Feed formulation is very vital in rabbit production because it is the only means rabbit farmers are able to achieve a desired nutritional need.
This is achieved by combining different percentage of food materials containing different nutrient composition.
Though feed formulation can be done by anyone, it is not advisable to formulate feed without prior knowledge of the rabbit nutritional needs.
Don’t forget that; the sole aim of rabbit feed formulation is to achieve a desired nutritional goal that aligns with the rabbits dietary needs.
Read also: Rabbit food: List of essential rabbit food and where to source for them
This goal must be set out before starting the process of rabbit feed formulation, the same goes to other livestock.
In this shot article, we will discuss rabbit feed formulation. The processes involved in the formulation of rabbit feed.
We will also discuss the required ingredients needed for rabbit feed formulation and where to get them.
Without further ado, here is how to formulate rabbit feed and what ingredients to look out for.
Here is how to carry out rabbit feed formulation
Table of Contents
We are going to focus on costing of rabbit feed ingredients and analyzing proximate nutrient levels in ingredients.
To understand this topic very well, I will give out a feed formula that we are going to analyze and categorize its usage (Breeder, Weaner, Grower, Maintenance and Fattener/Finisher).
In formulating rabbit feeds, you need to begin with the end in mind by stating the purpose of the feed.
Let us assume that we want to formulate a Rabbit Breeders Feed.
There is the need for us to factor in the requirements for pregnancy, lactating and kits requirements before weaning.
The next thing is to write out the nutrient levels that we want to achieve.
Followed by stating the formula to achieve the nutritional requirements, then testing of the ingredients should follow.
If it is not achieved, we need to readjust the inclusion level or at extreme case.
Introduce another ingredient to the formula that can provide us with what we want to achieve but bear it in mind that as you pursue one nutrient.
Other nutrient levels are distorted.
In fact, formulation of a very good feed requires deep knowledge about rabbit nutrition and capital intensive if you want to take your feed to Lab for testing.
Many rabbit farmers are not carrying out laboratory test.
Read also: List of rabbit diseases you should know and treatment
STEP 1- I need to ask this question and answer it by myself. Which class of rabbit do I want to feed and what is its condition?
I need to feed Breeders that are currently nursing kits and those ones that are already pregnant.
STEP 2- What are the nutritional requirements that I need to formulate for the Breeders in Step 1?
In rabbit feed formulation, understanding the nutritional requirement is important.
I need the following nutrient levels to achieve success in my breeding program.
Crude Fibre 16-17%
Crude Protein Over 18-18.5%
Digestive Energy 2600-2650kcal/kg
Trace Minerals range of 0.4-0.5% (Iron, Copper Zinc & Iodine)
Crude Fat 3.5-5.0% max
Calcium (Actual) 1.10%
Phosphorus (Actual) 0.60%
Sodium (Actual) 0.20%
Vitamin A 12,000 IU/kg
Vitamin D 1,500 IU/kg
Vitamin E 50 IU/kg
STEP 3- The next thing is to determine the method of calculating the nutrient in the feed.
Do I want the nutrient analysis to be accurate or I just want to use theoretical nutrient level for a rough idea?
I will prefer to take my rabbit feed to Lab for testing in order to achieve accuracy and avoid gambling.
It is advisable to take feed ingredients to the lab for testing before paying suppliers and after feed formulation.
Many feed ingredient suppliers adulterate raw materials to make abnormal profit at the detriment of rabbit farmers.
Laboratory Test is very capital intensive though but ig you can afford it, why not, it reduces inaccuracy.
STEP 4- What are the available ingredients that we intend to use and at what inclusion level can we arrive at nutrient levels in Step 2?
Let us state the available ingredients and state possible inclusion level for a 100kg feeds.
Example of rabbit feed formula
Rice Bran 10kg
Cocoyam Peels 10kg
Cassava Peels 10kg
Groundnut Hay 10kg
Tridax Hay 10kg
Bitter Leaf Hay 5kg
Sesame Cake 5kg
Fullfat Soya 2kg
STEP 5- we need to calculate each of the intended nutrient levels in Step 2.
To achieve this, we need to know the nutrient levels in each of the ingredients in Step 4.
For the purpose of this lecture, I will test only the Fat Level and compare it with what I intend to achieve because what I want to achieve in Step 2 is for breeders.
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Breeders don’t need too much fat. Otherwise, the rabbit farmer’s breeding program will be frustrated by infertility and excess weight.
The fat level in each ingredient are
Maize- 4% fat
Rice Bran- 15% fat
Cocoyam Peels-0.33% fat
Cassava Peels – 5.6% fat
Groundnut Hay – 1.83% fat
Tridax Hay – 4.33% fat.
Bitter Leaf Hay 0.56% fat
Sesame Cake 7.0 % fat
Soyameal 3.5% fat
Fullfat Soya 18 % fat
Wheatoffal 5.14 % fat
PKC 7 % fat
The next thing is to compute the fat level per ingredient and aggregate it.
This involves multiplication of fat in each ingredient by Inclusion level in the formula in Step 4 as shown below:
Maize- 4% fat x 10 kg = 0.40 Fat
Rice Bran- 15% fat x 10 kg = 1.50 Fat
Cocoyam Peels-0.33% fat x 10kg = 0.03 Fat
Cassava Peels – 5.6% fat x 10kg = 0.56 Fat
Groundnut Hay – 1.83% fat x10kg = 0.18 Fat
Tridax Hay – 4.33% fat x 10kg = 0.43 Fat
Bitter Leaf Hay 0.56% fat x 5kg = 0.03 Fat
Sesame Cake 7.0 % fat x5 kg = 0.35 Fat
Soyameal 3.5% fat x15kg = 0.53 Fat
Fullfat Soya 18 % fat x 2kg = 0.36 Fat
Wheatoffal 5.14 % fat x 5kg = 0.26 Fat
PKC 7 % fat x 5kg = 0.35 Fat
TOTAL FAT IN THE FEED 4.98 %
In Step 2 of this lecture, it was clearly stated that we want to produce a Breeders Feed that has Fat Level of 3.5%-5% maximum.
