babies all died

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Jim Bunton, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. Jim Bunton

    Jim Bunton Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am new to raising rabbets and not having overwhelming success. Monday I had six kits born. I felt confident I had a good mother she pulled lots of hair and seemed to be attentive to the babies. She continued to add hair. The cages are in an unheated shed. They are well protected from the wind and rain. Tuesday night the temperature dropped into the low 20s I do not think the temperature fell below freezing in the shed. Wed. morning all six babies were dead. I don't know why. Would it have been the cold? I thought I had read that they could tolerate cold as long as they were protected from wind and rain.

    She was one of three does I tried to breed a month ago I thought at the time she was the only one that mated properly. The other does show no signs of being ready the kindle. Should I rebreed now or wait out the winter? If it is the cold how warm would it need to stay?

    Jim Bunton
     
  2. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Were the kits in a nest box?
    Was there any other material used besides the doe's fur?
     

  3. doodlemom

    doodlemom Well-Known Member

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    So sorry to hear about your loss. I don't breed my rabbits between Nov and Feb because I'm not in the meat business, but if I were to rebreed for a winter litter I'd set up a cage in the basement out of the noise and traffic and then move them to the shed once the nest box comes out.
     
  4. Jim Bunton

    Jim Bunton Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They were in a store bought metal nest box with a peg board bottom. I added straw when I put the box in about four days before the babies arrived. The mother had removed some but not all of the staw. When the babies arrived I gave the mother more straw in the cage but not in the box. I didn't want to disturb the nest any more then I had to.

    Jim Bunton
     
  5. Hilda

    Hilda Well-Known Member

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    So sorry this happened. It's incredibly disappointing, I'm sure. I'm just learning myself and I'm not an expert but I understand it isn't uncommon that a new doe will lose her first litter.

    If you do think it was the cold, the suggestion of moving the buns inside until they are out of the nest box seems like a good one. Where I live, the winters are below freezing. I'm wintering my buns inside in the basement. It's a bright, (two north windows), cool area and they seem very comfortable and happy there.
     
  6. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    So sorry about the babies.

    Did you think to examine the babies to see if they were being fed? First time mother rabbits sometimes don't get it all right. I had one that didn't feed hers and they died at about the three day point. It was summer.

    Your doe will likely do better a second time. At least she built a nest and kindled in the box. I always add extra straw or soft grass hay to the nest box after the kits are born, if the original straw is insufficient. You don't need to worry about "disturbing" the nest or touching the babies. The doe is already used to your scent on things and it won't upset her.

    Some people remove the nest box and babies to the house and only take it out twice a day so Mama can feed them. I personally prefer to bring the whole cage in if I have rabbits kindling in the cold months.

    Hope it goes better next time.
     
  7. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    I'm not super experienced but I've read tons and it does sound like you did everything you could. I'm so sorry. What a sad event after so much excitement and celebration.
     
  8. Jim Bunton

    Jim Bunton Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thank you all for your help and sympathy.
    At what temperatures are we talking where it is getting to cold? this is a well protected area with no wind. I think I will rebreed this week end and if I need to, find a corner in my heated paint room at day 27 when I put in the nesting box. Once the kits are out hopping around with hair can they be moved back to the unheated space? We will get days around zero.

    Jim Bunton
     
  9. sunflower-n-ks

    sunflower-n-ks Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am still a newbe and learning. But so far, all the litters have survived. Another breeder near me used metal nest boxes one winter and a majority of the litters died. The litters in wood boxes survived. They switched to all wood boxes and that is what I use. Wood is a better insulator. My bunnies are in an unheated shed with windows that only have screen on them. The wood boxes are easy to make out of plywood. We get temps down to around 0 F, but not the super cold of the northern states.
     
  10. Dee

    Dee Well-Known Member

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    I personally wouldn't rebreed right away and give her a chance to recover. You don't want to over use her, especially if it is her first time. MHO

    I also agree with sunflower on using the wooden boxes.
     
  11. pasotami

    pasotami Hangin out at the barn!

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    I think if I were to rebred and use a metal nest box I would line it with something that would help insulate it better. The holes in the bottom will allow the air to come in and the metal gets much colder than the wood. I keep my does in a garage that has heat in it during the winter (mainly because I hate frozen water) but I find that it is in the 50's and the babies do fine. I still have to wear a jacket but the rabbits are fine at that temp. I do not use my metal nest boxes unless I just have to - I have wooden ones. I have read somewhere about a heating pad for nest boxes.... not sure how it works but you may want to look into that if you raise them in the winter where there is no heat.
     
