By the time bunnies reach about 11 to 12 weeks of age they are "teenagers" and need to switch to a diet that is lower in energy and fortified with specific nutrients. This helps them mature without getting fat. In fact it will help them stay trim and active and you'll know that they are healthy on the inside because you'll see the difference in the quality of their fur coat on the outside!
If you like to feed your bunny hay then this concentrated grain-free and soy-free adult rabbit food will ensure your bunny gets the nutrients it needs. You'll know that they are healthy on the inside because you'll see the difference in the quality of their fur coat on the outside! This is because it contains higher concentrations of specific nutrients that complements and balances those already found in hay giving your bunny an extra boost of healthy energy.
From birth until about 12 weeks of age rabbits are still considered babies and need a well balanced high-fat diet (like mamma's milk) that is low in carbohydrates. This style of food is based upon decades of research and is the best baby rabbit food on the planet. See our customer reviews.
His coat is amazing! It's almost ridiculous how dense and soft it is...
Very best rabbit food
Posted by Melanie
Your rabbit food makes all the others junk...
My rabbit likes it better than Oxbow!
Posted by Janice
I mixed the Oxbow with this food and my rabbit picked through it... She ate the Sherwood and didn't touch the Oxbow. I'm happy to say she is back to being healthy and happy and no more messy backside. Her fur is soft and shiny.
Natural Rabbit Food
Super GREEN & FRESH extra small 1/8 inch diameter pellets ensure rabbits don't drop and waste food. Made fresh weekly.
We are often asked how to store Sherwood Forest rabbit food. Generally we recommend purchasing less than a 3 month supply. Storage should be done in a dark and dry location. Cool temperatures are better than warm but room temperature is fine. If you want to store food longer than 3 months it should be fine because Sherwood Forest is ultra-fresh and the nutritional value lasts much longer. This is because all of our ingredients are kept in their natural whole state (Mother Nature’s best storage). We only grind them just prior to mixing and pelleting them. This means that all of the natural anti-oxidants in the seed coat of flax and other sources are incorporated into the pellet! The pellets are dry so they can be stored in a sealed container or ziplock bag. If you decide to freeze them just don’t open the container until after they have warmed up to room temperature or moisture will condense on the cold pellets and make them wet.
We work hard to only have a week or two worth of pellets made so we can offer the freshest food on the market. Furthermore we use organic chelated minerals that keep the food fresh instead of inorganic mineral salts (Ferrous Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, and Sodium Selenite) that speed the oxidation of nutrients in the food. Other brands make their food from ingredients that are purchased pre-ground and they store it in bins where it ages. Then when the food is made they stamp it with the date of manufacture and often hide the actual date in a ‘batch code.’ We post a “Made Fresh On:” date. Popular nationwide brands give their products an expiration date of 18 months past the date of manufacture… not accounting for the fact that the ingredients were ground much earlier and then stored.
<-- click on the picture to see up close -
Certified Organic Rabbit Food - Based on the request of many customers, we are working towards adding a certified organic line in the future. This is a big step so stay tuned and we'll post updates when we get close!
** If you would like a 2 pound sample click on the link and order a sample of any one of Sherwood Forest foods at no cost, except for what the post office charges to mail the food to you (4.95 anywhere in the U.S.A.)...we even pay for part of the shipping.
It will arrive fresh in about 2-3 days by USPS priority mail. This way you and your rabbits can see, smell and taste why Sherwood Forest is the freshest and best on the market!
Rabbits nutritional needs change throughout life! The nutritional needs of baby bunnies are much different than when they reach adulthood. Food should reflect and tailor to the changing nutritional needs of rabbits at their different life stages. A "one size fits all" style is definitely not the right approach to proper nutrition!
Feeding Instructions: Rabbits rely on good bacteria to ferment their food and provide additional nutrients. To promote healthy bacterial populations, rabbits should always have food and water available to them.
We are often asked how to feed Sherwood Forest Rabbit Food and if it can be rationed and supplemented with additional treats, hay and vegetables. To better understand how to feed your rabbit see the picture of the digestive tract and read over the additional information below.
more information here ∇
Rabbits are dependent on the good bacteria that live in their digestive tract. These bacteria ferment and break down the undigested fiber contained in the food the bunny eats. They actually live in a "chamber" near the end of the digestive tract called the caecum (see picture below). This means that rabbits are able to digest and extract nutrients out of their food before the bacteria have a chance to ferment (digest) it.
