedding, Make shure it is cooled before you begin adding your worms into the beds. When the bedding is cool to the touch, you can add your worms. They should disappear immediately into the moist bedding material.

When starting the worm beds you should begin with 200 to 300 red worms per square foot of surface area.  You can add less worms, but they will not  work as effectively at turning the manure into compost. But they will reproduce, and soon you will have pleanty.

If you are raising the worms to sell, do not use more than 200 worms per square foot to allow the worms enough nutrients, room, and food to grow large. People will be lining up for you large trout catching  worms!

Worms cannot eat dry, rabbit manure, you will need to maintain a moisture level so the bedding is just damp enough to squeeze out a drop or two of water when you squeeze it.  Sprinkling the beds with water a few times a week will help to keep the bedding moist, but remember to skip by the areas under the automatic drinking valves, water bottles, or water crocks as they are usually already wet enough. In the summer time, you may have to water once or twice a day if the top of the worm beds dries too fast.

To maintain the worm beds you should add an additional inch of leaves, straw, or hay a few times each month and mix the beds with a pitchfork from top to bottom to avoid packed bedding. I will remove the urine spots from the worm pile with a shovel about once a week. This prevents the beds from getting too salty and hot for the worms. I add this urine soaked bedding to my compost piles. Leaving the urine spots in the worm bed eventually leads to a bad odor and insect problems.

After about six months you can start harvesting worms and saving the great fertilizer your rabbits and worms have made. I do this about once a year, I will remove half of the bed, save some worms and add the rest to my gardens. Then add new bedding just as you did when starting a new bed. Over the next few weeks the worms will move to the new bedding, and the old compost can be removed and sold, bartered, spread over a garden, or set aside to use later.

Do not harvest any worms for at least a few days after harvesting, and be sure to check the temperature and moisture conditions the following day. If the material is too dry or is heating up, water and mix again for the next few days.

If you plan to use your worm castings as a soil amendment, make sure that the castings are kept slightly moist and protected from sun and bad weather when storing. Poor handling, such as storing in areas leached by rainwater,  will result in a loss of the nutrients.

THE RED WORMS LIFE CYCLE

Red worms are hermaphrodites meaning that each worm is both male and female. It still takes two worms to mate as they can not reproduce on their own. When a red worm is sexually mature you will see the bulbous gland around its segments this is called the clitellum it looks like a swollen band about a third of the way down the body. It takes 3 months for a newly-hatched red wriggler to attain sexual maturity. Adult red wigglers secrete a number of egg cocoons after  mating, and after an incubation period of about 21 days, between 4 and 6  juvenile worms hatch from each cocoon. The cocoon is a small yellowish grain almost looking like a grain of rice.  As soon as they are hatched the worms are ready to start their diet of rabbit poop. The hatched worms first appear as a tiny thread like white worm. After about 8 hours they start to gain their hemoglobin and change to a pale pink then turning to a brick red color. It takes up to four months for a healthy and well-fed red wiggler population to double in number.

VERMICOMPOSTING

Vermicomposting is the process of using worms to convert organic matter to compost. This process is as old as time. This is happening in the forests and pastures every day naturally. By using worms under your hutches you are creating a controlled system of vermicomposting and you can harvest the worms for bins and the awesome worm castings.

One of the greatest pioneers in vermicomposting was a Michigan biology teacher Mary Appelhof who started the idea of home vermicomposting. In 1972, she realized she wanted to continue composting in the winter months despite living in a northern climate, she started with 1 pound of red wiggler worms, or Eisenia fetida, from a bait dealer. She created a shallow bin in her basement, loaded it with bedding and added her food scraps. By the end of the winter, they had consumed 65 lbs. of garbage and produced worm compost that resulted in impressive vegetables in her garden. Her book “Worms Eat My Garbage”  Is a must have book for the homestead library!  This is a great way to continue your soil production through the winter months. I have a few bins in my basement for holding my worms and composting in the winter, this is my added insurance in case all my outside beds die off in the winter.

WORMS AS CHICKEN FOOD

I have mentioned using your worms as fish bait and vermicomposting, But remember your chickens LOVE worms! It gives them  a great protein intake. I sometime have problem’s with my Silkies digging up the beds and eating lots of my worms . You can harvest a few worms and toss them inside the coops or runs for them to eat off the ground, or put them in bowls. But there’s also a better way to feed worms to chickens. You can choose to dry them, and then grind or crumble them. You can dry worms by placing them under an electric light bulb, in a oven, or inside a greenhouse. When they’re dry they are ready to be crushed or ground up, you can then add the crushed worm pieces as an additive to your usual chicken food supply. By drying the worms they are easier to save as a winter food source. Red Worms as a organic chicken feed can be a good idea for you to promote on your homestead. Even to sell and saving you money on chicken feed. Worm is about 80% protein.

If I have missed anything or you have questions, please leave some comments. I update my post all the time when I get new ideas or information. Join the Rabbit Revolution! By subscribing to my site and checking us out on Facebook

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GROW A SURVIVAL GARDEN NOW- for you and your rabbits!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are many preparations and skills needed for running a successful homestead in good times or bad. Now is the time to learn these skills weather you live in a urban, suburban, or rural setting, you can start by growing some food to feed your family and rabbits.

Start today by building your knowledge, library, and skills to handle all the chores needed to run a homestead. Start a garden, plant some vegetables, fruit,berry and nut trees, and of course start raising rabbits! This way you will to have the skills needed when the bad times may come.

As you learn these skills you eat healthy food, you save money, as less grocery’s are needed and no taxes are paid for growing your own (yet). Seeds cost little money and can be free if you learn to save your own.

It is because today we are so far removed from our food sources, that we must relearn these skills that our grandparents knew. This is also why some of our forefathers often screwed up and starved to death because of lack off knowledge and skills.

Let me start with saying when I first started gardening and raising rabbits that I have killed plants, lost rabbits, and had some failures and setbacks as I first started, but do not give up the results you get in the future are worth it. The time to make mistakes is now while you can still purchase food to replace your mistakes without starving to death.

Lack of experience is a big problem in the amount and consistency of your harvest. Even experienced gardeners have bad years. Nature can work against you bugs, drought, flooding and other weather related issues can cause a lack of production, as you gain experience you will learn how to overcome these issues.

Working a garden now also lets you learn what to grow and what you like the taste of. Also by using heirloom plants so you can save seeds and even develop a strain of plant that will grow better in your area. This is also true with rabbits and other livestock as generations of that animal grow they grow accustomed to that climate and produce offspring that will grow and produce better. By saving and breeding the best you will have the best. My favorite saying is “Save The Best, Eat The Rest”

Every year I try to grow something new in the garden and learn a few more skills. This year I am growing Black Oil Sunflower Seeds to make my own oil and feeding the rabbits and chickens the byproducts. I am working on making a small scale oil press in the workshop for the sunflower experiment. This year I am also trying to grow Yacon as feed for the family, rabbits, and chickens. This is not usually grown in my climate but it has been done.

You will need to learn when do you start seeds where you live and what planting zone your state is?
What is the date of first and last frost?
What grows well in your area or in your soil?
Will you and your faimly eat them?
What plants to grow for your rabbits?
Do you really want to wait to find out after the Shit hits the fan?
Do you have your hutches built for your rabbits? What about the materials and tools to build them with, wire, wood, sheet metal?
Do you have everything you will need for any emergencies for your family and your livestock. These are just a few of the things you should learn now.

You need to plan now for what animals you want to raise, You need to know which wild plants will kill you and your rabbits and what wild plants weed will feed you and your protien source. You will need to know about rabbits. What is the gestation A rabbit?, How to feed a rabbit without pellets?, When to breed your rabbits? All this information and more can be found on this website, our Facebook page, all the guest podcasts and blogs we have done, We are now launching our new RABBIT REVOLUTION RADIO SHOW and the new YOU TUBE stuff for July. I will be constantly updating this post as time goes on. Thanks for reading my stuff. Join The Rabbit Revolution by liking us on Facebook and listening to the radio show. Raising Meat Rabbits To Save The World!

BREEDING SCHEDULES

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you start with rabbits you should worry more about learning all you can about raising rabbits and not how many a year you can get, you will learn with your rabbits as they grow and go through their life cycles. Your rabbits will teach you lots more than I ever could!

Learn how to butcher, cut up a whole rabbit and the MANY rabbit recipes, find your favorite recipes and grow some of the herbs and other ingredients in them. Learn how to freeze, smoke, and even pressure can your rabbit meat. When you have all this information and experience under your belt, then you can worry about high production!

If you have a crazy work schedule (like me) there are ways to help with this so your does will kindle on certain days of the week.

If you breed your does on the weekend (do not forget to mark that day on your calendar) 28 days later put in the nest boxes. The 28th day should fall on the weekend again, this works out well if the weekend is when you do your weekly rabbit chores (cleaning cages, emptying drop pans, bleaching crocks and bottles etc.) and since you are working in the rabbitry is also a good day to put in the nest boxes. The doe should have her litter during the week on day 30 or day 31 after breeding (remember you marked the breeding date on the calendar!). This should be on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Rabbits will usually kindle at night so if you work days you should be home in time to check on the new litter. If doe doesn’t kindle by day 35 you should breed her again. This again should fall on a Saturday or a Sunday.

I breed my does on a Wednesday. This is because I work during the week and never know what time I will get home. This way the does will kindle on the weekend when I am home working on the homestead.

When I first started with rabbits feed was cheap and everyone was using pellets. I could breed some of my high production New Zealand’s to get 8 big litters a year. Now I am looking to be more self sufficient with my life and my rabbits. With this new change I raise less rabbits (easier to grow and harvest food for 10 rabbits than 50) and a more natural feeding program I am happy with 5 to 6 litters a year. The litters may be a little smaller but the cost and sustainability is priceless!

How many litters a year can I get from my rabbits? This question I get asked all the time. There are many factors including types of feed and hereditary factors. Here is a breeding schedule for the amount of litters a year you want. Remember raising rabbits is not perfect you many get a doe that misses, or loses a litter.

LITTERS A YEAR-
4 Kindle litter- Rebreed 60 days after kindling- Wean kits at 60 days- Kindle next litter 91 days
5 Kindle litter- Rebreed 42 days after kindling- Wean kits at 56 days- Kindle next litter 73 days
6 Kindle litter- Rebreed 28 days after kindling- Wean kits at 42 days- Kindle next litter 59 days
7 Kindle litter- Rebreed 21 days after kindling- Wean kits at 35 days- Kindle next litter 52 days
8 Kindle litter- Rebreed 14 days after kindling- Wean kits at 28 days- Kindle next litter 45 days

4 to 6 litters a year are more likely with a natural feeding program, 6 to 8 litters a year will require more management and the need for a high protein production pellet.

You should have a calendar in your rabbitry or a calendar in the house just for your rabbits, I have a large calendar hanging in my rabbitry so I can see when to put in a nest box, I put the cage numbers on the date when the nest box should go in and when they are due. Here is a gestation chart that I use all the time.

