Doe with First Litter

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by JAS, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    One of my young does delivered last night to her first litter. She had six healthy looking babies but did not build a very good nest. The babies were dead when I checked on her, all were laying out in the open. She was still pulling fur today. Is this going to be a problem doe or just try it again? Is there something I can do to help her? I had wood chips and straw in the nest box and was giving her more straw to build her nest with. Thanks.
     
  2. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Most anything can happen with a first-time doe, so give her another chance. Meanwhile.... can I safely assume that the kits were found dead and scattered *inside* the nest box? Did they look like they had been squashed? If so, then, your nest box may be too large and the doe is laying on them. Or, she got spooked and jumped into the nest box to protect them and accidentally trampled them, instead. It happens. Dogs, cats, predators, loud and unexpected noises can all spook a nervous doe with a new litter.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     

  3. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    They were laying towards the front of the box, not really scattered, just not covered. I checked them over (hoping to find some life) they all looked fine, just cold. The box is not very large, one of my smaller ones due to the size of the cage door. She did more "digging" than my others? Should I give her more to work with next time (straw)?

    I will try her again, Pearl is one of my favorites--more friendly, large, blue girl. Her mother is a very good mother, her babies are always plump and with large litters. How long do I wait before rebreeding her?
     
  4. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ah, now... I didn't think to ask if you had provided *enough* straw! By all means, do give her plenty! The kits may have simply died from hypothermia!

    Re-breed the doe within 3 days of losing her litter. She will be most receptive and it will also help to alleviate despair from losing her litter.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  5. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Okay--what about the size of the nest box? I had seen the various nest boxes in the posts and catalogs, and was going to go them better and give them more space to move around. Why would a too big nest box cause the doe to crush her babies? The ones i've seen seem to be no larger than the doe. Wouldn't she have to crush the babies just to get in?

    I am going to make 2' x2'x4' sized cages and put a bigger nest box with a cover so the animal could get out of weather if it wanted. Should I resize the nest box? I just feel better with the animals having more freedom. Do they make such a thing as a rabbit tractor? I saw one thread where the farmer had one big communal pen and the animals just burrowed down into the dirt. I think I would feel a little out of control with that arrangement, however. If you wanted to keep the breeding down to 3-4 litters / year, communal living would make record keeping a bit difficult. :haha:

    I would appreciate a little input on my ideas of housing. I plan to keep them in the greenhouse in their cages for Nov1-Apr15 and in a covered (but sided with wire) structure in summer.

    Next spring will be so much fun!! I'll be working my buns off :eek: with rabbits, chickens, plant business, veggie garden..... Start planting about Feb 1 in the GH.

    Sandi
     
  6. Milking Mom

    Milking Mom COTTON EYED DOES

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    I had it happen a couple of times that a dingy doe would have her babies outside the box for whatever reason and the babies were extremely cold and lifeless when I would go check very early in the morning. I have brought them into the house and put them into a box with a heating pad on low and padded with towels and they came back to life. I have also taken one or 2 and popped them down into my shirt (bra) and after an hour or so, they perked back up. Once they were fully revived I went and slipped them into their nice warm nest. It was funny one winter we had a doe that had lots of babies and me and both of my daughters were running around with baby bunnies in our bras. We didn't lose any of them. They all were lifeless as could be but they perked back up. Warmth and stimulation will save them sometimes if it hasn't been too long.
     
  7. jessandcody

    jessandcody Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes does just seem to confuse themselves. Our first doe started building her nest next to the nest box. So what we did was to put some extra crocks in her cage to eliminate most of the floor space when we saw her carrying straw around in her mouth. If there's no room for her to drop the litter on the floor, she will drop them in the nest box!
     
  8. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For New Zealands, we used nest boxes measuring 20" Long x 10" wide x 10" high (6" in the front). Some may argue that this is also too large. The larger the nest box, the more apt the doe is to use it as her personal lounging box which you don't want. If she can't stretch out in it, then she has to remain on her feet and which gives breathing room for the kits. The kits are usually placed in the back of the box so the doe can jump into the front of the box. The kits will then migrate to the doe to nurse. I've even seen a doe use her front paws to gently push/guide the kits toward her belly.

