Purina® Rabbit Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Teaching Both In and Outside of the Classroom

As a faculty member at Ohio State University, Dave Mangione has a hectic lifestyle, but this hasn't stopped him from being one of the top three rabbit breeders across the country.

Dave began raising rabbits nearly 30 years ago. He started when he was 12 years old and continued raising them until he started college. It wasn't until his children, Jill and Kyle, began showing an interest in rabbits about 15 years ago that Dave got back into breeding. Although Jill and Kyle are no longer involved in raising rabbits, Jill is a special needs teacher and Kyle recently graduated from the NASCAR Automotive School in Mooresville, N.C., Dave's rabbit operation is still going strong.

Developing a New Variety
Dave currently raises two varieties of New Zealands, white and brokens, and he actually developed the broken variety himself. After eight hard years of work, it became an official variety for the New Zealand breed in February 2010. Dave raises his rabbits for breeding and show stock, selling them to other breeders across the country.

Rabbit "My rabbitry houses as many as 250 rabbits at one time. What was once a hobby has become a small farm business," Dave said. "The commercial breeds are more appealing to me, perhaps because they more closely resemble the market livestock image that I see in cattle, sheep, and hogs."

What Dave enjoys the most about raising rabbits is that he can see genetic improvements from breeding very quickly because generation turnover in rabbits is less than a year. He also enjoys writing informational articles about raising rabbits to help others. Although it took a lot of time, patience, and money, going through the grueling process of developing the broken variety of New Zealands was well worth it to Dave.

As a thriving business, it's important that Dave produces the best stock possible, and nutrition plays an important part in raising quality rabbits. Dave feeds his rabbits Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Show Natural AdvantEdge™ Rabbit Food.

"This new, no corn formulation meets the nutrient requirements of my rabbits," Dave said. "My most success has been since I fed Purina® developed products. The Show formula provides the essential nutrients for growth, production, and show."

Dave is both a Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Food customer and an official Rabbit Ambassador for Purina. He became an Ambassador nearly eight years ago, teaching other rabbit enthusiasts how to be successful raising rabbits. He serves as a role model in sportsmanship and is a successful breeder of New Zealands.

As part of the Ambassador program, Dave occasionally receives Purina® Rabbit Chow™ products.

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RABBIT TIPS | Winterizing your Rabbit

With winter just around the corner, it's time to get your rabbits ready to brave the elements. Here are some tips on how to help your rabbit adjust to the cold temperatures and shorter days of winter.

Your rabbit's hutch should have at least three solid walls and a slanted, overhanging roof so snow and rain can run off. Put your hutch in an area that is protected from strong winds and heavy precipitation.

Put straw or other bedding in your hutch for added warmth. Keep it clean and dry from rain, snow, and urine to avoid chilling, hutch burn, sore hocks, increased stress on the immune system, and other problems. Although you want your hutch to be well-protected, make sure it still has good ventilation and allows for fresh air.

Making sure your rabbit constantly has fresh, unfrozen water available is the most important thing you can do. This could mean checking the water multiple times a day or getting a water heater. Also consider switching to a metal or plastic water bottle to avoid a glass bottle breaking. If you decide to use a heater make sure your rabbit can't chew on the cords and keep the water clean to avoid bacteria growth.

Temperature influences how much rabbits eat. Before and during a cold spell, rabbits generally increase food consumption. Be prepared for your rabbit to eat much more, possibly as much as three times more than what they eat in warmer months. Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Complete Natural AdvantEdge™ rabbit food provides all the essential nutrients for growth, maintenance and reproduction. Like all animals, rabbits have a thermoneutral zone. The thermoneurtal zone is a range of body temperatures at which a rabbit doesn't need to use energy to maintain. For adult rabbits the zone is 69 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, for younger rabbits it's even higher. When their body temperature goes below the zone they must use energy from food to stay warm. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of food available so it doesn't get cold, sick, or lose weight.

If you're breeding your rabbits during the winter, keep in mind that fertility decreases as daylight decreases. Provide them with a constant 14 to 16 hours of light a day. Hang a 36-watt fluorescent tube light about 6 feet above the rabbits for every 55 square feet of floor space. Also, kits can't tolerate the cold as well as adults, so you may need to provide extra warmth; however, monitor the temperature to make sure it doesn't get so hot that the doe stops nursing.

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GET TO KNOW | Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Complete

Keep your rabbit happy and healthy with Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Complete Natural AdvantEdge® rabbit food. This new, all-natural* diet is highly palatable with all the essential nutrients for growth, maintenance and reproduction. It's the right balance of protein, fiber and critical nutrients, making it an excellent food for all types of rabbits of all ages. It's the easiest way to feed and the perfect choice for first-time rabbit owners.

• The Natural AdvantEdge®—superior, consistent, natural* nutrition FREE from all fillers, preservatives and artificial colors
• Complete, natural nutrition—no additional supplements necessary and great for rabbits of all ages
• Added lactobacillus, yeast and balanced fiber—supports digestive health with added yucca shidigera to aid in odor control
• Essential nutrients—proteins (contain amino acids, the building blocks of muscles, organs and fur), vitamin A (for reproductive efficiency and bright eyes), and calcium and phosphorus (for strong bones and excellent milk production)
• High-quality plant proteins—loaded with natural nutrients found only in plants that optimize vitality and support immune function
• Highly palatable—for proper intake and growth
• Purina® FeedGuard® Nutrition System—stringent quality standards help ensure that many of the industry's highest quality ingredients available are used, provide greater nutritional consistency bag after bag, and consider all key nutrients and their interactions with each other to better support overall rabbit health

As always, when changing your rabbits from one feeding program to another, make the change gradually, over a five- to seven-day period. Mix the new feed with the old, gradually increasing the amount of the new feed (it's always important to allow time for the rabbits' intestinal flora to adjust to any new feed). Continue to feed at the same time each day—evening is best. Clean the feeding dish daily so uneaten food does not become stale and moldy. And always provide plenty of clean, fresh, cool water to rabbits at all times.

*with added vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients

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