Here at the TAP rabbitry we feed our rabbits an oat and black oil sunflower seed (BOSS) mix once a week as a supplement to keep our rabbits healthy and their coats shiny. Around here we call it 'Snack Mix Monday's' as we give them this to them every Monday morning in addition to their daily portion of Timothy Hay. Before you read any further, I want to say this up front, we feed this snack mix to our herd all year. There are many detractors that will say this practise will “blow a rabbits coat” or cause the rabbit to molt prematurely during the summer months. I have not noticed this during any of the years that we have been raising rabbits, but I will not lie to you it could happen. Having said that, it does not really matter to us as we are breeding rabbits for meat and not for show. Therefore for us the benefits out weigh the risks.
If you are breeding rabbits to show, and you do not want to take the chance of 'blowing' your rabbits coat then you might want to stop giving your rabbits the BOSS component of the snack mix during the late spring and summer months.
Our recipe is pretty simple, it is 2 parts old fashioned oats, to 1 part BOSS. We combine this in a large container and then shake it thoroughly each time before we get ready to feed the rabbits to make sure the BOSS is even distributed. We then line up a series of small bowls and fill each with ¼ cup of the oats and BOSS mix. We then add 1 teaspoon of Calf-Manna supplement to each bowl.
32 ounces Old Fashioned Oats (Any brand will do)
16 ounces Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS)
The Components and Nutritional Benefits of BOSS
Black oil sunflower seeds have many necessary nutrients that help promote the healthy growth of your rabbits skin and coat as well as promoting the intestinal health of your rabbit. It should be noted however that BOSS are meant as a supplement and should not be fed to your rabbits on a daily basis as the same nutrients that are a benefit to the rabbit in small amount could have ill effects when consumed in large quantities. The following is the nutritional breakdown on the Royal Wing BOSS that we purchase from our local Tractor Supply and use in our snack mix.
Fats, fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins are essential in the healthy growth of both people as well as livestock. Having a correct balance of these essential elements will not only promote healthy growth but will help your does to have productive healthy litters.
Fat Content (25 – 30%, Avg 28%) - Fats function as a secondary source of energy, and it aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. In addition if helps your rabbit to grow a healthy shiny coat and some breeders state that it may help slow the shedding process, but I cannot verify this claim.
Crude Fiber Content (14.5 – 20.8%, Avg 17.2%) - Fiber helps to keep your rabbits digestive system healthy by promoting proper bowel function as well as aiding in the digestion of other foods. In both humans and animals, fiber helps keep out gut working correctly and is an important part of your rabbits diet.
Protein Content (14.1-19.9%, Avg 16.6%) - A good source of protein is needed for the growth, disease resistance, milk production, and the overall general health and reproduction of your herd.
The Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium) – Sodium, potassium and magnesium play a crucial role cardiac function and muscle contraction, while calcium is a vital component in the growth and healthy bone structure. However, just as in humans, excess calcium in the blood stream can lean to the production of urinary stones, and urinary tract problems, but the risk is minimal.
The Vitamins (A, B, E, and K)
Rabbits produce their own vitamin packed dietary supplement in their cecum that they then poop out. These small grape looking clusters called cecotropes are then eaten by the rabbit. I know it's sounds kind of gross, but cecotropes are not actually feces, rather they are the rabbits own home made nutrient-packed dietary supplement that is essential to their good rabbit's good health. If you have not seen these cecotropes before, do not be alarmed, rabbits usually produce them in the late evening or early morning hours leading some people to call them 'night feces'. Having said all of that, the additional vitamin content in BOSS are considered by most a definite advantage.
The Components of Calf-Manna
Calf-Manna is a performance supplement that many meat and show breeders swear by, and It is an integral part of our rabbitry. It's combination of high quality protein, low fat content, easily digestible carbohydrates and essential vitamins and minerals help to keep our rabbits healthy and enhance their overall weight without making them fat.
We purchase Calf-Manna from our local Tractor Supply, but you should be able find it at any feed store. Because we have already discussed the importance of fats, fiber, protein, vitamins and mineral earlier in this article I am just going to list the percentage of the major components.
Fat Content (3%)
Crude Fiber Content (3 – 6%)
Protein Content (Minimum 25%)
All of our rabbits get 1 teaspoon of Calf-Manna with their ¼ cup of our snack mix. In addition, we give our pregnant does 1 teaspoon a day, during their first week of pregnancy, 2 teaspoons a day during the second week until they kindle, then we give them 1 tablespoon of Calf-Manna daily.
Our recipe for 'BOSS Snack Mix' is an essential part of our rabbits diet. During the last three years we have been using it I have never seen and unusual shedding of our rabbits coats. In fact I would say our rabbits have very good prime coats all year. In addition, when butchering our animals to go into the freezer, they have minimal fat and exquisite musculature.
If you are raising rabbits for show and you are worried about 'blowing' their coats then, try our recipe during the winter months of October through April, then omit the BOSS. If you are wanting to learn more about raising rabbit, be sure and check out some of my other articles on the subject on our blog. And as always, if you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and don't forget to send us on friend request on Facebook and Google+ so that you will not miss out on any of our new articles.