No, rabbits can’t eat chicken feed. Rabbits are herbivores (they eat a plant based diet) and chickens are omnivores (they eat plants and animals) and as such they have different dietary requirements. Rabbits will get hardly any nutritional benefit from eating chicken feed, but could end up with health issues if they do eat it.
Chicken feed is a mixture made up of crushed grains, protein, starch, and supplements. This combination is designed for chickens. If rabbits eat a little they should be okay, but they’ll face a wide range of issues if they eat chicken feed regularly.
Read on to find out more – including the risks, what to do if your rabbit eats chicken feed, and tips to keep your rabbit away from chicken feed.
Rabbits are grazers, and the smell and texture of chicken feed will keep your rabbit munching, even if the very food they’re eating is causing them harm.
Though it isn’t toxic, rabbits eating chicken feed can cause issues like:
- Gastrointestinal problems: Eating the wrong diet, especially foods low in fiber and high in protein, can lead to issues in your rabbit’s body. This can be in the form of blockages or imbalances of bacteria in the gut. Signs of this include bloating, loss of appetite, and inability to pass stool. All require immediate treatment from a vet.
- Diarrhea: A rapid response to something not being right in your rabbit’s gut is loose stools or diarrhea. If you notice this, speak to a vet.
- GI stasis: When your rabbit’s gut movement slows, and they’ll get gassy, making them bloat and causing them pain. This can be fatal so if you suspect your pet has this, get to a vet ASAP. Other signs include not eating or going to the toilet.
- Obesity: Chicken feed is high in calories, which gets stored as fat in your rabbit’s body. Your rabbit’s weight gain will eventually lead to obesity which comes with joint problems, breathing difficulty, limited movement, and more.
- Dental problems: If your rabbit doesn’t get enough fiber, their teeth won’t be worn down as much as they should be. This will become painful and impact your rabbit’s eating habits.
- Hepatic lipidosis: A condition caused by too much fat being stored in the liver. They’d lose their appetite, be lethargic, and their toilet habits would slow or stop.
- Bladder stones: Excess calcium can cause kidney and bladder issues for rabbits. Chicken feed has calcium supplements, and rabbits make their own calcium so any extra is too much. They’ll require surgery to remove the stones. Signs of bladder stones are blood in urine, pain, appetite loss, and urination problems.
Furthermore, if your chickens and rabbits are mixing, it leaves opportunity for further issues such as the chickens defecating in the rabbit’s food, which can spread illness. The two species can also end up fighting and becoming territorial. It’s not a good idea for rabbits and chickens to share food, or space.
If you catch your rabbit helping themselves to chicken feed ,the first thing to do is to remove the feed from the rabbit. Whichever way works best – securing your rabbit elsewhere or collecting and moving the feed.
You then need to observe your rabbit. Monitor them for any changes in their toilet habit (like diarrhea or suddenly not pooping), changes in appetite (not eating normal amounts or at all), and watch for any out of character behavior.
If your rabbit shows any usual behavior, it’s worth taking them to a vet for a check over and to get ahead of any problems. If they haven’t had any sort of reaction, they might have avoided any issues.
Regardless, make sure they’re eating a balanced diet with plenty of hay and water. Always monitor your rabbit, and learn about which foods are safe or should be avoided.
Although accidents do sometimes happen, there’s a few precautions you can take to try and prevent your rabbit from eating chicken feed:
- Clean up any remaining chicken feed that is leftover. This is especially important if your rabbits and chickens share an enclosure.
- Feed your rabbits and chickens separately where possible.
- Store chicken feed in a secure container. Rabbits are surprisingly clever, and can break into containers or bags, so a secure place to keep the feed in will make it harder for your rabbit to steal any.
- Watch your rabbit closely. Leaving them unattended means if they do find their way to chicken feed, you won’t be as fast as you would’ve been to act. A quick response could be a difference maker in their recovery.
Rabbits need to eat a controlled diet to ensure that they get all the nutrients that they need. Follow these guidelines to give your rabbit the best food for them to stay healthy.
- Hay: Your rabbit needs unlimited hay to get all the fiber that they need. This is important for digestion and their teeth.
- Water: Your rabbit should have access to drinking water at all times.
- Vegetables: You should give your rabbit a variety of raw vegetables every day. This provides vitamins and minerals for your pet.
- Pellets: Your rabbit should be given a daily bowl of pellets every day to top up their diet.
- Treats: Your rabbit can have unhealthy snacks as treats up to twice per week. Alternate the type of treat to prevent boredom.
No, chickens shouldn’t eat rabbit food. Though they might be tempted if there’s rabbit food in front of them, eating the food from another species is likely to upset their stomachs and offer little to no nutritional value. This works the same for rabbits eating chicken food.