As we know, rabbits are exclusively herbivorous animals. Often, novice breeders and owners of pet rabbits follow the stereotype about animal nutrition and feed them cabbage and carrots. But they need a more varied diet, and cabbage makes up a very small percentage of it.
Rabbits eat grass, grains, and vegetables. They are given raw and cooked root vegetables. Different types of vegetables affect the digestion of rabbits in different ways.
In short, rabbits can eat cabbage, and many of them also love its crispy texture. However, all Brassica vegetables are rich in sulfur compounds that can disturb the digestive system of some rabbits, giving them diarrhea or gas. Because rabbits do not have an effective way to eliminate gas, in large enough quantities these gastrointestinal disturbances can prove to be harmful or even lethal.
Cabbage contains folic acid and calcium – trace elements necessary for the health of adult animals including rabbits. Adult males and females get their hydration from juicy vegetables. But instead of being useful, a cabbage head can damage the intestines of these animals. Gross product in large quantities causes gas. From the fresh leaves, the fiber is absorbed by the animal’s body. The substance is poorly absorbed if the pet receives it regularly and in large quantities.
Nutritional data of cabbage
Composed of 84% carbohydrates, 13% protein, and 4% fat, cabbage can be a useful food to give rabbits due to its relatively high fiber content: 2,5 grams in a 100-gram serving.
The University of California’s Department of Agriculture and natural resources mentions fiber as an important part of the rabbit’s diet but warns against cabbage feeding because of its potential to create gas. Although the high vitamin and mineral content of cabbage may seem to make them an attractive option as a snack for the rabbit, its relatively high calcium content can cause problems with the rabbit’s kidneys.
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So, while cabbage is not poisonous to rabbits, it may not be an excellent choice for daily feeding. Keep it as an occasional treat if your rabbit is fond of its flavor, but be sure to keep it in check for signs of gastrointestinal distress.
No matter what kind of cabbage you choose for your rabbit, it must be offered raw! Cooked and pickled foods (such as kimchi or pickled cabbage) can cause serious problems with the rabbit’s digestive system and should be avoided completely. Fortunately, this is not difficult to remember because your rabbit will almost always refuse everything that is not raw.
Typical “American” cabbage as well as red cabbage or Napa contain similar nutrient profiles and should be fed to your rabbit, following the same guidelines as above. Choose only organic products, as this will prevent harmful pesticides from affecting the digestive system of the rabbit. Then, for a good measure, always wash the cabbage under cold running water to remove dirt.
Pet rabbits get their most benefit from Brussels sprouts. It is better to grow it yourself so that the animals feed on a product that has not been treated with chemicals. The Brussels variety should be offered in small amounts since it can cause the development of renal failure.
Savoy cabbage is also suitable for pet rabbits. The fiber of this variety is softer compared to white cabbage and contains more nutrients. The supply of savoy cabbage can also lead to the bloating of pets. Therefore, it should be added to their diet in small portions.
In order to diversify its diet and reduce strain on the intestines, it is good to alternate the types of vegetables. It is better for miniature breeds to be fed softer varieties – colored and kohlrabi.
Frozen cabbage is not recommended for rabbits. In the product, stored in the cold, nutrients are not retained. The fiber of vegetables after defrosting does not stimulate the production of digestive enzymes. Frozen cabbage for rabbits is an unnecessary load on the intestines.
Cabbage leaves are considered a juicy food. Farmers mix them with the grasses of the meadow, and for the winter they harvest silos and add carrots. Then the natural mixture is replaced with compound feed. Cabbage leaves contain up to 4 grams of carotene – more than meadow grass. The weight of carotene in cabbage and carrot silage is 5,1 grams.
Rabbits eat cabbage uncontrollably and then refuse other foods. Hard, juicy leaves stimulate the production of digestive enzymes. As a result, animals suffer from flatulence. To avoid negative consequences, fresh leaves can be dried a little, then offered to rabbits.
Do not give animals torn leaves. They contain several substances that stimulate the production of gastric enzymes.
In order for rabbits to digest healthy cabbage well, the allowed portion is selected according to age. Animals raised for fur, meat, and pet breeds have sensitive digestion. Therefore, cabbage and leafy vegetables should be gradually added to their diet.
Young animals are fed fresh leaves starting between 3,5 and 4 months. Young rabbits still cannot digest hard fibers. The baby’s diet is based on the mother’s milk. From maternal milk, rabbits receive all the necessary nutrients. Complementary feeding begins at 1 month with grass, cereals, and boiled root crops. It is better to save specific varieties of cabbage for mature age.
Young rabbits are given leaves of various varieties in small amounts – 30-50 grams or 1-2 leaves per individual per day. The condition of the pet must be monitored for 7 days. With the gaining of the weight of meat breeds, the daily portion is increased to 100 grams. For rabbits with a large weight, which assimilate the product well, you can increase the rate up to 200 grams.
If there is a mild disorder, but the animals are active, the amount of vegetables is reduced and the portion of the other components is increased. If rabbits are lethargic and often vilified, then the product is not suitable for them. Most often it is added to their diet during fall, as an additional component of vitamins.
Fresh cabbage should be inspected before offering it to rabbits. Cabbage is suitable for animal feed, without mold and traces of insect activity. Only a first-class product is suitable for feeding rabbits. Animal health and the profit it will bring depends on the quality of the food.
In the solid base of the cabbage head, active substances and waste products of the plant accumulate. Their high concentration affects the health of rabbits negatively. Stem fibers are too hard and contain more sulfur than the outer leaves. Even a small amount of crushed stem can lead to poisoning a pet, especially a miniature breed.
So, you can feed rabbits cabbage, but it is necessary to limit the quantity in their daily diet, as this vegetable can cause serious problems with the gastrointestinal tract of animals. All types of cabbage are suitable to be fed with, except the red ones.
Important! The quality of the diet is very important for both pet animals and rabbits bred for economic purposes. If they are not properly fed balanced food, the animals on the farms will give poor quality skins and meat, and the pets will behave apathetically and appear undisciplined.
If you strictly control the amount of product in a rabbit’s diet, it will become an important source of nutrients and trace elements for animals, which will have a positive effect on their health and appearance.