The special arrangement of the rabbits digestive system means that only indigestible material (mostly fiber) provides the foundation for the slow growth of healthy bacteria. This process has the potential to provide additional nutrients such as B-vitamins, essential amino-acids (high quality protein) and volatile fatty-acids (a natural source of energy) for your rabbit. Take note that rabbits don't digest starch (from grain and grain by-products) or soy very well. They also cannot directly digest even the soft simple fibers like pectin found in fruit and cellulose found in veggies, leafy greens, and tender fresh grass. Consequently these things end up in the ceacum and fuel the growth of bacteria. Too much of any of these items in the caecum can contribute to the rapid overgrowth of bad bacteria which often leads to bloating, digestive upset, and possibly even diarrhea.
Long Stem Fiber and Supplements?
For more detailed information on what type of fiber is important in a rabbit’s diet, read the ingredients tab above to find more information about crude fiber.
Does your bunny like to eat lots of hay? What about treats or supplements?
For those who love to feed additional hay and treats but limited pellets you'll be interested to know that we offer a "concentrate pellet" that provides everything your bunny needs except additional fiber, which you will need to provide (eg. grass hay like timothy).
For adult rabbits, this pellet will then be no more than 50% of their entire diet, by weight.
Complete diet should be 50% or more Hay and you’ll need to ration the pellets to 50% or less of the diet by weight. For more information click here.
Sherwood Forest has also formulated two complete foods (for adult Rabbits & baby bunnies) that are designed to be fed free-choice without rationing and without the need to provide additional hay (great for many people with hay allergies), supplements, or treats. These pellets contain the hay that rabbits need for digestive health. Just simply fill the dish and let your bunny eat as often as they want and need. In fact feeding these formulas this way is healthier... and their appestat will tell them when they are full and their nutritional needs are met. The Maintenance and Support formula for adult rabbits is low in calories and loaded with high quality timothy hay and provides ample amounts of long-strand fiber.
This may be different from what you have heard or read about. Many people are of the opinion that you need to provide hay free-choice and restrict feeding pellets. The reason why this is such a popular and traditional way to care for rabbits is because most rabbit food on the market lacks hay and instead is full of grain and soybean meal, both of which are difficult to digest. Remember, undigested grain and soy protein will end up in the caecum and promote the growth of bad bacteria that can cause bloating and possibly even lead to diarrhea...not a good thing.
To try and remedy this, bunny owners (at the recommendation of veterinarians) started feeding hay to dilute the high starch (grain) diet caused by conventional pellets. However they don't realize that they are also diluting the concentration of specific vitamins and minerals provided by the pellets that rabbits need for optimal health... a difficult choice. For example, hay (timothy and alfalfa) is deficient in phosphorous, choline, specific amino acids and other nutrients. Feeding rabbits only hay increases the risk for long-term degenerative health problems which include a higher risk of cirrhosis of the liver, autoimmune diseases that lead to food allergies, and even muscular dystrophy (paralysis).
This is why it is best to provide a complete and balanced diet. Sherwood Forest foods are very well researched (and balanced on over 50 parameters rather than the common 3 or 4) and will greatly improve the health of your bunny. Having said this, we have many who provide hay and some occasional treats in moderation. Let us know how you feed Sherwood Forest and what results you are seeing. We love to hear from you.
Rabbit Digestive Health
Caecum: more info ∇
This is where most of the magic happens... Normally undigested hay that is rich in cellulose provides food for healthy bacteria that slowly break it down and produce energy, vitamins, and other nutrients for the rabbit. However this special symbiotic arrangement can spell trouble for the rabbit if it eats too much grain or soy. These items are like candy for bad bacteria and can quickly change the pH and other conditions in the caecum leading to digestive upset, bloat, and possibly even diarrhea. For more details click on the ingredients tab above.
Ileum: more info ∇
This is the end of the small intestine where most of the nutrients should have already been absorbed. After passing through this part the micro-villi of the intestinal wall separates particles according to their size. Large particles (or long-stem fiber that is greater than 1.7mm in size -primarily lignified or woody stems) are directed to the large intestine while the small particles (smaller than 1.5mm) are directed into the caecum and fuel bacterial fermentation in the caecum.