  12. pasotami

    pasotami Hangin out at the barn!

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    I wanted to add that I do not move my younger rabbits out of the warmer area into a cold one - the night time temps here can go into the teens and to zero and I have been to afraid of them getting sick from a temp change - if I did do that I would wait until a couple of days/nights of warmer temps to get them use to it before the temps dropped again.
    I raise babies all through the winter for our table and to sell at Christmas and Easter. I just have to think about the night time temps here more than anything.
     
  13. Burbsteader

    Burbsteader Well-Known Member

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    I never used metal, only wood.
    If you choose to keep using metal, then I would suggest a couple layers of cardboard on the bottom to insulate. Make sure it is plain cardboard, not glossy or waxed.
    Possibly even placing the box on a piece of wood (no exposed edges for mama to chew on).

    The mom may not have nursed, or had milk. First timers are unpredictable.
    Were the babies tummies taut and round (full of milk) or did their tummies look or feel empty?
     
  14. sunflower-n-ks

    sunflower-n-ks Well-Known Member Supporter

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  15. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi, Jim, that's too bad about the kits. First time mothers often don't really know what they are doing, so it was probably that. Six kits with a good amount of pulled fur should not have had a heat issue at those temps.

    I had a first time doe kindle a few days ago, and checked yesterday to find the fur just a tad wet (mother had probably urinated on them) and the kits wrinkled. I immediately removed them all (7) and gave them to a Sable that had come in a few days earlier. The Sable doe jumped into the box as soon as she heard these kits and nursed them, even though she'd probably already fed her own kits earlier in the morning. To me they sounded just like normal kits but the mother instinct must be able to pick out the distress call of hungry kits. Anyway, I'd been disappointed the Sable only had three kits but I am glad now!

    Jennifer
     
  16. Jim Bunton

    Jim Bunton Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am so glad for this site. From reading your answers I now believe that the mother probably wasn't feeding the kits. I plan to rebreed the two does that didn't kindle and try again. I will be building wood boxes Thank you for the link sunflower.

    Jim Bunton
     
  17. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't want to hijack this thread, but since my nest boxes are just about due for replacement,I have been thinking about nest box design a lot lately. I definitely prefer wood to metal, but I have been toying with a few modifications to the standard style.

    One thing I would consider doing is to making the resting board a bit bigger, giving a larger overhang. My reasoning for this is that it would give the kits better protection from Momma's feet when she is hopping in and out -- particularly important if you have one of those nervous does who gets upset when you check the babies. A second benefit is that it would give Momma a place to get away from the babies when they are out of the nest box and very aggressive about sneaking under Momma's belly for an unauthorized feeding. I hate to see the doe having to shake them off and hop away every ten seconds and I worry about injuries to the kits.The only thing I am not sure about regarding this modification is whether or not it would make it difficult for Momma to nurse the babies while they are tiny. Thoughts, anyone?

    The second idea I had is to make the foot end in two sections, the top one removable. My thinking here is that it would be useful for those difficult few days when the kits can jump out of the nest box but not necessarily back in again. It would reduce the chances of a just mobile kits getting stranded and chilled.

    My third idea is to line the head end with wire mesh and then have a removable wooden end that fastens over the wire with hooks and eyes. My thinking here is that it would provide for extra ventilation in hot weather.

    I have one more concern that I have not figured out to my satisfaction. I used hardware cloth on the first set of nest boxes, but one of my does dug so hard trying to make a burrow that she actually tore a hole over an inch long in the wire. I'm not wild about the idea of using 1/2 x 1 inch flooring wire, because I have noticed that very young kits have trouble moving about on it. Ideas?
     
  18. sunflower-n-ks

    sunflower-n-ks Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I talked to someone that raises a lot of rabbits. They make their own nest boxes and make a removable bottom to make cleaning easier. They put molding on the bottom edges of the box so it extendes about a quarter inch inside the box. A removable screen in placed on top of that and then wood shavings, another screen to keep them from digging into the shavings, and then the hay bedding for the doe to make a nest in. They use screws instead of nails so the box can be taken apart for cleaning. Works for them.
     
  19. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds interesting, sunflowers-n-ks!
     
  20. Bernadette

    Bernadette Enjoying Polish Rabbits

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    .... I really like the idea of the shavings between two layers of wire so they can't dig them out. It would be even better if you could take the bottom layer off to change the shavings...