31 Day Gestation Chart

Jan—–Feb——-Mar——April——May——June——July——Aug——Sept——Oct——-Nov——-Dec——Jan
1———–1————–4———4—————-5———–5———6———6——–6———7———7———–8————-8
2———–2————–5———5—————-6———–6———7———7——–7———8———8———–9————-9
3———–3————–6———6—————-7———–7———8———8——–8———9———9———–10————10
4———–4————–7———7—————-8———–8———9———9——–9———10——–10———-11————11
5 5 8 8 9 9 10 10 10 11 11 12 12
6 6 9 9 10 10 11 11 11 12 12 13 13
7 7 10 10 11 11 12 12 12 13 13 14 14
8 8 11 11 12 12 13 13 13 14 14 15 15
9 9 12 12 13 13 14 14 14 15 15 16 16
10 10 13 13 14 14 15 15 15 16 16 17 17
11 11 14 14 15 15 16 16 16 17 17 18 18
12 12 15 15 16 16 17 17 17 18 18 19 19
13 13 16 16 17 17 18 18 18 19 19 20 20
14 14 17 17 18 18 19 19 19 20 20 21 21
15 15 18 18 19 19 20 20 20 21 21 22 22
16 16 19 19 20 20 21 21 21 22 22 23 23
17 17 20 20 21 21 22 22 22 23 23 24 24
18 18 21 21 22 22 23 23 23 24 24 25 25
19 19 22 22 23 23 24 24 24 25 25 26 26
20 20 23 23 24 24 25 25 25 26 26 27 27
21 21 24 24 25 25 26 26 26 27 27 28 28
22 22 25 25 26 26 27 27 27 28 28 29 29
23 23 26 26 27 27 28 28 28 29 29 30 30
24 24 27 27 28 28 29 29 29 30 30 31 31
25 25 28 28 29 29 30 30 30 31 1 1
26 26 29 29 30 30 31 31 1 1 2 2
27 27 30 30 31 1 1 1 2 2 3 3
28 28 31 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4
29 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5
30 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 6 6
31 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 7 7

To use this chart, find the month and day that the breeding occurred and then straight across to the next column on the right to determine the due date, this is based on a 31 day gestation. Remember that 31 days is the normal gestation time for most rabbits, but it’s not uncommon for does to kindle their litters from day 28 to day 32. I always put my nest boxes in at day 27 or 28.

JOIN THE RABBIT REVOLUTION! Start raising rabbits today! LIKE US ON FACEBOOK and get daily information on rabbits and homesteading. I am looking for more ideas for posts please email us at riseandshinerabbitry@hotmail.com and let me know what you want to read about. Working on RABBIT REVOLUTION RADIO a weekly online radio show about rabbits and more! Thanks for reading! May your litters be large and grow fast!

ARE THERE AFFECTS FEEDING RABBITS GMO FEED

If you follow my blog or my face-book page you already know what GMOs are, but here is the basic definition -Genetically modified foods (GM foods, or bio-tech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as genetically modified crops or genetically modified fish. GMOs have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are much more precise than mutation breeding where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. The scientist at Monsanto started inserting genes from bacteria and viruses into crops. That’s were they got a crop that could either survive a application of the company’s herbicide glyphosate (roundup) or produce its own insect killing pesticide. Coming soon the USDA will be approving Agent Orange resistant crops (this have been proven in studies after Vietnam to cause cancer and birth defects).

Research has shown lower levels of nutrients in crops sprayed with Roundup. These crops are specifically engineered to tolerate the herbicide Roundup, whose use has increased with the release of Roundup-Ready GM crops. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, decreases nutrient availability and uptake in plants. Some of these nutrients help plants and animals fight disease. Recent studies have shown a link between high rates of spontaneous abortions and infertility in livestock fed GM Roundup-Ready crops.

We know very little about the effects of genetically modified organisms on livestock and human health. Researchers in Italy have performed a study on some of the effects, and their results were released last year. They fed one group of pregnant goats rations with non-GM soybean meal and another group with GM Round up sprayed soybean meal. The mothers received this diet for two months prior to the birth of their kids. Then the offspring were fed milk only from their mother for 60 days. The results showed DNA from the GM Roundup-Ready soy in the blood, organs, and milk of goats. Also, the kids of the mothers fed GM soy had substantially higher levels of an enzyme, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), in the heart, muscles, and kidneys. Similar metabolic changes have been found in studies of GM-fed rabbits and mice, as well.

The word is spreading that rabbits fed pellets from company’s that use GMO grown products in the manufacturing of their pellets are getting sicker. Laboratory GMO fed rabbits have had organ damage, reproductive failure, high death of kits, stomach legions, smaller bodies and organs, low immune responses, and higher death rates. There is no actual facts that I have, just resource’s and articles I have found.

The way a rabbits digestive system works is that the beneficial bacteria that needed in the gut must flourish and adapt to their food source. If this bacteria is off it will cause all kinds of digestive problems such as enteritis, bloating, wasting away and more! If the bad bacteria starts flourishing this can cause coccidiosis and other problems. Last year I have had a rash of emails, phone calls, people stopping by the rabbitry to ask questions about problems with their rabbits. The only common factor in all these cases is the use of GMO pellets. Not just in one area (from California to Maine) or season (Spring to winter)! I do not believe that they are stress related. I am lucky to feed the lowest amount of pellets I have too, to keep my rabbits productive and healthy. By feeding rabbits a more natural diet and keeping a closed herd, has been the best thing for me and my rabbits.

A result in tests done on rabbits fed gmo soy-meal was released found Roundup Ready Soy Changed Cell Metabolism in Rabbit Organs, Rabbits fed GM soy for about 40 days showed significant differences in the amounts of certain enzymes in their kidneys, hearts and livers. A rise in LDH1 levels in all three organs suggests an increase in cellular metabolism. Changes in other enzymes point to other alterations in the organs. When cells are damaged in mammals, LDH levels are elevated. It is a key indicator of cancer, and LDH remains elevated after a heart attack. Increased LDH is associated with several other health disorders

A German farmer who had 65 cows die after he fed them genetically modified Bt corn has filed criminal charges against Syngenta, alleging that the company knew the corn could be lethal to livestock, and covered up deaths that occurred during one of their clinical feeding trials. Swiss bio-tech Syngenta committed a grave criminal offense by deliberately withholding the results of a feeding trial in which four cows died in two days. The deaths prompted the company to halt the test. No health problems or deaths were reported in the control group, which was not fed the genetically engineered Bt 176 corn.

Thousands of livestock deaths have also been reported across India, as a result of grazing on genetically engineered crops and feed.

Alfalfa is the number one forage crop in the United States. In January 2011 the USDA approved the release of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa, raising the prospect that some non-GM alfalfa will be contaminated by GM alfalfa by cross-pollination from bees (could this also be the health problem bees are having?). Soon the first cuttings of GM alfalfa will be harvested and fed to livestock and be in your rabbit pellets with the GMO soy products. I have been called a conspiracy theorists but is this a way to control the food supply. You will not be able to raise any animals without the use of GMOs. This is why I push the Natural diet for us and our rabbits! Please comment your thoughts and ideas!

NATURALLY FEEDING RABBITS

Domestic rabbits are descended from European wild rabbits and should have no problem with a non-pelleted diet that includes a variety of feedstuff. Older rabbit books are useful sources of this information. Let’s face it, pellets only came on the market after World War II.

If you are feeding pellets, I suggest you contact the feed company and ask for an ingredients list. Not just a nutritional breakdown, but a list of the actual items used. You may be in for a surprise. I was! Some years ago I asked for this list from one of the big-name feed companies that made it. I was shocked to find animal tallow among the ingredients, also listed was animal flour and animal fats. Rabbits are herbivores that eat mostly green food, grain and roots. Now what does a herbivore want with animal tallow, animal flour, and animal fat! I looked into it more and found that GMO grown grains and soy were also used in rabbits pellets. So now in most brands of rabbit pellets they include the GMO grown soy mill waste products as the main feed ingredient.

So I began to learn about feeding my rabbits a more natural type food program. By experimenting and watching the rabbits I have learned a lot, not all good! The rabbits are the best teachers and they teach you a lot. During the growing season, nature makes my rabbit food!

I am not knocking all pellets, some pellets are better than others and if you choose to use them just be informed. But there are alternatives if you are willing to learn. Most rabbits if given a choice prefer the hay and greens and will eat far fewer pellets. I have done this test myself and the feeder was always full of pellets when they had the option of a natural feed source over pellets. Where fryers are concerned, you will need to adjust your expectations slightly. Rabbits fed mainly on natural foods will grow a bit more slowly than those fed only pellets and may take a couple of weeks longer to reach butchering weight. But your overall cost per pound will be less and the fryers should have more meat and less fat. I think the reason they grow more slowly is related to protein levels, which are higher in pellets than in a diet of hay, greens and grain.

I should emphasize that I would never advocated this method of feeding in large rabbitries or for show rabbits or the commercial production of meat. It is a system best suited to the small homestead rabbitry, where the main goal is to provide good, healthy meat for one’s own table. Please, remember to be careful starting off. Natural feeding is great for the rabbits and great for the pocketbook, but you must take responsibility for doing the necessary homework to keep your rabbits safe. Please remember that while I am happy to share my observations on this topic and while I have had excellent results with supplementing commerical pellets with the green feeds listed on my webpage, I am still experimenting. Go slowly with your rabbits and be watchfull for problems. Get a good book on weeds if you are not knowledgeable enough to identify them without help. When in doubt, DON’T

Most of us started homesteading because we wanted to take control of what goes into the meat and other food that we eat. While it’s a whole lot more work, I think the only real way that we can do that is to completely ditch commercial mixtures and make or grow our own animal food from scratch. I truly think that feeding a variety of different foods is what is going to work in the long run, not some commercially prepared mixture based on some scientific guidelines which may or may not be accurate for the animals we are raising.

Natural feeding saves money but is more labour intensive. I like to save money, but I think my real motivation is the health, happiness and well-being of the rabbits. I am convinced it is very best for the health of the rabbits. Some of the results are the absence of digestive problems (No gut stasis or weaning enteritis! and the wonderful flavour of the “grass fed” meat). I have never had a rabbit that really loved pellets! Rabbits lead boring enough lives as it is, (unless they live in a colony setting more on this subject in a future post!). Why deny them the pleasures of fresh, varied, natural foods!

I now feed a combination of natural and pellets. If the source of natural food is good and fresh, it will make up for short comings in the pellets. I would just feed a natural diet if i had less rabbits and more time. I would like to stress that this method of feeding, was the only way to feed rabbits before pelleted foods were invented, it is frowned upon in today’s world and considered controversial by many. I have been getting very good results with it, but I am still always learning buy the best of teachers, the rabbits themselves! I have nothing but my own experience and some old books to base this on. If you wish to use this method you must expect to be vigilant and adaptable while you are learning what works with you and your rabbits.