Small Intestine: more info ∇
All of the nutrients that have been freed through digestive processes are absorbed as they pass through the small intestine (which is small in diameter but it is actually very long). However starch (from grain sources like wheat middlings and grain by-products) are not fully broken down and therefore cannot be absorbed. At the end of the small intestine all food particles that have not already been absorbed are sorted according to size. Large particles (long-stem fiber) are directed to the large intestine while small particles are directed into the caecum to be fermented.
Large Intestine: more info ∇
This is where water is re-absorbed prior to expelling little rabbit poops
Rabbit food should be balanced for optimal health. Learn how the long-strand
Why is fiber important in a rabbits diet and how much do they really need?
A food label that reports its crude fiber content is too vague to make any judgments on how it will affect your rabbit’s digestive health, because not all fiber is created equal! Most people think of fiber being used to speed the passage of food through the digestive system with the lack of it causing digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea. Rabbits are different. Fiber for rabbits should be divided into different categories because, in the rabbit, only certain types of fiber actually act like fiber.
Also, because rabbits ferment their food (described below) rabbits should always have food available for them to eat.
Indigestible Fiber: Long stem hay?
This type of fiber functions in the rabbit digestive system the way we normally think of fiber.
A minimum level of this fiber (lignin or woody material in the stem) is needed to prevent digestive troubles but rabbit food labels don't even report a guaranteed amount of lignin (they only report "crude fiber"). Furthermore, even if they did numerically meet this criterion it is simply not enough.
This is because care needs to be taken to ensure that the lignin fibers are of the right particle size or they won’t be able to serve their function and can possibly end up contributing to digestive troubles.
Just how long should long-stem fiber be? Doesn't it get chewed up anyways? The truth is that lignin is woody and tough and resists being broken down. The chewing process breaks it up into relatively small fragments but they naturally remain large enough to function properly for the rabbits digestive system.
Lignin fiber particles need to be larger in size (approximately 1.7 mm or larger) than the other particles in the food. Our recipes are designed to make sure that our rabbit food provides enough lignin for your rabbit and our milling process ensures that they aren't too small! Look at the above picture and compare it to other brands. Rabbit food that is finely ground prior to pelleting will increase the likelihood of digestive troubles.
If there is not enough of these particles (or if they are too small) then digestion will be slowed and this increases the likelihood of diarrhea.
Digestible or Fermentable Fiber:
Ironically some other types of fibers aren’t used like fiber at all.
These fibers are used as an energy source like we use carbohydrates. However, the energy is absorbed by the rabbit in the form of volatile fatty acids (fat) and not carbohydrates!
Once again these types of fibers can only serve their function if they are incorporated into rabbit food in the right particle size.
If the food is made correctly then these types of fibers will eventually end up in the caecum (an enlarged appendix or dead-end chamber off of the large intestine... see picture below) where they will serve their purpose.
These particles need to be smaller in size than the indigestible fibers.
Take a close look at the rabbit food pellet. If it is comprised of all small particles (less than approximately 1.5 mm) then you know that all the ingredients will likely end up in the caecum, some of which may cause problems.
For more information and an interactive diagram on rabbit digestion click the tab above labelled "feeding instructions".
in our pellets and our low-calorie and
How much energy (calories) should be in rabbit food? Well, first off, not all calories are the same! Second, dietary calories need to be in a balanced ratio according to the amount of usable protein and other nutrients.
A balanced diet, including a balanced energy to protein ratio makes bunnies lean & healthy)
Rabbits naturally use fat more efficiently than carbohydrates. In fact, studies show that rabbits naturally obtain about 30% of their basal energy needs from volatile fatty acids (fats) produced by bacterial fermentation of fiber in the caecum. Baby rabbits get the majority of their calories in mom’s milk in the form of fat. Rabbit milk, depending upon the stage of lactation, will have a fat content between 17.7% and 10.2%, with a protein content between 11.9% to 13.2%, and lactose (sugar) content between 1.1% and 1.8%. Baby rabbits don’t fully develop the ability to digest excess starch until later in life... and even then it is limited. A diet higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates is best for the somewhat delicate digestive system of rabbits. Lactating rabbits on a higher fat diet also produce healthier milk subsequently improving the health of baby bunnies. Adult rabbits need higher fat diets that are lower in carbohydrates to maintain ceacum health. Also rabbits need to obtain certain fats from their diet that are used to make cell membranes (the omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are usually limiting in the diet).
