There are a lot of different brands of rabbit food out there. It can be challenging to figure out which blend is best. They all seem to claim that they have a fortified and optimally nutritious blend, but how do they compare to each other. I analyzed 10 common rabbit food brands that you can find here in the U.S. and compared them to find which is actually the best for rabbits.
Oxbow Garden Select Rabbit Food is the healthiest for rabbits. This blend follows the nutrition recommendations for protein, fat, fiber, calcium, vitamin, and sugar content in rabbit food. In addition, rabbits enjoy eating this brand of food since it contains a variety of natural flavors.
|4||Mazuri Rabbit Food|
|6||Supreme Science Selective|
|7||Sherwood Adult Rabbit Food|
|8||Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food|
|9||Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend|
|10||Kaytee Fiesta Natural|
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In analyzing the different brands of rabbit food, I am using the percentages and amounts recommended for rabbit nutrition (see sources below). Every rabbit has individual needs that need to be taken into account, so your veterinarian may recommend other brands that better meet the nutritional needs of your specific rabbit.
There were also limitations in the analysis. Many brands did not label the vitamin information, and other necessary nutrients may be available in the ingredient list by other unfamiliar names. These are areas that I could not take into account when comparing the different brands.
Fiber content in the rabbit food
Fiber should make up at least 20% of the nutritional content in the rabbit food formula. Fiber is essential for a rabbit’s digestive health. It keeps their digestion moving at a steady pace, which keeps their body healthy. Fiber also provides rabbits with a large portion of their daily calories and nutrients. A high fiber diet creates a more balanced gut environment. It is essential in preventing GI Stasis in rabbits.
The labels on rabbit food are required to give us a minimum and maximum amount of fiber in the food blend. This is because manufacturing the rabbit food formulas can be slightly off depending on the specific ingredients included in that processing round. Since there is no maximum amount of fiber recommended, I always look at the minimum number first to make sure the rabbit will always get at least 20% fiber from the pellets.
|Fiber recommendation:||> 20%|
|Sherwood Rabbit Food||28-33%|
|Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food||25-29%|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food||25-29%|
|Oxbow Garden Select||22-26%|
|Supreme Science Selective||25%|
|Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend||18-22%|
|Mazuri Rabbit Food||18-22%|
|Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food||12-17%|
|Kaytee Fiesta Natural||11-16%|
*While most sources I’ve found agree on 20% for fiber content, others have a lower standard and recommend greater than 18%
Fat content in the rabbit food
Fat should make up about 3% or a little less of the rabbit’s pellet diet. Rabbits cannot handle and digest fats in high amounts. Even though it’s a small percent of the rabbit’s diet, fat is still a vital energy source. It has some essential functions that help prevent illness and generate hormones that help the rabbit’s brain function correctly.
In rabbit food, you will see this in ingredients such as vegetable oils, flaxseed, and hemp oil. You will also see a minimum amount of fat included in the guaranteed analysis.
|Fat Recommendation:||about 3%|
|Oxbow Garden Select||2.50%|
|Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food||2%|
|Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food||2%|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food||2%|
|Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend||2%|
|Mazuri Rabbit Food||1.50%|
|Sherwood Rabbit Food||4%|
|Kaytee Fiesta Natural||4%|
|Supreme Science Selective||4%|
Protein content in the rabbit food brands
Protein should make up 12-14% of a rabbit’s diet. If the rabbit does not eat enough protein, they will start to extract energy from their muscles to gain the protein required to live. This can lead to muscle atrophy and has a negative impact on the rabbit’s ability to fight off infections and heal from injuries and surgery.
On the other hand, too much protein is also harmful to rabbits. If a rabbit gets an excessive amount of protein from their diet, it can lead to bacterial infections (such as E. Coli) and an imbalanced gut. It can cause your rabbit to have unhealthy, mushy cecotropes (a type of rabbit poop that they are supposed to reingest) and make a rabbit more susceptible to conditions like GI Stasis.
