Homemade rabbit food
With the grass growing like crazy and dandelions blooming in my yard, I got to thinking about preserving some for the rabbits to eat in the off season. If you think about it, hay is just dried up pasture grass, so why can't you harvest and dry grasses and plants yourself? My rabbits love eating weeds, grass, radish tops, beet leaves and carrot tops. I am going to start using my dehydrator to dry out some of their favourites.
You can purchase rabbit treats or specialty foods that contain different vegitables, fruits and ordinary weeds and herbs. By making these yourself you are providing them with added nutrition and variety while saving money and using up your excess before it spoils. It's also nice to know exactly how the food was sourced. You have the ability to give your rabbits organic foods if that's what you wish, or to focus on specific plants if you feel your rabbits need more fibre or more protein. Making your own rabbit food is another way to be more self reliant and self sufficient. If ever there was a shortage on rabbit pellets or if you didn't have access to hay, you would not have to worry.
This is a mixture my rabbits would love. It's a more natural selection that rabbits in nature would come across and forage on. My rabbits are given access to grass and weeds both picked for them and foraged themselves while their cages are on the ground being used as rabbit tractors. It's important for me to provide them with these same options year round so that come spring they can transition back into foraging without a big shock to their digestive system.
I will be using my dehydrator to dry out the greens, but you could also place them on a baking sheet and in the oven at a low temperature. You don't want to cook the greens, you simply want to remove the water content to keep them from spoiling over time. Cooking the greens at higher temperatures would dry them out, but it would also eliminate some of the nutritional benefits of the plants. You still want your dehydrated greens to provide all your rabbits nutritional needs.
If your planning to make dehydrated forage for your rabbits, consider dandelions, clover, carrot tops, carrots, peas, apples, beet tops, radishes, radish tops, chamomile and parsley. A quick google search of any item your growing in your garden will tell you if it's safe for your rabbit or not. Just remember to introduce everything to your rabbit slowly. Let their digestive system get used to it to avoid stomach upset.