Too many carbohydrates (from grain) makes a fat rabbit
If you choose a brand that has a higher fat content for your bunny, care should be taken to determine the quality of the source. This is because adding fat to the diet of a rabbit can cause vitamin E deficiencies if the ratio of vitamin E to fat in the diet is not balanced. Any mammal with an increased dietary fat content will require more vitamin E. It is interesting to note that oil from plant sources tends to be naturally high in vitamin E.
Whole oil seeds are naturally high in vitamin E.
Rendered animal fat or refined vegetable oils ARE NOT!
Sherwood Forest Natural Rabbit Food uses a proprietary blend of whole natural oil seeds loaded with vitamin E as the only source of added dietary fat (absolutely no soy or canola).
Sherwood Forest Natural Rabbit Food is also enriched in omega 3 fatty acids and features a balanced omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.
WOW...What a difference!
Posted by Amy - Erie, CO My 5 week old baby bunny was eating fine (Oxbow young rabbit food) but producing 12-20 mushy, messy, cecotropes a day! Took her to the vet and he can't find anything wrong even in her fecal test. Switched her to Sherwood baby rabbit food in within 24hours her cecotrope production went down dramatically. After 3 days, it was (and is) down to a max of 3-4 uneaten per day. She is gaining weight and a little roly poly! I am very impressed and feeding it to my other 3 young rabbits. They don't want the Oxbow now. Thanks so much! I'll be a regular customer.
Scientific studies show that decreasing the use of grain and increasing the fat content of rabbit food will improve protein AND energy efficiency as well as improve the health of rabbits. Most all brands have between 2% and 3% crude fat and fall short rabbits dietary needs. In fact, to replace this needed energy, they increase the starch content using excess grains and grain by-products which can lead to digestive trouble.
formulas promote digestive health and prevent diarrhea. Additionally instead of using soy as a source of protein we use a high quality and balanced forage-based source of
Why do different brands have different amounts of protein and how much do rabbits really need?
To answer this question here is a tip on protein quality: You can tell if your rabbit food has excess or poor quality protein simply by feeding it… well, actually after you feed it, because:
Poor quality protein causes your rabbit to smell up the house
The smell of ammonia comes from wasted protein and, although it is impossible to be “ammonia free,” excessive levels of it are obvious indicators that protein in the food is not getting used even if it is getting digested and absorbed!
Futhermore undigested protein produces ammonia in the caecum. This will change the pH favoring bad bacterial growth which causes gas, bad caecotroph formation and increases the likelihood of diarrhea.
Yucca root: Some brands try to cover up excess ammonia in the urine with the use of secondary plant metabolites like saponins from yucca root because they bind to ammonia. However, using Yucca root extract is like using a band-aid to cover up the problem. A balanced rabbit food will not need yucca root extract. Besides, alfalfa already naturally contains enough saponins for rabbits.
Protein and its Building Blocks
Protein is made up of individual building blocks called amino acids. These building blocks are linked together in a string-like fashion.
While building a protein many of these amino acids can be converted by the body into the form that it currently needs. However, there are certain “essential” amino acids that are called so simply because they can’t be converted and must be obtained in the diet in their original form.
It is important that these essential amino acids are obtained in a certain ratio to each other because these building blocks are not “stored” for later use like fats and carbohydrates. Think of it like a puzzle... if you were missing a few pieces you would need to buy a whole new puzzle just to get those few missing pieces and then you would have to throw away everything else.... This means the litter box will smell more strongly of ammonia.
For example, after a protein is made from a pool of amino acids (a completed puzzle) it can be used to serve a particular purpose (like a digestive enzyme, a muscle fiber, or a part of the kidney or liver) . If an essential amino acid is in short supply (a missing puzzle piece) then that protein might not get made. This compromises the health of the rabbit.
Putting it all together... if a single essential amino acid is deficient or limiting in the diet then it reduces the usefulness of all the rest of the protein. Any protein that is not used will have to be metabolized (burned like a carbohydrate) resulting in even more ammonia production!The rabbit would have to eat more food to just to get the limiting amino acid and waste the rest of the nutrients!