Based on the computation above, we can see that the fat level of 4.98% was achieved.
This shows that the feed formula satisfies the fat level requirement as it is still a little bit below 5% maximum.
This formula is okay for the fat level for breeders’ feeds but we have not tested other nutrient levels if it can satisfy them.
You can compute for other nutrient levels and if it is deficient in other requirements, you can amend it.
STEP 6- The next thing is to compute the cost of producing 100kg of Breeders Feed if this formula is used and decide if it is affordable or not
Maize 10kg x N100= N1000
Rice Bran 10kg x N65 = N650
Cocoyam Peels 10kg x N31= N310
Cassava Peels 10kg x N27= N270
Groundnut Hay 10kg x N120= N1200
Tridax Hay 10kg x N90= N900
Bitter Leaf Hay 5kg x N180= N900
Sesame Cake 5kg x N140 = N700
Soyameal 15kgxN54 = N2400
Fullfat Soya 2kg x 205= N810
Wheatoffal 5kgx57 = N285
PKC 5kg x 46 = N92
Bonemeal 2kg x 70 = N140
Meth. 0.25kgx1850= N462.5
Salt 0.50kg x 90 = N45
TOTAL COST FOR 100KG = N8715.00
Therefore, cost of ingredients and grinding for producing a 25kg bag of mash = N8715.00 divided by 4 bags= N2,178.75
So cost of ingredients and grinding to produce a bag = N2,178.75
STEP 7 – The last step is MAKE or BUY Decision.
You have the option to formulate the feed on your own or buy commercial rabbit feeds.
Common Feed ingredients for rabbit feed formulation
Here are some common ingredients that can be used to formulate rabbit feeds in Nigeria.
We will also discuss some of the nutrients, inclusion level and cost of acquiring those ingredients.
Some of these ingredients are in tuber, leaves, grasses, grains, roughages, kitchen wastes, industrial wastes and so on.
The common ones that you can easily get to use for rabbit feeds are : Sugarcane Leaf, Bitter Leaf, Tridax Grass.
Wheat flour, Guava Leaf, Dried Cocoyam peels, Dried Yam peels, Dried Sweet Potatoes Peels.
Dried Cassava Peels, Banana Leaves, Banana Suckers, Dried Cassava Leaves, Dried Elephant Grass, Dried Guinea Grass, Groundnut Hay, Maize Husk, Maize Stover, Palm Leaves.
Pawpaw Leaves, Pineapple Top, Plantain Peels, Rice Straw, Rice Husk, Rice Bran, Wheat Straw, Sesame Seeds, Sesame Offal, Palm Oil, Groundnut Oil, Vegetable Oil, PKC Oil, Palm Kernel Cake (PKC).
Groundnut Cake (GNC), Soymeal, Dried Carrot, Bambara Nut, Maize, Brewers Yeast, Millet, Cassava Flour.
Wheat Flour, Guinea Corn, Bonemeal, Snail Shell, Egg shells, Dried Ginger and Garlic, Salt.
Cashew Nuts Meal, Dried Sweet Potatoes Leaves, Dried Cassava Leaves, Dried Beans Leaves, Full fat soya, Maize Bran etc.
All this a good ingredient used for rabbit feed formulation, the next step is to select ingredients that are very high in the nutrient that you want.
For example, if I am looking for major protein sources to formulate a feed of 18% protein and high Lysine and Methionine,
I may select Soymeal, Sesame Seeds and GNC. If I want major source of Energy.
I may consider Millet, Cassava Flour, Corn, Cocoyam Peel, FulFat Soya, Wheat Flour etc.
If I want Fat, I may consider Palm Oil, Fulfat Soya, Vegetable Oil, Rice Bran.
If I want to get Fiber, I may decide to use Rice Husk, Rice Straw, Sesame Offal, Wheat Bran, PKC, Maize bran.
Groundnut Hay, Dried Elephant Grass, Dried Guinea Grass, Wheat straw, Banana Sucker, Palm Leaves etc.
In short, to know selection of raw materials, you must know the nutrients in them and consider the level of nutrients you want to achieve.
It is a very good practice in rabbit feed formulation to use 2-3 major sources of ingredients to get your required nutrient.
The reason is not far-fetched. It is not all nutrients in an ingredient that are utilized because of some elements that inhibit their utilization in rabbit digestive system.
You may formulate a feed of 18.5% but the digestibility of protein may be 13%. This factor requires attention.
To know the accurate level of nutrients in an ingredient, you need to take it to Laboratory where the true nutrient level can be determined.
Otherwise, it is a guess work and more or less like gambling.
For example, if I browse the internet for the level of protein in Soybean meal.
The theoretical proximate analysis may be 43% but if I take it to Lab., the protein level may not be more than 38% or 40%.
Many farmers-based feed formulations on theoretical calculation of nutrients.
A good feed manufacturer is meant to be testing every batch of new supply of ingredients to confirm the true nutrient in it.
Many factors bring about variation in nutrient composition of an ingredient.
One of the factors is inaccuracy from the suppliers of ingredients
Farmers are encouraged to be very careful and measure every parameters properly.
Pay close attention to amount of ingredients used in your rabbit feed formulation.
Adequate attention needs to be paid to details so as to minimize mistakes and error in your rabbit feed formulation processes.
You can also avoid all this stress by buying from trusted feed manufacturers.
Credit: Ogunwole Samson