Probably, you have seen people complain about cabbage being gassy, causing stomach upsets or being goitrogenic (causing goiter especially to humans). While there might be some realities in these claims, if fed well, and your bunnies have the right diet, none of these problems will occur.
Firstly, you deserve to know the right proportion of each food as not doing so may result in stomach upsets (diarrhea, bloating, and gas), overgrown teeth, nutritional imbalances or deficiencies, among other problems.
An ideal bunny’s diet should consist of at least 80% of grass hay. Give some alfalfa, clovers, or legume hay only if they are growing, need to gain weight, nursing or pregnant. Pellets should account for about 5% of their diet while the rest will be fresh plant material (10-15%).
Secondly, ensure 75% of the plant material is leafy greens while the rest can be fruits and starch or non-leafy vegetable fed as treats.
Thirdly, introduce only a single new food at a time and do it over a few weeks to give this animal’s gut bacteria to adjust to it. This gradual introduction will minimize the chances of diarrhea or stomach upsets.
Finally, don’t feed veggies to baby rabbits below 12 weeks. Once they complete weaning, introduce them to hay, and pellets before you go greens.
Can rabbits have cabbage?
Yes. Rabbits can have all types of cabbage, meaning that they can eat the various cultivars like green, red (purple), white, and sweetheart cabbage leaves and stems. Even in the wild, while not the most preferred crop, they do nibble this vegetable.
However, give them only one cultivar at a time and mix it with other healthy vegetables and greens like arugula, cucumber leaves, kale, green and red lettuce, mint, dandelion greens, cilantro, wheatgrass, watercress, turnip greens, and so on.
They should have a mixture of about 5-6 different leafy vegetables or greens, one of them being cabbage. A cup of this chopped mixture should be fed to a two-pound weighing bunny daily and keep varying the veggies you offer them.
However, as you feed them these greens, only include one that is high in oxalic acid like parsley, spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, radish top, or sprouts. Those high in oxalic may increase the chances of uroliths or urinary stones.
Finally, don’t give your rabbit cooked cabbage. Raw one is better. While it is not poisonous, cooking makes it mushy (less crunchy) and may alter its fiber and nutritional composition.
More on cabbage and nutrition
Cabbage is one of the cultivars of Brassica oleracea and among the Cole Group in North America and brassicas in Ireland and the UK. This leafy vegetable with dense leaves forming heads has various cultivars that can be green, red, purple, or white (pale green).
Cabbage has a close resemblance or relation with broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. However, kales, collard greens, broccolini, kohlrabi, among others also belong to the Brassica oleracea, a species in the crucifers, cabbage or mustard family.
While nutritional composition may slightly vary with the specific variety, this vegetable is abundant in vitamin C and K. It also has considerable amounts of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc among other nutrients.
To eat it, you can steam, sauté, pickle, ferment, stew, boil or eat it as a salad. Let us narrow down to the various cultivars.
1. Green cabbage
It is the most grown variety and the most nutritious when compared to other types. It has dark green leaves, and its heads are slightly pointed. Rabbits can eat green cabbage just as they eat any other leafy greens.
2. Red or purple cabbage
Like others, bunnies can munch red or purple cabbage (red kraut or blue kraut) whose pigmentation is due to anthocyanins. In acidic soil, this vegetable will tend to be reddish while in alkaline soil, it will be greenish-yellow. However, in neutral soils, it will be purple.
Nutritionally, it has vitamin C and K in abundance while its potassium, vitamins A and B6, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, folate, manganese, magnesium, are in lower quantities.
2. Spring greens
Unlike others, spring greens have ahead that has loose leaves and is a popular early spring vegetable in the UK and Europe since they can grow during winter.
Rabbits can eat spring greens, and it may be an essential part of their diet during early spring. These veggies have vitamin A, C, K, folate, sodium, iron, and potassium, among other vital nutrients.
3. Savoy cabbage
Like spring greens, this is another winter vegetable thought to be native to Netherlands and England and introduced to German as Savoyer Kohl. Some of its cultivars include Savoy King, Winter King, and Tundra.
Unlike other cultivars, its soft, crunchy leaves don’t become mushy after cooking them, and it has vitamin C, K, B6, and folate. Also, it has smaller amounts of vitamin A (including beta-Carotene and lutein zeaxanthin), thiamine, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
Rabbits can have savoy cabbage as one of their leafy green mixtures. They will love and enjoy eating it, being very crunchy.
4. Can rabbits eat sweetheart cabbage?
Bunnies can eat sweetheart cabbage, also known as Hipsi, hearted or pointed cabbage, just like any other variety. This green vegetable is a little sweet tasting, has a softer texture, and its leaves are a bit more open.
It is rich in vitamins C and K, folate, and has a good amount of fiber. It also has manganese, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin A, magnesium, among other nutrients.
5. White cabbage
While it is not as nutrient-packed as green cultivar, bunnies can still eat it. Mix it with other healthy veggies and avoid excessive amounts as your bunnies may be gassy or bloat.
Bottom-line on cabbage and rabbits
Cabbage is ok or safe for bunnies. They can have it so long as you give them the right amount. Otherwise, giving them an excessive amount may result in stomach upsets, including diarrhea, bloating, and gas, which may be very painful.
Since they are not picky eaters, they will love cabbage leaves or even stalks. Don’t shy away because of a little misinformation here and there.