Baby rabbit feeding schedule
Caring For Orphan Baby Rabbits
Wild Baby Bunnies – Orphaned or Not?
Wild baby bunnies are most often not orphaned! Many people mean well when they contact HRS after discovering an “abandoned” nest of wild rabbits. Often they wish to “rehabilitate” them with some advice from others. The reality is fewer than 10% of orphaned rabbits survive a week, and the care that people attempt to provide can be illegal, unnecessary, and potentially harmful.
The best thing you can do is put the bunny right back where you found him, in the general area, as the mom will only come back at night to call and find him. Leave the area. If injured, please contact a wildlife rehabber or rabbit vet immediately! You can search Google for your state/country and wildlife rehabber. Also search your state + wild rabbit rehabbers. You can call your Humane Society for referral and also check here: http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator If you find a baby with eyes open, and he appears healthy, leave him be.
I/My Dog/My Cat Found a Rabbit Nest! What Do I Do?
Rabbits hide their nests in plain view, often putting them in the open, sometimes in the middle of the lawn, as well as in brush piles and long grass. If you find a nest that has been disturbed, do all you can to restore and protect it. Do NOT bring it inside. If a dog has discovered the nest, keep your dog away from the area and reconstruct the nest with grasses. If need be, you can move the nest a few feet away where safer, even up to 5-6 feet away. A moved nest should always be covered with string in a tic tac toe pattern and monitored to be sure the mother found it and came back to the babies. She will scrabble away the surface area to feed her babies beneath her and then scrabble the earth, grass, leaves, back over the nest to hide it again so it’s pretty easy to see if the string has been disturbed and if the babies are warm.
Baby jackrabbits wait like this for mom
Babies should never be put back into a nest that has been flooded with water, has bugs/ants visibly crawling in and out, or if a baby has been killed and there is blood in the nest. Use common sense. Baby bunnies who have fleas are compromised and should be immediately taken to a wildlife rehabber or humane society, rabbit vet.
Rabbit mothers nurse their babies for approximately 5 minutes a day. Both wild and domestic mothers will be in the nest early in the morning and then again in the evening. The milk is very rich and the babies “fill up” to capacity within minutes. Mother rabbits do not “sit” on the babies to keep them warm as do some mammals and birds. They build a nest with fur and grasses which helps to keep the babies warm in between feedings. For domestic/pet rabbits, do not force a mother rabbit to sit in the nest box. You can pick up the babies and see if they are feeding by checking the size of their stomachs (should not be sunken in), the pinkness of their skin and activity level (they should not be blue in color or sluggish in movement) and the amount of time that you hear them crying (baby bunnies should be quiet most of the day…. if they are crying constantly then they are not getting fed). If you come across a nest of wild bunnies, and the mother is nowhere to be seen, please DO NOT disturb them.
If your dog disturbs a nest, or you find a wild bunny with his eyes open, please put him back if not injured. Mom will be coming back at night to call and feed him only once in the middle of the night. Do not take the bunny inside or feed him! IT IS A MATTER OF HIS/HER SURVIVAL AND UP TO US AS HUMANS TO LEAVE NATURE BE AND LET THE MOM CARE FOR HER YOUNG. We often hear of mothers moving their babies and their nests, and have seen moms come back every night for up to a week to look for her missing baby. Do not take the baby from the mom or she will be frantic. Many call or write saying, “… but it is raining, etc., ” but remember, these are wild bunnies and belong out there.
I/My Dog/My Cat Destroyed a Wild Rabbit Nest! What Do I Do?
Remake the nest as best you can with grasses, hay, straw in the same place. Nests can be moved to a safer place up to 10′ away from the original site and can be reconstructed if necessary. To make a new nest, dig a shallow hole about 3″ deep and put into it as much of the original material as you can recover, including the mother’s fur. Add dried grass as needed, and put the young back. Mother rabbits return to the nest to nurse only at night, staying away as much as possible so as not to attract predators. To determine if the mother is returning, create a tic-tac-toe pattern over the nest with straw, grasses or tiny twigs. Wait 24 hours to see if the twigs have been disturbed. She may be able to feed them without moving the twigs much, so double check–If the babies look healthy, are warm, then the mother is coming back. If they are cold, dehydrated, get them to a professional; do not care for them yourself. Please contact a Wildlife Rehabber or rabbit vet or Humane Society immediately. Google your state and wildlife rehabbers. Also check http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html and http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitatorA healthy jackrabbit waiting for mom. Leave him be.
How Do I Know If the Wild Baby Bunnies Need Help?
Very young wild baby bunnies with eyes closed and ears back rarely survive in captivity, even given the most expert human care; and so it is very important to determine whether they really need help. Try to assess whether the infants seem warm and healthy or cold, thin, and dehydrated. One test for dehydration is to gently pinch the loose skin at the back of the neck. If it does not spring back in one second, or stays in a “tent,” the bunny is SEVERELY dehydrated and needs rehabilitation IMMEDIATELY by a professional rabbit vet or rehabber. Another test is to stroke the genital area to stimulate elimination if the eyes are closed. If the pee is brown and gritty, the mother rabbit has not been there to help the bunnies urinate. The brown, gritty urine is toxic, and the infant bunny must be cared for by a professional. Please contact a Wildlife Rehabber or rabbit vet immediately. Google your state and wildlife rehabber, call your Humane Society, and also check http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html and http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.
Older baby bunnies who are found outside of the nest may not be orphaned or in need of assistance. This is most often the case. Baby cottontails are born without fur but develop a full coat in a week. Their eyes open in 10 days, and in three to four weeks they are weaned. At this age, they may explore the world outside of the nest but return there to sleep. They are not ignored by the mother but stay with the family group until four or five weeks of age. To determine whether a bunny of this age needs assistance, first see if the bunny feels cold to the touch; perform the dehydration test. Also look for bleeding, convulsing, fly larvae, broken limbs; if any, get to a rabbit vet or emergency vet immediately. If he is just out and about, leave him be. He is discovering his world, waiting for mom to return at night when we humans are asleep. Don’t assume because he is letting you pick him up, he needs help. They are prey animals, taught to freeze when a predator (or human) approaches. Leave him be!
