Best choice of organic fertilizer (pellets/meal) with rabbits?

enigma7(6)May 16, 2013

Hi everyone,

After doing a pretty substantial renovation the last couple years on my small yard (I have 2 main questions:

First, we have a LOT of rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. in our neighborhood. But rabbits seem to be the worst this time of year (I left for work the other day with a large rabbit in the center of my yard and when I came home there was a shoe-sized BARE spot to the dirt where the rabbit was!). Is there a particular grain/meal that rabbits won't eat or something that breaks down quickly after application that makes it more difficult to eat (so most of it gets to the microbes/grass)? Alfalfa seems to get great praise for cost/nutrient level but I know that is a natural rabbit food but am not sure if watering it in breaks it down enough to where my entire lawn won't get besieged by rabbits and eat all the food (then deal with the rabbit pellets which while great for fertilizer I don't want my kids running around in rabbit poo all day).

Second, I can't easily find with a quick google/site search the nitrogen/protein concentrations of the different commonly-available grains. I remember seeing one a while ago and it was great to have when comparing prices on a particular day at the feed store (ie since they are not all equal in nitrogen content you can have a $/lb nitrogen figure for each to determine where the best actual deal is).

Thanks everyone for your help,


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I think soybean meal gets the best bang for buck as far as nitrogen goes. I paid 15 bucks for 50 lb. and spread it with a drop spreader (A) cuz it's the only spreader I have B) a broadcast spreader would work evenly on a windy day.
Also using a meal will make it a little harder for critter to steal your ferts. Alfalfa pellets will expand when they get wet and eventually crumble but you will be waiting for a rain strong enough to break them up after they get wet.
You may also want to searh the web for simple deterrents for rabbits, if they spook easily. Rabbit poop is supposedly pretty clean. I've read it can be used to fertilize crops without needing to be composted like other animal manures. But I would want my kids trampling in it either if there are considerable amounts of it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 8:53AM
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Thanks for the response west.

I think soybean sounds great (I'm going to ignore the constant harping on GM crops that are in pretty much every post in this sub-forum, blah, blah, blah), and I like that the meal should be better at getting down to the soil level and hopefully discouraging the animals. I've used CGM in the past as it's concentrated for a grain (so less total spreading and weight), but really is no longer viable due to the expense.

I'm not concerned about the health conditions of the rabbit poo, just that it's usually in clumps that are a mess to deal with (if only they spread the little balls out evenly!) and I normally find them the "hard" way when mowing and not paying attention.

I'll have to check and see if there are any easy/safe deterrents.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 10:23AM
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A small warning about soybean meal. Apply too much and it will rot before it is digested. The first time I used it I applied 100# to 10,000 feet of lawn and wished I hadn't for the next 2 weeks. The smell was indescribable. That was when I first started on an organic program and I think it was too soon. This year I applied the same amount with no issues. If you've been organic for awhile, go for it. If this is new for your soil proceed with caution :).

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:16PM
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Can someone recommend an amount of soybean meal to apply per 1000sq feet? I'm getting a 100lb bag on Friday and obviously won't be using that much on my lawn (Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 2:06PM
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I did my first soybean this year. As I was concerned with the smell, i did about 4.5lbs per 1K (50 lb bag). it worked out good, but I don't have the best sense anymore. My wife didn't complain who does.

My next application will be 9 lbs. After a couple of those, going to 15 lbs will be normal..

From all of my readings, as time goes on, less chance of a smell as you increase the application. All about building those microbes that like the stuff and break it down quicker.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 7:14AM
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Thanks for the reply. As I mentioned I've been the hybrid organic guy for a couple years now. Pesticide and Pre-M use when needed but feeding almost exclusively corn-gluten meal during months when it can be used (ie not in the dead of winter when activity is low). So I think going with the 20lb's per 1000 sounds about right. And I can always go and throw some Starbucks grounds down to hide the smell if it gets particularly bad. I hate their coffee but my yard does smell quite nice when I chuck 5-10lbs of used grounds down (always funny to see the people walking their dogs looking around trying to find the barista on my sidewalk!).

I'm going to put down the meal tomorrow afternoon and It is going to be really hot and humid here the next couple days (mid 90's and sunny) so hopefully that doesn't really bring out the smell.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 7:26AM
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Think less about a "fertilizer" and more about what will add organic matter to the soil.
Feeding the soil that your lawn grows in in the fall is the best thing you can do since that is when the grass roots are storing nutrients for next springs growth. Spring feeding is a distant second choice since that can force your grass into growth just about the time it wants to go dormant as cool season grasses want to do when it is hot and dry, depending on when you feed the turf or if you feed the soil.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 7:26AM
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I think you will be safe. I applied 50 lbs to less than 4000 sq ft earlier this month and never smelled anything.
And also think about doing something to build the microbes up in your soil to further assist you in your cause: look into maybe applying some compost, or make some compost tea. Going into fall keep a lookout for leaves. Shredded leaves have been one of the biggest allies in my battle of converting tough clay soil into something a little softer that plants can actually grow in.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Every year I laugh as my neighbors rake and bag and put out on the curb the leaves. Looks like horrible work. I just wave as I'm mulch mowing the leaves into the lawn. Normally takes 2, sometimes 3 passes, but unless I really let it get out of hand I've had people walk by and stare as they just appear to disappear. :)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 11:34AM
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Yeah it kills me. I've shown people the fruits of my labor, and every year they're out there raking and bending over, bagging and hauling. But. Guess I can't complain those same bags get dumped onto my property where I take the mower to them.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 6:20AM
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Wanted to give an update for anyone interested. Put down ~40lbs on a bit less than 2000 square feet on Thursday afternoon. It was day 2 of a ~92-95F 5 day heat wave. Didn't mow before application because of the heat wave (didn't want to stress the lawn). Watered in the soybean meal lightly after application and went to bed. Next day no smell, still heatwave. Next day no smell, still heatwave but should break by Sunday. Sunday morning mulch mowed prior to storm front moving in and heat wave ending. Today, heavy rain and temps in mid 70's. Hopefully the smell doesn't appear after this big rain and moderate temps but so far I'm extremely pleased with the application, even though it's a bit late for organic feed (should have been 2-3 weeks ago).

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 6:44AM
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Update: Almost a week later and no signs of bad smells coming from the lawn so everything looks to be going swimmingly.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:44AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

Nice. The few years i have used soy in the spring.. I always get the lovely smell post rain and warm day. I think the neighbors get concerned sometimes.

I went to buy soybean meal this year and was checking out the protein count on their various feeds/grains.. and noticed they had dried distillers grain. It has 25% protein and less then half the cost of soy in my area. I picked up three bags to use on the lawn and perennial/veggie beds. I will say it does have an odd molasses.. old cookie...old beer smell. It is easy to use in a spreader or just spread by hand. Not varmint issues that i have noticed either. I have used catfish food pellets from tractor supply before with good effect.. but it's cost/protein ratio is about the same as soybean meal.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 10:26AM
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Other than having to spread twice as much that sounds pretty good nevermore44.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

true... but I figure I am getting more organic bulk ... and more protein/nitrogen for equivalent prices....AND the best part... twice the stink!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:21PM
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