Feeding Alfalfa cubes to rabbits?

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I have a 50 pound bag of alfalfa cubes around that our horse won't be using (had to put him down a month ago...33 years old!) And I've been feeding the cubes to our rabbits a little at a time. Just wondering if there's anything wrong with doing that. Can the rabbits survive on alfalfa cubes, or should I be feeding them something else as well. (They do eat some of the chickens' feed as well.)

-- Chuck (woah@mission4me.com), January 01, 2002


Alfalfa cubes are fine. If you choose not to use commercial feed you should make mineralized salt available to them. The easiest way I know is salt spools - shaped like a large life-saver. You hang them in the cage so they don't erode the anondizing on the wire. Salt spool holders are sold at feed stores. If you try to use plastic or string the rabbits just chew it up. You could use aluminum wire I think, but the spool holders last longer and have no sharp points. If only feeding alfalfa cubes, it would be good to supplement with other things like grains, dry bread(they love it), veg. scraps, apple cores, lots of things are good for them. Mangel beets are easy to grow. Just don't feed too much of anything and you'll be fine.

-- Dianne Wood (woodgoat@pacifier.com), January 01, 2002.


I've been a lurker on Contryside for some time but felt that I must offer some advice on the subject of pet rabbits and their diet.

My daughter has been raising rabbits for a few years now, presently she has 23, including a 6 yr old French Lop with hind-end weakness she is doing hospice care with, here's what she learned about rabbits and alfalfa....

"Alfalfa-based rabbit diets were originally developed for meat animals and not for rabbits intended to be pets. These pellets were not meant to be fed long-term, because meat rabbits usually only lived for one or two years. Therefore, rabbits that consume too many alfalfa pellets or hay will often become obese and develop problems with high blood calcium (hypercalcemia).

High blood calcium can eventually lead to other problems. For example, the calcium will be excreted by the kidneys and may result in a type of calcium-based "sand" that forms in the urinary bladder (called bladder sludge). Rabbits with too much calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria) usually have thick, creamy urine.

Some rabbits develop stones that could cause obstructions in the ureter (the tube that transports urine from the kidney to the bladder) or urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder out of the body). Obstructions can be very dangerous. Radiographs (x- rays) or ultrasound may be necessary to diagnose stones in the urinary tract. Bacterial bladder infections can also occur."

reprint from ~ http://www.exoticpetvet.net/smanimal/rabbit.html

Please do a bit more on-line research before submitting your rabbits to a diet resticted to alfalfa cubes.

The recommondation for pet rabbits is about 3 tablespoons of commercial ( alfalfa ) pellets ( 18% fiber ) to 5 - 7 pounds of rabbit. Balance that with plenty of brome or tall grass mixed hay, fresh greens and limited treats of fruit, dried ( never fresh )bread and plenty of clean, fresh water. Always avoid the protien rich hays such as clover and alfalfa.

Be careful of the vegetables you choose to offer your rabbits, for example, avoid Icerberg lettuce and cabbage, instead, offer dark green leafy varities.

Starchy vegetables are not good for them either, like corn or potatoes. Also, avoid overly sweet fruits like bananas which can lead to diabetes.

Rabbits are a far more complex animal that we often realise, but they can give us years of delightful companionship.

I hope this helps ;-) There is great information on-line but make sure you've seen it at least twice before you believe it

sincerely, Gail in NW Iowa

-- Gail (earth_mother_@hotmail.com), January 01, 2002.

What else have you BEEN feeding them already? I would not just feed them plain alfalfa cubes and nothing else, especially if they are not used to it. Alfalfa hay is higher in protein and could possibly give them diarrhea or enteritis. If you want to give them hay, give them regular grass hay, it is much lower in protein and won't cause as many problems as the alfalfa.

-- Tracey in Alabama (trjlanier@cs.com), January 02, 2002.

I know many people say not to feed alfalfa but it can be fed to them. I routinely use either alfalfa hay or alfalfa cubes to increase the fiber that the rabbits take in. This is along with a pelleted rabbit feed with a primary ingredient of alfalfa!! I raise these rabbits for meat and show. I have never had a problem with bladder stones or blockages. I also have had several of them live to be 7 years old, which is old for a rabbit! (when they are older they get to retire) I make sure the kits have some type of hay to munch on when they start to come out of the nest. This has eliminated any enteritis in my herd. It has been several years since I have lost a rabbit to an unexpected death. Also bananas can be fed to rabbits it will not hurt them. Many times I use a bit of banana after a doe has kindled to eat while I check the kits. Any time I have bananas that get to ripe out to the barn they go the bunnies go nuts when they smell them and everyone gets some! Good Luck with your bunnies. Denise

-- Denise K. (Rabbitmom2@webbworks.com), January 02, 2002.

Chuck, in Britian where raising rabbits is an art form in it self, they base the bunnies diet around long stem hays, timothy being the favorite for it's lower protein content and balanced mineral content, and palatability for the rabbits.

I have found that the timothy mixed hays are better for their overall health as well, use the hay instead of any pellets or cubes, and supplement with the salt/mineral spools and some fresh forage form the house like carrot and root vegatbles OTHER than white potatoes.

Ask around in your area among the horse people to find good quality timothy hays, pay for the best since you will not need much. Three or four dollars a bale for second or third cutting would be a normal price for good quality hay, in your area.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), January 02, 2002.

You can feed alfalfa cubes as a treat, but wouldn't feed it to the bunnies as their sole diet. We use commercial rabbit chow and grass hay and give the cubes as a treat (one daily to each bunny). Ours live into ripe old age and don't have health problems. We give a mineral block cube (just break or chisel one off the horse's block) to our bunnies as well. If they don't want it, they'll leave it alone, but most lick it even though they get commercial rabbit chow.

-- Cindy (colawson@mindspring.com), January 02, 2002.

You might consider giving them two or three cattle range cubes a day. They are 20% protein, but the primary advance would be they are hard and would help keep their teeth in check.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), January 08, 2002.

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