I know that lots of people are going to choose to supplement with natural foods rather than feed them exclusively. There is nothing wrong with this, I do this myself. I feel it gives the rabbits the best of both worlds. I also think each breeder has to find what works best for themselves and their rabbits. Remember the sustainability of a natural food program may be the only way to feed your rabbits one day. So by just supplementing now, you will learn what works, how to grow, how to harvest, how to dry and store (for winter use) all the while getting your rabbits gut flora adapted to this “new” diet.

Rabbits digestive systems are perfectly capable of digesting the greens, but they must develop the proper flora in their GI tract and that does not happen overnight. Make your transition to greens gradually, working the amounts up from a few leaves to as much as you can find for them. In the wild, rabbits eat greens from the time their eyes open and suffer no ill effects. The greens are always fresh since they are growing when the rabbits eat them and because there is always more there is no tendency to overeat. I usually transition new rabbits over a period of two months. Most rabbits, given the choice, prefer the hay and greens and will eat far fewer pellets. Grass hay can be added immediately with no problems and should be offered at all times. It is really good for their digestion and will help prevent weaning enteritis in fryers.

What I try to do is work with the cycle of the seasons. So in the spring I would feed fresh small greens (dandelions, plantain, grasses, sprouted branches etc.). All what is growing in the spring and what is available in season. In the winter The wild rabbits don’t get as much “fresh food” they depend heavily on weed and grass seeds, standing grass “hay”, roots when they can get them, tree bark and buds. (In your climate the seasons are going to be different and you will learn to work with them. Your tough time may be in a season of drought while mine is the winter)

Foods during warmer months include a variety of sedges, grasses and other herbaceous plants. Important species include panic grass, plantain, dandelion, crabgrass, ragweed, croton, clover and lespedeza. Agricultural crops eaten during the summer include clover, alfalfa, soybeans, peanuts (the green plant) and garden vegetables.

Winter foods include honeysuckle, lespedeza, blackberry, greenbrier, a variety of grasses and dried vegetation. Bark, twigs and buds from sumac, black cherry, willow, holly and dogwood also are eaten. Agricultural crops consumed during the winter include rye, wheat, alfalfa, clover, corn, peanuts and ryegrass. Wild rabbits have been known to damage fruit orchards by eating the bark of fruit trees. Buds of seedlings in pine plantations also may be eaten during the winter.

Consider a day in the life of a wild rabbit. they would spend 70% of their time above ground searching out and foraging for food while keeping an eye out for predators. As a ground feeder, a rabbits diet would be mainly made up of grasses, hay, herbs and bark – all high fibre foods! Rabbits can not climb trees to get fruit, and they would not actually go around digging up carrots either. The rabbits territory would be around 2+ acres, meaning they would get a lot of exercise every day searching out food across that area. The rabbit’s whole existence has evolved around this high fibre diet.

Rabbits from different areas eat different diets they ate what was available in and around their surroundings. Marsh rabbits would feed on leaves and bulbs of marsh plants including cattails, rushes, and grasses. They can also feed on other aquatic or marsh plants such as centella, greenbrier vine, marsh pennywort, water hyacinth, wild potato, and amaryllis. Marsh rabbits make more year-round use of woody vegetation than other species of rabbits. The swamp rabbit eats reeds, plants, and grasses native to its marshy habitat. The Brush Rabbit feeds mainly on grasses and forbs, especially green clover, though it will also take berries and browse from bushes. The desert rabbit mainly eats grass, but will eat many other plants, even cacti. It rarely needs to drink, getting its water mostly from the plants it eats or from dew. So take advantage of what type of area you live in and feed your rabbits accordingly.

When the rabbits are in cages and dependent on people, the chances of problems increase. Most rabbits, will get used to eating greens over a period of a few weeks, they will not overeat or have problems digesting the greens. If you go slowly, feed some of the regulators (plantain, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry leaves) along with the other greens. (think salad bar) Always clear out any uneaten greens and you should not have any problems. However, it is good to keep in mind that rabbits, like people, can have individual sensitivities and tastes.

Even people in urban areas can grow rabbit food! Grow in containers, on balconies, in windowsills and you will be surprised how much you can grow. See if there is a community garden in your area, and if there isn’t one, maybe you could start one! Local schools would be thrilled if you started a project for kids to start a garden and grow their own food. You could incorporate a herb and weed bed to attract beneficial insects and feed your rabbits!

I’ve never heard of a rabbit over-eating on grass hay. Hay ( like timothy/clover ) is the foundation of the rabbits diet. Grass hay is very good for rabbits for GI tract health. It is not so high in protein so if you are feeding pellets, this is the best hay to use. Hay is used as fiber and keeps things moving fast thru the GI tract. I would be more careful with alfalfa hay however as it is much richer. When I am feeding alfalfa hay in winter, they get a limited amount of alfalfa hay and as much grass hay as they want. I know a lot of people say not to feed fresh alfalfa or alfalfa hay because it is “too rich” but if you are not feeding pellets or have cut way back on the pellets, alfalfa becomes a valuable food source. After all, it is a major ingredient in many brands of pellets, so why be afraid to use it. Feeding alfalfa and clover is probably the most controversial aspect of feeding rabbits naturally. Legumes are high in protein and calcium. Because there is already a lot of alfalfa in the pellets, when feeding a combination it is possible for the rabbits to get too much protein and calcium. Excess calcium can result in “bladder sludge” as the unused calcium is excreted. Drying alfalfa and clover is supposed to help, I suggest, however, keeping the amount of these two excellent greens down or not at all if you are also feeding pellets!

The rabbits certainly get more hay and less green feed in the winter. In the winter I grow wheat and other grain grasses (under lights in the house), I pot up some chard, make sprouts and also feed a lot of dried greens for them (that was harvested during the spring and summer months). Just as wild rabbits adjust their diet as winter comes and eat a lot more dried grass and tree bark and buds and less grass and weeds, so do my rabbits. If you have a lot of rabbits it really is going to be hard to grow enough. You may also be able to harvest some of your homegrown wheat or barley as hay, just as it forms the seed heads and store for winter feed.

The difference between grass and hay is Grass is usually cut green and growing- So it is low in fiber and high in protein. Hay- (especially legume hay) is often cut quite mature to maximize production and the mature grass is higher in fiber. Legumes like alfalfa are also stemmy. But hay will be lower in vitamins compared to fresh grass. Timothy hay is great for GI health and for nibbling pleasure but it does not have very much protein compared to alfalfa or clover hay. You may find you need to continue feeding some pellets to supply enough protein unless you can find some alfalfa or clover hay. A mix of alfalfa with timothy is great. If you are not feeding pellets, however, the rabbits have to get their protein somewhere else and this is where alfalfa or clover hay comes in. You don’t really want to double up on the protein, so it is not so good for pellet-fed rabbits. Rabbits can live on good hay alone, fed free-choice. I don’t recommend it, but it provides a baseline for planning. In winter, some grain is a good idea. I found that the does needed it when they are lactating. The dried greens are great for the rabbits they provide variety and interest and lots of nutrients. I think if you dry the same quantity that you feed fresh that seems as good a way of estimating as any. Don’t forget that you can also feed windowsill greens to the rabbits this will be another food source if you start to run low in late winter. Grain grass is the easiest and very fast-growing you can cut it several times before it starts to get straggly.

Vegetables should be introduced one at a time if your rabbit is young. Monitor their droppings to make sure that they can tolerate what they are eating. If you notice any changes, discontinue feeding that vegetable. Make sure your rabbits vegetables are always fresh. If it smells “off” or if you would not eat it yourself, throw it out. Greens and veggies could cause a problem if fed in massive quantities-the rabbit is a pig by nature-if the uneaten greens are allowed to wilt and spoil-if fed in too great a quantity when the rabbits are not accustomed to it. Organic vegetables are ideal for rabbits since they are so sensitive to pesticides and chemicals used on commercial produce. Whatever you choose, be sure to wash it thoroughly and pick it over for bugs.

A great variety of vegetables exists and most can be found in your local grocery store.(But remember we are going for sustainability so grow it or hunt for it). Dark, leafy greens should be fed at least once a day. Carrot tops, watercress, radish leaves, collard greens, beet and turnip tops, romaine lettuce, red and green leaf lettuce, endive, chard, and dandelions are some of the most popular (avoid dandelions or other safe feeds picked from roadsides or unfamiliar yards you do not want to give your rabbits a fertilizer or pesticide cocktail). Other vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes (without stems! stems and leaves of the tomato plant are toxic to rabbits), sugar peas and fennel. Rabbits especially like fragrant and tasty herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, arugula and mint. You can dry most of the greens mentioned. Yes, they wilt but then they dry like hay would. Once thoroughly dry they will keep through the next winter. This really helps for winter feeding.

Daily vegetables are a vital source of nutrition for your rabbits. Amounts fed will vary by the rabbit’s size, weight and preference. Some people feed vegetables both in the morning and evening, others alternate meals of pellets and vegetables. Some people mix a variety of veggies together like a salad (i do this), some feed one vegetable at a time.

Mangel beets should be stored before feeding, the old books say never the tops of the mangels for rabbits and never before Christmas. Feed mangels in moderation. Mangel beets, sugar beets and garden beets are all useful for feeding rabbits and are a great food that stores good for winter feed.

Plantain and blackberries. Both great as food for rabbits, both good fresh or dried and both an excellent remedy for diarrhea. Plantain is one of the very safest greens for rabbits and even young kits can eat it. I’ve dried raspberry leaves on the cane and it works well, but i think it might be better just to cut off the leaflets. The thorns on the blackberries are truly vicious.

I highly recommend red clover in a rabbit greens garden. You can get an awful lot of greens off a small patch and in season it recovers from a cutting in no time.

Sunflowers you can plant as thickly as you please and then pull the extra seedlings for an early spring green. Leave some a little longer and use them as “cut and come again” greens. Let the best ones mature for seeds. And they do provide shade once matured keeping the rabbits cool as well as feeding them you can remove leaves to feed during the summer I’ve never dried sunflower plants, but my rabbits love them fresh. No reason they couldn’t be dried. You probably lose a bit of nutrition drying them, but they are still excellent. An airy place in light shade might work better
and also dry and save the seeds.

Grape vines, even wild grapes, are another good feed plus shade plant

Many plants contain a naturally occurring chemicals called an alkaloids, which are mild toxins that protect plant in the wild. The one most talked about with rabbits is oxalic acid and it is completely harmless to animals or humans when consumed in small amounts. The amount of oxalic acid within each plant can vary significantly due to several factors including the composition of the soil the plant grew in, the time of year and the age of the plant. Most of the fresh vegetables we feed rabbits have a low to zero level of oxalic acid, but a few, most notably parsley, mustard greens and spinach, lambsquarter,comfrey have relatively high levels. (Note that kale, which is often implicated as a high oxalate food is actually very low in oxalates when young). The toxicity of oxalic acid comes with feeding large quantities of foods high in this chemical and can cause damage to the kidneys over time. These foods are nutritious and should not need be excluded from the diet if you feed them proplery.These vegetables should be fed moderately as they are high in vitamin A (that a rabbits needs!) I recommend feeding a minimum of at least 3 types of leafy greens a day (and only one of them should be from the group listed above) Don’t feed the same greens all the time from week to week if possible, mix it up. For instance if you feed parsley this week, then leave it out of the diet for next week and use something else. Rotating the greens will also give your rabbits better all around nutrition!

