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The British Rabbit Council Code of Practice

FEEDING

Feeding the correct diet to rabbits is fundamental to maintaining health, particularly of the dental and gastrointestinal systems.

• Correct feeding is also an essential requirement for successful breeding and is equally important
in the preparation of show rabbits.

• It has been argued that the most appropriate diet is the one that resembles as closely as possible
the natural grass based diet in the wild. Grass is approximately 20-25% crude fibre, 15% crude protein and 2-3% fat.

• Whatever feeding regime is followed the diet should contain a long fibre eg straw, grass (fresh or dried) and either good meadow or timothy hay.

• Green foods are important for rabbits of all ages, their introduction, in small amounts, should commence at weaning and can be increased slowly. Most green foods and root crops are suitable foods.

• Wild plants are useful, but care should be taken to ensure they are clean and unpolluted. Raspberry, blackberry and strawberry leaves are all beneficial.

• Commercial concentrate rabbit foods have become popular, however some may be too low in fibre but too high in fat, carbohydrate and protein. Concentrates should never be the sole source of food, grass or hay should provide the bulk of the diet. Some authorities claim that overfeeding of concentrates can be a factor in gastrointestinal and dental disease, which may predispose a rabbit to other conditions such as fly strike and arthritis.

• Frosted or mouldy food and grass clippings should be avoided.

• If a balanced diet is fed, dietary and vitamin supplements should not usually be required.

FRESH WATER IS ESSENTIAL AND MUST BE AVAILABLE AND ACCESSIBLE AT ALL TIMES. Bottles are generally preferred to bowls as they are easier to keep clean and avoid the spillage associated with bowls.

• Sudden changes in diet are to be avoided. Changes in diet should be made gradually over several days. When acquiring a new rabbit written details of its feeding regime should be obtained and if concentrates have been fed a supply of these should also be acquired so that any changes can be gradual. Likewise when a rabbit is passed to a new owner written details of its diet and a supply of its current food should go with it.