Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Greens in the Year of the Rabbit

There was an article recently in a produce industry magazine about farmers looking toward the Year of the Rabbit to promote and market Chinese vegetables in grocery stores especially bok choy, baby bok choy, choy sum and gai lan. Then I received an email from “Bunny Mom” in Kansas City asking if these vegetables were okay to feed to her rabbits. With twice as many taste buds as humans, most rabbits will eat just about any vegetable you offer them. They love new flavors. But some vegetables are safer than others.
Bok choy, baby bok choy and choy sum are all in the cabbage family. Kai Lan is also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. All of these vegetables are high in calcium which is the first reason I do not include them in my rabbits’ salads. They can result in large amounts of calcium carbonate sediment in the urine causing sludgy urine and cystitis. No thanks.
The other good reason to avoid these vegetables is that they are all Cruciferous vegetables. High in sulfur they can cause gas both in people and yes, in your rabbits. The issue with gas for rabbits is it can result in bloat (gas bubbles). I have seen the bubbles on abdominal x-rays of rabbits. They can be quite large and painful for a bunny. The danger with bloat is it can cause Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis) and if left untreated or treated too late, the rabbit can die. So while I may enjoy some new Chinese vegetables in this Year of the Rabbit, I’m going to skip them for my rabbits. There are plenty of safe alternatives and for a list see this link.(Photo: The Packer)