Furthermore, balancing the dietary protein should be according to the digestibility of the protein and each individual essential amino acid. Currently there are three ways scientists measure the digestibility of amino acids. Sherwood Forest Rabbit food is balanced according to the "true ileal digestibility" (the best way) of all the 11 essential amino acids.
Balancing the “amino acid profile” of rabbit food will make the protein more efficient and will reduce ammonia production along with the subsequent organ stress.
Source of Protein
The source of the protein in the food will also determine its digestibility and whether or not the rabbit is even able to use it. Some protein sources like soybean meal have higher levels of what is called a “trypsin inhibitor” which is a molecule that inactivates protein digestive enzymes. This prevents the rabbit from digesting some of the protein before it gets to the caecum where bad bacteria use it like candy and produce ammonia as a by-product.
You can tell roughly how much protein your bunny is using (or not using) from the food he/she eats mostly by the amount of excess ammonia your bunny produces when you feed it (the strong ammonia smell of the literbox).
that also provides a natural source of
Why is it important to use natural vitamins for rabbits?
Rabbits are very sensitive to the active form of vitamin D (D3). For a rabbit vitamin D3 in excess will cause developmental deformities with higher levels being lethal. Active vitamin D3 stimulates rabbits to actively absorb more calcium from their diet and it prevents the kidneys from expelling it in the urine. Most brands add it even though it isn't needed. It is best to allow rabbits access to natural day light because the UV rays stimulate the formation of the natural vitamin D3 precursor (vitamin D2) in the skin. However, a properly formulated diet (higher quality ingredients) will have ample amounts of natural vitamin D2 that the rabbit can convert on an as needed basis to the active form (vitamin D3).
Most brands add synthetic vitamin A and many are borderline toxic. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that gets stored in the body and can build up over time. Recent research has shown that rabbits are unique in that they convert all carotenoids (like beta carotene) into active vitamin A. This is important because labels cite the amount of added synthetic vitamin A not accounting for the natural carotenoids already present in the food. This makes it possible to have toxic levels of vitamin A that, because of cost, many companies don’t pay attention to the quality of ingredients they use (vitamin A and any of its forms costs hundreds of dollars each to test for).
In fact healthy rabbits are able to produce 10 to 60 times their daily need for vitamin A from beta-carotene. Even with extra high concentrations of dietary beta carotene (40 to 100 mg/kg live weight; easily 100x daily requirements) no trace of beta carotene can be detected in the blood, liver, or the ovaries of the rabbit, meaning the rabbit is able to efficiently convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. However, beta-carotene is better for rabbits than synthetic vitamin A because it is suspected to have a protective function against excesses in vitamin A toxicity (although the exact mechanisms have yet to be demonstrated). Considering this, research shows that adding vitamin A to a balanced diet is “ nutritional nonsense “ and that “ it may induce toxicity problems”. Rabbits can store large quantities of vitamin A in the liver. Signs of toxicity begin to occur when it becomes overloaded and starts to release excesses into the blood. That is why problems can occur seemingly "spontaneously."
In the rabbit vitamin A and vitamin D3 interact with each other functioning like hormones because they regulate gene expression (growth and development). These vitamins are stored in the body and in excess they become toxic. The ratio between these two vitamins for rabbits is just as important as the amount because imbalances will lead to the same issues. Once again, carelessly adding a standardized vitamin/mineral mix can easily create these toxicities in rabbits when the quality (and the amount of pro-vitamin A) of ingredients in cheaper foods can vary widely.
The manufacturing process used to make synthetic vitamin E commonly added to rabbit food leads to the production of various “chiral stereoisomers,” or different forms of vitamin E. It has also been called "mixed tocopherols" which are used instead of chemical preservatives. These other forms of vitamin E may not be as bio-available to the rabbit and their presence dilutes the effective dosage the food may claim to have (as low as only 12.5% as effective). Vitamin E dosage recommendations have increased many fold over the years. Initially minimum values were presented that prevent nutritional muscular dystrophy and other health issues. Current research now touts many of the added benefits attributed to increasing the dietary dosage of vitamin E. Many brands that add refined oils (lacking in vitamin E) to increase the energy content will unknowingly create a vitamin E deficiency. This is because the ratio of vitamin E to the amount of fat in the diet is important. Research shows that adding expensive whole oil seeds that contain vitamin E and essential fatty acids to rabbit food has measurable and positive impacts on the health of rabbits. However the food must be processed properly and needs to be fresh, not stored for excessive amounts of time (unless whole oil seeds are added because they are loaded with anti-oxidants).