On rabbit food labels, companies are only required to provide the minimum amount of protein within the food. This means there could be more than what’s stated. For the purposes of this analysis, I will assume that the percentage on the food labels is more or less accurate but prioritize food blends that are at the bottom of the optimal range.
|Oxbow Garden Select||12%|
|Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend||13%|
|Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food||14%|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food||14%|
|Kaytee Fiesta Natural||14%|
|Supreme Science Selective||14%|
|Mazuri Rabbit Food||14%|
|Sherwood Rabbit Food||11%|
|Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food||15%|
Carbohydrates in rabbit food brands
Rabbits actually need to eat a lot of carbohydrates for energy. About 50% of their daily food should be carbohydrates. They need this as an easy energy source to remain active throughout the day. This means it’s good to see ingredients such as hay, barley, wheat, soy, and oats.
This does not include the dried pieces of peas and corn that you might find in a couple of these rabbit food blends. On their own, these types of food are difficult for rabbits to digest, but the process of creating pellets uses high heat and pressure. This subtly changes the composition of the foods, making them more digestible to rabbits.
Unfortunately, there is no requirement to disclose the amount of carbohydrates in a blend of rabbit food. The best we can do is look at the ingredient list and see if these good types of complex carbs are included. All of these brands had some complex carbs in their ingredient list, so it’s not possible to use this to compare the different brands even though it’s an essential part of a rabbit’s diet.
Simple sugars in rabbit food brands
Simple sugars, however, are not a good type of carbohydrate to give your rabbit. Simple sugars are digested very quickly and therefore less efficiently. Too many simple sugars in a rabbit’s diet lead to an imbalance in their gut processes. This can lead to dangerous digestive health problems, such as GI Stasis.
This will be included in any added pieces of fruit and sweet vegetables included in the blend. In addition, some blends use molasses or beet pulp to form the pellet structure. While a small amount of this is considered acceptable since they also have some nutritional value, some brands don’t include these sugary ingredients. So I will take that into account when analyzing the ingredients in the rabbit foods.
|Oxbow Garden Select||none|
|Sherwood Rabbit Food||none|
|Supreme Science Selective||Dried beet pulp|
|Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food||Molasses|
|Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food||Molasses|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food||Molasses|
|Mazuri Rabbit Food||Molasses|
|Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend||Fruit pieces|
|Kaytee Fiesta Natural||Fruit pieces, molasses|
Calcium in rabbit food
There was some discrepancy among the sources I checked for the ideal amount of calcium in a pet rabbit’s diet. However, most agreed that around 0.5-1.0% calcium content is a good range. Rabbits have a unique relationship with calcium compared to most other species. They can absorb any calcium from their diet into their bloodstream and then excrete the excess in their urine.
However, excess calcium can lead to kidney disease and cardiac issues and limit the ability of the rabbit to absorb other nutrients. Calcium deficiencies, on the other hand, can lead to dental disease, low bone density, muscle weakness, and spinal fractures.
|Supreme Science Selective||0.60%|
|Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food||0.5-1.0%|
|Mazuri Rabbit Food||0.65-1.15%|
|Sherwood Rabbit Food||0.4-0.9%|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food||0.4-0.6%|
|Oxbow Garden Select||0.35-0.75%|
|Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food||0.35-0.75%|
|Kaytee Fiesta Natural||0.3-0.8%|
|Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend||1.2-1.5%|
Vitamins included in the rabbit food
Many rabbit foods will market the many vitamins included in their blend. In most cases, these are not actually a necessary part of the pelleted rabbit food. They get many of their essential vitamins by producing them within their body or by eating their cecotropes.
However, there are a few notable vitamins and nutrients that are important. The vitamins that rabbits get from their diet include Vitamin A, D, and E. Vitamin D is also produced via UV rays, but many house rabbits don’t get as much time out in the sun, so they need to get Vitamin D from their diets.
While vitamin deficiency can cause severe problems in rabbits, excess vitamins can also be toxic. So you also want to avoid blends that contain too much. As a special note for Vitamin E, while I was able to find an ideal recommendation for rabbit foods, there was also data to suggest that rabbits have a high tolerance for this vitamin since they do not experience adverse effects in higher doses.
