On February 5, 2014

Food, water intake and selective feeding in rabbits

Feeding rabbit muesli diets cannot be recommended.

This study assessed the effects of two commonly fed pet rabbit diets [extruded nuggets with hay (EH) and muesli with hay (MH)] alongside hay only (HO) and muesli only (MO) on food and water intake in 32 Dutch rabbits.

Dry matter (DM) intake was greater in the HO group and lower in the MO group than in the EH and MH groups. The portion of the diet made of hay was greater in the EH group than in the MH group. Water intake was positively correlated with DM intake and was greatest in the HO group. Selective feeding occurred in all rabbit groups fed muesli. Pellets were rejected, and grains and extrudates selected. The presence of selective feeding in all rabbits fed muesli leads to the consumption of an unbalanced diet. In addition, hay intake and water intake were lower when muesli was fed.

Conclusions drawn from the study are based on general recommendations for pet rabbits, and clinical disease may have developed by feeding the study diets over a longer time period, as many diet-related conditions typically present in older rabbits. However, the study demonstrates that the feeding of muesli diets cannot be recommended.

Source:  J.L. Prebble et al., 2014. Food and water intake and selective feeding in rabbits on four feeding regimes. JAPAN online, January 2014. doi: 10.1111/jpn.12163.

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