Many commercial breeding units do not offer their animals green food or, indeed, perishable foods of any kind, preferring instead to feed a commercially balanced ration of pellets. Even so, hay can, usually, be featured in the feeding regimen. Hay provides more energy and more protein than the equivalent amount of grass.. Although, there may also be a significant difference between the various grades of hay in this regard, even the poorest hay tends to be better in nutritional terms than the equivalent amount of fresh grass.
The drying process, which produces hay will, also, render it safe for either guinea pigs or rabbits. Certain plants which, if fresh, would be dangerous. Buttercups (Ranunculus) are a typical example. Nevertheless, keep a careful watch on the material you feed for undesirable plants and occasional harvesting debris. A strand of rusty barbed wire can get bound into a bale of hay from time to time so remain alert and discard anything which could, potentially, be harmful. In the south-west of the United States, close to the Pacific Ocean, the condition of Milkweed poisoning is seen in rabbit stocks. Also known as ‘head-down disease’ because it results in severe, if not fatal, paralysis. This illness is caused by ingesting the Woolly-pod Milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) from contaminated hay. In areas where such problems arise regularly, use an alternative bedding such as rice straw so that the animals are not exposed to this risk.
Dry Food and Pellets
It is possible to keep rabbits on a diet of dry food, but in this case they will drink more water and may become overweight because of the regimen’s high energy producing level. Suitable mixtures from your local pet store are likely to include crushed oats, flaked maize, and wheat in equal quantities. Plus, smaller quantities of pellets and other ingredients such as crushed peas and locust bean pieces are commonly included, as well. While you can buy the individual ingredients separately and mix them together, it is probably best to obtain a prepared ration.
Pellets are specially made to contain all the necessary ingredients required for an animal’s good health and those for rabbits may even be medicated with drugs known as coccidostats. Do not feed medicated diets routinely, however, especially if the rabbit is kept alongside a guinea pig because the drug may prove harmful to your rabbit’s companions. A pelleted ration provides a very concentrated food source and, therefore, only a small quantity will be required, otherwise the rabbit will become overweight quite rapidly.
Hard Bread and Mash
In order to keep the teeth of your animals healthy provide bread which has been dried in an oven until it becomes very hard. Wholemeal bread is probably best for this purpose, with small pieces being given regularly.
Another useful food is a mash of some kind. Stored dry, mashes typically consist of bran and items such as middling – a rough ground flour. Place the required quantity in a mixing dish with a small amount of warm water. Take care not to flood the mash. It, ideally, should be damp to the touch but not mushy. You can include other available ingredients such as boiled or mashed potatoes or a powdered vitamin and mineral supplement. Once moist, however, the mash will not stay fresh for long, especially in a warm climate, and neither will perishable foods such as mashed potatoes, which will sour and turn black.