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Applied Nutrition of Rabbits
Terms in this set (21)
Like the horse, the rabbit has a large cecum,which enables it to more effectively degrade fibrous material in forages
The colon, however, is not a fermentation chamber in rabbits
Although rabbits do not have a metabolic need for fiber
a certain amount of fiber is necessary to regulate the passage rate of feed material through the digestive tract and to maintain digestive health.
A fibrous diet will encourage motility* and ensure the rabbit's high rate of metabolism and correspondingly effective digestion.
The large intake of fiber pushes food that is eaten through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, ensuring that undigested food does not stay there for long.
As a consequence of a rapid digestion, starch is not completely broken down in the rabbit's small intestine
The partial chemical digestion leads to an accumulation of microorganisms in the digestive tract, and a carbohydrate overload will thus lead to an expansive bacterial growth with consequent imbalance in the microbial population.
Easily digestible carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch, should therefore be avoided.
-High fiber levels drive optimal gut motility due to increased motilin (a hormone that stimulates GI movement) production by the small intestine, and also provide the optimum environment for cecal microflora.
-A low fiber diet can, therefore, result in gut hypomotility, causing food to remain in the GI system for a long time.
Rabbits, having a bacterial population in the hindgut (mainly in the cecum), are able to digest cellulose...
to a minor extent.
If rabbits digest fiber so poorly, how do they make efficient use of fibrous feeds?
-This apparent contradiction can be explained by recognizing that fiber makes up only 20 to 25 percent of forage dry matter.
-Thus, forage like alfalfa hay is 75 to 80 percent non-fiber.
Rabbits produce two kinds of feces;
soft (cecotropes) and hard (fecal pellets).
The cecotrophy is sometimes described as pseudorumination because it allows the rabbit to benefit in the same way a ruminant does from the microbial activity in the digestive tract.
Cecotropes make up 7 to 12 percent of a rabbit's total dry matter intake, and cecotrophy supplies the rabbit with B vitamins and essential amino acids (from microbial protein), and permits further digestion of fiber and other nutrients by a second passage through the digestive tract.
Rabbits, like many other herbivores, have evolved to differentiate and select high-energy items, to provide energy for growth, activity and reproduction.
However, this food selective mechanism causes concerns when domesticated rabbits are offered high-energy diets or large amounts of vegetables and fruit, since the animal will consequently choose these high-energy foods above hay and grass
Both grass and alfalfa hays are available, but grass hays should always be the main diet for adult rabbits, and timothy hay is the best.
Alfalfa hay contains more calcium and protein and is more suitable for growing rabbits or as a tasty treat
Pellets/nuggets are only a supplementary food and should only be provided in a limited amount.
Rabbits will not eat enough hay if offered excessive amounts of other foods, and it is therefore extremely important to follow these instructions.
A pelleted diet suitable for rabbits should always be based on....
Rabbits are dependent on nourishment derived from hay, various types of grass, forbs, herbs and leaves, and the sugar content in non-leafy vegetables and fruit is much higher than in any food of their natural diet.
The species' digestive system is not designed for eating sugar and starch found in carrots, apples or grains, and many digestive disorders could be avoided if one provided the rabbit a natural diet.
If providing non-leafy vegetables, make sure to offer vegetables with
a low sugar content, such as celery or green peppers.
Yogurt drops, different chew sticks and drops in all shapes and colors are usually very high in sugar
and will potentially lead to digestive problems.
"Muesli" and mixtures made for rodents and even rabbits should be avoided.
-They are high in ingredients that the rabbits do not tolerate, such as fat, sugar, and starch, in the shape of nuts, corn, seeds and fruits.
-Being a selective feeder, the rabbit will in addition select and eat the most nutritious parts and consequently end up with an even more incomplete nutrition.
Rabbits are lactose intolerant
and should never be offered any dairy products.
Bread and other pastries contain high levels of carbohydrates and should therefore be avoided
Rabbits cannot tolerate and utilize easily digestible carbohydrates, and a diet consisting of sugar and starch will eventually lead to digestive disorders.
Potatoes, lettuce, sweetcorn, seeds, oat, sunflower seeds and other seeds, lentils, beans, biscuits, cakes and other feeds are known to lead to inappropriate bacterial overgrowth or possible blockage of the intestine.
The following are toxic: onions, rhubarb, stems and leaves of tomato, seeds and stones of fruit, avocado and chocolate.
A domesticated rabbit will most likely consume less water than wild rabbits, even though pet rabbits drink more liquid water.
This is because the wild rabbit's diet contains 80% water, while the water content in hay and dry pellets is about 10-15%.
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