Other vitamins such as the B-vitamins, and Vitamin K, Choline, and Vitamin C
Many of the B-vitamins for rabbits and are produced by the microorganisms in the caecum and a well balanced diet will ensure healthy ceacal conditions and adequate production. By supplementing this natural production with certain B-vitamins rabbits have been shown to respond with increased health and energy.
Most of these B-vitamins as well as vitamin K can be added through natural sources by carefully chosen ingredients.
Choline is an important part of cell membranes. Without it the cells of tissues rupture and die. A diet that is low in choline causes cirrhosis of the liver and poor health. Choline is also used to build acetylcholine, which is an important neurotransmitter needed for memory and to stimulate the muscles.
Healthy rabbits make adequate amounts of vitamin C but stressed and unhealthy rabbits will benefit from supplementation.
that are superior to the synthetic vitamins most brands use (synthetic vitamins can cause toxicity problems in rabbits). Furthermore we use chelated
What roles do minerals play in rabbits and why is it important to have balanced mineral ratios in rabbit food? How do minerals affect the health, growth, and fur coat of rabbits?
Calcium and Phosphorus
Rabbits are extremely efficient at absorbing calcium and phosphorous from their diet. Rabbits regulate their calcium levels by excreting excesses rather than limiting their absorption (this makes rabbit urine turbid). This is one of the reasons why rabbits are so sensitive to active vitamin D3 which stimulates them to actively absorb more calcium and limit its excretion. In excess, this vitamin is very toxic and can kill a rabbit if too much is used in the food. Problems also occur when the ratio between these two minerals are not balanced. Low or unbalanced phosphorous levels can increase urinary calcium loss and restrict growth and protein metabolism. Phosphorus is expensive and many companies will try to reduce the amount the food has or use a lower quality source. THIS WILL HAVE A DIRECT IMPACT ON HEALTH and appearance! Monodicalcium phosphate is a high quality source of phosphorous.
Other minerals are needed as cofactors in enzymes involved in metabolic processes (cobalt is needed to make vitamin B12). Higher levels of some of these minerals have been shown to increase the efficiency of protein and energy use as well as greatly improved health. A study on the effects of adding certain key minerals in the diet of rabbits showed up to a 17% improvement in protein efficiency and nutrient digestibility. To achieve the proper levels of these key minerals they need to be provided in an organic chelated form so their absorption is efficient. This way they don’t cause unwanted mineral interactions limiting the bioavailability of other trace minerals. Recent research has identified that, in contrast to the use of inorganic sources for minerals (for example: iron oxide, manganese sulfate, zinc sulfate, and others), the use of organic chelated minerals will prevent the vitamins in the food from being oxidized and becoming degraded. This ensures your food will stay fresh longer, and is part of how we ensure the quality and consistency of Sherwood Forest foods! Some of these trace minerals have documented positive effects upon the quality of the fur coat of rabbits. This outer appearance is a reflection of inner health. For the best fur and overall health make sure your rabbit food has chelated minerals and not the inorganic mineral salts listed above!
that provide the essential trace nutrients needed for optimal health. We balance our formulas according to more than 50 unique parameters rather than just the common 3 or 4 that other companies use.
Try a sample of free rabbit food from us and you'll never go back to what you are using now!
You also may have noticed that most brands of rabbit food use the same ingredients but simply have their own "secret" recipe or mixture of these same basic ingredients. Sherwood Forest Rabbit Food is very different and you will see this as we compare our ingredient list with the more common rabbit food ingredients (read their labels to see how common they are!). Below is a list of these ingredients with a little information about each one.
Sherwood Forest Natural Rabbit Food Ingredients
more info ∇Minerals and Vitamins. Sherwood Forest adds their own formulation of high quality chelated minerals to balance and complement the minerals already found in the natural ingredients. This ensures that your bunnies are recieiving a full well balanced diet including all of the trace minerals they need to stay healthy. Many of these minerals are cofactors in enzymes that are needed for special metabolic processes. The result is greatly improved protien and energy efficiencey and noticable improvements in health and demeanor.
