Rabbits are unique in their digestive system that is specially designed to have a fibre rich diet, the majority of their diet depends on a high amount of hay and grass, with a small proportion of nutritious nuggets to provide the minerals and vitamins their bodies need to grow.
Burgess Excel calls rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas ‘fibrevores’ – as their primary need in the diet above everything else is fibre! Without fibre they can suffer from serious issues leading to death.
There are two kinds of fibre, indigestible and digestible fibre, together the types of fibre in their diet can be called ‘beneficial fibre’, which describes the correct ratio of both types. On the nutritional labels crude fibre is a legal requirement, but it is not a very useful indictor of the total fibre content of the diet and it doesn’t give a clear indication of the proportion of digestible to indigestible fibre in the diet.
Beneficial fibre is essential for:
- Digestive health – keeps the gut moving, helps to stimulate the rabbits appetite, maintains the health balance of the gut
- Dental health – helps to teeth to wear down
- Psychological health – encourages the rabbit to search or ‘forage’ for food. Most of the rabbit’s time in the wild is spent looking for grass, hay, plants and herbs to eat. This keeps the rabbit busy, stimulated and exercised, which is why the right diet is key to the emotional wellbeing and it keeps their teeth healthy.
Rabbits can’t get all the beneficial fibre they need from one food alone, that’s why vets recommend a healthy diet based on a range of complementary foods. This is where the Burgess Excel Feeding plan comes in.