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Thread: Feeding weights

  1. #11
    Wise Old Thumper keletkezes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beapig View Post
    I feel like it's so different for each rabbit that a calculator just doesn't really work. But 60 grams sounds like a huge amount to me, regardless?
    It's more like what's on the food packets I think! Mine average 25g each over the year, but it's still cold enough overnight that we're giving them nearer 30g to keep them going. But the delicate balance between keeping enough weight on them and getting them to eat enough hay is a real challenge!
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  2. #12
    Mama Doe JessBun's Avatar
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    Honestly, I know the recommended amount of pellets is an eggcup (once, or twice daily depending on who you speak to) but I have found it almost impossible to maintain a healthy weight on a rabbit on this amount. The only bun of mine it worked for was Autumnleaf, who was a mini lop anyway and rather prone to getting fat. I actually wish the RWAF would change this 'blanket guide' advice, because I think if everyone just fed this amount, there would be a lot of severely emaciated rabbits about.

    The calculator is obviously just a guide, but amount of pellets fed depends on a wide variety of factors - first and foremost the brand of pellet, life stage, breed, sex, neutured vs unneutured, health status, amount of exercise, indoor or outdoor rabbit, and regardless of the former the average temperature the rabbit lives in will have a massive impact. I'm in Scotland and although I like the house nice and cosy, if I fed any of my buns here (currently or rabbits who've now passed on) only an eggcup of pellets twice a day I'd have the SSPCA at my door! And my bun is inside as was Bea. However back in England I had outdoor buns and maintained them on less than I do here on indoor buns, so I really do think temperature has a big impact.

    Bea was started on Excel Junior, and obviously moved up as she aged, but she was on well more than 60g per day at 3kg, much to my dismay. I actually spoke to the vet regarding that (I was asking about higher energy pellets that I would need to feed less of), because she was on the lean side even with all those pellets, plus veggies/forage, grass and she was a superb hay eater. I put this down to being a 'giant' breed, her lifestage, unspayed and that English Lops being better at losing heat, so I imagine they need more energy to maintain temperature. She was 4kg when she passed. It constantly being pushed pellets are bad, if I had reduced it (she was probably on close to 100g at the end) it would have compromised her welfare.

    30g of pellets is about what I fed Oscar anyway and he's just ideal condition IMO. I imagine this will change once he reaches about 1yr old, and is castrated. I would need to up his pellets in winter though, as another poster pointed out, even though he's indoors.

    I also find I'm feeding a bit over the quoted amount of veg/forage which I'm fine with.
    It's all very interesting - I do wish I could maintain my buns on less pellets though! X


    Oooh edited to add: Those who are feeding very small amounts of pellets, can you be sure the rabbits are receiving all their nutritional requirements for everything? Obviously it's not just calories to worry about but all the vitamins and minerals. Pellets are of course very concentrated, but I know it only has so much/per kilo and wondered if this tallies up with the nutritional requirements of the buns. Veg will help fill the gap, but how much? I love a good food discussion
    Last edited by JessBun; 15-04-2021 at 10:39 AM.

  3. #13
    Mama Doe JessBun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dollyanna View Post
    That's a very indistinct amount given that 400g of grass would a lot less than 400g hay!
    Yes this is a good point. I wondered though if rabbits would need to eat more weight of grass than of hay to compensate for the fact grass has such a high water content?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shimmer View Post
    https://www.harcourt-brown.co.uk/art...nd-rabbit-food

    This link has a picture of the amount of water in the grass a rabbit should eat daily to meet it's calcium requirements. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

    Thank you for this Shimmer, I guess this answers it!

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JessBun View Post
    Honestly, I know the recommended amount of pellets is an eggcup (once, or twice daily depending on who you speak to) but I have found it almost impossible to maintain a healthy weight on a rabbit on this amount. The only bun of mine it worked for was Autumnleaf, who was a mini lop anyway and rather prone to getting fat. I actually wish the RWAF would change this 'blanket guide' advice, because I think if everyone just fed this amount, there would be a lot of severely emaciated rabbits about.