What if the Baby Bunny is Injured?
Either call or take him to your local rabbit vet, humane society or animal shelter/animal control. Call first as often they will come pick up the baby. If after hours, contact a local emergency rabbit vet or rabbit vets found here and also here. The best thing you can do for an injured wild baby bunny is to get in touch with a skilled Wildlife Rehabber by searching your state/country and wildlife rehabber, or calling your Humane Society, and or trying this link http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator. html and http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator
Is there anything I can do to avoid orphaning wild baby bunnies?
The harsh reality is that many of us who care about wild baby bunnies may be contributing to the suffering and death. House cats who roam outside will kill about every other time they go out. And unlike feral cats who hunt because they are hungry, and kill immediately, house cats maul and torment their prey, sometimes skinning baby bunnies alive. Cat owners need to provide managed outdoor habitats for their cats – such as window boxes or pens. Providing a bell on your cat will help warn the wildlife if you cannot keep him inside. Keep your dogs on a leash with you if you see a rabbit nest.
Lawn chemicals can produce convulsing death in baby rabbits. According to the Poison Control Center for Animals, lawn applications that contain herbicides are not directly toxic to small animals; but they may make toxic plants more palatable to them and may make the animals sick for a few days. Products which contain insecticides, such as Dursban or Diazinion, which are added to many lawn products to control fleas or grubs in the lawn, are toxic.
The Bunny isWild and Really Orphaned – How do I care for it?
Again, make sure you KNOW for sure the mom was killed and the bunnies are abandoned (not warm, etc.). You will not see the mom. The mom will only come back in the middle of the night to feed her babies. If the mom was killed, the best thing you can do for a wild orphaned baby bunny is to get in touch with a skilled rehabilitator. In the meantime, call your local humane society or animal control and one of these vets for a wildlife referral: Rabbit Vets and Pet Bunny Vets. Google your state and wildlife rehabbers, and also try http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html and http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator
How much formula should I feed a Wild Orphaned Bunny until I get him/her to a rehabber?
The following is a guideline for the daily amount to feed a TRULY orphaned wild bunny (mother was killed, etc. ) Remember with wild bunnies, the mom only comes back at night to call and feed him once or so for 5 mins; please put him back for her if just found and healthy. She leaves them alone between feedings. Don’t assume they are abandoned! Wild rabbits NEED a skilled wildlife rehabber. You should not feed at home or the chances of their surviving is extremely low! Most die from bloat, wrong feedings/stress. These feedings are NOT meant to take place of an actual rehabber, but for someone only who may live too far from a rehabber and is faced with a wild mother, killed, for example. All others need to call your humane society, local rabbit vet, or google your state and wildlife rehabber. You can also check here http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html and http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitatorFeeding of True Orphans
Age + Amount (This WILL vary SO MUCH depending on type of rabbit. It is impossible over the Internet to see your particular rabbit, so this is only approximate.) Use KMR kitten or KMR kitten plus Goat milk, regular not low fat. Add a pinch of acidophilus (aka Probiotic) to the formula to promote healthy gut flora. Formulas vary depending on region. Avoid Esbilac and any puppy formulas! FEED TWICE A DAY ONLY for healthy babies, three times if low weight. It may be easiest to start with a 3 cc/ml syringe or an eyedropper. Feed only with the bunny sitting UPRIGHT, and point syringe down towards bottom or side of mouth, so if too much comes out, the baby does not aspirate. At first, they may only take a few drops at one feeding until they are not stressed and used to this.
Newborn to One Week: 2- 2+1/2 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings per day).
1-2 weeks: 5-7 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings per day). (depending on bunny..may be much LESS if smaller rabbit!) Newborn babies (if eyes closed) all need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate prior to or following feeding until their eyes open. (Except Jackrabbits do not). *See how to below.
2-3 weeks: 7-13 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings). Domestic eyes open at about 10 days of age. Start introducing them to timothy and oat hay, pellets and water (always add fresh greens for wild ones).
3-6 weeks: 13-15 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings–again, may be LESS depending on size of rabbit! A cottontail/brush bunny will take so much less!! Half this at most.) Cottontails wean and release about 3-4 weeks and jackrabbits much later (9+ weeks), whereas domestic rabbits are 6 weeks.
6 weeks-9weeks for Jackrabbits only, continue up to 9 weeks with formula, gradually changing to a dish for the warm formula, replacing the formula after 9 weeks slowly, continue adding more of their natural greens and hay (dandelions, oat hay, timothy hay, Italian parsley, carrot tops, small carrots cut up) and a small water bowl. Most markets will sell these greens. They need a rehabber before release!
Wild rabbits NEED a skilled wildlife rehabber. These feedings are NOT meant to take place of an actual rehabber, but for someone who may live too far from a rehabber and is faced with a wild mother, killed, for example. Please call your humane society for referrals to rehabbers, or your rabbit vets, or google your state or country and wildlife rehabbers. You can also try here: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html and by state here: http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator or http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator
*After each feeding it is important to gently make the bunny defecate and or urinate (brush bunnies/cottontails only..if the eyes are not opened yet) to keep the intestinal and urinary system running smoothly (just UNTIL their eyes open). No need to do this for jackrabbits; they go on their own. Use a cotton ball moistened with warm water after eating, and gently stroke the anal area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine and keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are reproducing the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom and to keep the nest clean. Again, ONLY if the eyes are still closed. Handle a wild rabbit only during feedings as excessive handling can be extremely stressful/potentially fatal. Wild rabbits don’t need heat if furred and healthy. Wild rabbits should not be fed at home, but get them to a professional rehabber as it IS CRITICAL for their survival and to be with their own kind. Most die from overfeeding and/or stress.