Never feed rabbits iceberg lettuce, rhubarb, raw beans, apple seeds, peach pits, potatoes or corn. These items can cause illness and even death. Likewise, never feed anything that you are uncertain about. Most rabbits love fruit, but it must be offered in small amounts due to the high sugar content. Peaches, nectarines, papaya, pineapple, apple, grapes (and raisins), pear, banana, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots and strawberries are some of the most popular fruits. A one-inch slice of banana, or two blackberries, is plenty for a treat. Be sure to remove any pits or seeds as they may be poisonous(Check out the February 2012 post SAFE FOOD LIST FOR RABBITS and POISONOUS PLANTS TO RABBITS)

Now that your rabbits are accustomed to greens, they can have a lot. Mine barely bother with their hay or grain when they have lots of greens and they do just fine. Baby rabbits that have access to greens from the beginning, when they first pop out of the nest box and begin tasting solid foods, should have no problems with greens. Also if the mother was fed greens while nursing, it seems to have gotten the kits to adjust early. They sort of “grow into them” as their taste for solid foods increases, just as with baby wild rabbits.

A holder or manger is best to feed your natural feeds to your rabbits, but sometimes I just stack it in a clean front corner of the cage. They don’t mess it up if you feed them only as much as they can eat before the next feeding.

You can also dry weeds and other plants in time of plenty for use in the winter. I did not get as much of that done last year as I should have and hope to do a lot better this year. I dry on racks and combine in tubs with grass hay I do not worry if the dryed herbs and greens are combined uniformly. I basically mix them and store in old grain bags or pillow cases ( Use the paper grain bags as they can breathe). I then have a small bin that I fill and keep in the barn with the feed (this gets used up fairly quickly). The seeds obviously want to settle to the bottom, so I give it (the bin) a shake to keep them mixed up. I make a Botanical blended hay for the winter rabbit “blahs” by mixing some of the regulators (plantain, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry leaves) with some dried fragrant herbs they love this stuff! You can dry things like rose canes, raspberry canes and weeping willow whips in bunches with the leaves on for winter use.

Greens can simply be air-dried for winter, but in a damp climate you must ensure that they don’t go moldy. Mold appears on hay or greens as a white powdery coating that will get into the air when disturbed. Not good for either you or the rabbits! Good air circulation during drying and storage in containers that breathe are good. Use large onion bags or pillow cases you can also just bundle larger branches and hang to dry. Those blackberry canes with the leaves on should dry well, as will willow whips with the leaves attached. Smaller plants and wonderful weeds like dandelion, chicory, sow thistle, mallow etc.(see the SAFE FOOD LIST FOR RABBITS for botanical names just be shure you are harvesting the right plant).They can be dried on screens or in onion bags.

Try to find a spot in breezy shaded area that would be ideal. NEVER store hay in closed plastic bags. Fresh hay still holds moisture that may mold if kept in plastic. Plastic garbage cans with lids are adequate for storage providing the can is not left in high heat or direct sunlight. Card board boxes or woven nylon feed sacks allow the hay to breathe rather than sweat. Hay in bales will stay fresh for a year or more but loose fill bags will become stale very quickly

Certain trees can be used as forage for rabbits and dried for winter use as well: willow and poplar are two that are excellent and easy to find. Their leaves are quite high in protein and the rabbits will eat the bark from small twigs and branches as well. Here ia a list of trees that I know are safe. These include: Alder, Birch, poplar, willow, sugar maple, silver maple, apple, pear, mulberry, sycamore, ash, hackberry, rose, and gooseberry are all good for rabbits. My rabbits love the tree branches! Especially when they are budding out. Any native safe listed tree branches are good for your rabbits, The rabbits will chew all the buds off, then peel the tender bark, then throw the stick around in their cage. So plant a weeping willow, They grow very fast and provide a lot of forage for the rabbits can also be used as shade for rabbits as well as a food source willow is high in protein, and very palatable to rabbits.

How much to feed that is the toughest question? You will need to experiment. Give them what you think is about right. If there are leftovers, cut back a little. If it is all gone, increase it a little until you know how much they will use. There will still be some waste, but not near as much as if you just feed it free choice. Rabbits are funny what you have to give them NOW is far more attractive than the same item that is already in their hay rack or dish. If you visit them twice a day, feed them twice, but only half as much. They will enjoy it more and waste less.

There are a number of unsafe/toxic food lists out there for rabbits, (also check our blog for POISONOUS PLANTS TO RABBITS) which one should be aware of when foraging for rabbits be shure to know what you are feeding rabbits! Oak leaves and pine needles in particular are tasty for the rabbits but not good for them Pine needles because they can cause tearing and internal lacerations if the rabbits don’t chew them fully and oak leaves, like apple seeds, can cause cyanide poisoning.

The useful wild plants for rabbits include young trees, leaves and shoots. Clovers and vetches are legumes (but watch out some of their seeds are poisonous). The useful wild plants are: coltsfoot, comfrey, chickweed, cow parsley, docks, sorret (sour dock), dandelion, fat hen, groundsel, heather, Plantain, Shepherds Purse, sow thistle, watercress, bind weed, celandine, wild iris, fool’s parsley, henbane, and lettuce.

This is just a quick list of what to grow or find for your rabbits natural food source-

Arugala, Basil, Beets, Borage, Brambles(raspberry,blackberry), Calendula, Carrot(feed the greens,the root as a treat as it is high in sugar content), Cattails–Cattails shoots provide essential vitamins such as beta carotene, niacin, thiamine, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin C. also has sodium which is good for rabbits on a natural food base diet,
Chicory, Cilantro, Dandelion, Fennel, Fenugreek, Filaree, Mint, Mustard (wild and domestic), Parsley, Plantain (one of my favorite feed for rabbits),
Queen Ann’s lace-(Daucus carota) is pretty much the same as garden carrots (Daucus carota sativa), just in its wild form. The foliage and roots are safe for rabbits, but mature flowers and seeds may certainly cause problems and may even be toxic.(I have learned the hard way with the flowers and seeds and have killed a few rabbits).The seed of Queen Anne’s lace has been used by humans for centuries as a birth control method. Not what you want for rabbits! If you cut your Queen Anne’s lace plants to the ground frequently, they will respond by giving a constant crop of lacy greens. Let some mature for next year’s crop. Queen Anne’s lace is a biennial,
Radish- One of the things I grow regularly for the rabbits is icicle radishes.The greens to the icicles get huge (unlike red,round radishes),and the rabbits love them. I pull up 3 radishes a day and throw the whole plant to the rabbits.They grow so quickly and can be planted in small spaces anywhere,
Red and green leaf lettuce, Rose, Spinach, Shepherd’s purse, Strawberries, Sunflowers-The rabbits LOVED them.leaves and seeds. I will be planting more sunflowers next year. The other benifit is that the mature plants provided shade and it helped shade the building where the rabbits are housed,
White clover, Yarrow, and lots more!

Do not forget flowers- dandelion, clover blossoms, marigolds all are well liked by rabbits, mustard, basil, borage, burnet, calendula (pot marigold), camomile, clover, coriander (cilantro), dandelion, dill, daisy, fennel, hyssop, jasmine, wild pansy, lavender, rose, rosemary, sage, sunflower, thyme, plantain. Rabbits are built to eat grass, and only supplement their diet in the wild with leaves, vegetables, bark, flowers, etc., when available or they are particularly hungry. Flowers are very high in sugars and should only be given as the occasional treat. And some may be poisonous, so if in doubt,don’t

WINTER FEED IDEAS-
Dried plants saved from summer provide variety and extra nutrients. Still, rabbits crave fresh, green foods in winter. Rather then feed them expensive fresh foods from the store on a regular basis, try some of these ideas.

GROW GRAIN GRASS: Fresh foods are nice for the rabbits and I buy some dollar store rectangular dishpans, put about two inches of soil in them and plant grain: wheat, rye, oats. I don’t bother with drainage holes. It’s the same idea as growing “cat grass” but on a larger scale. When the grass is about four inches long you can start harvesting it and you will get several harvests from one tub before it gets discouraged. Then just start over. You will want more than one on the go so there is always some grass ready to cut.

SUNFLOWER SPROUTS: Another dishpan, this one planted with sunflower seeds. Start cutting them once they have true leaves or let them grow on for a bit. Replant as needed.

POT UP WEEDS: A dishpan of transplanted weeds – especially dandelion and plantain – will give your rabbits tasty nibbles all winter. Try to find small plants as they are easier to transplant. Sprinkle on some of those dandelion seeds too, but they wil take much longer to establish themselves.

FORCE TWIGS: Twigs cut from safe trees can be fed to the rabbits all winter long, They relish the bark and buds and it is good for their teeth. It should also be possible, however, to bring some twigs inside and put them in a jar with a couple inches of water. It will take a bit of time, but they will break dormancy and begin to leaf out. When ready to serve, remove the part that was sitting in water.It could have mould,or bad bacteria on it.

SWEET POTATO VINE: In spite of their name, sweet potatoes are not from the same family as regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes have edible vines and leaves. You can start them by pushing in toothpicks so that only the base is in water. They will soon sprout and send up lots of edible greens.(I remember doing this in school as a youngster)

WASTE FEED- Trimmings from the kitchen meals

I have fed my rabbits lot’s of natural feed sources for over my 30+ years of raising rabbits and have learned a lot! I am always looking for new ideas to feed rabbits without an outside food source, So any input or new ideas are welcome! I am planting more and trying new ideas all the time. I am now putting together some package of seeds and will offer them as a Rise And Shine Rabbit Garden These will be ready this January for spring planting I am also making up packets of fodder seed for rabbits so you can grow your own rabbit hay. Writing up posts for GROWING A RABBIT GARDEN and GROWING HAY FOR RABBITS to be ready with the seeds!

PELLETS AND NUTRITION FOR MEAT RABBITS

Rabbits are inexpensive and easy to feed, if you are only raising 3 does and 1 buck for a backyard food source, pellets are fine and will raise you lots of good tasting healthy meat.

Most brands of commercial pellets are locally available and you could feed your rabbits just a good quality pellet for life and your rabbits would have happy healthy life. But knowing what a good pellet is can be more troublesome.

Every rabbit breeder has a different opinion! On how much protein, or fiber, or whether corn can be used as an ingredient, or not, or will a GMO infested soy product affect your rabbits. But remember there are benefits to feeding your rabbits pellets!

The consistent ingredients and known nutrient balance and the inclusion of salt, so no salt/mineral lick is needed. Most rabbit pellets also contain Copper Sulphate which will help fight off intestinal parasites that can make your rabbit sick. So make sure to check your feed labels and be informed!

