Rabbit nutrition is important at every stage of life. Lactating and baby bunnies have different nutritional requirements than pregnant rabbits, which differ markedly from adult pet rabbits.However, the biggest factor influencing rabbit nutritional health at any stage in life is a balanced diet made from quality natural whole ingredients and not processed by-products! By-products are more likely to harbor mold toxins.
Baby rabbit nutrition-all breeds
Before and after weaning baby rabbits benefit from a high fat and high fiber rabbit food!
Baby rabbit nutritional needs change from birth throughout the first couple of weeks of nursing as reflected by the composition of a rabbit’s milk. As an example, the colostrum (first milk) will have a high fat content (greater than 17%) that, by the fourth day, drops to around 10% but steadily increases to over 15% by the eighteenth day. However it begins to taper off to less than 13% fat after the third week.
It is interesting to note that the lactose (carbohydrate) content of rabbit milk only varies between 1.1% and 1.7%. This means that baby rabbits are use to getting energy from fat and not from carbohydrates (although a small amount is important).
The diet of the nursing rabbit will influence the composition of her milk as well as the amount of milk she can produce. Moms on a high fat diet will increase milk production which leads to increased health of baby bunnies.
By the third and fourth weeks baby rabbits are beginning to consume appreciable amounts of solid food. Most rabbit foods have low fat and high carbohydrate contents that make the switch from their mom’s milk difficult. In fact baby rabbits have been shown to far healthier on high fat diets. Trading calories from carbohydrates for calories from fat leads to a more efficient use of protein and energy.
Adult Pet rabbit nutrition.
Adult pets rabbits don’t need the high energy rabbit food that baby rabbits need. However they do have specific nutrient requirements to maintain health throughout a long life. They need a lower carbohydrate rabbit food that is higher in fiber complemented with a moderate amount of natural oils and specific vitamins and minerals for quality fur and overall health and digestive efficiency. Proper rabbit nutrition is vital at each life stage.