As soon as the wild bunnies’ eyes are open, you may introduce them to plain alfalfa pellets, hay, such as oat hay, timothy, alfalfa and veggies such as carrot tops, Italian parsley, dandelion greens. Dandelion greens and hay (timothy and oat hay) are extremely important for wild rabbits. You can add whole oats from a feed store, and some grated carrots. The greens must be fresh, rinsed, and replaced if not eaten in a few hours. You can place them in a cup of cold water with just the tops sticking out to keep them fresher. (For a domestic rabbit baby, see section under the Domestic heading). Wild cottontail and brush bunny rabbits should be released as soon as they are eating hay and greens and are approximately 5 inches in body length and run from you. This varies with the area, so size is not easy to say. They will be small, but the longer you keep them, the more agitated and difficult to handle they will become and the less likely their chances for survival in the wild. Release ONLY at dusk or dawn. Jackrabbits (hares) are not ready until 9+ weeks.Make sure they get exercise daily. Jackrabbits mature much slower than the brush/cottontails and need to develop strength. If they are ready, earlier, they will let you know.
WARNING: Jackrabbits really NEED a skilled wildlife rehabber as they can run from you, throw themselves into walls to get away; many have died or severely injured themselves in captivity as they are so very wild. Please DO NOT raise them if you are not a skilled wildlife rehabber. This is vital. Noises and sounds easily frighten the jackrabbit and they are not able to be handled after 9 weeks. Often, sadly, we get reports of how a well-meaning person who tried to raise a wild rabbit, only to find it literally died of fright or got injured inside the cage. They are wild and belong with their own kind, out in the wild.
Jackrabbits really enjoy being raised together, whereas cottontails/brush bunnies may fight and do fine alone. Give them a carrier as their place of privacy (line with thick towels) with plenty of fresh hay and greens described above and water bowl. Again, wild rabbits need a skilled wildlife rehabber; it is critical to their survival.
The Bunny is DOMESTIC (i.e., pet rabbit, NOT wild) and Really Orphaned – How do I care for a domestic baby?Baby Domestic Agouti Bunny Baby Domestic/Pet Agouti rabbit baby
Remember that both the domestic pet rabbit and wild bunny moms only feed their young usually once in the middle of the night. Don’t assume the mom is not caring for them if you don’t see her nurse them. Check their tummies to see if they are round and the babies are warm in the morning–this means she is caring for them. In the rare situation that you have an orphaned domestic bunny, such as when a domestic rabbit mom is sick or refuses to care for her young, you will need to feed the babies. Overfeeding is a leading cause of death in these youngsters which results in fatal intestinal disease.
If truly orphaned, use KMR KITTEN powder formula (can also use Meyenberg Regular Goat milk found at Safeway in the milk section or Whole Foods until you can find the KMR KITTEN formula), and follow the directions on the can. It may be easiest to start with a 3 cc/ml syringe or an eyedropper. Some use pet nurser nipples on the end of a luer lock syringe, or a teat cannula on the end of a syringe. Feed only with the bunny sitting UPRIGHT, and point syringe down towards bottom or side of mouth, so if too much comes out, the baby does not aspirate! For those who are slow to learn nursing, SC fluids may be necessary to prevent electrolyte imbalance or dehydration (check with a vet on this only!!). Domestic buns with closed eyes should be fed 2 x a day, and the number of feedings gradually decreased until they are weaned. If their eyes are still closed, you need to stimulate their bottoms with a warm moist towel after feedings to help them to pee. (Domestics are weaned about 6 weeks compared to wild bunnies who are weaned about 3-4 weeks for cottontails and 9+ weeks for jackrabbits). Bloat is commonly associated with too frequent feedings and too much at one time.
Feeding Amounts for DOMESTIC/PET Orphaned babies*: Feed twice a day up to these amounts: Newborn– 2.5 cc/ml each feeding. One week old: 6-7 cc/ml each feeding. Two weeks old: 12-13 cc/ml each feeding. Three weeks to six weeks: Up to 15 cc/ml each feeding (a.m. and p.m.). Note this is for DOMESTIC, NOT WILD bunnies. Each bunny varies. If this is a smaller rabbit, he will consume much less. Do NOT overfeed! Contact an HRS contact, rabbit vet, to be sure.
*After each feeding it is important to make the bunny defecate and urinate (if the eyes are not opened yet) to keep the intestinal tract and urinary system running smoothly (only UNTIL their eyes are open). Use a cotton ball moistened with warm water and gently stroke the anal area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine and keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are reproducing the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom and to keep the nest clean.
Provide a soft nest area in a box with clean towels, and cover the babies so it is dark until their eyes are open. Do NOT provide extra heat if the room temperature is at least 65 to 70 degrees F because excessive heat can be fatal. If the room is cooler, then you may place a heating pad on a low setting under no more than HALF of the nest so the bunny can move to a cooler area if it gets too warm, and be sure there is no way the mother rabbit can get to or chew the electrical cord!
For domestic rabbits, if you have a healthy adult rabbit at home and you can collect cecotropes (the soft, chain-like droppings that the rabbit usually eats) then these can be mixed with the KMR to give the baby bunny normal bacteria for its intestinal tract. Only one cecotrope per day for 4-5 days is needed. This is particularly important for rabbits under one week of age. Also good is to sprinkle a pinch of acidophilus powder, also called “Probiotic” from human capsules in the milk a little each time for healthy flora for both wild and domestic bunnies.
As soon as their eyes are open, you may introduce the bunnies to plain alfalfa pellets, hay, such as oat hay, timothy, alfalfa. Please refer to the handout Care of Rabbits for more information on diet for domestic, pet rabbits. You may reach [email protected] for domestic/pet rabbit questions. Below is the email for wild rabbit questions: [email protected] (wild) (If links above did not answer your question).
(See above for wild rabbits). For all rabbits, avoid ANY regular milk, puppy formulas, etc. Use KITTEN formulas like KMR. Avoid Esbilac. Feed only upright. Less is better than more! Overfeeding will cause bloat and pain and possible death. Please get to a rehabber.
