Is your meat rabbit looking a little… not so meaty?
When you are raising rabbits as pets, it probably doesn’t matter much to you that your rabbits are a little thin, as long as they are healthy.
However, when your priority is to raise rabbits for meat as quickly and efficiently as possible, you may be wondering if there are ways you can encourage them to pack on the pounds without breaking the bank.
Here are some tips for raising meat rabbits so that you can keep your animals healthy and productive.
- 1 1. Determine if they need to gain weight
- 2 2. Change Diet Slowly Instead of Suddenly
- 3 3. What to feed rabbits to gain weight fast?
- 4 4. Slow but steady – be consistent in your approach
1. Determine if they need to gain weight
Before trying to increase the rate of gain for your rabbits, it is important to identify whether weight gain is even really necessary.
There are over 300 breeds of rabbits and a healthy weight for one breed will probably not be the same as the next breed. Knowing how much your rabbit needs to gain will help you determine the best possible way to do so.
Most rabbits will reach full size by about 8-12 weeks of age. Fully grown adults can grow up to 10-12 pounds in this short amount of time. However, in some breeds this may take longer or less time, so it is important to know what is appropriate depending on the breed.
If you’re raising a non-meat breed and hoping to see the same faster rate of growth, you’ll need to think again. You should only grow meat breeds if you plan to achieve this high rate.
Consider raising breeds such as:
- New Zealand
- american chinchilla
- Champagne d’Argentina
- silver fox
- standard rex
- Florida White
Generally, a rabbit can put on about 12-oz per week, but sometimes more for some breeds. However, be careful not to overdo it with weight-gaining foods. While you undoubtedly want your meat rabbit to grow as quickly as possible, force-feeding a rabbit is also not a good idea.
Rabbits that pack on the pounds very quickly are subject to the same issues as when we gain a lot of weight. They may suffer from kidney disease or heart disease or even joint and muscle problems.
2. Change Diet Slowly Instead of Suddenly
When it comes to helping your rabbits gain weight, one of the best ways is to offer free feed. If you’re used to measuring pelleted food, you can stop. Giving your rabbit a free choice of all high-calorie pellets he can eat is a great way to help him gain weight.
If you are trying to pack on the pounds on young rabbits, you may need to consider using baby bunny pellets. This is a specially formulated feed designed only for baby rabbits. It is high in protein and calories to support the rapid growth of developing rabbits.
Some people use these pellets with adult rabbits to help them gain weight faster. You can mix these high-calorie pellets into regular feed. That’s fine, but keep in mind that it can lead to rapid weight gain which can be problematic, leading to some of the symptoms I mentioned above.
Otherwise, any of the options below will help your rabbits gain weight quickly, but healthily. Change your rabbit’s diet gradually, rather than changing things overnight (this is especially important if you are making major changes).
Otherwise, you may find your rabbits suffering from digestive distress and other problems as a result of the change.
3. What to feed rabbits to gain weight fast?
Here are some foods you can feed your rabbits in addition to their regular diet of pellets. These foods will help them reap the benefits at an appropriate rate for their breed and age.
Timothy hay should always be given to your rabbits. However, you can add some extra calories by adding some alfalfa hay as well. Mixed with timothy hay, alfalfa hay is highly flavorful and will help your rabbit get up to speed. It is high in protein and many other nutrients that your rabbits need.
Some even recommend sprinkling your grass with apple juice. Again, it will help to add some calories and tempt them to eat them.
Oat grass is another good option. It is absolutely unique to rabbits and contains lots of fiber and protein.
Fruit is rich in calories and nutrients. It is a good idea to feed your rabbits lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. However, if your rabbits are not gaining enough weight, you may need to back off leafy greens and add more fresh fruit instead.
A good option to consider is banana baby food. Bananas are full of calories and too fat for rabbits. If your rabbit is overweight, bananas really should be avoided.
However, adding just a tablespoon or two of bananas (banana baby food works well because it’s already mashed) to your rabbit’s pellets can help entice them to eat. Just don’t feed too much, as bananas have a constipating effect.
Apples work well too. These foods are high in carbohydrates and calories. Plus, the additional vitamins and minerals found in apples can help boost the immune system.
3. Rolled Oats
Rolled oats are a great source of fiber and they are also rich in calories. Mix a spoonful of rolled oats with some water and you will have a paste that your rabbits love to eat – and will also help your rabbits gain weight. It’s easy to digest and soft on your rabbit’s teeth.
If your rabbits are having trouble gaining weight due to a medical problem or illness, this mixture will also help to regain their appetite.
4. Root Vegetables
Again, skip the leafy greens and stick to hearty vegetables when you’re trying to make your rabbits gain weight.
Good choices include beets, carrots and squash. In fact, canned pumpkin is a simple food that you can feed to your rabbits. It is also a wonderful natural anthelmintic and has amazing effects on the digestive system.
Use plain canned pumpkin — not the sweet kind that you might use for pie filling. It has added sugars that can harm a rabbit’s digestive system.
5. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are high in both protein and fat. Incorporating them into a pelleted diet is easy; just a quarter cup per day is perfect to help a rabbit gain weight.
Introduce the seeds slowly in the beginning, as too many sunflower seeds can upset a rabbit’s stomach.
Certain nuts, such as raw almonds, can be incredibly beneficial in helping a rabbit gain weight. Feed a few unsalted almonds a day – they are high in fat and protein.
4. Slow but steady – be consistent in your approach
While some meat rabbits gain weight rapidly, others gain weight more slowly but steadily. To know which category your rabbits fall into, you may need to get used to weighing them frequently. Track the progress of your meat rabbits. In most cases, as long as they are receiving, they will continue to receive benefits until they reach maturity.
Another trick? Do not restrict exercise. Some people believe that their rabbits will retain all the calories they eat if they are not able to exercise. However, a passive rabbit is a sad rabbit – and a depressed rabbit is not an eater. Encourage plenty of activity!
With a little vigilance, you can raise rabbits for meat without any hiccups.
Rabbits can be raised for a variety of reasons, but meat is one of the most common. Rabbit meat is eaten around the world, in stews, soups, barbecued dishes, or even roasts. Rabbits are easy to raise and since they breed so rapidly, they are also quite economical for meat.
Not only that, but rabbit meat is considered very low-fat white meat – that is, when you raise rabbits the right way.
To keep your meat rabbits gaining weight at a reasonable rate (and without putting on a lot of fat), you should consider the suggestions above. Hope for it – and you can raise productive, healthy rabbits for your household.
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