E. 17 – Rabbit-Safe Garden Plants

E. 17   Rabbit Safe Garden PlantsMany people want to feed their rabbits from their gardens but don’t know where to begin. We have all seen the movies where kids feed their rabbits only carrots and lettuce and everything seems fine. But we all know you can’t believe everything you see on television. First, a few words of caution…avoid feeding your young rabbits (those still nursing on their mom) anything other than free-choice pellets, hay and mother’s milk. The very young are prone to diarrhea with any change in diet and being so young their digestive system cannot handle the changes and they are not strong enough to battle to diarrhea. Another important reminder is when you change your rabbits’ diet you should make changes slowly and observe closely. If you notice any diarrhea or loss of appetite you should reverse course and return to the previous diet.

Today I will present five great plants that you can feed to your rabbits. Some parts are poisonous so only use the parts recommended. Most of the best parts of the plants for rabbits are parts humans don’t normally consume. Feed in moderation and use common sense.

E. 17   Rabbit Safe Garden Plants1. Blackberry & Raspberry – These all belong to the Rose family and have delicious edible fruit. Raspberries are very weather tolerant and found in the arctic cold to the semi-tropic rainforests. Raspberries & Blueberries come in numerous varieties, both with and without spines, and various colors with different flavors. Choose a variety that works well in your climate and with a berry you like to eat.

The best parts of these berry-producing machines for your rabbits are the parts you find above the soil. This works out good for everyone, you get the berries and your rabbits get the leaves and canes that need pruning. The berries may be fed as a treat but their high sugar levels can be bad for your rabbits.

2. Squash – Squash, in one form or another, has been around for a long time. Historical evidence shows that it was being actively cultivated 8-10,000 years ago. Squash that is harvested early in the season is called summer squash. The squash allowed to mature more fully and harvested in the fall or winter are commonly called winter squash. Some common squash include zucchini, yellow crookneck, butternut and acorn. Different varieties of squash thrive in different parts of the country. Most squash are vining and require a large amount of garden space to cultivate.

Many parts of the squash are edible by human and rabbit. The young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw by the both the rabbits and people. Both also will also enjoy the seeds and the squash itself.

E. 17   Rabbit Safe Garden Plants3. Radish – Radishes are a quick growing edible root vegetable that prefer full sun and loose soil. Different varieties of radish thrive in different seasons. Radishes usually take 3-4 weeks to mature. If you or your rabbits particularly enjoy radishes you can stagger the plant dates, planting a new crop every week or two. As the year progresses you can change the variety you plant to one more tolerant of the new season.

The rabbit will enjoy the entire radish. The radish is simple to grow and can be a great treat for your rabbits (almost) year round. Try different varieties and see which they like best, it may be different for each rabbit.

4. Sweet Potato – This root vegetable is a staple crop in many countries and is much more nutritious than the common potato. Sweet potatoes prefer warm temperatures and thrive in the tropical and temperate regions of the world. They like sunny days and warm nights and are very sensitive to frosts. They have few pests and are planted through cuttings. They also require quite a bit of water.  The tuber and the vine are edible by rabbits.

E. 17   Rabbit Safe Garden Plants5. Sunflower – The sunflower is an annual plant native to the Americas. It is believed to originate 4,500 years ago in Mexico. Sunflowers grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Rabbits can eat the plant from the ground up. Feed in moderation and see which parts your rabbits like best.

The five plants discussed above are just a few that rabbits like to eat. Rabbits are a great addition to any garden. They will eat many of the plant parts that are inedible for humans and the by-product is great fertilizer and a fantastic supply of meat protein.