Sources: Caring for Cricket – What Not To Do When You Find a Wild Baby Bunny by Julie Smith and Handout by Midwest Exotic Animal Hospital, and additional wild bunny info by M. Wilson (HRS educator and rehabber). For questions not answered about wild rabbits above, email: wildbunnyrehab at gmail.com
Below content was merged from: /caring-for-orphans/
Rabbit mothers nurse their babies for approximately 5 minutes a day. They will be in the nest or nest box early in the morning and then again in the evening. The milk is very rich and the babies “fill up” to capacity within minutes. Mother rabbits do not “sit” on the babies to keep them warm as do some mammals and birds. They build a nest with fur and grasses which helps to keep the babies warm in between feedings. Do not force a mother rabbit to sit in the nest box. You can pick up the babies and see if they are feeding by checking the size of their stomachs (should not be sunken in), the pinkness of their skin and activity level (they should not be blue in color or sluggish in movement) and the amount of time that you hear them crying (baby bunnies should be quiet most of the day…. if they are crying constantly then they are not getting fed). If they are warm, mom is most likely feeding them, but again, she only comes back in the middle of the night.
If you come across a nest of bunnies in the wild and the mother is no where to be seen, please DO NOT disturb them…this is normal. By removing them from the nest you are greatly reducing their chances of survival.In the rare situation that you have an orphaned bunny, such as when a mother rabbit is killed by another animal or in the road, or when a domestic rabbit refuses to care for her young, you may try feeding with Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) or Meyenberg Goat Milk (for wild rabbits, but they need a professional reahabber–do not feed at home). Remember though, that both wild/domestic bunny moms only feed in the middle of the night, so don’t assume she is not caring for them! For true orphans, remember to feed ONLY TWICE A DAY. Overfeeding is a leading cause of death in these youngsters which results in fatal intestinal disease. Provide a soft nest area in a box with clean towels, and cover the babies (if eyes are closed) so it is dark.
DO NOT provide extra heat if the room temperature is at least 65 to 70F because excessive heat can be fatal. If the room is much cooler, then you may place a heating pad on a low setting under no more than HALF of the nest so the bunny can move to a cooler area if it gets too warm.
For a wild bunny, you need to get him to a wildlife rehabilitator if he is TRULY orphaned (mom was killed). Remember with wild bunnies, the mom ONLY comes back at night to call and feed him; please put him back for her if just found and healthy. With domestics, the mom only feeds once or twice a day for only 5 minutes. Leave babies with the mom. For wild orphans, first google your state and wildlife rehabber, and call your humane society, also try http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html and http://www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitatoror as it is illegal in most states to keep a wild animal, and they really need a professional as this is critical. Local rabbit veterinarians or humane societies may also know of a rehab facility.
The following is a guideline for the daily amount to feed a TRULY orphaned bunny (mother was killed, etc.) that will be about 5 lbs as an adult. It is impossible on the internet to be exact. Please find rehabber.
GENERAL FEEDING OF ORPHANS
Age + Amount (This WILL vary depending on type of rabbit.) Use KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) for domestics and Meyenberg Goat Milk, regular not low fat for wild ones,or KMR. Add a pinch of acidophilus (AKA Probiotic capsules) to all formula to promote healthy gut flora. Other formulas vary depending on the region of the country. Avoid using Esbilac or any puppy formulas or cow’s milk. Do not add Karo syrup. FEED TWICE A DAY ONLY unless baby is low weight, than three times.
Newborn to One Week: 2 – 2+1/2 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings).
1-2 weeks: 5-7 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings).
(depending on bunny. .may be much LESS if smaller rabbit).
2-3 weeks: 7-13 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings). Bunnies whose eyes are still CLOSED need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate before or after each feeding. Again, seek a professional on this. Domestic eyes open at about 10 days of age. Then start introducing them to timothy and oat hay, pellets and water (always add fresh greens for wild ones–dandelion greens, parsley, carrot tops, grated carrots, all fresh, watered down). See below for detail.
3-6 weeks: 13-15 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings–again, may be LESS depending on size of rabbit! A cottontail will take so much LESS–about half of this!.)
Domestics are weaned about 6 weeks. Cottontails wean and release about 3-4 weeks and jackrabbits much later (9+ weeks). Feed only twice a day up to these TOTAL amounts. You may find an eyedropper or syringe easiest to use. Feed them upright, and go slowly watching them lick and swallow so they do not aspirate. For domestic rabbits, if you have a healthy adult rabbit at home and you can collect cecotropes (the soft chain-like droppings that the rabbit usually eats) then these can be mixed with the KMR or goat milk to give the baby bunny normal bacteria for its intestinal tract. Only one cecotrope per day for 4-5 days is needed. This is particularly important for rabbits under one week of age. Acidophilus capsules for humans, opened and sprinkled some in formula, works well too.
After each feeding it is important to make the bunny defecate and urinate (until their eyes are open) to keep the intestinal tract and urinary system running smoothly. Use a cotton ball moistened with warm water and gently stroke the anal area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine and keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are reproducing the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom and to keep the nest clean. No need to do this for jackrabbits or if bunny’s eyes are open.
As soon as their eyes are open, you may introduce the bunnies to hay, such as oat and timothy hay, some alfalfa, and pellets, and for wild ones, add dark leafy veggies such as dandelion greens, carrot tops, parsley, grated carrots, etc. Keep the greens fresh, moist, and stand them up in a heavy mug of water. Change greens often. If this is a wild rabbit, you do not need to introduce pellets. If this is a domestic rabbit baby, then you may introduce plain alfalfa pellets at 2 weeks of age (please refer to the handout Care of Rabbits for more information on diet). Wild rabbits should be released as soon as they are eating hay and greens and are approximately 5 inches in body length (for cottontails) and are afraid of you (about 3-4 weeks). Jackrabbits are released much later (9 weeks up). They will be small, but the longer you keep them, the more agitated and difficult to handle they will become, and the less likely their chances for survival in the wild. They may be easily injured in your care as they attempt to get free. For wild bunnies, please do not raise them yourself, but take them to a rehabber! Google your state and wildlife rehabber or see links above.
Modified from an original document from :
Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital
A Healthy Diet For Young Rabbits
Many people bring home a rabbit when they are still just a young bunny. But most of the information you find about rabbit care and health is directed toward adult rabbits. You may find very helpful information about how to keep an adult rabbit on a healthy diet, but what about your new baby bunny?
