It saddens me very much that after 3 years of relentless efforts by a group of us to promote good rabbit diet through the internet, “business” seemed to ruin it for us.
Here I was walking down the aisle of the major Pet Store in Klang Valley and suddenly, my browsing pleasure was interrupted by the sales assistant who was sitting on the floor tagging prices on some rabbit food. She said, “Try this brand, it is what I use and my rabbits love it”. On closer inspection, I can only make out one word – JUNK!
This brand of rabbit food seemed to be a big hit among the local rabbit owners. And the best part is, the pellets come in 2 colors – green and orange. The green suppose to denote certain vegetable and the orange as you can guess, denotes carrots. Time and time again, we are sending very clear message to the general public that CARROTS are NOT suppose to be the staple diet of rabbits. And to top it all off, when I turn the package to the back to scrutinize the ingredients further, CORN was listed as one of the major part of the rabbit food. Corn is a major NO in a rabbit’s diet because it is extremely fattening. And usually, when ingredients like these are listed as the first few ingredients, their portions are normally above desired amount. What we need to lookout for are ingredients such as Alfalfa Meal or Timothy Hay/Meal.
Sometimes I really do not blame ignorant customers for buying these junk foodstuff for their pets. They are after all, in the mercy of what the sales assistants promote to them. And what sales assistants do best? SELL!
I told the sales assistant off, “This is junk food, good luck with your rabbits”. Well, in my heart, I wouldn’t expect more from this pet store and its chains because people at the top are ignorant too. Things will never change as long as the money rolls in continuously. Although many pet store names suggest that they care a whole lots about your pets, more often then not, they DO NOT and all they care about is money off your pockets!
As I walk further down the aisle, I was again shocked by another product that they were carrying. It was filled with seeds of all kinds and dried fruits. They are selling these as staple food. It is so disheartening to know that they can’t even separate staple food from conditioning mix.
Let me tell you what conditioning mix is. Whenever you do not see green pellets and alfalfa/timothy hay as one of the ingredients, more often than not, the product is a form of conditioning mix. Most obvious when they are made up of different seeds like sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, oats, wheat, dried banana, dried papaya and etc.
So when you see a packet of mixed seeds with little or no pellets, be positive that this is not staple food for your bunny. Besides, the real staple food for a bunny is hay. Pellets are just fillers to keep their stomach filled.
Why do we need conditioning mix? Rabbit pellets are suppose to consist all the nutrients a rabbit needs to thrive. By right, a rabbit do not need anything extra besides the pellets. True – but if you can be absolutely sure that the pellets are fresh as in they are longer than 3 months out of the mills. As time goes by, pellets like any other food stuff loses its nutritional values. Conditioning mix are usually used to make up for all nutrients that has been lost or to give some extra shine to the rabbit’s coat.
There are many types of conditioning mix used by breeders especially show breeders and they even make their own. The question is, do we need them? I believe in moderation. I have friends who feed their rabbits raisins and some other treats once in a while. Of course it is permitted and conditioning mix can be used similarly as treats.
Now I hope you know what staple food is and what conditioning mix is all about.