Food and water intake and selective feeding in rabbits on four feeding regimes

Jennifer Prebble, Anna Meredith

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Diet plays an important role in maintaining rabbit health. Feeding an incorrect diet, particularly a low fibre diet, has been linked with digestive, dental and urinary tract disease. However food intake and dietary requirements have been poorly studied in pet rabbits. 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 (P<0.001). The portion of the diet made of hay was greater in the EH group than in the MH group (P<0.001). Water intake was positively correlated with DM intake and was greatest in the HO group (P<0.001). Selective feeding occurred in all pens rabbit groups fed muesli, whether or not hay was also available. 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 was lower when muesli was fed. Therefore the feeding of muesli diets cannot be recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1000
JournalJournal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
Issue number5
Early online date9 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2014


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