Young rabbits are growing bunnies! They have special dietary needs that differ from their adult counterparts. The amount that you feed your rabbit and even the type of food that they need is different for a young bunny. Then, of course, there is a transition period. As your rabbit grows up, they’ll need to be safely transitioned from a young rabbit diet to an adult rabbit diet.
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Baby bunnies (under 8 weeks old)
Baby rabbits should not be separated from their mother until they are older than 2 months. This helps to ensure that the baby rabbits have developed a fully functioning immune system by digesting their mother’s milk and cecal droppings. There are many states in the U.S. that even ban the sale of rabbits under 2 months because of the danger it poses to the newborn rabbit.
Baby rabbit diet
Baby bunnies, also called kittens, should not be weaned off of their mother’s milk until they are about 8 weeks, or 2 months, of age. These tiny bunnies need the high concentration of fat and protein that is found in rabbit milk so that they can grow up big and strong. The babies also depend on the antibodies they receive from their mother’s milk to protect them from infection and disease since they don’t have a fully functioning immune system of their own yet.When they are babies, rabbits need to have access to their mother’s milk. They should not be fully weaned until they are 8 weeks old.
Once the kittens are about 3 or 4 weeks old, they will start exploring a little bit around the nest area. At this point, it will be okay to start introducing solid foods into their diet. You can provide some alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets for the babies to munch on, but their main food source will still be the milk from their mother.
As the babies reach 7-8 weeks old, the amount of dry pellets and hay should be increased so they have some to munch on all the time. However, they should still have access to their mother during this time so they can drink milk. They’ll also be able to eat some of her cecal droppings to improve their immunity and digestion. The baby rabbits will also start to produce their own cecotropes as their digestive systems begin working properly. You should also make sure your rabbits have access to fresh water as they are weaned off of their mother’s milk.
|0-3 Weeks||Mother’s milk|
|3-7 Weeks||Mother’s milk and some access to alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets|
|7-8 Weeks||Mother’s milk and constant access to alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets|
Abandoned or orphaned baby bunnies
If you have orphaned or abandoned rabbits that cannot drink their mother’s milk, do not replace it with cow’s milk. There are no direct replacements you can buy for rabbit milk, so the best alternatives you can use are kitten formula or goat’s milk. A milk replacer for puppies is also an option if you can’t find one of the former.
In these cases, you will have to attempt to syringe feed the baby bunnies until they are able to drink for themselves. You will need to syringe feed your babies 2 times per day.
Sadly, if a rabbit is orphaned there are high chances that they will not survive. Baby rabbits have very delicate digestion, and it’s just too easy for something to go wrong. The House Rabbit Society offers some advice to care for orphaned or abandoned domestic rabbits:
|Age||Amount to Feed|
|Newborn||2.5 mL twice a day|
|1 Week Old||6-7 mL twice a day|
|2 Weeks Old||12-13 mL twice a day|
|3-6 Weeks Old||15 mL twice a day|
Young rabbits (2-6 months)
Once a young rabbit reaches 2 months old, they should be separated from their mother and have a diet of all solid food. However, they will still have a diet that differs from adult rabbits. These bunnies are still growing a lot! They need more protein and calcium in their diets to make sure they grow up to be healthy rabbits.
Unlike adult rabbits, who should receive mostly timothy hay, young rabbits should have a supply of alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay has a much higher amount of protein and calcium, which makes it ideal for a growing bunny. You’ll want to make sure your rabbit has an unlimited amount of alfalfa hay, so they’ll always have something to munch on.
Hay should be a large portion of your rabbit’s diet because it promotes good digestion and healthy teeth. It’s not going to make up as large a percentage of the diet as it does for adult rabbits, but you still want to make sure your young bunny is munching on hay every day.
Luckily, alfalfa hay tends to be yummier for rabbits, making it more likely they will munch on it. Alfalfa hay is slightly sweeter and softer than adult rabbit timothy hay, so usually, young rabbits will be happy to nibble on it.Some rabbits prefer to eat hay from higher levels. Try purchasing or creating a hanging hay rack or a raised hay trough that can be attached to the side of the rabbit enclosure.
Pellets are very important to a young rabbit’s diet. This rabbit food has higher levels of proteins, nutrients, and calcium than hay, and it’s made to help rabbits put on weight. Young rabbits should be given an alfalfa-based pellet blend because it will promote healthy growth for young rabbits.
You want to make sure to give your young rabbit a healthy brand of pellets. Stay away from any blend that has lots of colorful pieces, or dried pieces of fruits, vegetables or seeds. These have added sugar, and usually include pieces that are bad for a rabbit’s digestive system.
Instead, opt for a bag of just plain, brown pellets. Check the ingredients to make sure that Alfalfa hay (or alfalfa grass) is the number one ingredient on the list.
I recommend Oxbow’s pellets for young rabbits. Oxbow is a well-known and respected brand in the rabbit community. They have fortified pellets made with a healthy list of ingredients and all the necessary vitamins and nutrients to help your rabbit grow up healthy.
How much dry food should you give your young rabbit?
Most guides for a young rabbit diet will encourage you to give your rabbit an unlimited supply of pellets. However, I offer this advice with some caution because you want to make sure your rabbit is also eating their hay.
Most rabbits will prefer pellets to hay. Therefore, when they have unlimited pellets available, they may end up completely ignoring their pile of hay. Watch your rabbit to see what their behavior is. If giving them unlimited pellets means they don’t touch their hay at all, then you will need to limit their pellets a little bit.
If your young rabbit is ignoring their hay and eating only pellets, then limit the pellets to about ¼ cup per day for every 2 pounds that a rabbit weighs. This is not an exact measurement, and you may need to adjust the amount for your rabbit. Watch your rabbit to make sure they are still energetic and happy, and be sure they are maintaining healthy body weight as they grow.
When a rabbit is about 3 months old, you can start to introduce some leafy greens into their diet.
Take it slow and only introduce one type of leafy green vegetable at a time. This will help to ensure that nothing is causing an imbalance in your rabbit’s digestion.
The first time you give your rabbit a new leafy green you want to give them only a small amount to introduce the new food. Only give them 2-3 sprigs of parsley, for example. Over the next couple of days, you can increase the amount that you give your rabbit as their digestion gets used to the new food.
