The rabbit’s appetite is regulated primarily by the energy concentration of the feed it is eating and its stage of life. Baby rabbits that are actively growing will eat more rabbit food (per pound of body weight) than when they become adults. Also, pregnant or lactating rabbits need to provide more nutrients to their growing babies and so they will eat a lot more. Click here to read about what foods rabbits eat.
How Much Food do Baby Rabbits Eat?
How much do they eat?
Scientists have calculated that, when actively growing, baby rabbits eat about 950 kJ of digestible energy per day per kg of (metabolic live weight) LW0.75 if the energy concentration of the feed is above 9 to 9.5 kJ/kg (Xiccato and Trocio 2010). Below this energy concentration rabbits cannot consume enough food because of the limitations of their digestive system (they get too full). Remember, as rabbits mature their growth slows and so does their appetite.
Feed efficiency depends upon balance and energy concentration
What does this mean? A balanced diet that is slightly higher in energy will improve the feed conversion ratio according to the following equation: Feed/Gain = 6.60 – (0.33 x DE in mJ/kg). Take note that these equations applicable to when the energy concentration is above 9.3 MJ/kg and are representative of New Zealand Rabbits (a medium to large size breed) fed adlib (as much as they want to eat) and actively growing between 4/5 weeks to 10/11 weeks of age. Other rabbits eat slightly more or less depending upon their final size.
The average rabbit food has around 8.5 to 10.0 mJ of digestible energy per kg of feed… but isn’t necessarily “balanced.” Furthermore, adding certain minerals or changing the source of the energy from starch to fat on a calorie for calorie basis will significantly improve the feed conversion ratio.
How Much Food do Adult Pet Rabbits Eat?
The answer to this question varies considerably and depends a lot upon the quality of the diet you feed your rabbit. As an example our 3 pound adult Holland lop rabbit eats one 4.5 pound bag of our Maintenance rabbit food pellets every 30 days (we provide it free-choice without supplementing the diet with anything else). This means that on average he eats 2.4 ounces/day.
How Much Food do Lactating or Nursing Rabbits Eat?
After giving birth lactating rabbits eat a lot more food and it steadily increases as the baby rabbits grow and consume more milk (average = 1,100-1,300 kJ/d/kg LW0.75; Peak = 1,500 – 1,800 kJ/d/kg LW0.75. After a while the kits will begin consuming dry food and the doe will then eat less and produce less milk. Shortly after weaning, the feed intake of the Doe will decrease within a week to about 500-600 kJ/d/kg LW0.75.
How Much Food do Pregnant Rabbits Eat?
Pregnant rabbits eat more food in the early stages of pregnancy (600-650 kJ DE/d/kg LW0.75) than in later stages (400-450 kJ DE/d/kg LW0.75) because the growing babies begin to take up significant amounts of space, especially during the last 5 days of pregnancy. On the day of birthing the doe usually eats little to nothing because of hormone changes.
Rabbits Should Eat a Balanced Rabbit Food.
It is important that rabbit food be balanced according to the energy concentration of the feed so that rabbits can get adequate amounts of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients without getting too much of them. Otherwise the excesses could physiologically stress the organs or digestive system of the rabbit.
When Do Rabbits Eat?
In the wild rabbits tend to eat most of their food in the early morning at late evening because it is the best time to avoid predators. In fact, as shown in published research, if you change the timing of when the lights turn on and of then they will adjust their feeding time accordingly. However, it is important to note that because rabbits ferment their food in their ceacum they tend to eat small amounts of food on a regular basis.