In order to prevent diseases, the following feeding rules should be observed.
- rabbits need green fodder as their staple food
Dry fodder, hay or (tuberous) vegetables are not suitable as the main component of food. Feed your rabbit at least twice a day a large mountain of green fodder. This includes
all wild plants (meadow plants, leaves of trees),
Vegetable greenery (cabbage vegetables, carrot greenery, kohlrabi leaves, spinach and other green leaf vegetables) and all kitchen herbs.
If this feeding rule is not observed, the metabolism is slowed down and digestive disorders of all kinds occur. Rabbits that are mainly fed dry are often quite calm and not fit and vital. Also bladder and kidney diseases are often the result. Dental diseases can also be intensified.
- green fodder from nature is better than from the supermarket
If you have the possibility of picking green fodder from nature, then you should use this possibility, because the vegetable green is less varied, species-typical and often also loaded with spray. In addition, natural green fodder contains a higher fibre content and more secondary plant substances. Both are very important for digestion and health.
- rabbits need round-the-clock green fodder and an even diet.
It is not enough to feed the rabbits a bit of green fodder twice a day, they need it day and night. Unlike humans, rabbits do not eat in meals, but in small quantities. Thus their digestive tract is evenly burdened. If the digestive tract is unevenly strained (one portion of green fodder and then again only hay, etc.), digestive disorders often occur. In addition, less chewing takes place (tooth diseases) and less water is absorbed (urinary tract diseases). Also the nutrient supply is not ideal with such an uneven supply.
- dry food is always only a supplementary food
Any dried food (no matter if hay, dried herbs, roots, dried vegetables…) is always only a supplementary food that should never constitute an important part of the food. As soon as the food is too dry, rabbits can become ill as fresh food (urinary tract diseases, digestive disorders, overweight, slow metabolism).
- commercial dry food makes ill
Most of the dry food on the market makes rabbits sick. Also cereal-free dry food, veterinary food and premium foods.
Switch to a healthy dry food or leave the dry food out altogether (slowly balance over one to two weeks). A healthy dry food is e.g. “JR Farm Grainless Herbs”, which you can buy in almost every pet shop.
Healthy dry food should have a full declaration, contain no by-products, but consist of herbs and seeds – possibly also little separated vegetables. In addition, no pellets (green longish pencils) or extrudates (green or coloured lumps / rings etc.) and no wheat may be contained. Extrudates often consist of waste products and are very unhealthy for digestion due to their structure (heavily ground – they no longer contain fibres). Dry feed very often causes all digestive problems (including incompatibility with fresh feed), urinary tract diseases and dental problems.
- rabbits need secondary plant substances
Fresh secondary plant substances are very important for health. In vegetables they are to a large extent “grown out”, therefore it is very important either to feed the rabbits a lot of green fodder from outside (meadow plants) or to supplement the vegetable green fodder daily with dried herbs, fresh herbs and twigs/branches. Prefer bitter salads (endive, chicory…), kitchen herbs and vegetable green (carrot green, celery green…). A lack of secondary plant substances leads to digestive disorders and other diseases (e.g. respiratory diseases).
- Water from the bowl instead of the nipple drinker
It has been proven that rabbits drink significantly more from a bowl than from a bottle. That’s why it’s important to get the water from a bowl. In addition, they also need water in winter and with pure fresh feed. Otherwise it can come to urinary tract illnesses.
So that the bowl does not get dirty, it should be raised on a stone or a floor or a house roof. It is also possible to use water bowls from the birds’ needs, which are hung on the grid.
- Treats only in small quantities and no unhealthy snacks
Unfortunately there are many unhealthy treats in the pet shops, which are very harmful for rabbits. These include green rolllies, oat cushions, snack bars, yoghurt drops and almost all other treats on offer.
Just as popular but not harmful are pea flakes, foxtail millet (bird seed), sunflower seeds and fresh herbs. Do not give dry treats in too large quantities and, if possible, in employment toys.
- No overly careful feeding
There are many outdated feeding tips which unfortunately harm the rabbits more than they use. These include “no wet fresh food to feed”, “cabbage bloats”, “feeding nothing from outside because there are so many poisonous plants”, “xyz is poisonous for rabbits because it is poisonous for humans / horses / dogs / cats or is in any poisonous plant list”, “cucumber causes diarrhea”, etc.
Especially rabbits that are over-cautiously fed according to such tips have many diseases. Animals that are very varied and not over-cautious are very healthy.
- Slow changeover of food
If you find that your diet is not ideal, do not change your diet too quickly. Rabbits do not tolerate sudden changes in diet from dry to fresh or vice versa. Reduce the dry food to approx. 1 tbsp per day and feed well tolerated fresh food by doubling the amount daily. Reduce the dry food by halving the amount daily. If the rabbits have been fed healthy for several weeks, cabbage, clover and similar plants can also be fed without hesitation.