This is far different from most other brands that buy a ready made pree-mix that is generalized for many different species. These other pre-mixes often contain synthetic vitamins in doses that are nearly toxic for rabbits, or they use inorganic mineral salts that speed the oxidation of other nutrients in the food.
more info ∇Alfalfa or Timothy hay. The first ingredient(s) in Sherwood Forest rabbit food is premium hay. We use pelleted hay because it stores and preserves nutrients better than baled hay. Alfalfa is a very high quality source of protein for rabbits. Our adult rabbit food formulas balances the use of timothy hay with alfalfa according to the dietary needs of rabbits so we don't have to use soy! Furthermore, because the nutritional value of hay varies considerably (which has a large impact on its digestibility and nutritional value) Sherwood Forest Natural Rabbit Food standardizes the quality of alfalfa it uses in the food formulation so the recipes don't change and you can expect consistent results.
more info ∇Flax Seed. We use our own proprietary blend of whole natural oil seed(s) (flax included) as a source of energy instead of grain by-products. This is proven to improve the health of rabbits and the protein and energy efficiency of rabbit food. Sherwood Forest uses absolutely NO SOY and NO CANOLA! Furthermore every oil seed is unique and a lot of research went into choosing the right blend. Oil seeds are loaded with natural vitamin E and other antioxidants that help rabbits be healthy. As a result they provide our foods with the highest concentrations of natural vitamin E ever found in any rabbit food. These oil seeds also provide essential amino acids that help balance the protein in Sherwood Forest rabbit food.
Research has demonstrated that a small amount of whole oats is beneficial to baby rabbits when provided as a part of a balanced and complete diet. Oats provide energy and many natural B-vitamins. The complete nutritional profile and digestibility of the oats was used in formulating the food to ensure consistently healthy and happy bunnies.
Typical Rabbit Food Ingredients from Other Brands
more info ∇Typical Rabbit Food tends to be brown. If you look at all the ingredients below you'll get an idea why.
more info ∇Alfalfa or Timothy Meal. Generally the first ingredient is dried alfalfa meal or timothy grass meal... which is simply pelleted and re-ground hay. Alfalfa is good for rabbits when properly balanced with other nutritious ingredients. However, the quality of alfalfa meal varies considerably from batch to batch. Many brands simply add in more soybean meal and then adjust the ratios of other ingredients to compensate for these differences (this is especially true for timothy based pellets. This easily alters the balance and digestibility of the food from batch to batch and can lead to inconsistent results. The amino acid profile of alfalfa is fairly well balanced for rabbits (way better quality protein than Timothy grass hay) but the digestibility of the protein is highly dependent upon the quality of alfalfa.
more info ∇Wheat middlings are a by-product of the wheat milling process. It is high in protein (about 18%) and carbohydrates. It is a very cheap source of these two nutrients and so this has become a principle ingredient in rabbit food. However the amino acid profile of the protein in wheat middlings is a very poor source of many essential amino acids and therefore is not nearly as balanced as alfalfa. Besides, the carbohydrates/starch in wheat middlings is not easily digested by young and growing rabbits and too much of this ingredient can cause diarrhea. Using whole natural oil seeds, complemented by high quality alfalfa, is a much better choice to meet the protein and energy needs of growing rabbits.
more info ∇Soybean meal is a high protein by-product after extracting oil from soybeans. It is often used to compensate for differences in protein content of the alfalfa meal used. However soybean meal has a dramatically different amino acid profile than alfalfa and contains many other things that are not good for rabbits. Too much soybean meal is known to cause digestive troubles in young growing rabbits.
more info ∇Soybean hulls are a cheap by-product used to boost the fiber levels of the food. It usually contains dust and other contaminants while providing little, if any nutritional value.
more info ∇Processed grain by-products is a generic term that often signifies that the food is not consistently using the same ingredients but instead are using what is cheap and available. It could also mean that they are using screenings that came from cleaning grain used for other purposes. These screenings contain dust and are more likely to have higher levels of mycotoxin contamination.