    The calculator is obviously just a guide, but amount of pellets fed depends on a wide variety of factors - first and foremost the brand of pellet, life stage, breed, sex, neutured vs unneutured, health status, amount of exercise, indoor or outdoor rabbit, and regardless of the former the average temperature the rabbit lives in will have a massive impact. I'm in Scotland and although I like the house nice and cosy, if I fed any of my buns here (currently or rabbits who've now passed on) only an eggcup of pellets twice a day I'd have the SSPCA at my door! And my bun is inside as was Bea. However back in England I had outdoor buns and maintained them on less than I do here on indoor buns, so I really do think temperature has a big impact.

    Bea was started on Excel Junior, and obviously moved up as she aged, but she was on well more than 60g per day at 3kg, much to my dismay. I actually spoke to the vet regarding that (I was asking about higher energy pellets that I would need to feed less of), because she was on the lean side even with all those pellets, plus veggies/forage, grass and she was a superb hay eater. I put this down to being a 'giant' breed, her lifestage, unspayed and that English Lops being better at losing heat, so I imagine they need more energy to maintain temperature. She was 4kg when she passed. It constantly being pushed pellets are bad, if I had reduced it (she was probably on close to 100g at the end) it would have compromised her welfare.

    30g of pellets is about what I fed Oscar anyway and he's just ideal condition IMO. I imagine this will change once he reaches about 1yr old, and is castrated. I would need to up his pellets in winter though, as another poster pointed out, even though he's indoors.

    I also find I'm feeding a bit over the quoted amount of veg/forage which I'm fine with.
    It's all very interesting - I do wish I could maintain my buns on less pellets though! X


    Oooh edited to add: Those who are feeding very small amounts of pellets, can you be sure the rabbits are receiving all their nutritional requirements for everything? Obviously it's not just calories to worry about but all the vitamins and minerals. Pellets are of course very concentrated, but I know it only has so much/per kilo and wondered if this tallies up with the nutritional requirements of the buns. Veg will help fill the gap, but how much? I love a good food discussion
    To throw a spanner in your thinking though - my guys are 7kg and 6.8kg, the bigger still growing. They live out in Scotland with access to an unheated but insulated summerhouse - even when it was -10 this winter for days at a time they had no extra heating as they were still sleeping out in the open on the floor and clearly not cold, they had plenty of warmer options to choose. They are outside all day by choice. But they don't eat pellets at all - they have a forage based diet with just a huge variety of leaves, herbs, veg, roots, fruit and of course grasses and hays. I offer more "higher energy" hay such as oat when it is cold, though they don't often eat it. So pellets are not the be all and end all - and there seems to be a much bigger issue of overweight rabbis than skinny ones.
    As for nutrition - this is the same argument of feeding dogs kibble rather than a variety of fresh or raw foods - because of fear that they aren't getting the "perfect" nutrients. But we don't do that for ourselves do we? We eat a good variety of foods, preferably seasonal, and we can thrive on that - there might be a wobble here and there but on the whole we thrive. Animals are better than us at choosing what they need if given the choice - enough choice - so the key is to offer enough variety, in enough quantity ie adlib, over a long enough period of time for them to feel that these things are not going to run out. If you take a bunny who is used to limited fresh stuff and suddenly switch to adlib you are going to get a wobble initially. But as they realise all food is available in enough quantities, most animals will start to take what they need rather than gorge it all. I use the same principles for the ponies - they are a breed well known for gorging, yet because mine have hay available at all times, they actually eat very little. If I rationed it and put out what I knew they needed but not a speck more, they would eat it more, because they don't know where the next meal is coming from, freely fed they eat less because they are not anxious about running out.
    So as long as you are feeding as wide a variety as possible, in great enough amounts to offer choice without restriction, then the nutrients will usually sort themselves out too. Otherwise how on earth does any wild animal thrive?