It is hard to beat a quality pellet for rabbits for the best performance (high production) in your herd. Pellets are designed to grow a healthy rabbit in the most economical way. Even using lower priced pellets may not save in the long run as they are most likely made up with lower quality ingredients. I do feed pellets (alfalfa based only no corn ever) as the main diet in the winter.

I  supplement with whole oats, grass hay, any dried greens I have stored, an occasional fruit treat, apple tree and grape vine trimmings. Remember rabbits are herbivores that eat mostly  dried and fresh grasses, safe weeds, veggies, and herbs supplemented with grains, barks, twigs, and roots.

I do however, in the growing season use pellets as a supplement, with a great deal of their diet devoted to harvested greens, weeds and grown crops just for the rabbits- The rabbits would much rather eat the natural feeds which the rabbits prefer! (imagine that rabbits wanting to eat like rabbits) I like providing the pellets to be sure they have the vitamins they need! Harvesting the natural feeds twice a day DOES require time AND KNOWLEDGE.So learn and know what it is you are feeding your rabbits!

This method works for me and helps out with the feed budget. I grow rabbits for meat and the only compromise I have seen for feeding naturally this way is slower growing rabbits. So, if meat rabbits are your objective, and you want fast and high production stick with pellets and good MUST HAVE grass hay. If you are homesteading and want to raise your own, take the extra time do your research! I have a post I am still tweaking on natural feeds for rabbits, such as greens, weeds etc. I just wanted to get some information on pellets out first.

Here are a few tips on selecting a good rabbit pellets-

Never buy rabbit pellets at a pet store. They are only available in small bags and for the same price you can get a 50lb bag at a feed store. The feed at the feed store is usally a better quality pellet and contains none of the candy pieces in the mix.

Avoid corn as an ingredient. A few pellet brands have corn as an ingredient and none of them have very much. The corn itself poses no problem to rabbits, but there is a type of mold that is not uncommonly found in corn that is toxic to rabbits. Most places do test their corn before milling. Corn is also a GMO grown and round up sprayed food crop. Do you really want your rabbits eating this.

Look at the pellets they should be uniform in size and consistency. The color should be green and smell fresh there have been stories of people raising rabbits and getting a bag that didn’t quite look right, because the manufacturer mistakenly filled bags of rabbit pellets with a unknown livestock feed. If you have been using the same feed for a while and something is different you are probably right call the manufacturer or feed dealer before you use it.

Remember no major feed company is going to make any bad feed intentionally

Check the mill date on the bag. Rabbits like fresh clean pellets! Avoid feed with dates older than a 2 months.

Always use the same brand and type of pellets. Do not go changing brands of feed because one is on sale that month. If you do change you must mix the old feed with the new feed to get the rabbits digestive tract used to the new feed. Make sure you have enough of the old feed to slowly change over to the new feed. do this gradually, over a period of at least one week preferably two if possible. Some rabbits do not do well to the sudden change in feed and could cause digestive problems. When you buy a rabbit from a breeder, or if you sell a rabbit to someone, should include a small amount of the current food until they can get the same brand or so you or the new rabbit raisers can make the change.

The rest is simple the protein/fiber percentages that no rabbit breeder can agree on what is the best. But if you’re breeding rabbits, a 16% protein pellet will do just fine. Rabbit food must contain 16% protein at least to build the tissue in growing kits. But a 18% for nursing does helps with milk production and the pregnant doe also needs extra protein to produce her quick growing litter(inside her). Alfalfa is an equally good source of protein if fed right. Always look for the highest amount of fiber content you can find in a pellet.

The amount that rabbits are fed depends on your rabbits and the conditions you keep them in. They need more food in cold weather and less in hot. It’s also good to get in the habit of checking your rabbits body condition by feeling how lean or how fat they are. You need to get a feel for what a healthy rabbit looks and feels like. With full grown Bucks or does you are not currently breeding, you want to limit how much you feed them. You do not want fat rabbits it will reduce the does fertility and make lazy bucks. Adult rabbits will eat about four ounces a day, and does with young need about eight ounces.

For a meat breed, about 1/2 to 1 cup a day (depending on each individual rabbit). For pregnant or nursing does, and any growing kits you should feed them as free feed another contriversial subject. This is where breeders agree or disagree because more protein usually means that rabbits grow larger, faster and do not have to be free fed.

But you don’t have to feed your rabbits JUST pellets. Many additions and treats can benefit your rabbits health.

Grass hay: In addition to being used by a doe to make her nest when she gives birth, grass hay is great to feed your rabbits daily. It’s high in fiber which aides in digestion. But you want to avoid feeding your rabbits straight alfalfa hay. Alfalfa is not a grass, it’s a legume and often fed to horses, goats, cows and other ruminants to add protein to their diet. Plant protein is good for rabbits, but alfalfa also contains a comparatively high amount of calcium. High calcium levels can cause urine of a “sludge” constancy and eventually kidney stones. Timothy grass is great, but brome and orchard and any other horse quality hay is good. A grass/alfalfa blend is also fine. Oat grass is also fantastic and can be found at feed supply stores that cater to horse owners.

Oats and/or barley: These are great for growing kits as they’re easily digested for the newly weaned. Some people will keep a separate dish of oats in a cage with young (2+ weeks old) kits. It’s best to use uncut, unrolled oats or barley.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (or BOSS). These are common in the bird feed section and really do a wonder on rabbit coats. If you want to show your rabbits, giving them a tsp. of BOSS a day is a great idea.

Alfalfa or hay cubes: these are compressed cubes of alfalfa or hay that also have molasses and are squished into hard cubes. Great for chewing and wearing down rabbit teeth (remember that rabbits teeth grow constantly). Small bags can be found in rabbit sections of feed stores but if you want a better value, look for larger bags in the horse section.

Calf Manna: This is in a class on its own. Calf manna is a brand of supplement designed to promote milk production in many different species of animals. A couple tsp. of Calf Manna a day for pregnant or nursing does can be a great way to make sure she’s making enough milk for her kits (meat breeds generally have very large litters) and make sure she maintains good body condition throughout pregnancy and nursing so you can breed her back sooner.

Dried or fresh fruit (apples, bananas, pineapples, mango, papaya, oranges). This is good as a treat, but shouldn’t be fed in any large quantity. Feeding pineapple can help treat a condition known as “fur block” which happens when a rabbit ends up consuming too much of its own fur and causes a block in their digestive system. Papaya is also used to reduce the odor of rabbit urine, if you find that’s a problem with your rabbit.

Fresh vegetables and herbs: The list is to long for this post- Check out THE SAFE PLANT LIST on the web page, Here are a few, Radish greens, sunflower leaves, beets greens, and roots, carrot tops , dill, mint, comfrey etc! I have been writing up a post on naturally feeding rabbits! Check back soon.

Weeds, lawn trimmings and bush trimmings- The useful wild plants for rabbits include young trees, leaves and shoots (make sure they are on the safe list!). Some of the useful wild plants are- Comfrey, chickweed, cow parsley, docks, cattails, dandelion, Plantain, Shepherds Purse, sow thistle, watercress, (check the safe list on the web page and get a good book to identify your weeds in your area) Rabbits love dandelions so much that you might find yourself growing them in your yard (on purpose). They like fresh grass cuttings too. A lot of people will create a little pen of wire fencing or use a dog crate in their yards to let rabbits roam around and forage (while their owner cleans cages) this is great but make sure that there are no poisonous weeds available to them! Another option is the rabbit tractor more on this setup in later posts.

Carbohydrates: Provide energy- rabbits will balance their own ration when they can. They will eat more food if it is low in energy and less if it is high, if they are given the choice, but a high energy diet could produce a deficiency of other nutrients. To many carbs will slow do the digestive tract so be careful

Fiber: Wild rabbits eat more fiber than tame rabbits. Young rabbits require less fiber than the adult. Adult rabbit food must contain at least 25% fiber. Find the pellet with the highest fiber possible!

Minerals: Rabbit food contains all the minerals except cobalt.

Vitamins: The last part of a rabbit’s intestines contains bacteria which produce vitamin B-complex and vitamin C. So the Vitamins A, D and E are needed in the diet and should be in your pellets.

It is important that your rabbits are not overfed, so it is easier to regulate the diet if you feed them twice a day. Fermented and sour food is very bad for a rabbit. If pellet food is used it is said to increase their weight three ounces a day.

Hope this was something you wanted to know and helpful, Stayed tuned for more in the next few days! Join The Rabbit Revolution -LIKE US ON FACEBOOK- subscribe to the web page for updates as they are posted!

SAFE FOOD LIST FOR RABBITS

Safe Food for Rabbits-
This is as comprehensive a list as I can come up with, I may have left a few things out and would be happy to hear from you, i will add them and will post comments to this page! The names given are the common names, and I’ve given all the ones I know. However it is not a guide to the nutritional value of these foods and as always when starting rabbits on a natural feeding program go slow so the gut flora can adapt to the new feeds you are feeding your rabbits.
RABBIT SAFE FRUIT-
(Feed very, very sparingly… Super sugary! Up to 2 tbsp daily) :
Apple (NO core or anything containing seeds, unless all seeds removed)
Apricots (NO PITS)
Banana (fruit and peel)
Blackberry (stem, leaf and fruit)
Blueberries
Carambola
Cherry (NO PITS)
Cranberry
Currant (black and red)
Cucumber
Grapes (fruit, leaf and vine are edible)
Huckleberry
Kiwi Fruit
Mango
Nectarine
Orange (NO PEEL- segments only)
Melon (all melons)
Papaya (NO SEEDS)
Peach (NO PITS)
Pear
Pineapple
Plum (NO PITS)
Raspberries (twigs, and leaves – astringent)
Rose hip
Starfruit
Strawberries (and leaves)
Tomato (red fruit ONLY; no stems or leaves)
Tangerine (NO PEEL – segments only)
Watermelon

RABBIT SAFE VEGETABLES-
Alfalfa Sprouts
Artichoke Leaves
Arugula
Asparagus
Baby Sweet Corns (like in stirfry)***
Beet Greens
Beetroot
Bell Peppers (green, yellow, red, orange…)
Bok Choy/Pak Choy
Carrot Greens (tops)
Carrot (limited amount, due to high sugar content)
Celeriac
Celery (cut into small pieces to limit choking on strings)
Cucumber
Chard
Chicory Greens (aka Italian Dandelion… see discussion here )
Clover (WHITE only)
Collard Greens (be cautious, may cause bladder sludge (high calcium)
Dandelion Greens (no pesticides)
Eggplant (purple fruit only; leaves toxic)
Endive
Escarole
Grass (if cut from your own chemical/fertilizer/poison free back yard-I spread it out and dry it)
Kale
Lettuce (Dark Green/Red Leaf, Butter, Boston, Bibb, or Romaine – NO ICEBERG [no
nutritional value, may cause diarrhea])
Mustard Spinach
Nappa/Chinese Cabbage
Okra Leaves
Pak Choy/Bok Choy
Pumpkin
Radicchio
Radish tops (Limited amounts: can cause gas)
Raspberry Leaves
Rhubarb (RED STALKS ONLY – POISONOUS LEAF)
Squash: Yellow, Butternut, Pumpkin, Zucchini
Swiss Chard
Turnip Greens
Watercress
Wheat Grass
Zucchini