After you’ve given one type of green for a week, you can introduce another kind. Even as your rabbit grows to be an adult, you’ll want to introduce new foods slowly.Try to give your rabbit their food at the same time every day to get them used to a daily routine.
How much leafy greens should you give your young rabbit?
You don’t want to give your young bunny too many leafy greens at this stage in their life. Their digestion is more sensitive right now and can more easily become unbalanced. Therefore, you want to very gradually increase the amount of green you give your rabbit until you give them about 1 cup per day for a 5-pound rabbit.
You can start to diversify the leafy greens that your rabbit eats. Giving your rabbit three varieties of greens per day is an ideal goal to have. But you still want your rabbit’s main foods to be their pellets and hay.
It’s best to avoid giving young rabbits any sweet treats for the time being. Their digestion is still developing at this time and can easily be unbalanced by the introduction of highly sugary foods.
These sweet foods that you should avoid giving young rabbits are foods that are typically considered healthy for humans. Fruits like berries, bananas, and apples have a high sugar content for rabbits, and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers do too. This means you should not give your rabbit too many fruits and vegetables during this stage in their lives. Sweet human foods, like candy and cookies, should never be given to rabbits.Water bowls are usually the better option for a pet rabbit. Sometimes a rabbit will be a sloppy drinker or try to flip over the bowl. In those cases a water bottle is a good option.
By this time, your young rabbit should be weaned off of their mother’s milk and should be fully independent. This means they should have constant access to fresh water so they can stay healthy and hydrated.
It’s best if you can give your rabbit their water in a dish instead of a bottle since this is a more natural way to drink. However, there are some occasions where you will want to provide them with a bottle instead.
- If your rabbit is a messy drinker. If having a bowl means your rabbit ends up getting soaked with water because they are a sloppy drinker, then you’ll want to give them a bottle for the time being. Try to reintroduce a bowl after a couple of months and see if they’re a little bit neater.
- If your rabbit flips over their bowls. You don’t want your rabbit to flip over their water bowl and have no more water until you notice the mess. You can try giving your rabbit a heavier, ceramic bowl, but you also may have to give them a water bottle instead.
Transitioning to an adult diet (6 months – 1 year)
After rabbits reach 6 months old, they will need to be slowly transitioned to a healthy adult diet. During this time, the young rabbits are still growing, so they’ll need more food than adult rabbits, however, adjustments should be made to the diet over time and not all at once.
As with a young rabbit diet, you don’t want to make any drastic changes to a rabbit’s transitional diet in a short period of time. You want to make sure that you give your rabbit’s digestion time to adjust to their healthy adult diet.You can get fun toys for your rabbit where you can hide treats in a pile of hay. This will encourage your rabbit to munch on hay until they can get to the yummy treat.
Timothy is much healthier for an adult rabbit diet than alfalfa hay. When your rabbit reaches 6 months old, you’ll want to start to transition them to a timothy-based diet and slowly phase out the alfalfa hay.
To do this, you’ll first want to add in small handfuls of the timothy hay to the alfalfa hay your rabbit already gets. Over the next number of months, you’ll want to increase the percentage of timothy hay you give your rabbit and decrease the amount of alfalfa hay they get.
Unfortunately, this transition can be difficult for many rabbits. Alfalfa hay is usually much tastier and easier to eat than timothy hay. Many young rabbits will protest the change. What can you do to encourage your picky rabbit to eat their hay?
- Mix in other types of hay. Timothy hay is best for rabbits, but there are other kinds that are also good for a rabbit’s digestion. Add in handfuls of other grass-based hays, such as orchard hay, oat hay, or meadow hay to make the transition more appetizing to your young rabbit.
- Look for fresh brands of hay. Fresh hay tastes better than old, browned hay. I like to get my hay from an online store called Small Pet Select. They have impressed me with the quality of their hay and I never hesitate to recommend them. Check out their timothy hay for your growing bunny (and get 15% off your first order by using the code BUNNYLADY at checkout)
- Place the hay near the litter box. Rabbits like to munch and poop at the same time, so placing the new timothy hay near the litter box can encourage them to nibble on it.
- Hide treats in hay. You can hide dried herbs or pieces of dried fruit in the hay pile. You could even make toys with toilet paper tubes where you hide a treat in the middle and cover it with hay.
Just like with hay, you’ll want to transition your rabbit from alfalfa-based rabbit food pellets to timothy-based rabbit food pellets. Your rabbit is still growing during this time, but not as rapidly as they do during the first 6 months. They won’t require as much excess protein and calcium that the alfalfa pellets give them.
As with the alfalfa pellets, you’ll want to make sure the timothy mixture you give your rabbit does not have any extra colorful pieces in it. Excess sugar is bad for a rabbit’s health and digestion, so sweet fruits, and vegetables should only be given as treats.
I again recommend the Oxbow brand. They have Garden Select Pellets for adult rabbits, making it easy to transition from the young rabbit pellets.
When transitioning your rabbit to a new food, you want to take it slow. Don’t replace all of your rabbit alfalfa pellets with timothy pellets all at once, since this could be a shock to their digestion. Instead over the course of 3-4 months, you’ll want to slowly decrease the percentage of the alfalfa pellets you give your rabbit and increase the amount of timothy pellets.
- Month 1: 75% alfalfa pellets + 25% timothy pellets
- Month 2: 50% alfalfa pellets + 50% timothy pellets
- Month 3: 25% alfalfa pellets + 75% timothy pellets
- Month 4: All timothy pellets
You will also need to decrease the amount of pellets you give your rabbit during this period of time. They are still growing bunnies, so you’ll want to give them more pellets than an adult rabbit, but you’ll want to limit the amount you give them.
During this transitional stage of your rabbit’s life, you’ll want to give them about ¼ cup of pellets for every 3 pounds that they weigh. Once your rabbit reaches their adult weight, you’ll want to reduce the amount even further to about ¼ cup for every 5 pounds that your rabbit weighs.
You can also start to increase the amount of fresh leafy greens you give your rabbit on a daily basis. As their digestion is able to handle more variety, you can double the amount that you give your rabbit.
