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Rabbits It's Forage Friday!

RosRWAF

Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Joined
Jan 1, 2012
Messages
161
We all know that a rabbit's diet should be around 85% fibre, 5% pellets (not museli) and 10% greens, but perhaps not many of us are brave enough to try to find natural and free sources of food for our rabbits. Grass and dandelions are the obvious things that we would go for, and they are an excellent addition to the diet, but over the next few weeks we are going to look at other goodies that we might find for our bunnies to enjoy. Starting with Plantain


For more information on this, and photos too, please see our blog (broken link removed)
 
It's Forage Friday again, and since we're having such lovely warm weather after all that rain, everything's growing like....weeds! This week we want to tell you about clover.

[GuineaPigCages.com] It's Forage Friday!


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Clover is a member of the pea family and the whole of the plant is safe to be fed to rabbits. It is a good source of protein and very nourishing, and is believed to be a good tonic and useful for feeding during a moult. Rabbits love it, and it's often in hay; clover hay is thought of as one of the richest types of 'albuminoids' .


There's plenty around just now, so now's the time to plan for winter when none of this scrummy, nutritious foraging will be around. Take small bunches and tie them together with string then hang them upside down somewhere that has a good air-flow and isn't damp. They won't take long to dry out, and when they're nice and crispy, you can store them in paper (not plastic) bags to keep them fresh. You can also try this (carefully!) with nettles, which rabbits will not eat when fresh, but love when dried out.


[GuineaPigCages.com] It's Forage Friday!

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If you would like to read up on more wild plants and green foods, why not try this book? It's only £7.45 (including postage) from the RWAF shop.


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If you can't find any wild forage, try Galen's Garden:


Home


They stock a wonderful array of seeds for all the wild plants you might need.
 
Yum, clover!
 
There's one family of plants your rabbits will love, though gathering some of them can be quite a task. Those are apple, rose, blackberry and raspberry.


Rabbits will love to chew on apple twigs, so if you have a tree, keep any prunings for them. Ask other apple tree owners to pass their prunings on to you too. The fruit is very sweet as we know, so that must be limited to tiny pieces given as treats.


Roses of all sorts are edible - the leaves, flowers, twigs (yes, those spiky twigs!) and the hips (berries) but again the hips are very rich in sugar, so must be limited. Be very careful when foraging from rose bushes. Rabbits are happy to munch down those thorns, but you'd be well advised to wear thick gardening gloves.


[GuineaPigCages.com] It's Forage Friday!


Blackberries and raspberries are so similar it's hard to tell them apart until the fruit appears. Both are spiky all over the stems and leaves, so again, good, strong gardening gloves are needed, but those spikes won't bother your rabbits at all. The leaves are very soothing to bunny tummies too. Once again, the fruit is too sugary to be given as more than just the occasional treat.


[GuineaPigCages.com] It's Forage Friday!


Only feed your rabbits from plants that you know have not been sprayed with chemicals - pesticides, fungicides and herbicides can all be dangerous, as can some artificial fertilisers.


All these and many more can be found in Medirabbit, a great online resource
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I only just recently found out that rabbits can eat roses. It sort of blew my mind.

I don't have roses myself, but my parents have about 20 of them. I'll have to help my parents with the pruning next time, and snag myself some rabbit food!
 
My late, wonderful Cinnamon used to bend my garden rosetrees double to reach the roses. She was a big girl, a French Lop cross, I'm certain, and when she stood on tiptoe to reach up to the bushes, it was quite amazing to see. She was only doing a little stretch in this photo, but that is a tall plantpot and she found it easy to get onto the top of it https://i126.photobucket.com/albums/p85/roslynlamb/Cinnamon and Nutmeg/PICT0932.jpg

I
t was some other tasty morsel she was seeking out in this photo
 
Cinnamon was definitely a big, beautiful bunny!

Thanks for the Medirabbit link, too. There's some great info there!
 
One of my bunnies LOVES apple branches, and we've trimmed our tree so many times we hardly have any branches left! :p
 
I have a near neighbour I need to speak nicely to....
 
I'd love to grow apples, but I'm not sure if we're in the right climate for it. I live to the west of Sydney, Australia and we get cold winters and hot summers. In the middle of winter it gets below zero at nights, but in the summer it gets into the high 30s/low 40s. I know apple trees like the cold, but I'm not sure how they'd deal with 40oC! I'm tempted to try it anyway.
 
I've an online friend in Sydney and I'm sure she said she grows apples. I can ask her for you if you like?
 
Oh that would be lovely if it's no trouble!
 
Are the food you are disscussing ok for guinea pigs
 
This section is for bunnies, so I would ask the thread starter.
 

Oh that would be lovely if it's no trouble!

No problem. I've sent her a message already. There are a few more people on the same group living in various parts of Australia, and one of them is a fully qualified horticulturalist, so hopefully there will be some helpful responses fairly soon.

Regarding feeding to piggies, I'm afraid I can't say for sure as their dietary needs are different, though I think the plants I've mentioned would PROBABLY be safe. Please do check though. I wouldn't want to tell you to feed your piggies something that turned out to be bad for them
 
Hi Haymonster

Wendy says

>>It depends on how far west of Sydney and whether she is higher than on the plains. If she means the western suburbs of Sydney which go out towards the Blue Mountains I would say it gets too hot in summer. But if she is in the lower hills/moutains just out of Sydney she should be fine. They grow apples at Bilpin which is not far out of Sydney but that is higher than the western suburbs. We did try growing apples in Sydney, we had frosts in winter so it got quite cold and then 40 deg days in summer at times and had no luck and we would not grow apples where we are now as we are too close to the coast. Apples do need the cold but  they seem to do best  at a higher altitude than Sydney.

Perhaps she would do best to ask a loal nursery for advice, they would know for sure.

Cheers
<<
Hope this helps
 
Hmm, from your friend's advice, it looks like it would get too hot in summer.

We do have an excellent local nursery, though, so I might ask them about it.

Thank you so much for asking for me! I might have to stick to the rose prunings for now. On the subject of rose prunings, do the branches keep? That is, if I had a gigantic stack of rose branches, and I stopped them from getting damp (and therefore mouldy) could I keep them and feed them to the rabbits for a few months, or would they spoil?
 
Yes, the rose branches should be fine but they'll get harder as they dry out, so will take more chewing...which of course is good or wearing teeth.

Asking Wendy has started a conversation with others, but I've fished out some more things she's said for you
We had no problem with citrus and a magnificent plum tree, berries of all kinds did well, but no luck with apples.

I think it gets too hot out west for apples. Apples do fine in the mountain areas

Sydney has quite a tropical climate now, very humid in summer.

and in response to another friend from Melbourne who has a friend in Penrith, who can grow apples
Penrith is at the foot of the Blue Mountains, the furthermost point of Sydney's western suburbs. Your friends could be in the foothills there so that may make a difference. I think with apples the main thing they need is cold weather and even though we had some frosts when we lived at Epping it was not cold enough to produce the fruit.No problem in the Blue Mountains or foothills though as it gets very cold there. Sydney has a mild climate overall, even though there are extreme days winter and summer.

We have a couple of apple trees at Narooma but after 5 years there we have yet to see any fruit. it is way too mild and we have never had a frost, although inland from there it does get cold.

I think where you live you could grow apples, am I right?

We have just harvested some kiwifruit - otherwise the mice were there waiting to get them. We were in Narooma for the long weekend (very wise move as it turned out as Sydney and environs were absolutely drenched all weekend and we had beautiful sunny weather).

So really it depends a lot on which part you live in, and I think the nursery would be the best place to get advice about local conditions.
 
It sounds like they're having quite a discussion about it! I live in Campbelltown, which is definitely not at the foot of the mountains, but far enough west to be significantly colder in winter and significantly hotter in summer than most of Sydney.

Technically, I do live in Sydney. I didn't think much of it when I typed "to the west" of Sydney, rather than "in the west".

Oh, and we are getting drenched at the moment! It's pretty miserable :(.
 
This week we are featuring two very common plants that are great for feeding to your rabbits and are all over the place at present. Again, these can be dried and kept for the winter when tasty natural foods are hard to find.


The first is Cleavers. It has several names - Goosegrass, Sticky Weed, Claggy Maggie..perhaps you call it something equally fitting where you live.


[GuineaPigCages.com] It's Forage Friday!


This plant needs no introduction as we have all found it stuck to our clothes after a walk at some point, no doubt! It is an exceedingly common plant, and it is safe to use. It is thought to be diuretic, and to have tonic properties, but it may take some rabbits a few goes to get used to the taste.


The second plant is Common Hogweed, also known as Cow Parsnip.


[GuineaPigCages.com] It's Forage Friday!


This plant is a member of the carrot family and can grow up to 3 metres tall! It can be found on grassy verges and open woodland and has very large leaves. Only the leaves and stalks should be fed, not the flowers. It is regarded by some as one of the most valuable wild plants for rabbits and has no harmful properties, as long as the flowers are not used.


Please don't confuse this with the imported Giant Hogweed, which is far bigger and very caustic to even touch. Common Hogweed is a native species and perfectly safe both to touch and for your rabbits to eat. Giant Hogweed generally grows along watercourses and can grow to over 5 metres tall. You can read about it here (broken link removed)


Make sure you can identify hogweed and do not confuse it with other similar looking but harmful plants like fool's parsley. These are covered in more detail in the following books (please remember prices include postage)


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