SAFE IN MODERATION:
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Kale
Mustard Greens
Spinach

SAFE FOODS:
Agrimony
Alfalfa
Apple
Avens
Balm
Banana
Barley
Basil
Beetroot
Blackberry
Borage
Broccoli
Buckwheat
Burnet
Camomile
Caraway
Carrot
Celery
Celeriac
Chervil
Chicory
Chickweed
Chinese leaf
Cleavers
Clover, WHITE
Coltsfoot
Comfrey-I feed fresh young leaves and also dry for winter tonic, but most breeders say they feed it slighty wilted
Coriander
Corn marigold
Corn spurrey
Cow parsnip
Crosswort
Cucumber
Dandelion
Dead-Nettles
Dill
Dock BEFORE FLOWERING
Endive
Fat hen
Fennel
Goosefoot
Goosegrass
Goutweed BEFORE FLOWERING
Ground elder BEFORE FLOWERING
Hawkbit
Hawkweed
Heather
Hedge parsley
Horseradish
Jerusalem artichoke
Knapweed
Knotgrass
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lovage
Mallow
Marjoram
Mayweed
Maywort
Meadowsweet
Melon
Milk thistle
Mugwort
Nipplewort
Oats
Orache
Oxeye daisy
Parsley
Parsnip
Peas
Pear
Peppermint
Pigweed
Plantain
Pumpkin
Purslane
Radish GREENS
Raspberry
Sage
Savory
Sanfoin
Shepherd’s purse
Silverweed
Sow thistle
Soya
Strawberry
Swiss Chard
Tare
Tomatoes(fruit only leaves and stocks toxic!)
Trefoil
Vetch
Vine leaves
Watercress
Watermelon
Wheat
Yarrow

SAFE TREE AND SHRUB LEAVES-Should always feed only fresh young leaves:
Acacia
Apple
Beech
Birch
Blackberry
Cherry
Hazel
Horse Chestnut
Lime
Mountain Ash
Mulberry
Pear
Poplar (not black)
Raspberry
Strawberry

SAFE TWIGS-
Apple
Birch
Blackberry
Fir
Hazel
Hawthorn
Maple
Pear
Raspberry
Spruce
Willow

SAFE FLOWERS-
Aster
Daisy
Geranium
Geum
Helenium
Hollyhock
Honesty
Marguerite
Marigold
Michaelmas daisy
Nasturtium
Rose
Stock
Sunflower

SAFE HERBS-
Basil: Lemon, Globe, Thai, Mammoth, Sweet, Genevieve
Borage
Camomile
Caraway
Clover
Chervil
Comfrey
Coriander/Cilantro
Dill: Fernleaf, Mammoth
Fennel
Garden Cress
Groundsel
Lavender (Not for pregnant does; can cause fetal expulsion)
Lemon Balm
Lovage
Marjoram
Mint: Pineapple sage, pineapple mint, apple mint, orange mint, peppermint, lemon thyme, cinnamon basil, lime basil, lemon basil, sweet basil, licorice basil, “licorice mint” (anise hyssop), spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, and basil mint.
Oregano
Peppermint
Parsley: Curly and Flat-Leaf
Rosemary
Sage: Pineapple is quite good
Salad Burnet / Small Burnet
Summer Savory
Tarragon
Thyme

POISONOUS PLANTS TO RABBITS‏

Many plants listed here are not all poisonous, only parts of them are. Apple is a good example: the seeds are poisonous, but the fruit is perfectly fine for rabbits. Read the complete listing of the plant to get details regarding which parts to avoid. If no parts are listed, assume that the whole plant is poisonous and should not be in fed to your rabbit.

Acokanthera (Acokanthera)-fruit, flowers very poisonous

Aconite (Aconitum)-all parts very poisonous

African rue (Peganum harmala)

Agapanthus (Nerine bowdenii)

Aloe vera (Aloe vera)

Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum)

Amanita (Amanita)-all parts

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)-bulbs

Amaryllis belladonna (Brunsvigia rosea)-bulbs

Anemone (Anemone sp.)

Angel trumpet tree (Datura, Brugmansia arborea)-flowers, leaves, seeds

Anthurium (Anthurium)

Apple (Malus sylvestris)-seeds contain cyanide

Apple leaf croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)-pits contain cyanide

Arrowgrass (Triglochin sp.)

Arrowhead vine (Syngormon podophyllum)-oxalates

Asparagus fern (Asparagus sprengeri)

Atropa belladonna (Atropa belladonna)-all parts, esp. black berries

Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale)-corms

Avocado (Persea americana)

Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale)-all parts fatal

B

Baccharis (Baccharis sp.)

Balsam (Impatiens balsamina)-whole plant

Balsam pear-seeds, outer rind of fruit

Baneberry (Actaea alba, rubra, spicata)-berries, roots, foliage

Beach pea (Lathyrus maritimus)

Beargrass (Nolina texana)

Beefsteak plant (Perilla frutescens)

Begonia (sand)

Belladonna, Atropa (Atropa belladonna)-all parts, esp. black berries

Belladonna lily (Brunsvigia rosea)-bulbs

Betel nut palm (Areca catechu)-all parts

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia poinciana)-seeds

Bird of paradise bush (Casesalpinia gilliesii)-seeds, pods

Bittersweet (Celastrus, dulcamera)-berries

Bitterweed (Hymenoxys odorata)

Black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)-bark, sprouts, foliage

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)-leaves, berries

Black root

Bladderpod (Sesbania vesicarium)

Bleeding heart (Dicentra)-foliage, roots

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Bluebonnet (Lupinus spp.)-all parts

Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Blue-green algae-some forms toxic

Bog Kalmia (Kalmia)

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

Bottlebrush (Callistemon)-flowers

Boxwood (Buxus sp.)-all parts

Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)

Branching ivy (Hedera helix-Weber’s California)-all parts

Broomcorn (Sorghum vulgare)

Broomweed (Gutierrezia microcephala)

Buckeye (Aesculus)-sprouts, nuts

Buckthorn (Amsinckia intermedia)-fruit, bark

Bull nettle

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Burroweed (Haplopappus heterophyllus)

Buttercup (Ranunculus sp.)-all parts

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

C

Cactus thorn

Caesalpinia (Poinciana)-seeds, pods

Caladium (Caladium portulanum)-all parts

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Calico bush (Kalmia latifolia)-young leaves, shoots are fatal

California fern (Conium maculatum)-all parts are fatal

California geranium (Senecio petasitis)-whole plant

California holly (Heteromeles arbutifolia)-leaves

Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopiea, Calla palustris)-all Parts

Candelabra cactus

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)-all parts

Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)-all parts

Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium)-whole plant

Carolina Laurel Cherry (Prunus caroliana)-all parts

Casava (Euphorbiacea)-roots, sap

Cassine (Ilex vomitoria)-berries

Castor bean (Ricinus communis)-seeds are fatal, leaves

Century plant (Agave americana)

Ceriman (Monstera deliciosa)

Chalice vine-all parts

Cherries, wild and cultivated-twigs and foliage are fatal, bark, pits

Cherry, Jerusalem (Solanium nigrum/eleagnifolium/ pseudocapsicum)-fruits, leaves

Cherry laurel (Prunus var.)-all parts are fatal

Cherry, Natal (Solamon)-berries

Chestnut, Horse (Aesculus)-all parts

Chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach)-berries

Chokecherry (Prunus serotina)-withered leaves

Christmas berry (Heteromeles arbutifolia)-leaves

Christmas candle-sap

Christmas rose (Helleborus niger)-all parts, esp. leaves

Cineraria (Senecio hybridus)-whole plant

Clematis (Clematis)

Cloak fern (Notholaena sinuata var cochisensis)

Clover, Alsike (Trifolium hybridum)

Cocklebur (Xanthium sp.)

Coffeebean (Sesbania drummondii)

Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Colorado rubberweed (Hymenoxys richardsonii)

Columbine (Aquilegia)-all parts

Common privet (Ligustrum)-all parts

Coral berry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)-seeds

Coral plant (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)-seeds

Cordatum (Philodendron oxycardium)

Corn cockle (Agrostemma githago)

Corn lily (Symplocarpus foetidus)-all parts

Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans massangeana)

Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster)

Covotillo (Karwinskia humboldtiana)-berries

Cowslip (Caltha palustris)

Crab’s eye (Abrus precatorius)-seeds are fatal

Creeping charlie, except houseplant (Glecoma, Nepeta hederacea)

Cress/Crucifers/Mustards (Cruciferae-Brassica Raphanus, Descurainia spp.)

Crocus (Crocus)-corms

Crocus, Autumn (Colchicum autumnale)-corms

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum, Euphorbiacea)

Crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milli)-leaves, flowers

Crown vetch (Astragalus sp.)-all parts

Crow poison (Amianthium muscaetoxicum)

Crucifers/Cress/Mustards (Cruciferae-Brassica, Raphanus, Descurainia spp.)

Cuban laurel (Ficus spp.)

Cuckoopint (Arum maculatum)-all parts

Curcas bean-seeds, oil

Cutleaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa)

Cycads (Cycas spp., Zamia spp.)

Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)

D

Daffodil (Narcissus)-bulbs may be fatal

Daisy (Chrysanthemum frutescens)

Daphne (Daphne mezereum)-berries are fatal

Datura (Brugmansia, all species)-all parts

Deadly amanita (Amanita)-all parts

Deadly nightshade (Solanum nigrum)-all parts, unripe fruit, foliage

Death-camas (Sygodenus venesii, Zygadenus nuttallii)-all parts poisonous, roots fatal

Death cup (Amanita phalloides)-all parts

Delphinium (Delphinium sp.)-all parts

Desert tobacco

Destroying angel (Amanita phalloides)-all parts

Devil’s ivy (Scindapsus aureus, Epipremnum aureum)

Devil’s tomato (Solanum eleagnifolium)-all parts

Dianthus (Dianthus)-all parts

Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia)-all parts, esp. sap

Dogbane (Apocynum sp.)-leaves

Dogwood (Cornus)-fruit slightly poisonous

Doll’s Eyes (Actaea alba, rubra, spicata)-berries, roots, foliage

Dracaena palm (Dracaena sanderiana)

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)

Drymary (Drymaria pachyphylla)

Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia amoena)-all parts, esp. sap

Durra (Sorghum vulgare)

Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra)-foliage, roots

Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia durior)

E

Eggplant-all parts but fruit

Elaine (Codiaeum elaine)

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)-all parts

Elephant’s ear (Colocasia esculenta, Philodendron domesticum, Caladium hortulanum)-all parts

Emerald duke (Philodendron hastatum)

Emerald feather (Asparagus sprengeri)

English ivy (Hedera helix-ilex acid)-all parts

English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)-all parts are fatal

Euonymus (Euonymus)

Euphorbia (Euphorbia sp.)-leaves, flowers, sap

Evening trumpet (Gelsemium sempervirens)-whole plant

Exotica perfection

Eyebane (Euphorbia maculata)

F

False henbane-all parts

False hellebore (Veratrum viride and other sp.)-all parts poisonous, root deadly

False parsley (Conium maculatum)-all parts are fatal

Fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata)

Fiddleneck (Amsinckia intermedia)-fruit, bark

Firecracker (Dichelostemma ida-maia)

Firethorn (Pyracantha sp.)

