There are 6 mistakes that owners tend to make when they feed their rabbit with pellets:
- They think pellets are a necessity to their bunnie’s diet
- They don’t limit the daily given quantity of pellets
- They don’t pick the right pellets accordingly to their rabbit’s life stage or condition
- They tend to choose colourful rabbit food mixes instead of plain pellets
- They think that all pellets are of equal quality regardless of who makes them
- They don’t pay attention to the guaranteed analysis on the packaging
1.It's Not Mandatory To Add Pellets To Your Bunnie's Diet
Rabbit pellets gained popularity in the meat industry, where pellets are fed to allow animals to attain a certain weight quickly, so they can be slaughtered. Obviously, you do not want the same result for your domestic rabbit. Pellets can be considered safe when a few rules are respected. It’s solely the decision of the owner to offer or not to offer pellets to their bunny. If pellets are not a part of the diet or are provided in smaller quantities, the amount of vegetables given must be increased to compensate.
2.Why Should You Limit Your Rabbit's Daily Pellet Intake?
Several health concerns will eventually arise if your rabbit’s pellets are not carefully monitored. If they have the possibility to choose between hay or pellets, they will pick the pellets as they are tastier and demand much less effort to masticate. A bunny’s molars and incisors need to be weared down regularly because they grow continuously. They will grow unevenly and/or out of proportion since pellets don’t grind their teeth down the same way hay does. No pellet restriction will also generate other preventable health hazards such as obesity & gastrointestinal disorders. The maximum amount of pellets to be offered daily per rabbit of 5 pounds or less must be measured at 1/4 cup. An additional 1/4 cup may be added for every 5 extra pounds of rabbit.
3.Picking The Right Pellets Depending Upon Your Bunnie's Life Stage
There are 2 types of pellets: Alfalfa or Timothy based. Alfalfa is a legume hay which is high in calcium & protein compared to Timothy hay. Pellets made from Alfalfa hay should be given to bunnies under 6 months old & lactating mothers. Rabbits over 6 months of age should be fed with pellets made from Timothy hay as the primary ingredient. Urinary problems/blockages due to urinary calculus, provoked by the high amounts of calcium found in Alfalfa based pellets, can occur if offered on a regular basis to adult bunnies (over 6 months of age). Also, the high levels of protein contained in Alfalfa hay can contribute to obesity issues.
4.Colourful, Mixed & Gourmet Foods Are Not Healthier
Alot of pet food companies tend to mislead rabbit owners. Mixes such as gourmet food with colourful pieces of dried fruits, vegetables, seeds and/or nuts might confuse the owner into thinking that it’s healthier, but it’s not. Not only are these added ingredients unnecessary and unhealthy, but if they have a choice, bunnies will probably eat everything else but the pellets in the mix.
5.The Pellets Brand Is Everything
Choosing the right brand of rabbit pellets is very important. It will insure that you’re feeding your bunny with great quality food. Trusted brands such as Oxbow & Martin Mills are pet food companies to be privileged.
6.Why You Should Always Check The Guaranteed Analysis
The guaranteed analysis of the pellets will provide you with the necessary information that will certify that you’re meeting your bun-bun’s nutritional requirements. Which is why it’s important to respect, as much as possible, the percentage of the following nutrients;
- Fiber: The higher the better but a minimum of 17-18% fiber must be respected
- Protein: A healthy adult rabbit needs a protein level of 12-14%. Young rabbits (under 6 months) need a higher protein level of around 16%.
- Calcium & Phosphorus: Calcium should be about 0.5 – 1.0% and phosphorus 0.4-0.8%.
- Fat: 2.4-4.5%
- Vitamins: Vitamin D 1000 IU/kg, Vitamin E 50 IU/kg, Vitamin A 10,000 IU/kg