Have you ever heard of the “cool” vegetable? Kale just so happens to be the hippest vegetable around! The hype surrounding kale is so great, many have asked if their pets can take it too. Bunny parents have learned of its many uses and now you want to know, “can rabbits eat kale just like me?” If you are one to add it to smoothies, soup, salads-basically your every day meals, you wonder and ask, “can rabbits eat kale daily like humans do?”
There is no doubt that kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables that contains numerous health benefits for the body. Can rabbits eat kale safely? Yes, they can! However, with rabbit foods, you must always consider the amount given, benefits, and how to serve it to them. We list down the nutritional profile, let you know how much of it rabbits can eat, tell you some ways to prepare kale for your pets, and give alternatives. Read on to find out!
Vitamin And Mineral Content of Kale
Kale has appeared in many lists of superfoods for valid reasons. Its nutrition facts alone serve as its resume. If you haven’t gone on the kale hype train yet, there’s a good chance this vitamin and mineral line up will make you a kale convert stat! As rabbit owners, we have the responsibility to research not only what rabbits can eat but also make sure that they’re getting all their nutrient needs from their diet.
Check out this run-through of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients you and your rabbits can get from kale:
The vitamin commonly associated with eye health is vitamin A. But aside from that, it holds other important roles too. It has a stake in the immune system as it needed for the production of white blood cells. It supports healthy skin and bone and is needed for proper regulation of cell division. Vitamin A from plants and leafy greens contain different carotenoids. Kale’s carotenoid content is rich in lutein which is good for the eyes and beta-carotene. 98 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A can be found in kale.
When you talk about immunity, the role of vitamin C will always pop up. It is known to contribute greatly to a healthy immune system as it can significantly control infection. Aside from that, vitamin C is also key to maintaining good joint health as it is needed for collagen production. It holds an important role in the production of enzymes and hormones and it can work to neutralize harmful substances that enter the body.
Did you know that kale contains more vitamin C than an orange? In fact, it contains 71 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Fear not, it is a water-soluble vitamin and when eaten in high amounts, the body can simply excrete it through urine.
Green leafy vegetables are rich in the main form of vitamin K which is called phylloquinone. Kale already contains more than 1,000 percent of the recommended daily allowance of this vitamin which is important for blood clotting, healthy bones, and prevention of diseases like diabetes and cancer. Proteins in the body that are needed for proper blood clotting and bone health require vitamin K in order to function properly.
Pyroxidine, the other name for vitamin B6 is crucial in enzyme functions that are essential in breaking down carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It also assists in immune health as well as proper brain function.
Vitamin B9, more commonly called folate, is key in breaking down the amino acid homocysteine which in high amounts, is harmful to the body. You may see folate as a supplement taken by pregnant mothers because it is crucial in periods of rapid growth such as fetal development. It is also needed in the production of red blood cells and proper protein metabolism.
Manganese is a mineral that is needed in small amounts. That being said, that small amount still packs a punch. When combined with other nutrients, it helps in maintaining good bone density. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that help in maintaining health and wellness. It helps in the correct digestion of proteins and has a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and cholesterol.
In a study, it was shown that rabbits fed a manganese-deficient diet showed impaired bone growth and had a significant weight difference from the group that was fed a diet with adequate manganese.
Fiber is important for digestive system health. Adequate amounts of this in the diet will help regulate bowel movement as well as avoid bloating and constipation. Along with that, it helps in decreasing the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease as well.
Much Kale Should You Feed Your Rabbit
Even though your rabbits can eat kale and other green veggies, you must always remember that the majority of their diet should be grass hay. With that said, you can’t just keep feeding them the same old thing every day. Your bunnies will need a variety of fresh food to complete a healthy diet. Aside from hay, you should give them leafy greens too. If someone asks, “can rabbits eat kale?” The best answer would be, if a leafy green vegetable is safe for a human, or a horse even, it is safe for rabbits to eat as well.
With regard to the safe amount of kale for rabbits to consume we follow the recommended amount for leafy greens which is 1 cup for every 2-pounds of rabbit weight. You can either divide this serving in a day and combine it with other food, or you can give that as one of their big meals.
The main issue regarding feeding your rabbits kale is the supposed high oxalic acid content of the vegetable. Oxalic acid is one of the most misunderstood compounds. It is actually found in most greens and is harmless in small amounts. For some reason, the notion that kale is high in oxalic acid and can cause disruption in the digestive system of rabbits to cause gas is incorrect. In 1984 the USDA already disproved that claim and additionally, a more recent study in 2008 by Harvard’s Department of Nutrition stated that there is only 3mg of oxalic acid per 100g of kale.