Fireweed (Amsinckia intermedia)-fruit, bark

Florida beauty (Dracaena spp.)

Fluffy ruffles

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)-whole plant

Fly poison (Amianthium muscaetoxicum)

Fool’s parsley (Conium maculatum)-all parts are fatal

Four o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa)-whole plant

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)-all parts can be fatal

Foxwood

Frijolito (Sophora secundiflora)-all parts

Fruit salad plant (Philodendron pertusum)

G

Garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa)-oxalates

Gelsemium (Gelsemium)-whole plant

Geranium, California (Senecio petasitis)-whole plant

German ivy (Senecio mikanioides)-whole plant

Ghostweed (Euphorbia marginata)-all parts

Giant dumbcane (Dieffenbachia amoena)-all parts, esp. sap

Glacier ivy (Hedera helix Glacier)-all parts

Gladiola (Gladiolus sp.)

Glecoma hederacea (Nepeta hederacea)

Glory lily (Gloriosa sp.)

Goatweed (Hypericum perforatum)

Gold dieffenbachia-all parts, esp. sap

Gold dust dracaena (Dracaena godseffiana)

Goldenchain tree (Laburnum)-seeds, pods may be fatal

Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureus)

Gold-toothed aloe (Aloe nobilis)

Greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus)

Green-gold nephythytis (Syngonium podophyllum xanthophilum)

Ground ivy (Nepeta hederacea)

Groundsel (Crotalaria spp.)

Groundsel (Senecio sp.)-whole plant

Guajillo (Acacia berlandieri)

H

Halogeton (Halogeton glomeratus)

Hawaiian baby wood rose

Heart ivy (Hedera helix)-all parts

Heartleaf (Philodendron cordatum, Philodendron oxycardium)

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)-leaves

Hedge apples

Hellebore (Ranunculacea, Helleborus, Veratrum)-all parts

Hemlock (Conium, Cicuta, Tsuga)-all parts

Hemp, Indian (Cannabis sativa, Apocynum sp.)-leaves

Henbane, Black (Hyoscyamus niger)-all parts

Hogwort

Holly (Ilex aquifolium, opaca, vomitoria)-leaves, berries

Horsebrush (Tetradymia sp.)

Horsechestnut (Aesculus)-all parts

Horse-head (Philodendron oxycardium)

Horse nettle (Solanum carolinense)-all parts, esp. fruits, leaves

Horsetail reed (Equisetum sp.)-all parts

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)-bulbs can be fatal

Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)-whole plant

I

Impatiens (Impatiens)-whole plant

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)-leaves

Indian laurel (Ficus retusa nitida)

Indian rubber plant (Ficus elastica Decora)

Indian tobacco (Nicotiana giauca) -all parts

Indian turnip (Arisaema triphyllum)-all parts

Indigo (Indigofera sp.)

Inkberry (Ilex glabra)-leaves, berries

Inkweed (Drymaria pachyphylla)

Iris (Iris sp.)-underground rhizome, leaves

Ivy (Hedera)-all parts

Ivy bush (Kalmia angustifolia)-leaves

J

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)-all parts

Jamestown weed (Datura, Brugmansia stramomium)-all parts

Jatropha-seeds, oil

Java bean (Phaseolus limensis)-uncooked bean

Jequirity bean (Abrus precatorius)-seeds are fatal

Jerusalem cherry (Solanium nigrum/eleagnifolium/ pseudocapsicum)-fruits, leaves

Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)-flowers, leaves, berries fatal

Jessamine, Carolina (Gelsemium)-flowers, leaves, seeds

Jessamine, Night-blooming (Cestrum nocturnum)

Jimmy fern (Notholaena sinuata var cochisensis)

Jimson weed (Datura, Brugmansia stramomium)-all parts

Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense)

Juniper (Juniperus)-needles, stems, berries

K

Kafir (Sorghum vulgare)

Klamath weed (Hypericum perforatum)

L

Lady slipper (Cypripedium spectabiles)-all parts

Lambkill (Kalmia angustifolia)-leaves

Lantana camara (Lantana camara)-green berries are fatal

Larkspur (Delphinium)-all parts, seeds may be fatal

Laurel, Cherry (Prunus caroliniana)-all parts are fatal

Laurel, Cuban (Ficus spp.)

Laurel, Indian (Ficus retusa nitida)

Lecheguilla (Agave lecheguilla)

Ligustrum (Ligustrum ovalifolium)-all parts

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)-all parts, including water

Lima bean (Phaseolus limensis)-uncooked bean

Lobelia (Lobelia sp.)-all parts

Locoweed (Astragalus sp.)-all parts

Lords-and-ladies (Arum maculatum)-all parts

Lupine (Lupinus)-all parts

M

Machineel-all parts

Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata)

Majesty (Philodendron hastatum)

Mandrake (Podophyllum pellatum)-all parts

Marble queen (Scindapsus aureus)-oxalates

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)-all parts

Marsh marigold (Primula veris)

Mayapple (Podophyllum pellatum)-all parts

Medicine plant (Aloe vera)

Mescal (Lophophora williamsii)-cactus tops

Mescal bean (Sophora secundiflora)-all parts

Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)

Mexican breadfruit (Monstera deliciosa)

Mexicantes

Milkvetch (Astragalus sp.)-all parts

Milkweed (Asclepias sp.)-all parts

Milo (Sorghum vulgare)

Miniature croton (Punctatis aureus)

Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens)-berries are fatal

Moccasin flower (Cypripedium spectabiles)-all parts

Monkshood (Aconitum napellus)-all parts

Moonseed (Menispermum)-berries can be fatal

Morning glory (Ipomoea violacea)-all parts

Mother-in-law (Monstera deliciosa)

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)-young leaves, shoots are fatal

Mushroom

Mustards/Crucifers/Cress (Cruciferae-Brassica, Raphanus, Descurainia spp.)

N

Narcissus (Narcissus)-bulb can be fatal

Natal cherry (Solamon)-berries

Nephthytis (Syngonium podophyllum albolinea-tum)-oxalates

Needlepoint ivy (Hedera helix Needlepoint)-all parts

Nicotiana (Nicotiana)-wild, cultivated leaves

Night-blooming jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum)

Nightshade (Solanum carolinense)-all parts, esp. fruits, leaves

Nightshade (Solanum eleagnifolium)-all parts

O

Oaks (Quercus)-foliage, acorns

Oleander (Nerium oleander)-foliage, branches, nectar

Orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Orange sneezeweed (Helenium hoopesii)

Ornamental tobacco (Nicotiana)-all parts

Oxalis (Oxalis)-oxalates

P

Palma christi (Ricinus communis)-seeds are fatal, leaves

Panda (Philodendron panduraeformae)

Paper flowers (Psilostrophe sp.)

Paradise plant

Parlor ivy (Philodendron elegans, Philodendron cordatum, Philodendron pertusum)

Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

Partridge breast (Aloe variegata)

Peach (Prunus persica)-pit contains cyanide

Pear (Pyrus communis)-seeds contains cyanide

Pear, Balsam-seeds, outer rind of fruit

Pencilbush (Euphorbia tirucalli)

Pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli)

Peony (Paeonia sp.)-all parts

Peregrina-seeds, oil

Perill mint (Perilla frutescens)

Periwinkle (Vinca sp.)-whole plant

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)-cactus tops

Philodendron (Philodendron)-leaves, stem, sap

Philodendron, Cutleaf (Monstera deliciosa)

Pigweed (Amaranthus spp.)-oxalates

Pingue (Hymenoxys richardsonii)

Pinks (Dianthus)-all parts

Plum (Prunus)-seeds contain cyanide

Plumosa fern (Asparagus plumosus)

Poinciana (Poinciana gillesii)-green seeds, pods

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)-leaves, sap are fatal, flowers

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)-all parts are fatal

Poison ivy (Rhus radicans)-all parts

Poison nut

Poison oak (Rhus, Toxicodendron diversilobium)-all parts

Poison parsnip (Cicuta maculata)-all parts, esp. root, are fatal

Poison sumac (Rhus vernix)-all parts

Pokeberry (Phytolacca americana)-roots

Pokeroot (Phytolacca americana)-roots

Poke salad (Phytolacca americana)-roots

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)-roots

Poppy, except California (Papaver)

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Pot mum (Chrysanthemum mortiforium)

Potato (Solanum tuberosum)-green parts are fatal, eyes

Pothos (Scindapsus aureus)-oxalates

Precatory bean (Abrus precatorius)-seeds are fatal

Prickly copperweed (Oxytenia acerosa)

Prickly poppy (Argemone)

Primrose (Primula spp.)

Primula (Primula spp.)

Privet (Ligustrum)-all parts

Purge nut-seeds, oil

Purple sesbane (Daubentonia punicea)

Psychic nut-seeds, oil

Pyracantha (Pyracantha sp.)

Q

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)

R

Ranunculus (Ranunculus)-all parts

Rattlebox (Crotalaria spp., Daubentonia punicea)

Rattleweed (Crotalaria spp.)

Rayless goldenrod (Iscoma aerigum)

Red clover (Trifolium pratense)-hays when moldy

Red emerald (Philodendron red emerald)

Red-margined dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

Red princess (Philodendron hastatum)

Red sage (Lantana camara)-green berries are fatal

Rhododendron (Rhododendron)-all parts are fatal

Rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum)-leaves fatal

Ribbon plant (Dracaena sanderiana)

Ripple ivy (Hedera)-all parts

Rosary bean (Abrus precatorius)-seeds are fatal

Rosary pea (Abrus precatorius)-seeds are fatal

Rosebay (Rhododendron occidentale)-all parts fatal

Rosemary (Rosemarinus)-leaves of some varieties are poisonous

Rubber plant, Indian (Ficus elastica Decora)

Rum cherry (Prunus serotina)-withered leaves

S

Sacahuista (Nolina texana)

Saddle leaf philodendron (Philodendron selloum)

Sage (Salvia)-leaves of some varieties are poisonous

Sago palm (Cycas)

Sand begonia

Satin pothos (Scindapsus spp., Pothos wilcoxii)

Schefflera (Brassia actinophylla)

Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius)-seeds

Senecio (Senecio)-whole plant

Senna-bean (Sesbania drummondii)

Sesbane (Sesbania, Glottidium mesicaria)

Sesbane, Purple (Daubentonia punicea)

Shamrock plant (Oxalis acetosella)

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)-leaves

Silverleaf (Solanum eleagnifolium)-all parts

Silverling (Baccharis sp.)

