Rabbits: alfalfa-based feed, our positive experiment

Today we can say it loud and clear: our idea of feeding rabbits alfalfa to improve their health is confirmed by the data: in one year, the mortality rate fell by 51.11% and the need for drugs was eliminated.

Since 1979, the Gruppo Carli Società Agricola Valle Uno has run one of Italy’s largest rabbit breeding facilities, always aiming for excellence in the meat produced: the rabbits are certified by DTP143 “Rabbits for meat raised without the use of antibiotics” and UNI EN ISO 22005:08 “Rabbits born and raised in Romagna (province of Rimini)”.

In order to achieve this goal, we paid particular attention to animal feed and welfare, with investment in buildings, equipment and specific installations for rabbit wellbeing, as well as feeding the animals with the best raw materials.

Fortunately, the facility has a great advantage in this aspect: the availability of excellent quality, healthy and nutritious fodder, provided by the group’s farms.

Alfalfa has remarkable beneficial properties, and numerous studies in animal nutrition confirm it as a highly functional food which can positively impact physiological function and boost the immune system to protect against pathogens.

On the basis of this, and with the support of our animal dieticians, we developed a feed containing at least 70% dehydrated alfalfa and sun-dried hay, both of top quality. We gradually realised that the systematic reduction of the rabbits’ usual feed – more focused on energy provision – and replacement with a formulation in which alfalfa played a crucial role, gave astonishing results. The rabbits were well, without health problems, and mortality was gradually reducing.

By 2021, when they were fed completely with our new feed, the mortality rate had reduced by 51.11% compared to the previous year; in fact, there were 9,716 deaths in 2021 compared to 19,875 in 2020.

With this new feed, the rabbits grow more slowly and gradually and, although this means they spend an average of 3-5 more days in the facility, our experiment shows that only by changing the feed can such dramatic results be obtained.

From the nutritional angle, rabbit meat is among the most balanced: it is extremely lean (15% less fat than beef) but high in bioavailable protein (21% more than beef) and minerals (phosphorous, potassium, iron), with very low levels of cholesterol.

Thanks to these nutritional properties, rabbit is recommended in the diets of athletes, the elderly and young children.