Purina® Rabbit Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Ron Obermark: Purina Through & Through

Ron Obermark, now retired, was a part of the Purina team for more than 40 years, spending time in the operations department, the rabbitry, the nutrition lab and the poultry department to name a few. Many rabbit owners may recognize Ron from his frequent trips to national rabbit shows, standing at the Purina table and always willing to listen and help whenever possible.

Ron started working on the LongView Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo., cutting grass when he was only 16 years old. It was a convenient first job with his dad already a Purina employee, running the hatchery, and his parent's house just a mile down the road.

Ron has worked with game birds, like pheasants and mallards, doing nutrition and flight studies; he's worked on human digestion studies; he's taken care of the rabbits, mice, guinea pigs and ferrets; he's worked with tropical birds, lizards and pigs. In fact, it's hard to say what animals Ron hasn't worked with while with Purina. It's the only company he's ever worked for, with the exception of his four years in the Air Force as a jet engine mechanic.

"What I always liked about Purina is that I had the opportunity to work with the animals," Ron said. "I was one of the behind the scenes people, the eyes and ears for the nutritionists."

Ron now lives in Washington, Mo., though he did live at LongView at one time for about five years to be closer to the animals. Because he worked in the Purina rabbitry, it gave him the opportunity to learn a lot about raising healthy rabbits and also show people real outcomes in feeding and management programs.

"I could go to the rabbit conventions, listen to people and talk to them about their problems," Ron said. "Sometimes you can help and sometimes you can't, but it made a huge difference. Many people listen to the next-door neighbor who may not really know how to manage rabbits, and it seems that's where most people get in trouble."

While at Purina, sometimes Ron even took specific calls from customers, curious of the proper feeding techniques.

"One time a customer called and wanted to know exactly how much we feed our rabbits, but there's a lot of variation depending on the variables. I laid it out exactly for them, but emphasized that they're still going to need to adapt it to their own rabbits," Ron said. "About six months later she called back and thanked me. She said her rabbits are doing excellent, better than the lady she bought them from."

In all his years working with Purina, Ron said that one of the most eye-opening moments came from a friend that worked in the feed business as well.

"A good friend of mine, who worked for a competitor, said if I was in charge of Purina my motto would be 'Purina is a company that leads where others follow,'" Ron said. "That inspired me because, yes, that's what this company does. We're in the forefront of various unique ideas and are very mindful of the quality."

Ron is still involved with quality checks at Longview, checking things like smell, quality of alfalfa, etc. For him, it's a way to stay connected to a company that has been a part of his life for so long.

"Purina is a great, family oriented type of company," Ron said. "It's been nice knowing the people that I worked for and worked with actually care about me."

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RABBIT TIPS | Overcoming Digestive Upset

For everyone that wants to keep their rabbit healthy and happy it is important to make sure their rabbits are getting the proper nutritional diet. Disruptions in a rabbit's digestive system are common and are usually caused by poor feeding habits that are too low in fiber and too high in protein and soluble carbohydrates.

Low fiber diets can create an internal environment in the rabbit's digestive system that may favor the excessive growth of pathogens such as E. coli, which can cause diarrhea and bacterial toxins.

A common digestive problem in a rabbit can be a cause of gastric stasis, which is a sluggish emptying of stomach contents because of the slowing effects of a low fiber diet. Other contributing factors are a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, stress and a rabbit's inability to vomit. Signs your rabbit may be suffering from gastric stasis include inappetance or anorexia, their stools may be very small, dry or loose and fecal output begins to slow and eventually stops.

In order to ensure a healthy digestive tract for rabbits it is important that their diet be high in fiber and low in soluble carbohydrates. If digestive upset occurs with your rabbit try reducing the amount of pelleted feed and introduce some long stem grass hay or dark leafy greens.

The long stem grass hay and dark leafy greens will provide an extra source of fiber that will be digested slowly and stabilize the microbial fermentation in the cecum, and help restore gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract health. After a few days, the amounts of pellets can be slowly increased to their original levels.

Foods high in soluble carbohydrates including grains and sugar-containing products will digest too rapidly by the rabbit and can cause digestive upsets or diarrhea and should be avoided.

If problems persist, it is always a good idea to consult a veterinarian.

Island Exotic Veterinary Care website: www.heidihoefer.com

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GET TO KNOW | Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Professional Natural AdvantEdge®

Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Professional Natural AdvantEdge® is a completely balanced food specially formulated to produce shiny fur, rapid growth, and excellent reproduction. This nutrient dense formula is high protein and high energy food, making it the perfect choice for those who desire accelerated breeding and/or lustrous fur growth, all while feeding less per day.

  • The Natural AdvantEdge® Formula—superior, consistent, natural* nutrition FREE from all fillers, preservatives, and artificial colors
  • Formulated for excellent fur quality—Vitamin A, essential vegetable oils and high protein for excellent growth and fur quality
  • High-protein formula—high protein and energy food for accelerated breeding programs and optimal wool production
  • Added lactobacillus, yeast and balanced fiber—supports digestive health with added yucca shidigera to aid in odor control
  • Complete, natural nutrition—no additional supplements necessary and great for rabbits of all ages
  • High-quality plant proteins—loaded with natural nutrients found only in plants that optimize vitality and support immune function
  • Nutrient dense—help feed less per day, helps save you money
  • Highly palatable—for proper intake and growth
  • Purina FeedGuard® Nutrition System—stringent quality standards help ensure many of the industry's highest quality ingredients available are used, provides greater nutritional consistency bag after bag, and considers 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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