Friday, January 9, 2015
Feeding Rabbits Naturally
Within the last 18 months, I've transitioned my animals off commercial feed. It's full of GMOs, and I want nothing to do with them. I wrote about the chickens here. But I have also transitioned my rabbits to a whole grain mix, forage, and hay. One of my goals this year on the homestead is to beef up my rabbit forage in the yard. There are already several native weeds and cultivated perrenial plants growing in and around my yard that the rabbits love. I just have to harvest them. Some of them are
Purple Dead Nettle
My rabbits also get to take advantage of my garden plants, like basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, marigolds, borage, mint, lemon balm. thyme, echinacea, fennel, various greens, and carrot tops. They get clippings from the thornless blackberry brambles and the willow and apple trees.
Though these plants/weeds grow wild in my area, I don't have any in my yard, so I bought seeds this year to grow them.
Whenever I get the opportunity I put my rabbits out to forage for themselves. This is my rabbit run area, and I plant it with PlotSpike Clover Blend, a deer forage. I like this blend because it does not contain any rapeseed, which is the basis for canola, another GMO product. While this photo does not show forage, the one below it is the same area once I seeded it. It was full of clover and other good weeds. Not only does letting the rabbits forage save me time, but it gives them the change to exercise and dig holes and be rabbits.
I also cut out the bottoms of some old rabbit cages and am able to move them around to different areas of my yard for additional forage.
One plant I really hope to get going this year is Moringa. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and will be an excellent protein source for the rabbits. My region is borderline on successfully growing it, so we'll see how it goes.
If you want a more extensive list of rabbit safe plants, vegetables, and fruit, take a look at this one.
Rabbit Safe Plants, Fruits, and Vegetables
Some of what I grow is considered medicinal so I always check this list if I'm unsure of what I'm feeding, especially with nursing does as some of these can impact milk flow.
Medicinal Herbs for Rabbits
As always, when introducing a new food, do it gradually! Rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems and even a small amount may be too much for your rabbit.
I'll leave you with some of my grow-outs munching at the bunny salad bar.