One of the most important things about feeding meat rabbits is a proper, healthy diet. A healthy diet will keep your rabbits disease-free and in excellent health. Commercial pellet feed can be expensive, but if you supplement it with grass hay and leafy greens, the cost won’t be as bad, especially if you grow the greens yourself.
Feeding your rabbits pellet feed can cause obesity if overfed, which is pretty easy to do. When looking for commercial pellets, you want one that contains 18% or higher in fiber content, 13-14% protein content, and no more than 3% fat content. An adult rabbit should get 1/8 to 1/4 cup per every 5 lbs of body weight.
Hay is a very important part of a rabbits’ diet, providing fiber and other essential nutrients. Feeding rabbits an abundant amount of fiber keeps their stomach and intestines normal, and avoids such problems as hairballs. Hay should always be available to your rabbits, either in a hay rack or in a box placed in the cages. Grass hay is preferred over alfalfa, as alfalfa is full of calories and can cause obesity. Be careful that the hay never gets wet, as it can grow mold and cause diseases if eaten by rabbits.
Rabbits love fresh leafy greens, providing more fiber, vitamins and minerals to their diet. When looking for greens to feed your rabbits, choose greens that are thick-leafed, dark and tough rather than lighter, thinner greens. Some suggestions are:
- Dandelion leaves and flowers
- Raspberry leaves
- Mustard greens
- Collard greens
- Beet greens
- Carrot tops
- Turnip tops
- Swiss chard
- Cabbage (red or green)
Feeding rabbits a variety is always a good idea, so try to offer them at least three different types a day. Adult rabbits should get approximately 1 cup for every 4 lbs of body weight every day.
Fruits and Vegetables
You can also feed your rabbits fruits and vegetables, but in moderation. Most fruits and veggies contain a lot of sugar and calories and it is not recommended that you feed them in abundance. However, they make great treats and the rabbits love them of course! You should only give about 1 tbsp for every 4 lbs of body weight per day. When feeding rabbits fruits and veggies, wash them beforehand and remove any leftovers within a few hours of feeding them to your rabbits.
Rabbits love the following:
- Pea pods (minus the peas)
Foods you should avoid feeding to your meat rabbits
Some foods have too many carbs and sugars to safely feed rabbits. Avoid feeding rabbits these foods:
- White and sweet potatoes
- Grain products such as bread, rolled oats, crackers, cookies, and cereal.
Feeding meat rabbits with an unknown diet
If you just bought rabbits and you are unsure of their previous diet, feed hay for about 2 weeks before introducing greens. Once they’ve had hay for 2 weeks, slowly introduce the leafy greens. This will prevent loose stools and a sick rabbit.