All about pellets!
According to the RWAF rabbits need a diet based on 85% grass or feeding hay, 10% greens and 5% good quality nuggets. But what are "good quality" nuggets/pellets?
There is so much choice out there for rabbit food alot of us don't realise that actually some food is better than others.. so how can you decide?
A good place to start is to understand the purpose of feeding the pellets- they provide all the nutrients and vitamins rabbits can't get otherwise. As a guideline you should aim to feed 25g (an eggcup-full) of pellets per kg of your rabbit's body weight; for a medium-sized rabbit (2kg) feed a maximum of two full eggcups. (RSPCA)
It's also important to feed the correct type of pellets. There are two types of pellets available- the museli type and the nugget type and you've probably tried one or both. As a rabbit owner many of us are fooled into thinking the museli style one looks alot more appealing and thus must be better but actually the museli pellets should be avoided. Let me tell you why:
Museli encourages selective feeding- bunnies will only pick out the good things they like. With a nugget based diet every mouthful tastes the same- so it's all good stuff!
Museli has been linked to dental and digestive issues
Don't worry if your rabbit is currently on a museli diet- it's OK to switch them over, just be sure to do this gradually over a period of time. You can consult your rabbit savvy vet about this or the RSPCA website also has some great advice on how to transition.
Ok so you feed pellets (or you want to)! So how do you know what's the best brand out there?
The main thing to look for is the nutritional value-
A quick bit of research shows a good quality rabbit pellet should have at least 18% crude fibre. Check the back of your rabbits pellet pack to see how yours stacks up! One thing to watch out for is "beneficial fibre" advertised - this is a marketing ploy as all fibre is beneficial! So just look for the crude fibre percentage.
One thing to also note is the age that rabbits should change onto the adult or senior types of pellets. Jo Hinde (RVN) states that a rabbit should transition onto an adult diet at around 6 months old and onto the senior or mature pellet at around 4 years old. 4 years old can seem young to be consisidered a "senior" but switching early can carry some great preventative benefits for their future.
The junior pellets for young rabbits are mostly alfalfa based which is gives more protein (to help them grow!) so it's important to make the switch when the time comes to suit thier new needs and to avoid them putting on too much weight.
Jo Hinde RVN has some fantastic advice for switching. She states:
"When switching pellets, its important to do this slowly and I recommend a 10 day period. On day 1 start with 90% of the old pellet and 10% of the new. Then change this ratio by 10% daily so that on day 10 you are feeding 100% new pellet"
At Hop on Holiday we ask that you bring your buns usual dry food as a change can stop them settling in but if you do want any further advice about diet please give me a shout!