    Why are you making your new cages so high? 18" high gives plenty of room. Some commercial producers are using cages that are 14" high without any problems.

    Yes, there is/have been rabbit tractors, but this works only on a very limited basis. Successful rabbit tractors have to have separate "holes" built into them for keeping rabbits separated, and they also have to have a wire bottom to prevent them from digging out. Ironically, rabbits are "foragers" and not "grazers," so there is usually very little grazing on grass. This generally defeats the whole purpose of a rabbit tractor. The wire bottom needs to be large enough to allow grass to poke through, too.

    Check the archives for greenhouse rabbitry ideas... this topic comes up often.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  9. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Pat for all the info. I rebred her yesterday. I am thinking of keeping the fur she pulled out this time to add to the box next time. I gave her the same amount of material as I give my other does, actually added more straw because she was eating it (I use oat straw and some of the rabbits love to eat it). I will watch her closer next time.
     
  10. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    Never had a problem with a too big nestbox, and we raised hundreds of rabbits. Sounds like your setup will be fine. If the does use the nestbox as a litter box, move it to the other corner, otherwise just take the darn thing out during the warm months, they shouldn't need it...
     
  11. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    Another note, really, it is much easier if you don't leave the nestbox in with the doe all the time, they chew on them, and make a mess in them. We always gave our does boxes 3 or 4 days before they were due, and they immediately got set to making a nest in them. Was ALOT cleaner during birthing too.
     
  12. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    I don't leave the boxes in with them. Usually I put it in on the 28th day, seems to work good. I usually pull the boxes out when the babies start to hop out. I do take the nest material out and put in the clean corner until I am sure the babies are fine without or it gets messy.

    I am keeping some of her fur she pulled this time. I will wait until she starts to work on her nest and will try adding it with extra straw to work with next time.
     
  13. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    That should work real well. You make me wish for some bunnies again. :) Eventually. We have everything else anyway.... :D
     
  14. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the input on the nestboxes.

    On the cages, I have a large roll of 2' wire and another of 4' bottom wire, thus the size I plan. Also, I guess I just have a bad feeling about visions of chicken factories and have wondered why it's OK for rabbits. Of course, there is only one rabbit per cage. I'm just trying to think like a rabbit. I hate small rooms--give me lots of space.

    I will look up more of the archives on greenhouses and bunnies. I have saved the recent one and will look for others.

    Thanks again,

    Sandi
     
  15. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    Ok, here we go again. I rebred her and on the 27th day she started to run around with straw in her mouth. I put the nestbox in with lots of woodchips and straw and gave her more straw to work with. When I checked on her she had move all the straw out of the box and put it in her bathroom!

    Now what do I do? I think she will have her babies tonight or tomorrow. Should I move the straw to the nest box or let her be?
     
  16. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    If I have a doe that insists on making a nest out of the nest box I put in a second nest box. They will usually kindle in one of the 2 boxes. After she kindles you can move the box out of her potty corner or if worse comes to worse, take the box out and bring it to the doe twice a day, let her nurse the kits and then bring the box back inside.
     
  17. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    She had seven kits :) All are doing well, even with temperatures in the single digits. I did add the extra fur from last time, I think it helped but she did do a better nest. I put more straw in the box after she took it out. She either moved or ate the bathroom nest as it is gone. She must of realized she was being silly (no bathroom). Thanks for all the help!
     
  18. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    By the way, cold bunnies are not always dead bunnies. In my extremely limited experience, I found some newborn bunnies on the ground. They had fallen out of the cage (no babysaver wire) and dropped 2 or 3 feet onto the ground. They were stone cold and motionless. I picked them up and put them in my bra. OK, nasty, but it was a nice warm spot, eh? Anyway, ALL of them came back to life! Boy was I surprised! Of course Mom hated the human smell or something else about them, because she killed them later, but they did come back from being cold and still, and that was a learning experience for me.