GRAINS, SEEDS + more!

Contrary to popular belief, seeds and pseudo grains can be a great addition to a rabbits diet. It should be noted that although they are beneficial at times, they should only be fed as a supplement (and this means in moderation!).

People often argue that seeds are not natural for rabbits and should not be fed, yet somehow they fail to make that connection with the manufactured pellets they feed their rabbits everyday (not to mention the long list of additives and byproducts added to the commercial pellet style feed). Artificial vitamins/minerals are added to replace those lost in the manufacturing process, so all the natural goodness from the ingredients have been lost due to high temperatures.

Although seeds do not make up a significant part of their natural diet, they are consumed during certain times in the year in small amounts. Plus when plants go into seed, they would naturally eat these seeds.

Seeds and pseudo grains are especially well suited to rabbits housed outdoors in the cold season so they can maintain their body weight. Other examples of when seeds may be useful is during the moulting period to shift stuck hair balls - these can lead to gut stasis if prevention methods are not put in place, so oily seeds are one way to help this problem. If rabbits are underweight or sick, increasing starchy seeds may be valuable to nurse them back to good health.

 

 If you are considering creating your own mix, please research into each of the ingredients as it is important to ensure each ingredient is well tolerated by bunnies, and of course safe! I would only start feeding farinaceous (starchy) seeds when the leaves fall from the trees in Autumn. In general, most rabbits digestive systems are more accepting of the oily seeds. Some rabbits with digestive disorders may have difficulty with flour seeds.

 

The following list shows which pseudo grains and oil seeds are tolerated by rabbits and their benefits:

 

BUCKWHEAT

QUINOA

BUDGIE SEED

(no additives!)

GRASS SEED

(not treated!)

Facts

  • Has great nutrition

  • Contains lysine

  • Easily digested

  • Regulates blood sugar

Facts

  • Contains many minerals

  • Well tolerated

  • Can be purchased in bulk (20kg) from pet shops 

Facts

  • Nutritious

  • Healthy fatty acids

  • Contains proteins 

  • Rich in minerals

Facts

  • Beneficial when hay quality is poor

  • Useful supplement during the moulting period

HEMP

Facts

  • Contains Omega 3 & 6

  • Has all the amino acids

  • Vitamin E rich

  • High fat content

FLAX

Facts

  • Many vitamins & minerals

  • Source of Vitamin E

  • Contains healthy fats

  • Good for digestion

SESAME

Facts

  • Contains Vitamin E

  • Useful amino acids

  • Good for skin & coat

  • Rich calcium source

PUMPKIN & SUNFLOWER

Facts

  • Fattening

  • Well tolerated

  • Improves skin & coat 

  • Essential fatty acids

CARAWAY

Facts

  • Can help with bloating

  • Appetising

CUMIN

Facts

  • Good for digestion

POPPY

Facts

  • Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids

  • Beneficial for skin & coat

  • Feed in small quantities only

TIPS FOR FEEDING

  • Increase amount of flour seeds when it is colder/if rabbits are underweight

  • Healthy, adult rabbits housed indoors do not need seeds (may be fed as a small supplement)

  • Avoid flour seeds when rabbits have digestive disorders

  • Do not feed seeds/pseudo grains to overweight rabbits

  • Weigh rabbits weekly to monitor their health 

  • Sprinkle seeds in hay or hide them so they can search for them

dried plants

Forage is healthiest given fresh, however this is not always possible as the majority of plants are only available during the Spring and Summer. Dried plants should be given in moderation because unlike fresh plants, they do not contain enough water to flush out the calcium. In general, you can feed up to 1 handful per rabbit per week.

STEP 1: COLLECT

Safe Plants:

Dandelion, Yarrow, Vetch, Trefoil, Plantain, Clover, Thistle

 

Herbs:

Marjoram, Oregano, Mint, Lavender, Sage

Shrubs/Trees:

Hazelnut (without nuts), Birch, Apple, Blackberry

Please note: this is not a complete list, just a few examples.

STEP 2: DRY

THERE ARE SEVERAL OPTIONS FOR DRYING PLANTS

DEHYDRATE

SUN DRY

OVEN DRY

Using a dehydrator is probably my favourite way to dry plants. The temperature can be set to as low as 35 Celcius. I find this method is quick, however there is not much space in the dehydrator, and of corse, it costs money.

Sun drying plants does take the longest. The benefits of this is that it is free, there is no limit to how much plants you can dry at once and it is the most 'natural' way to dry the herbs (better for the nutritional values).

Oven drying is the quickest way to dry the plants. Despite being quick, the lowest temperature most ovens do not go below 80 Celcius, therefore Vitamins & Minerals are most likely reduced with this method.

An alternative to drying your own plants is to purchase them. This saves lots of time and the end product is generally much better. Drying your own is better value because it is free, however buying online is convenient. There are several stockists online and in pet shops. We stock a herbal blend suitable for all kinds of small animals!