When raising rabbits it is very important to understand how sensitive their digestion system can be. One of the ways you can make sure you are doing your part is to take care of the feed after it is purchased. You can read an article from last November Rabbits: Doing your part to make sure your feed is safe ; a 2 part article that outlined the complete feed program of a local rabbitry. Below are a few tips that were outlined in that article and could help to insure you are doing your part.
1. Although there can and have been feed mill problems, many feed problems can be avoided by proper handling. First you have to start with a good fresh feed; any brand of feed can be bad if not fresh. Even feed that is fresh, but kept in a damp musty area, can become a problem. Talk to your feed company and learn how to read the dates they stamp on each bag.
2. Store your feed properly; it should be kept in a clean dry environment. When you arrive home with feed, unload immediately; never let it set in the hot car or back of a truck for the sun to beat down on. Unopened bags should stacked in an area where moisture can be kept away, even the heavy humidity can seep through the bags. If possible, open one bag at a time and pour it into a big black trash bag that you can keep in airtight 35 gallon Rubbermaid trash can. When you are not dishing out feed try to keep the black bag twisted up tight and keep lid on trash can. If you keep a bucket inside feed barrel, be aware of where you set that bucket down; setting it on the ground can transfer contaminates from the bottom of bucket to your feed barrel.
3. Since rabbits are night animals, most of their food consumption should be at night and by feeding in the evening, their pellets are the freshest for them. The majority of their nutrition should come from their pellets, so feeding when they are normally the most active may be helpful. A small strainer comes in handy to sift the dust out of the feed, before feeding. Feed everyone just enough to get them through the night; don't fill feeder and expect them to finish it before they receive more feed. Give everyone more in the morning if feeder is clean. Hay is also a very big part of a healthy digestion; Feeding a handful of Coastal hay or Timothy hay with their pellets in the evening is beneficial.
4. Any feed left over in feeders should be cleaned out every day. If the air is humid or rainy your pellets can absorb the moisture faster and most rabbits will not find it as appealing, making them consume less.
5. Set up a morning routine for feeding more pellets, if needed and treats. The medium size peanut containers, with air tight lids work good for this. Rabbits will eat most treats anytime; so by setting it up to where they get the majority of their nutrition through the night and treats in the morning you may see improvement in their overall condition.
6. Keep a close eye on water consumption, this should be checked twice a day. Many times, the best drinkers are also the best eaters. Clean out water cups bottles often! The very longest a water cup or bottle should go without being washed and wiped out, is one week, every 3-4 days is best.
7. Note any changes in your feed; color, smell, feel and most important how your rabbits react to the feed. Look at the bags, if they are water stained or really dirty, don't buy. Watch your rabbits and see how they react to new bags of feed; if you do notice a negative change in your feed, documentation could be very important.
8. If you find one of your rabbits are not eating well, but everything else seems to be fine, for example: feed and water seem fine, no runs etc. Change out everything and wipe out feeders and water cup (or add water cup if on auto-water system or on water bottle) immediately. Give everything fresh, give the rabbit probios or yogurt, and extra hay. Many times it can be something simple, like a smell they may not like; if eating does not improve, a trip to a veterinarian may be needed.
Cindi is also the Dallas Household Tips Examiner she passes along tips and easy recipes she finds.
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