Protein in Rabbit Food

How much protein do rabbits need?

Why do rabbit foods have different amounts of protein and how much do they really need? Is an 18% crude protein rabbit food worth the extra cost?

The answers to these questions really depend upon protein quality. If your rabbits poop smells strongly of ammonia then the protein in the feed is probably getting wasted.

Excess unbalanced and undigested protein produces ammonia when it reaches the ceacum (place where rabbits digest certain types of fiber). Normally good bacteria digest fiber in the ceacum but increasing amounts of ammonia will change the pH so that bad bacteria can grow causing rabbits to have digestive problems.

A word on Yucca root: Some rabbit foods try to cover this problem with yucca root because the saponins in it bind to ammonia.

Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. They need to be in the feed in a certain ratio. This ratio (and their digestibility) is what determines protein quality. For example, the many of the amino acids can be converted from one to another. However, certain "limiting" amino acids cannot be converted and must be obtained in the diet. When growing, the body of the rabbit will draw from a pool of amino acids. If one of them is in excess of need then it will get wasted. If one of the limiting amino acids is in short supply then the rabbit will have to eat more food to get that one amino acid and waste everything else. Balancing the amino acid profile of rabbit food can have a profound impact upon the health and feed efficiency of growing rabbits.


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David Sherwood has grown up raising rabbits for fun and profit. His advanced academic and real world experience have given him extensive knowledge that will help you understand and solve many of the problems that face those who raise rabbits. To learn more about his qualifications and to get 'common sense' answers to rabbit questions, go to

To learn more about the importance of using a balanced natural rabbit food and to see it's unique and proven formulation (now commercially available), go to: