Raising meat rabbits is not all that different from raising a regular pet rabbit. Meat rabbits can be given the same garden waste, vegetable scraps, twigs and so on as pet rabbits and will continue to grow on this diet. But meat rabbits will really thrive when given more protein and amino acids to help them achieve optimal weights and speed up growth. Feeding your meat rabbits is the most expensive part of raising them, but it is directly related to the quality of your end product: the meat.
Rabbits are vegetarians, but a large portion of your meat rabbit’s diet should be protein and amino acids. The need for these amino acids also requires that the rabbit receives a diet with a lot of diversity, because a rabbit will never be able to get what it needs from just lettuce alone.
A high quality rabbit feed pellet should be fed to meat rabbits, along with fresh timothy or alfalfa hay and other supplements. High quality does not always mean high priced but the pellets should contain at least 16% fiber to stimulate gut function and prevent diarrhea and hairballs. The major ingredient in rabbit feed should be legumous hay and is usually alfalfa.
Protein content of the feed should be 14-20%, depending on the type of feed and the rabbits you are giving it to. Protein fuels growth and energy in rabbits, so you want to keep them balanced. Most of the time, you cannot feed too much protein. But you can give them too much food in general which leads to obesity, reduced production levels and diarrhea.
To keep rabbit teeth worn down, supply your rabbit with twigs and branches for them to chew on. Twigs which are suitable to feed rabbits include those from apple, fir, hazel, hawthorn, maple, pear, spruce and willow trees. You can also feed them cuttings from blackberry and raspberry patches including the leaves.
Don’t give your rabbits lots of cabbage and lettuce at once because it may disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the rabbit’s stomach, causing diarrhea. Corn, cauliflower and turnips should also be fed in moderation.
Meat rabbits can be fed lots of different sorts of fruits and vegetables. Things which are good to feed them are: apples, bananas, blackberries, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumbers, endive, kohlrabi, melons, pears, plantains, pok choi, parsnips, pumpkins, radish greens, raspberries, strawberries, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watercress and even watermelon.
They can also eat a variety of different herbs like basil, borage, chamomile, caraway, celeriac, chervil, coriander, dill, horseradish, lavender, marjoram, parsley, peppermint, sage and savory.
Feed heavy greens like spinach, cabbage and kale in extreme moderation, because they can cause a lot of gas and bloating, much like in humans. And things like lettuce and celery should be fed with caution because they can cause diarrhea, gas, bladder stones and other digestive complications.
If you notice your rabbit beginning to have loose stool while feeding something new, remove the food and begin feeding plan straw, dry oatmeal or dry bread. Whenever you introduce a new food to your rabbits, do so very slowly, giving just a tiny bit on the first day and slowly building up to see if they have any adverse reactions.