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E. 16 – Natural Treatments for Pastured Rabbits

E. 16   Natural Treatments for Pastured RabbitsThis post will deal with natural alternatives for common health problems. Prevention is the best cure. The best way to avoid health problems is through proper nutrition and a draft-free, well ventilated housing system. Here are some natural methods for overall good health:
  • Elm, Plantain & Dandelion leaves 1-2 times/week promote general health.
  • Sassafras limb with bark attached one every 2-3 weeks helps prevent digestive problems for nursing does and her litter (once they are eating solid food)
  • Blackberry leaves work well to treat diarrhea.
  • The dried leaves of Oak, Elm, Sassafras and Willow are enjoyed in moderation. Collect them fresh before they become moldy or decayed.
  • Apple cider vinegar is claimed by some to be a magic elixir. It may help with diarrhea, breeding problems, and promote healthy coats.Using 1-2 tablespoons at a 5% concentration can be added to one gallon of water. This can be used daily and long-term.
  • Comfrey is another help that seems to be great for rabbits. It’s high in the amino acids that are necessary for protein creation and many rabbit ailments can be traced back to protein deficiencies.Feeding it fresh is preferred but if it is collected fresh and stored without mold or decay it retains many of its’ positive effects. Used regularly it is claimed to help prevent diarrhea and colds.

Stress, in different forms, is responsible for most health issues with our rabbits. Extreme weather, strange people, animals, and nutritional deficiencies can all lead to slow growth, colds, abortions or death. Protect your rabbits from these negative influences and you will be rewarded with healthy rabbits.

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E. 15 – Feeding Rabbits on Pasture

While the name “Pasture” helps describes their diet, pastured rabbits will still need suplemental feed.

Photo courtesy of survivalistboards.com

Most experts agree a pasture can supply up to 40% of a rabbit’s nutritional needs. I would considered this estimate low for a well-maintained pasture. Pasture management is the key to success with

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Book Review – Rabbit Production

Title – Rabbit Production

Edition – 8th

Author name – McNitt/Patton/Lukefahr/Cheeke

Main Character (author bias or influence) These four authors are both college professors and Ph. D’s. They have decades of experience raising rabbits both in the USA and in developing countries.

Size of book – 475 pages

Illustrations – Black and White photos and

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E. 14 – Pastured Rabbits & Rabbit Tractors

Some homesteaders and small famers prefer raising rabbits on pasture exclusively from birth to harvest. While some have been successful doing this I prefer the method used by Daniel Salatin at Polyface Farms. Daniel has been raising pastured rabbits for years using rabbit tractors. His pregnant does normally stay on pasture until they are due

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Breed Briefs – Flemish Giant

History & Origin

The Flemish Giant’s ancestors have been traced back as far as the 16th Century in Belgium. They apparently had made their way to England and the United States by the end of the 1800’s where they were raised as a food source. These rabbits were considered good sources of meat, pelts and

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E. 13 – Homesteading – Then and Now

Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Homesteading was common-place in America long before The Homestead Act of 1862 was signed by President Lincoln or the Preemption Act of 1841. These Acts were, however, some of the earliest legislation in the United States regarding homesteading and led to the settlement of millions of acres.The Preemption

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Breed Briefs – Florida White

History & Origin

The Florida White was developed in the 1960’s as a smaller meat rabbit alternative to the Californian and New Zealand rabbits. The Florida White began as a three-way cross between a New Zealand, a white Polish and an albino Dutch. The Florida White was officially recognized in 1967.

The working standard is

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E. 12 – Treating Sick Meat Rabbits

Treating sick meat rabbits is inevitable. Prevention is best. Keep your hutches clean, your rabbits in a draft-free but well ventilated location, and provide clean and appropriate food and water. Even if you’re doing everything right, occasionally a rabbit will get sick. I am going to talk about the most common ailments you will see

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Book Review – When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care-Traditional & Alternative Healing Methods

Title – When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care-Traditional and Alternative Healing Methods

Author name – Lucile C. Moore & Kathy Smith

Size of book – 396 pages with multiple Tables and Appendices

Illustrations – Multiple black and white pictures of rabbits with special needs

Parts of the Book

Traditional Healing Methods – Chapters cover Basic

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