How much leafy green vegetables should a rabbit have daily?
|Weight of the rabbit||Maximum amount of leafy greens|
|2 lbs||1 cup|
|3 lbs||1.5 cups|
|4 lbs||2 cups|
|5 lbs||2. 5 cups|
|6 lbs||3 cups|
|7 lbs||3.5 cups|
|8 lbs||4 cups|
|9 lbs||4.5 cups|
|10 lbs||5 cups|
You still want to be sure to introduce new leafy greens gradually, but your rabbit can have a lot of different varieties. Try to give them a lot of choices to find out what they like best. For some ideas try these:
- Bok choy
- Broccoli leaves
- Butter lettuce
- Carrot Tops
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Frisee lettuce
- Leafy lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Spring greens
- Turnip greens
- Yu choy
Once your rabbit reaches 6 months old, you can start to introduce some yummy treats for them. You do not want to give your rabbit too many treats. That can mess with their balanced diet and cause problems with their digestion. Keep the treats you give your young rabbit to 1 tablespoon or less per day.
As with all other foods, you want to introduce treats to your rabbit slowly. The first time you give a new type of fruit or vegetable to your rabbit, only give them a very small piece to make sure their digestion can handle it. Over the next couple of days, you can increase the amount of that treat you give your rabbit a little bit, but continue to limit the total amount of sweet foods you give your rabbit.
What kinds of treats are safe for rabbits?
Bags of mixed treats marketed toward rabbits in pet stores are often not good for rabbits. They usually contain a lot of added sugars or seeds and nuts that rabbits shouldn’t be eating. So you want to be careful about the types of treats you give your rabbit.
Some treats that are safe for rabbits:
- Fresh or dried fruits and vegetables (make sure there is no added sugar)
- Baked hay treats. Oxbow has a variety of flavors of baked hay treats. These are especially good because they are hay-based, making them healthy for your rabbit.
- Dried herbs. The only place where I’ve seen herb blends being sold is Small Pet Select. They have a number of herbal blends that also have mild medicinal properties to keep your rabbit healthy. (don’t forget to take 15% off your order with the code BUNNYLADY)
- DIY treats. You can try making your own treats using your rabbit’s pellets and some fresh fruit and vegetables.
How to tell if your young rabbit has a healthy diet
All rabbits grow at different rates, so the specific guidelines given are not always accurate for your specific rabbit’s situation. During this growing phase, you will need to keep an eye on your rabbit to make sure they are healthy and no adjustments need to be made to their diet.
How to know your rabbit is healthy:
- Energy levels. Most young rabbits are energetic little balls of fluff. They’ll be zooming around, and they’ll be very curious about the world around them.
- Healthy appetite. Young growing rabbits with lots of energy should also be eating quite a bit. Make sure they are eating both their pellets and their hay for a balanced diet.
- Healthy pooping. Young rabbit poop should be round ‘cocoa puff’ looking droppings. They should not be squishy or deformed. Rabbits also poop little, soft clusters called cecotropes that rabbits should reingest. If you notice a lot of these around uneaten, it may mean your rabbit is not eating enough hay.
- Bodyweight. While you are petting your rabbit, check to make sure they have a healthy amount of fat as they grow. You should be able to feel their spine, ribs, and hips, but these bones should not feel sharp to the touch.
- “Rabbit Food.” House Rabbit Society, https://rabbit.org/faq-diet.
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Rabbit Diet 101: What to Feed Your Rabbit
How to Care For Your Rabbit Through All Their Life Stages
How many times a day to feed the rabbits?
Do you breed rabbits and want them to grow up active and healthy? Then they should be properly fed.
Animals can eat a lot, often and approach the feeders 30 times a day, so you need to follow the feeding regimen. To provide pets with the necessary useful elements, add feed & life from the Ukrainian manufacturer Feed & Life to the menu.
Types of feed
Greens: legumes, vegetable tops (except tomato) and grass. To improve digestion, animals should be fed with wormwood, dill, chicory and yarrow. It is necessary to give rabbits plantain and nettle. nine0003
Succulent foods: beets, carrots, potatoes, marrows, pumpkins, cabbages, watermelons and apples.
Concentrated feed: grain (oats, wheat, corn), peas, beans, bran, meal, compound feed.
In summer and winter, the diet is different, but regardless of the season, food should be varied. Pets should be fed at the same time each day. Also, rabbits need to provide constant access to water.
Daily feed intake for rabbits
In order for rabbits to intensively gain weight and develop properly, they must be provided with a complex of useful substances. And for this, you should adhere to the diet and the daily norm of feeding.
The amount of feed that an animal must eat per day is formed depending on the season, sex and age of the individual. So, pregnant and lactating rabbits need more food than when they are at rest. The daily feed intake also increases in the winter months and during the growth of young animals. nine0003
If you feed rabbits with compound feed, then one individual per day is necessary:
- young animals - 50-250 g;
- rabbits in mating - 230 g;
- pregnant females (first period) - 230 g;
- pregnant females (after 10 days of pregnancy) - 180 g;
- lactating rabbits - 280-640 g.
With a mixed ration in the morning the animals are given half the daily allowance of compound feed, in the afternoon - hay or greens, and in the evening - the second half of the compound feed. nine0003
For the entire fattening period, one animal must eat 10 kg of compound feed (if it is young), 1. 8-4.6 kg (female females) and 16 kg (lactating rabbits).
Qualitative indicators of TM "Feed&Life" compound feeds and feeding schemes can be seen in the tables in the "Products" section, in the "For rabbits" subsection.
How to feed rabbits?
Lactating rabbits and young rabbits up to 2.5 months of age should be fed 4 times a day, and young and adult rabbits - 2-3 times. nine0003
Feeding in summer
In summer the menu is based on herbs and succulent foods. Rabbits eat well the branches of trees such as birch, linden, pear, apple, maple, willow, acacia, etc. But beets should be given in small portions, as the product causes bloating.
Adult rabbits eat 600 g of grass per day, and rabbits - more than 150 g. Lactating rabbits can eat 2 times more than normal.