Kale is a little higher in calcium that may cause the formation of kidney stones only if given in excessively large amounts. Kale is nutritious and should not be excluded from a rabbits’ diet. As long as you make sure that it is prepared properly and given in appropriate amounts, kale would not cause gas or formation of kidney stones. It is recommended for rabbits to eat at least 3 different types of greens a day. A good trick to avoid your rabbits from getting tired of eating the same types over and over is to alternate these leafy vegetables every week.
When rabbits eat kale correctly, they get more benefits because of its great nutritional profile! Learn how to prepare kale for your bunnies so they enjoy it below!
How To Prepare Kale For Your Rabbit
Kale is a leafy green vegetable and like any green vegetable, it can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea if given in excessive amounts. But then again, when taken with a daily diet of grass hay, this will not happen. As long as your rabbit has sufficient amounts of fiber in its digestive system, it will be able to handle fresh greens in their recommended serving.
The first thing to do when preparing kale for your rabbits is to make sure you wash them properly. This is to make sure that any residue of chemicals or other possible contaminants are removed. Any organic produce, including the kale plant, can have dirt so wash them well. You don’t need to cook kale, in fact, rabbits benefit more from it when given raw. Fiber content is higher in raw kale too so that’s a plus. Kale stems contain more fiber than the leaves so don’t let them miss out on this goodie. You can cut them in small pieces so they don’t choke on it.
Take note to never let your rabbits eat moldy or spoiled kale. You wouldn’t eat it and you wouldn’t want your pets to eat it too. In terms of canned kale, it’s not the best type to give your pets. Canned food will usually contain preservatives and high salt content to prolong shelf life. Best give them fresh greens, in this case, fresh kale.
The best way to serve kale is to mix it with other greens. You can combine it with any other leafy green vegetable, think of it as a gourmet salad for bunnies. If you’re feeding your rabbits kale for the first time, it’s best to give them a small amount first so you can check for how their stomachs react to it. It’s best to establish a primary diet for your pets first and then gradually add more types of food. If there are no bad side-effects, you can gradually increase the amount in the veggie mix.
Take note that kale is better introduced to adult rabbits with a more mature digestive system. Baby bunnies might not be able to digest more complex types of food yet. To be on the safe side, introduce other fruits and vegetables when they’re fully grown.
Alternatives To Kale For Rabbits
What do rabbits eat aside from hay and vegetable anyway? Rabbits eat a lot of different food! They love fruits and different types of vegetables, not just greens. Here is a shortlist of alternatives you can give your pet bunnies to add variety to their diet or to mix with kale.
Leafy Greens Low in Oxalic Acid
Grass hay should be your rabbit’s primary food, aside from that, leafy greens should constitute 75% of the fresh part of their diet. The recommended amount to give is 1 cup per 2 pounds of rabbit weight. Like kale, they can be served on their own or mixed with other greens.
- Lettuce (red or green)
- Cucumber leaves
- Romaine lettuce
- Spring greens
These can be given in small amounts at around 1 tablespoon per 2 pounds of body weight per day.
- Brocolli leaves and stems
- Brussel sprouts
Your bunnies have sweet tooths! The high sugar content of fruits is not beneficial for rabbits if given daily but if given as weekly or biweekly treats, it can add a good variety to their diet. The recommended serving is 1 teaspoon per 2 pounds of body weight per day.
- Apples (without the core, seeds, and stem)
- Banana (one of their favorites, mind the portion, about 2 slices per meal)
Kale is a good leafy green to add to your rabbit’s diet. In proper amounts, it is going to be beneficial to your pet. It should not replace their basic food, however. Aside from its primary food like hay and lettuce, adding other leafy veggies will give them a more balanced diet. Take note, however, that kale is better introduced to adult rabbits and must be done in small amounts at first. If there are no complications like bloating or diarrhea, you can start incorporating it more into their diet.
Kale is extremely nutritious and if you enjoy adding it to your daily regimen, you can also let your rabbits enjoy it as well. Just make sure that you are minding the correct portions of 1 cup per 2 pounds of body weight. It is much better if you mix it with other greens so it’s not given in concentrated amounts. Don’t let your pet miss out on the benefits of this nutrient-dense superfood! Can rabbits eat kale? Oh kale yeah!!!