  5. #15
    Wise Old Thumper keletkezes's Avatar
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    Totally agree with dollyanna Pellets are a convenience not a necessity, because a lot of us don't have the time and/or money to go down the pellet-free route And that's not a problem because we feed the 'right' amount of pellets (for our rabbits, situations etc.) but if you think about youir own nutrition, do you know how many carbs you're getting each day? Should it be that many? What about saturated fat? Vitamin D? Vitamin K? I can't be the ONLY person who logged everything (OK not all the vitamins and minerals but I did C, E and D and iron and calcium) in a spreadsheet so I had some idea of my potential deficiencies, but I reckon I might be mad Basically I think we worry more about rabbits than we need to (and other pets!) and 99% of them will get on fine with hay, a bit of greens (forage, herbs, dried, whatever) and a few pellets, just like our families mostly get on fine with whatever is available food-wise
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  6. #16
    Young Bun mashbywood6892's Avatar
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    I also think their feeding guide is off in terms of pellets. For my two small Netherland Dwarfs it reckons 26g each a day which is way too much I think.

    I give them 10g each a day and they are thriving on that and eat tonnes of hay (about their body size if not more). When I used to give them 25g pellets previously they barely touched hay and had way less energy.

    I think most pellet packaging directions are wrong too and recommend far too many pellets!!
    Last edited by mashbywood6892; 16-04-2021 at 07:55 AM.

  7. #17
    Mama Doe JessBun's Avatar
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    Interesting points!!

    Although I have to say I don't think anyone (certainly not me) was saying pellets are the 'be all and end all' - just that I think the reality of the amount of rabbits than can actually survive let alone thrive on 5g a day (or similar amounts - don't want anyone to feel I am individually pointing them out 'cause I'm definitely not) is perhaps smaller than it may seem. Eg just because your buns can, doesn't mean that's the norm, and just because my bun Bea needed lots, doesn't mean that's the norm either.

    Yes there's an argument for any 'complete' feed being a convenience when it comes to pets indeed, but actually think there's a very good argument for it being there as a supplement to ensure balanced nutrition, and in most cases, an absolutely vital one. So many pet owners don't have the in depth knowledge about nutrition to make their own pets diets, and nor should they need to imho, if they have the correct bases covered. That being said I think it's a slippery road to feed animals 'alternative' (in often cases, more natural diets) without the correct research and knowledge. I am more than sure anybody here feeding this way actually has done the correct research I am just more interested in how they work this. To be able to cover the necessary nutrients on a daily basis with very tiny amounts of pellets (or no pellets at all) is difficult to do correctly, and would require I should think a plan each day of minimum weights of X foodstuff, especially if rotating foods. Certainly it's tiring for me doing it just with veg and the small amount of forage I give mine

    I don't think it's useful to compare rabbits and humans - humans are so far from the 'natural tree' with regards to diet, and the constant arguments about different diets for us, and the resulting health problems of bad diets that I think perhaps this isn't the best example. I think not monitoring our diets enough does cause us a lot of health problems yes I'm constantly trying to supplement my diet with natural sources of B12 and B9 - despite having an omnivorous and much more (since my deficiency diagnoses) varied diet which includes plenty of veg, meat and dairy products. We have the B12 deficiency worked out and this is not caused by a a lack of correct food, and despite paying careful attention to meeting (or in most cases, exceeding the minimum daily needs) I am still deficient, and need regular injections of it and have for years now - and it's still low! Docs not been able to work out why I am folate deficient though, and this is the second time it's needed treated. I am also making sure to prepare the veggies properly

  8. #18
    Mama Doe JessBun's Avatar
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    Interesting though on a related note, is the advice for all humans in Scotland to supplement Vitamin D. I know that research emerged of house buns being deficient in this vitamin, but actually wonder that in Scotland, even outdoor buns may well be at risk of this deficiency. You then come to understand that too few pellets alongside this could indeed cause buns problems given the food sources it's present in and that buns would acquire it from the sun. Bladder stones are a common problem in domestic buns, and there's a variety of reasons, but it's reported that too much, or too little, Vitamin D can cause this. There's also the problem of nutrients needing to be in the best or correct form for those animals (or us) to be able to actually use it, properly.

    Dollyanna your situation is different in that you say yours are on an all natural forage diet ie this has replaced pellets. People feeding a combination of the two is entirely different, ie if you are feeding a pellet diet and not meeting the minimum amount needed on the packet for the nutrients, it's all well and good but if you aren't carefully selecting forage and veg to make up for the difference in amount of nutrients lost that they would otherwise have gotten from a proper portion of pellets, then you can easily start to see deficiencies and/or overdose of certain nutrients where the excess is not able to be easily excreted.