Greens and succulents (g/day)
Males in mating
| nine0073 |
Young growth 1-2 months
Young growth 3-4 months
Young growth 5-7 months
| nine0073 |
Young animals 1-2 months old should also be given 0. 5 g of salt per day.
PC 92-1. Grass meal grower, for rabbits 5-14 weeks
In winter, dry grass, dried vegetables and fruits, roots and twigs are fed to rabbits. 50% of the diet is grain feed.
Dry grass and branches (g/day)
Root crops (g/day)
Males in mating
Young growth 1-2 months
Young growth 3-4 months
Young growth 5-7 months
PC 90-2.For lactating female rabbits
Compound feed for rabbits
As a rule, in summer, greens and succulent feed are enough for animals to get enough vitamins and microelements. The rest of the time, as well as in cases where it is not possible to diversify the diet, mineral supplements should be added to the diet.
Rabbits need nutrients for rapid growth, strengthening immunity and energy. nine0003
Compound feeds produced by Feed&Life contain fiber, amino acids and a complex of vitamins and minerals. You can order the product in the online store or by phone, and see the rabbit feeding scheme on the website in the "Products" section.
Types of feed for rabbits
Balanced and easily digestible feed for rabbits TM "Feed&Life" consists exclusively of natural ingredients and provides complete nutrition to animals, supplying their body with nutrients. nine0003
The online store offers the following types of compound feed:
- PK 92-1 – grower for individuals 5-14 weeks old. Designed for fattening animals and can be fed up to slaughter. The product contains barley, grass flour, oats, wheat, meal, bran, chalk, salt, etc. The compound feed provides a rapid increase in mass and a good coat.
- PK 90-2 - for rabbits during lactation. This dietary feed helps to improve metabolism, increase milk production and increase the nutritional value of milk. The composition contains: barley, grass flour, wheat, oats, meal, bran and other substances. nine0037
- PK 90-1 - food for female rabbits. The product helps to maintain the weight of the rabbits, increase the number of litters and get viable and well developed young. Compound feed consists of barley, grass flour, oats, wheat, sunflower meal, bran and vitamin and mineral top dressing.
Feeding Young Rabbits - Without Female Rabbit - Features - Composition of the Ration
Rearing rabbits cannot be done in the same way every time, and in any case, the previous experience will be somewhat different from the next. nine0003
Even the same female rabbit may behave differently with offspring - for example, some cubs will receive plenty of maternal attention and care, while others may simply not survive without proper care. In this case, it is important for a person to know how to feed newborn rabbits without a rabbit and how to properly organize this process.
- 1 Why are baby rabbits left without mother's milk and care?
- 2 What is the danger? nine0036 3 How to properly feed baby rabbits for the first 30 days?
- 4 Introduction of top dressings
There may be several reasons why a person may need to intervene in the process of raising babies:
- The death of the mother during childbirth, or - in this case, the need artificial feeding of rabbits is obvious
- Mother's refusal to take care of babies is a common situation when a female does not want to feed her own offspring. nine0037
- Another rabbit does not want to nurse other people's babies
Newborn baby rabbits: photo
But still, it is important for a farmer to know how to feed newborn rabbits , since the survival of offspring will depend on a person during this period. nine0003
What is the danger?
What is the danger that babies will be left without food from their mother? It is known that babies receive the substances necessary for immunity precisely from mother's milk. Colostrum also contains the antibodies necessary to develop their own immunity, and therefore it is important to try to give babies at least these substances if further feeding from the mother is impossible. Otherwise, you should not hope for the survival of offspring, since the chances of babies for life are rapidly declining due to the lack of their own immunity. nine0003
How to properly feed baby rabbits for the first 30 days?
So, that same undesirable situation happened, and the babies were left without mother's milk. What should the farmer do in this case? Obviously, the baby's body is not yet strong enough to immediately start feeding heavy foods, and therefore you need to know what kind of milk to feed newborn rabbits . The first thing that comes to mind is to start feeding baby rabbits with cow's milk , but farmers do not have an unequivocal opinion on this matter. It is believed that this replacement can only be used when there are no other options, since this milk is very fatty and babies cannot always absorb it. In addition, it contains almost no substances useful for rabbits. But if there are no other options, then this substitute must be mixed with sugar-free condensed milk in a ratio of 4: 1. nine0003
However, there are more acceptable analogues:
- Goat milk - similar to rabbit in composition, but not as fatty. However, it will not need to be bred with anything else, which is good for the farmer.
- Mother's milk substitute formulas available at veterinary shops. You can use products not only directly for rabbits, but also for dogs or cats, since such food is perfectly absorbed by the body of newborns.
- Baby food - in question, is it possible to feed baby rabbits with infant formula , the composition of such nutrition plays an important role. If it does not contain sugar and additives, then such milk powder can be used for feeding.
On the sixth day, fluff begins to grow in babies, on the 10th day they open their eyes. Until that time, for feeding, farmers need to feed babies using a syringe with special rubber nozzles and bottles for the mixture. If you do not have such equipment, you can use a pipette and a bottle of eye drops. Up to 10 days, be careful that the babies do not choke on food, and carefully pour it into their mouths. nine0003
If for rabbits up to 15 days old , the procedure should be as follows:
- Hold babies upright
- Wet the animal's mouth with milk so that it can lick it off by itself
- Avoid inhalation of liquid
- Keep mixture at +37 degrees
- Milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Baby rabbit feeding table
We will figure out, , what to feed two-week-old rabbits without a rabbit, as well as what to feed monthly rabbits, we use the following data:
- At the age of 1 day - milk or a mixture by drops
- From 1 to 5 days - 4-5 times a day, 1 ml of nutrition
- From 5 to 14 days - three times a day, 25-30 g of the mixture
- From 17 to 30 days - twice a day. At this time it is possible to start feeding peas and hay to the rabbits, as they are already interested in the "adult" diet. nine0037
Feeding of rabbits after jigging starts on the 30th day, and also consists of root crops, vegetables, herbs, hay, mixed fodder and oats. At the same time, breeders advise mixing dry and wet food so that dry food does not irritate the respiratory tract of babies.
The introduction of supplements
Even the highest quality milk is not able to fully provide babies with the necessary nutrients.