Feeding alfalfa to rabbits
Alfalfa is a perennial legume related to the pea and bean family. Being a legume, alfalfa provides excellent levels of good quality protein and due to a deep root system also provides naturally occurring minerals. Dengie alfalfa is harvested at a young age and then high temperature dried. This helps to retain nutrients and provides a consistently clean forage source. As a digestible source of fibre, when fed as part of a nutritionally balanced diet, alfalfa makes a great addition to any rabbit ration.
Key Nutritional Benefits
Alfalfa for Fibre – As a herbivore, fibre is crucial for the rabbit’s digestive health. Low levels of fibre, combined with high levels of cereal in the rabbit’s diet can result in digestive disturbances such as diarrhoea. Feeding fibre helps to maintain peristalsis as well as maintaining gut pH. This promotes a favourable gut environment that allows beneficial bacteria to thrive.
Dengie alfalfa is naturally low in sugar and starch and is harvested when the plant is young. This means that alfalfa provides a more digestible source of fibre compared to plants cut at a more mature stage, such as timothy hay. In practice this means that alfalfa can make more of a contribution to a rabbit’s energy requirements, which in turn can help reduce the reliance on cereals.
Feeding Dengie chopped alfalfa also promotes increased chewing time compared to feeding cereals. This not only helps with efficient teeth wear but also promotes natural feeding behaviour helping to keep your rabbit occupied for longer.
Alfalfa for Protein – As a legume, alfalfa provides excellent levels of good quality protein including the essential amino acids lysine, threonine and tryptophan. Protein is important in the rabbit’s diet for growth, reproduction, cell renewal and tissue repair.
Alfalfa for Vitamins and Minerals – Hutch kept animals may be vitamin D deficient as naturally sunlight would promote vitamin D synthesis. Alfalfa provides a natural source of vitamin D, therefore adding alfalfa to the ration may be particularly beneficial in the winter months.
Rabbits require a ratio of 1.5-2:1 calcium to phosphorus in their diet for optimal bone and teeth strength. Cereals provide a ratio of 1:5 calcium to phosphorus whereas alfalfa provides a ratio of 5:1. In practice this means that alfalfa can be used to naturally balance cereals in the diet. Alfalfa is also an abundant source of β-carotene which is a precursor for vitamin A and is important for fertility and the survival of young rabbits. Alfalfa also supplies vitamin E which is an important antioxidant.
Alfalfa for Essential Fatty Acids – A rabbit’s natural diet would provide higher levels of omega-3 than omega-6 essential fatty acids. Using a fibre based ration that includes Dengie alfalfa helps to maintain this natural ratio. This is important as research suggests that elevated omega-6 puts the body in an inflammatory state increasing the risk of allergies and skin problems.
As alfalfa provides good quality protein, naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and promotes a naturally good ratio of omega-3 it is an excellent choice for showing success as all of these factors result in fantastic skin and coat condition.
Dengie Products for Rabbits
Alfalfa Pellets are pure pelleted alfalfa with no added molasses, binders or additives. For breeding stock or rabbits that struggle to maintain condition. Can be soaked to a mash for rabbits with dental problems. Approx size 5-6mm pellet. 20kg bag
Alfa-A Original combines pure alfalfa with a light molasses coating. For breeding stock or rabbits that struggle to maintain condition. 20kg bag
Hi-Fi Original combines alfalfa and top quality straw with a light molasses coating. For rabbits that maintain weight with ease and can also be used to extend the usual hay ration. 20kg bale
Hi-Fi Lite combines alfalfa and top quality straw with a low sugar coating. Hi-Fi Lite provides around half the sugar found in typical hay. For rabbits that maintain weight with ease and can also be used to extend the usual hay ration. 20kg bale
Hi-Fi Senior combines high temperature dried grasses and alfalfa with a low sugar coating. Particularly palatable for fussy feeders and the short chop format of Hi-Fi Senior makes it very easy for animals with dental problems to chew. Both the alfalfa and grasses in this product have been high temperature dried producing a consistently clean fibre source, which can be used to completely replace hay. 20kg bale
Hi-Fi Molasses Free combines chopped and pelleted alfalfa and straw with a light oil coating and the added herbs mint and fenugreek. For rabbits that maintain weight with ease. Low in sugar and starch. 20kg bale
Pure Grass Pellets are simply 100% naturally grown meadow grass with no added sugar. Free from artificial flavours, preservatives, molasses, straw, binders and fillers. Can be soaked to a mash for rabbits with dental problems. 20kg bag
|Alfalfa Pellets||Alfa-A Original||Hi-Fi Original||Hi-Fi Lite||Hi-Fi Senior||Hi-Fi Molasses Free||Pure Grass Pellets |
|Dry Matter %||90||88||88||88||88||90||90|
Suggested Feeding Rate
Dengie pure alfalfa products can be fed at 15-20% of the total diet whilst the Hi-Fi range can be fed ad-lib.