Help! My Rabbits Won’t Stop Molting!
In general, show rabbit fur is better in spring and fall and in a bit worse condition in high summer and late winter. There are always exceptions, of course. But the waxing and waning of fur condition in a normal rhythm is natural. Bunny fur doesn’t last forever and bunnies must go through a process of renewing it.
Tip: Don’t change anything in your rabbits’ diets for the six weeks before ARBA Convention or Nationals. You don’t want to accidentally trigger a molt that cannot be finished by the show.
Besides molts that occur because the fur is naturally dying and needs to be replaced, there are several things that might trigger a molt, whether you are ready for it or not. Judge Allan Ormond claims that a surefire way to have a rabbit go into a molt is to have a rabbit you are excited about and have worked hard on and have a huge show that you are looking forward to. That combination will cause a molt in a heartbeat! I agree.
Switching feed can cause a molt. If you were not happy with the results from your previous feed, you may be glad that all of your senior bucks are in the middle of a molt at the same time. But if you had to switch for another reason (your previous feed is no longer available, for example), the molts can be a bad thing at a bad time.
When you introduce different dietary supplements such as dried beet root with molasses, raisins or sunflower seeds, your bunnies may go into a molt. If you are not trying to trigger a molt and you want to change your routine, go about it gradually and be careful not to overfeed the supplement. Be sure you have at least two months before an important show before making these types of changes.
Stress, illness, and heat can trigger molts as well. A molt can be triggered if feed has been irregular, either in content, amount or timing. Waffling between underfeeding and overfeeding may trigger a molt. Inconsistent or insufficient light (ten hours per day may be ideal for fur condition) may cause an untimely molt.
If your bunnies seem to be in a continual molt that never resolves itself, consider your feed. Breeders have had success with a particular feed for years only to have something about it change suddenly and without resolution. If the molting continues for several months and is pervasive in your barn, especially among your bucks, suspect your feed. If a single bunny comes out of molting briefly only to go back in, try reducing the protein by 1% just as he gets into a good fur.