Silver pothos (Scindapsus aureus)-oxalates

Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)-all parts

Slinkweed (Gutierrezia microcephala)

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)-all parts

Snapweed (Impatiens)-whole plant

Sneezeweed, Orange (Helenium hoopesii)

Snowdrop (Galanthus)-all parts

Snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata)-all parts

Solanum (Solanum)-berries

Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum)

Sorghum (Sorghum vulgare)

Snake palm

Snakeroot, White (Eupatorium rugosum)

Snakeweed (Gutierrezia microcephala)

Sorrel, Garden (Rumex acetosa)-oxalates

Spathe flower (Spathiphyllum)

Spider mum (Chrysanthemum mortiforium)

Split-leaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa, Philodendron pertusum)

Spotted dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)

Sprengeri fern (Asparagus sprengeri)

Spurge (Euphorbiaceae)-leaves, flowers

Squill (Scilla autumnalis)

Squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis)-all parts

Staggergrass (Amianthium muscaetoxicum)

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)-all parts

Stinkweed (Brugmansia)

St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum)

Stranomium-all parts

String of beads/pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)-whole plant

Striped dracaena (Dracaena deremensis)

Sudan grass (Sorghum vulgare)

Swamp laurel (Kalmia)

Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus)-stems, seeds, fruit

Sweet William (Dianthus)-all parts

Swiss cheese plant (Monstera friedrichsthalii)

Sweetheart ivy (Hedera helix)-all parts

T

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)-all parts

Tansy ragwort (Senecio sp.)-whole plant

Taro ( Colocasia esculenta)-stem, leaves

Taro vine (Scindapsus aureus)

Thorn apple (Datura, Brugmansia stramomium)-all parts

Tiger lily (Lilium tigrinum)-all parts

Toadstools

Tobacco ( Nicotiana giauca)-all parts

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum)-leaves, vines

Touch-me-not (Impatiens)-whole plant

Toyon ( Heteromeles arbutifolia)-leaves

Tree philodendron (Scindapsus aureus)

Tropic snow (Dieffenbachia amoena)-all parts, esp. sap

True aloe (Aloe vera)

Trumpet plant-all parts

Trumpet vine-all parts

Tullidora (Karwinskia humboldtiana)-berries

Tulip (Tulipa)-bulb

Turpentine weed (Gutierrezia microcephala)

U

Umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius)

V

Variegated philodendron (Scindapsus)

Venus flytrap (Dionaea)-all parts

Victoria regia

Violet (Viola odorata)-seeds

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)-sap

W

Warneckei dracaena (Dracaena dermensis warneckei)

Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)-all parts, esp. root, are fatal

White snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum)

Wild black cherry (Prunus serotina)-withered leaves

Wild carrot (Daucus carota)

Wild cucumber

Wild jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)

Wild parsnip

Wild pea (Crotalaria spp.)

Windflower (Anemone sp.)

Wisteria (Wisteria)-all parts

Wolfsbane (Aconitum napellus)-all parts

Woodbine (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)-sap

Woodrose (Ipomoea, Merremia tuberosa)

Woody nightshade (Celastrus, dulcamera)-berries

Y

Yam bean-roots, immature pods

Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)-berries

Yellow knapweed (Centaurea solstitialis)

Yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens)-whole plant

Yellow oleander-all parts, esp. kernels of fruit

Yellow star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis)

Yerba-depasmo (Baccharis sp.)

Yew ( Taxus spp.)-foliage, twigs, berries

COMFREY FOR RABBITS

COMFREY

COMFREY

I have been using Comfrey as a food source and tonic for a long time in my rabbitry.

When I was young I always talked to all the old-timer rabbit breeders around my neighborhood and on my paper route. They all agreed and swore by comfrey as the best rabbit tonic and said every rabbit breeder should grow it.

They would give a little each day added to their daily green feed, and told me this is why their rabbits never got sick. They told me it would prevent everything from snuffles to premature kindling and helping milking does produce more milk. I have no scientific proof, other than never seeing any of their rabbits sick.

So that’s when I got my first few comfrey plants (cost me a weeks worth of newspapers) and I have been feeding comfrey to my rabbits ever since. I have moved many times from my childhood home but have always brought comfrey cuttings with me to plant more.

I know that my rabbits love the stuff just by their reaction when harvesting the comfrey, the rabbits hear me cutting the leaves in the comfrey beds, I can hear them running and binkying around their cages knowing their healthy tonic is on the way.

When entering the rabbitry with a basketful of comfrey, the whole herd comes alive waiting for their treat. I highly recommend comfrey for rabbits! It is a great digestive aid and will help with wool block, do not overfeed as it may cause diarrhea, this is the plant working use caution! Great as a tonic and added food source but not as the only feed source.

You can cut it down and dry it like hay to store for winter use ( It can be cut down up to three times here in Maine). They also love the freshly harvested leaves. The plant has a calming effect on rabbits, also good when a rabbit is off feed, It will get them back on it!

Comfrey is a great source of vitamin A and good for pregnant and nursing does as it also supports the immune system. Comfrey is good for the stomach, and can be fed as a general gut tonic. Always use caution when feeding greens to rabbits! Being extremey potent comfrey can have negative effects if overfed, and can cause diarrhea. When I do feed, it makes up about 25% of the basket of greens/weeds I pick every other day or so in the Spring/Summer/Fall. There are so many other uses for comfrey on the homestead. I will list just a few.

Comfrey has long been used as a cure by Gypsies and peasant people for ever, it has an ancient reputation as a mender of broken bones! It has also been recommended for uterine and other internal hemorrhages and for the healing of wounds. Comfrey’s power to heal wounds is credited to a substance in the plant called allantoin (listed in Merck’s Index of Chemicals and Drugs for its use in skin ulcer therapy). The most common medicinal use of comfrey is in poultices to help heal swellings, inflammations and sores.

To make such a dressing, let the leaves mush up in hot water, squeeze out the excess liquid and wrap several handfuls of the hot, softened foliage in a clean cloth. Apply the pad to the affected part—comfortably hot, but not scalding—and cover the area with a thick folded towel to keep the heat in. The moist warmth enhances the healing effect of the allantoin. Roots and Leaves have historically been used to apply to swellings, sprains, bruises, cuts and used as a poultice for stings, abrasions, blisters, abscesses and boils. Comfrey is also widely known for healing and clearing up skin problems. You can use the roots to make decoctions, and the leaves to make infusions that have antiseptic properties

British Gypsies would also feed the roots to their animals as a spring tonic. On my homestead all the livestock love it! The pigs go nuts when I throw it into their pens, The chickens come charging to meet me at the gate with some, And we already discussed the rabbits!

You can also condition your soil with comfrey! It’s one of the best plants for this. The leaves themselves may be buried as “instant compost” to give row crops season-long nourishment. A tea can be made with the leaves and used as a liquid fertilizer (No more Miracle Grow!). You should google the uses of comfrey in the garden you will be amazed! There is to much for me to list here maybe I will do a future post just on comfrey and the homestead!

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2013/08/11/comfrey-the-homesteaders-gold-mine/

Harvest when the foliage is 12 to 18 inches tall, we cut the leaves with a sickle by gathering a bunch together and shearing them off two inches above ground. After such a harvest, the plants will grow enough to be cut again in 10 to 30 days. About two weeks is the average in our experience. Dry the harvest or feed it fresh! The thicker stalks are had to dry and mold before drying, so for drying stick to the leaves.

Comfrey is 86.6%water,2.6%protein,1.8% fiber.

Comfrey is a controversial plant yet it has been used medicinally for at least 2000 years.

It has also had extensive use as an animal feed just as long. Due to recent evaluations of this plant, it is important to learn about it before deciding whether or not to add it to your rabbits’ diet. I have used it before any of the studies and still use it to this day wit no ill effects! It irritates me how negative weighted research can affect the truth of an herb.

There are three main varieties of Comfrey grown, Russian Comfrey(bocking strains), Prickly Comfrey, and Common Comfrey. Common Comfrey is the one usually grown here in the US. These Comfrey plants greatly differ in the amount of alkaloids present in the plants.

I grow and sell the Russian Bocking 14 type.

The research was done on young rats that were injected not fed naturally the whole food product. It is known that injecting a substance will often give a toxic reaction when just eating it does not. This test did cause tumors in the liver, but it was basically an overdose of the toxic part of the comfrey injected into young rats than are sensitive to the alkaloid to begin with. That is a negative weighted research project to say the least!

Despite the controversy over Comfrey and liver toxicity, farmers in both Japan and in the Pacific Northwest plant fields of comfrey to feed both their dairy and beef cattle. These farmers are getting remarkable results in the health of both their beef cattle and increased milk production in their dairy herds.

If comfrey is so dangerous, then why then is it not causing liver toxicity in these cattle? They are being fed enough to cause liver problems. There has been no problem with liver toxicity in their herds.

So if you question the use of comfrey in your rabbitry do your research. I have butchered many rabbits and have never found any internal issues with the feeding of comfrey over long periods of time.

We have Comfrey plants, roots, and crowns available in season(May till end of October ere in Maine.)

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/comfrey-for-sale/

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RABBITS FOR SELF- SUFFICIENCY

Rabbits are quiet, grow fast, have large litters and can be fed on produce from the garden, or by foraging safe weeds and other safe food sources, or just good quality hay (They will grow faster on pellets or a balanced natural diet)

Rabbits a great high protein, low-fat, white meat, that is great tasting, easy to slaughter and no freezing needed. Just keep them in the cages until ready to put on the plate.

Rabbits have awesome pelts to make blankets, or clothing, or a great barter item.

Rabbits also produce one of the best manures for the organic garden.

During the growing season from half to three-quarters or maybe even more of a rabbits diet could be grown by the homesteader(depending on how much work you want to do). Also by feeding garden wastes, weeds, leaves, berries etc, you could provide all the food needed for a small-scale homestead meat supply.

Composting takes from 6 to 12 weeks to make your garden waste usable as a soil amendment, Rabbits and Worms can do a far better job and making a better product in ten days or less! So garden waste becomes rabbit food, which them becomes an equal weight of worm food in a day or two, which then becomes worms and their castings in over 90 days. The worms increase to become a source of highly nutritional poultry, waterfowl, and fish food in about 3 months. Leaving behind a mass of plant food (worm castings) that becomes more plants, more saleable product, and more rabbit food. All in the same time it takes a compost pile to become a lower quality of soil amendment without the added poultry, and fish food benefits. Now that’s Self Sufficiency!

I will be writing about all this information in future posts! This is the basis of my book that I have been working on for some time. This website I plan to load with all the information need to grow, breed, and butcher rabbits on your self sufficient homestead!

If you have any questions or ideas please let me know email me or add in the comment section
RAISING MEAT RABBITS TO SAVE THE WORLD!

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