Feeding Meat Rabbits for Intense Breeding Programs

This past year, my rabbitry has grown tremendously, and I’ve actually minimized my herd recently, keeping only those that mean the most to my breeding program. I do not breed through the hot weather months anymore because I feel its too hard on them. I currently have 3 bucks and 10 does in my breeding program. Most are Rex but I have begun Flemish giant again.

Currently, my breeding program is a relaxed one. I started out with an intense breeding program. I bred to try for 8 litters a year per doe. I am not so sure that I will pick back up on this level of intensity, but it allowed  growth at a faster rate.

Breeding for 8 litters per year a tight program. I re-bred just 14 days after each doe kindled. You can imagine the toll it could take on these girls if they didn’t get an increase in the nutritional value of their feed. We have a doe that has been our best mama. She has had 4 litters back to back and she is beginning to thin down and lose some condition. It is important we stay tuned into them and adjust their feed accordingly.

Online, you will read so many opinions, and different methods of feeding that it can be confusing. What I have come to discover is that your way, according to your own situation is the right way as long as your rabbits are healthy and productive.

My way of feeding  changed  from the way I began because my production level has changed and my girls work hard. I have learned a lot in this venture, and I’ll explain what I have found works for me when breeding is increased.

Any feed supply stores should have the things listed below. Tractor supply, local farmers Co-op, Grain mills, and even farmers may offer some or all of these feeds in larger quantity than what you would find at stores such as Walmart.

Pellets:

In my area, my feed stores only offer a 16% protein pellet. If you can find 17% or 18%, you should try to get that if you pellet feed.

While each person is different in their choice and situation, some rabbiteers choose to free feed their entire herd pellets. That has been my route to feeding since I began, and I have decided it is time to increase the quality for our does and grow outs.

My cost: $12.00 for 50 pound bag at my local farmers co-op.

Feed oats:

For all the nursing does and grow outs, I mix equal amounts of pellets and oats. They love oats and it helps my does keep in better condition as they nurse.
You can get feed oats or any other feed grains at most feed stores. I buy feed oats at the local farmers coop for $11 for 50 lb bag.

Hay:

Offering free feed hay is also quite necessary regardless of the methods of feeding, as the rabbits need this for both nutrition as well as gut health. Grass hay is fine if that is whats available to you, or you can feed timothy or alfalfa hay. There are probably several varieties of hay you could safely choose from, and they would do if that’s all that was available…so long as they have some! Check with local farms first and you should be able to get good hay fairly cheap.

My cost: Round bale lower quality mixed grass hay $35.00…I am not happy with that though so, I would like to switch to smaller bales at the local feed store for $4.00-$6.00 each and use this round bale for bedding.

Alfalfa Cubes:

I offer all my rabbits a cube as needed. They usually take a couple of days to finish one, so it really depends on other factors or your own situation how you offer this. I figure about 1/2 cube per day per bun, and it actually works out that way at their pace.
My cost varies: 50 pound bag from $17 – $20 at feed store

BOSS- Black Oil Sunflower Seeds:

Buns love black oil sunflower seeds, and I used them for nursing does only. Depending on their litter size and their condition, I will feed 1 to 3 tablespoons boss per bun each day.
Boss is available at feed stores in 50 lb bags for approximately $25. You can also get them at Walmart for about $6 for 5 lb bags.
So with the feeds listed above, I’ll tell you now exactly how our buns are fed.
In the morning, I feed everyone. I start with the nursing does. My does get 1 cup of pellets in one side of their dish and 1 cup of oats in the other side. Each doe also gets 1 to 3 tablespoons of black oil sunflower seeds depending on her condition, the age, and number of kits she has, and whether or not she is going to be bred back quickly. They get as much hay as they can eat everyday too. They also enjoy alfalfa cubes daily. Usually 1 a day plus fresh greens every couple of days like banana leaves and sweet potatoes. I repeat the feeding in the evening except for the boss.
NOTE that boss and oats have a warming effect on rabbits, so feed those in the evening through the hot temperature months.
When the kits get to coming out of their boxes and eating with mama, their food is the same but unlimited because at this point they are tiny eating machines and devour mama’s food.
The bucks always get a cup of pellets in the morning and lots of hay. At night when I go out, if they act hungry I’ll give them another 1/2 cup pellets and more hay. Every couple of days, I feed fresh greens which usually is banana leaves. They love their banana leaves!
The grow outs all get unlimited feed. I mix it half pellets and half oats. They get unlimited hay. I’d like to start measuring 1 cup total feed for each grow out with unlimited hay and test 1 group before I do this for all of them.
Please comment below and let me know how you feed your buns. We will learn best from each other.

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