    Just to point out as well that animals like us can live with deficiencies for a very long time without being noticed, and when and if they are noticed, it can easily be too late, just like with humans. In the case of my B12 deficiency that went undiagnosed for years, it has resulted in permanant vision problems and nerve damage. So I do think actually making sure they are receiving the correct amount of nutrients is vitally important.

    I think wild animals are much better at obtaining the nutrients they need. Domesticated animals do seem in general, to lose this ability (and/or, they can't access it because of us and what we provide, similar to what you point out). Can't help but think of all the pets in the UK morbidly obese because of overeating and ones whom eat the totally wrong food for them, even when it will make them very sick (and I'm talking natural foods, not chocolate etc).

    Certainly it was a big concern of mine that Bea needed so many pellets to maintain weight, in that she may likely receive TOO many of certain nutrients, which is why I spoke with the vet regarding it. I've no idea what temps your buns were actually exposed to and for how long, since they had an insulated shed, what breed, life stage etc as previous mentioned, so it's a bit difficult to compare. I have no doubt that a properly and carefully done forage diet is better for most buns, but just that this is unrealistic for many folk. Certainly I don't know how you manage it in winter, unless you do dried forage. Because certainly here, even the bramble got fecked, everything else was a goner Then comes the issue of dried items losing some of their nutrients as well. Is there sources to say how much they actually retain?? Do some of them become useless as the water content is gone?

    On your point about raw feeding dogs, and not making sure we humans are getting a complete diet. It's our choice as hoomans if we don't want to correctly feed ourselves but animals are reliant on us to do this, so again a different kettle of fish.

    Interesting we are currently changing over to raw food for our dog. Brands labelled as 'complete'. So we are currently on a good meal of her usual dry diet in the morning (high energy working dog food) and instead of this again at 'dinner', she is having these raw 'complete' meals. We've been on it little over a week and today for the first time she tried to eat faeces. She has never ever done it before. My first thinking is the digestive enzymes have been upset, despite the stools now being good and having settled down. The second likely issue could be a b12 deficiency, although obviously I'll not be self diagnosing it and getting things checked at vets. But I do find it extremely perculiar, the timing I mean.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by JessBun View Post
    Interesting points!!

    Although I have to say I don't think anyone (certainly not me) was saying pellets are the 'be all and end all' - just that I think the reality of the amount of rabbits than can actually survive let alone thrive on 5g a day (or similar amounts - don't want anyone to feel I am individually pointing them out 'cause I'm definitely not) is perhaps smaller than it may seem. Eg just because your buns can, doesn't mean that's the norm, and just because my bun Bea needed lots, doesn't mean that's the norm either.

    Yes there's an argument for any 'complete' feed being a convenience when it comes to pets indeed, but actually think there's a very good argument for it being there as a supplement to ensure balanced nutrition, and in most cases, an absolutely vital one. So many pet owners don't have the in depth knowledge about nutrition to make their own pets diets, and nor should they need to imho, if they have the correct bases covered. That being said I think it's a slippery road to feed animals 'alternative' (in often cases, more natural diets) without the correct research and knowledge. I am more than sure anybody here feeding this way actually has done the correct research I am just more interested in how they work this. To be able to cover the necessary nutrients on a daily basis with very tiny amounts of pellets (or no pellets at all) is difficult to do correctly, and would require I should think a plan each day of minimum weights of X foodstuff, especially if rotating foods. Certainly it's tiring for me doing it just with veg and the small amount of forage I give mine