Not all brands provided any information on Vitamins D and E included in their blend. The ingredients for most of these blends indicated that the vitamins were included, but I have no way of comparing them to the recommended amounts. So while I do not rate them well, it is due to lack of information and not necessarily because of the lack of the important vitamins.
|Vitamin||A (6000 IU-10000 IU)||D (800-1200 IU)||E (40-100 IU)|
|Oxbow Garden Select||10000||900||190|
|Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food||10000||900||190|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food||8650||450||86|
|Mazuri Rabbit Food||8000||–||30|
|Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend||16000||–||–|
|Supreme Science Selective||20000||2000||–|
|Kaytee Fiesta Natural||4000||–||–|
|Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food||1000||–||–|
|Sherwood Rabbit Food||–||–||–|
Other mineral to look for in the rabbit food
There are other minerals that are good for rabbits that you want to see in rabbit food. It’s a little harder to evaluate this since many minerals are part of the ingredients, even if they are not named directly. Some major nutrients that you want to look for include:
There are many other trace nutrients that are important in a rabbit’s diet that would be much too complicated to get into for this analysis. However, it’s also important to remember that your rabbit’s hay and leafy greens will also provide many of the necessary nutrients that they need. So the more variety you can give your rabbit in their daily diet, the better.
Price of the rabbit food
While price is not the most important criterion in choosing a rabbit food brand, it is something to consider. The cost will add up over time, so if you can get a healthy brand that is a little cheaper than another equally beneficial brand, then you may as well purchase the more affordable option.
The price of rabbit food will vary occasionally, so this is a comparison based on available prices in May of 2021. They may have changed by the time you are viewing this article.
Cost for the smallest size bag:
|Kaytee Supreme Rabbit Food (5lb)||$5.50|
|Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend (3lb)||$7.50|
|Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food (5lb)||$10|
|Oxbow Garden Select (4lb)||$11|
|Kaytee Fiesta Natural (6.5lb)||$15|
|Mazuri Rabbit Food (5lb)||$16|
|Supreme Science Selective (9lb bag)||$18|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food (5lb)||$20|
|Sherwood Rabbit Food (4.5lb)||$20|
Conclusion: The best rabbit food pellets
Based on my analysis, the rabbit food I recommend is Oxbow Garden Select Rabbit Food. The only category that they were not within recommended limits was calcium content, where the minimum percentage was a little on the low side. No other rabbit food blend fully met the recommendations for more than two categories.
I was also glad to see that Oxbow Garden Select Rabbit Food is not among the most expensive brands. While it’s not the cheapest, it’s still not a cost that’s high enough to price people out of purchasing the healthiest option. View the current price online!
Some rabbits will have different tastes than other. My rabbits absolutely love the Oxbow Garden Select Pellets, however your rabbit might not be a fan. In this case, other blends of rabbit food that did well in all categories include Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food, Small Pet Select Rabbit Food, and Mazuri Timothy-Based Rabbit Diet. If your rabbit does not like the garden select pellets, these are the brands I would try next.
This analysis was done of rabbit food brands that are available in the United States. While many of these brands are also available in other countries, you may need to perform your own analysis of the brands you can purchase near you. I hope the explanations for each of the criteria in this article will help you make the healthiest decision for your rabbit.
- Brown, Susan DVM. “Small Animal Nutrition.” House Rabbit Society. June 2012. https://rabbit.org/small-animal-nutrition.
- Harriman, Marinell. “House Rabbit Handbook: How to Live with an Urban Rabbit.” Drollery Press. 2013. Pgs. 57-59.
- House Rabbit Society. “Practical Nutrition.” Youtube. Commentary by Susan Smith Ph.D. Nov. 7, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91mSv1PqyY4.
- Moore, Lucile. Rabbit Nutrition and Nutritional Healing. 3rd ed. 2017, pp. 61-71.