more info ∇Oat hulls are just another cheap way to stuff rabbit food with fiber. Again these ingredients contain dust and other contaminants while providing little, if any nutritional value. Remember that fiber needs to be provided in the right particle size to be healthy for rabbits.
more info ∇Dried Distillers Grain is a by-product of fermentation that often comes from either the beer making industry or the corn enthanol industry. Grain (usually corn) is ground, fermented with yeast, cooked to extract the ethanol, and then dried so it can be sold as an animal feed supplement. This can cause problems for rabbits if the 'mash' isn't dried quickly enough because it can lead to mycotoxin contamination.
more info ∇Lignin Sulfonate is another ingredient that is often used in rabbit food. It is a by-product from making paper and has many uses from making concrete to tanning leather. In animal feed it is used as a binder to make a more compact pellet. I don't recommend using it because it can impact beneficial bacterial fermentation in the caecum and therefore food digestibility!
more info ∇Molasses is a by-product from food processing and is rich in many minerals and other nutrients. However it is very high in sugar which is why it is typically added to rabbit food. It helps to bind the pellet together and it also makes it sweeter to help encourage the rabbit to eat all of the other less-appetizing junk that is in the pellet.
more info ∇Soybean oil is often added by other brands to help make a shinier fur coat. This works good but they tend to use cheap refined soybean oil that is lacking in vitamin E and other antioxidants.
more info ∇Yucca Schidigera is a popular rabbit food ingredient because it helps mask digestive problems by binding to excessive levels of ammonia (caused by poor quality and unbalanced protein). Interestingly rabbits prefer the bitter taste provided by the sapponins (the active ingredient in Yucca extract) but too high of a concentration will turn them off. You might find it interesting that alfalfa naturally contains sapponins in the right concentration.
It is also unfortunate, but common to see synthetic vitamins A and D3 added when these vitamins can already be found naturally occurring in the right amounts, forms, and ratios in properly formulated food. Then why do most companies add them? Because the hay they use isn't green! The use of natural vitamins is ideal but requires the use of high quality ingredients.
Many companies also test their hays before making any food (as they should) but they don't standardize the quality of hay they use. This means that their recipes change from batch to batch as they add in more/less soybean meal or other protein supplements to compensate for the changing protein content of hay used in their foods. This changes fiber ratios, digestibility and everything else! Ever wonder why other brands can be so different from batch to batch even though it is the same brand?
We test our hays (protein, fiber types and ratios, minerals, etc...) to ensure that they meet very specific high quality standards. This means that our recipes are consistently the same from batch to batch! Furthermore our hays are fresh and VERY GREEN! At Sherwood Forest, we grind and mix our ingredients just prior to pelleting, bagging and shipping. This ensures the quality and freshness of the food. Rabbits can smell and taste the difference!
Just because a label says "Natural" or "Organic" it does not necessarily mean that it will provide optimal health! It is important to read the label and understand what it means. For example, rabbits are often stuck with eating a mixture of by-products and cheap ingredients that vary in quality. Some foods may also have a long list of "natural" ingredients added because it looks good to the person buying it although they might not be the best things for them to eat. Research shows that dietary balance is key for optimal health! Pellets should be properly formulated from quality ingredients that are natural and whole.
Sherwood Forest Rabbit Food is 100% complete and balanced. It will give you some very noticeable improvements in your rabbits health and condition. "You are what you eat" is also true with our rabbits, so we need to make sure that what we feed them is healthy and will promote their overall well-being.
The following is a list of features (what it has) and the benefits (what it does) for rabbits of all breeds and ages. Email us with any other benefits you have seen in your rabbits while using Sherwood Forest. We would love to hear from you and your successes.
- Benefits and Features of Sherwood Forest Rabbit Food-
1. No more poopy bottom and un-eaten caecotrophs!
2. Less ammonia (urine) smell!
3. Greatly improved health
4. Thick and full fur coat
5. More playful and active demeanor
1. Natural vitamins to prevent toxicity
2. Balanced amino acid profile
3. Chelated minerals
4. Balanced digestible protein to digestible energy ratio
5. Whole natural ingredients for freshness
6. Soy and wheat free
7. Super Green and Super Fresh
8. Researched thoroughly
9. Social proof (see our 100's customer testimonials)
To learn more about the benefits of using Sherwood Forest Natural Rabbit Food feel free to browse our website.