    I don't think it's useful to compare rabbits and humans - humans are so far from the 'natural tree' with regards to diet, and the constant arguments about different diets for us, and the resulting health problems of bad diets that I think perhaps this isn't the best example. I think not monitoring our diets enough does cause us a lot of health problems yes I'm constantly trying to supplement my diet with natural sources of B12 and B9 - despite having an omnivorous and much more (since my deficiency diagnoses) varied diet which includes plenty of veg, meat and dairy products. We have the B12 deficiency worked out and this is not caused by a a lack of correct food, and despite paying careful attention to meeting (or in most cases, exceeding the minimum daily needs) I am still deficient, and need regular injections of it and have for years now - and it's still low! Docs not been able to work out why I am folate deficient though, and this is the second time it's needed treated. I am also making sure to prepare the veggies properly
    I agree with this. I think pellets are a good way to ensure bunnies get their nutrients, and I think some bunnies need more of them than others. I've researched going pellet-free to help Casper's dental issues, to make him eat more hay, but I wasn't convinced that I could provide all the nutrients they need without pellets. I could never find a reliable source of vitamin D, for example. For outside bunnies who get a lot of sunshine that might not be a problem, but for inside bunnies it can be, and I have read before that a lot of indoor bunnies have vitamin D deficiency. There is vitamin D in hay and dried forage, but only if they were dried in the sun, and the levels go down while it's being stored, so by the time we have the hay there's no saying, really, how much vitamin D is in there, if any. Pellets provide vitamin D, and vitamin D is important for bone and dental health, so I give Sophie and Casper pellets, and more than I sometimes see recommended. Casper and Sophie also need their pellets to stay a healthy weight. There are other nutrients as well that I wouldn't know how to get them without pellets. I'm not saying we need to keep track of every gram of food we give to make sure they get enough of everything (and it's true that we don't do that for ourselves, though like JessBun said, maybe it would be a good thing if we did since deficiencies are pretty common in humans), but I do think it's important to know they get everything they need and where they get it from. It's true that wild bunnies don't eat pellets, but they have a lot more freedom in choosing what they eat than most bunnies kept as pets do, and I think their diets are more balanced because of this. I don't think that bunnies can't live without pellets, because obviously some of us don't give their bunnies pellets and those bunnies are doing really well, but I also don't think there's anything wrong with giving bunnies a significant, more than is often recommended, amount of pellets. It all depends on the bunnies in question and on the situation, I think.
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  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by a reader of books View Post
    I agree with this. I think pellets are a good way to ensure bunnies get their nutrients, and I think some bunnies need more of them than others. I've researched going pellet-free to help Casper's dental issues, to make him eat more hay, but I wasn't convinced that I could provide all the nutrients they need without pellets. I could never find a reliable source of vitamin D, for example. For outside bunnies who get a lot of sunshine that might not be a problem, but for inside bunnies it can be, and I have read before that a lot of indoor bunnies have vitamin D deficiency. There is vitamin D in hay and dried forage, but only if they were dried in the sun, and the levels go down while it's being stored, so by the time we have the hay there's no saying, really, how much vitamin D is in there, if any. Pellets provide vitamin D, and vitamin D is important for bone and dental health, so I give Sophie and Casper pellets, and more than I sometimes see recommended. Casper and Sophie also need their pellets to stay a healthy weight. There are other nutrients as well that I wouldn't know how to get them without pellets. I'm not saying we need to keep track of every gram of food we give to make sure they get enough of everything (and it's true that we don't do that for ourselves, though like JessBun said, maybe it would be a good thing if we did since deficiencies are pretty common in humans), but I do think it's important to know they get everything they need and where they get it from. It's true that wild bunnies don't eat pellets, but they have a lot more freedom in choosing what they eat than most bunnies kept as pets do, and I think their diets are more balanced because of this. I don't think that bunnies can't live without pellets, because obviously some of us don't give their bunnies pellets and those bunnies are doing really well, but I also don't think there's anything wrong with giving bunnies a significant, more than is often recommended, amount of pellets. It all depends on the bunnies in question and on the situation, I think.
    It's certainly true that wild bunnies have choice in what they eat. However, if you watch a field of wildies, they predominantly eat grass, grass and more grass. So I'm not sure that their diet is that balanced to be honest. They obviously do get Vit D.

    I have always provided a very, small amount of pellets to all my rabbits, slightly more in the winter as they live outside. However, I have always been careful not to overfeed because of the calcium issue. https://www.harcourt-brown.co.uk/art...nd-rabbit-food

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