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Hired Hand
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Can anyone offer any advice on milk replacement / formulas and bottle feeding rabbits? I typically leave the rabbits to their own devices when it comes to nurturing the kits but the last litter of 11 died this weekend, as the young, first time doe would not sit on the nest to allow the newborns to nurse. Knowing this, I either need to cull the doe now or be better prepared to care for the little ones next time around on the case this happens again. I realize that bottle feeding is not the ideal situation, as the kits will be deprived of colostrums. However, I would prefer to rest her, then breed her again rather than cull her straight away, considering she is one of the better (physically anyway) does in the herd. Any advice and / or opinions are welcome. Thanks!
 

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Hi Joe..

I typically give a doe three chances at producing a litter--if she can't pull it off I'll make the choice of culling her or using her for wool production only.(I raise English Angoras) I've had first time mommas lose all their litter many times, I've more or less come to expect it. When I get a doe that takes to mothering right away, it's a time for rejoicing!

As for handing rearing---I've done it, I've used both goats milk and kitten replacement milk but I have to be honest and say I've had limited success. The biggest concern is overfeeding--you'll think the kits are eating well because they're nice and round but in fact they've got too much food and they'll start to die off from the strongest to the youngest. If you seen a greenish yellow bowel movement--you'll know you may have over fed. In addition to hand feeding you have to stimulate the gential area to get the baby to urinate. A little warm water and a q-tip will do the trick.

You can find small animal bottles at your local feedstore and every now and then at Wal-Mart in the pet section. KRM can be found at feed stores as well.

Bottom line? In my rabbitry we would give her a month and then re-breed her and see what happens.

(Y)
('.')
(")(")

Suzi
Bluebonnet Rabbitry Texas
 

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Cant advise on bottle feeding [never done it, wont do it] but will advise on a couple other options.

Breed more then 1 doe at a time. This way if you have a doe that wont take care of its kits you can foster them to a couple other rabbits.

I would IMMEDIATLEY breed this rabbit back. Dont wait a month. Some first time does just dont know what to do and will succesfully take care of their kits the second time around. I agree with the 3 strikes rule. I intentionally breed rabbts early [4 months] just to get the firt kindling out of the way. If they take care of their kits Great if not the second time they are more mature and usually do fine.

Find markets for pinkie rabbits. Go to your pet store and see if they would be interested in pinkies for feeders. This way if you do loose a litter then it is not a total loss. Look for people that have small snakes.
 

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I realize that bottle feeding is not the ideal situation, as the kits will be deprived of colostrums.

Passive immunity occurs in rabbits.

The antibodies are transferred to the fetus during pregnancy instead of being acquired through the colostrum as in some other animals. This immunity is in
force for a short time (not sure how long) as the kits develop their own
antibodies.

as the young, first time doe would not sit on the nest to allow the newborns to nurse.

Sometimes I've had this happen with first time does. In many instances,
she has learned what is expected when she is held over the kits for them
to nurse. A couple of times I had to remove the kits and place them on
a "nest" on the wire as the doe would go bonkers when placed
in the nest box. Sometimes nothing would work and I had to foster
them to other does and rebreed her!

Linda
 

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Hired Hand
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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you to everyone for their thoughts and advice. A pleasure as always. Happy Holidays to everyone.

Best regards,

CJ

***************************
A mind once stretched never returns to it's original shape...
 
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