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Discussion Starter #1
Doe 1 is a proven mother and had six kits.

Doe 2 was a first timer and had one still born kit.

I took three random kits from 1 and gave them to 2 in an effort to help her practice her motherhood in prep for the next time.

The three kits have a definite growth retardation over the 3 left with the real mother. At 7 days there is a noticeable difference in maturity and growth. I checked tonight and one of the three fosters was cold and dead.

I hate sacrificing any kits but if it helps doe 2 learn to mother before she kindles again it just may be worth it.
 

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I hate sacrificing any kits but if it helps doe 2 learn to mother before she kindles again it just may be worth it.
It won't. Doe #2 either has the mothering instinct or she doesn't, and you are not going to 'teach' her how to be a good mother. If doe #1 can't raise 6 kits, then bottle them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It won't. Doe #2 either has the mothering instinct or she doesn't, and you are not going to 'teach' her how to be a good mother. If doe #1 can't raise 6 kits, then bottle them.
doe 1 is a good mother as noted in the op.

and yes, rabbits can learn. Not all actions are instinctual. And there is a complete difference between "teach" and "learn".
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It may be that doe 2 doesn't have much milk because her body knew she only had one.
From having a bunch of nursing kids and grandkids I know that momma's milk increases and decreases as the supply demands. I would suppose it would be the same with other nursing creatures. Otherwise it would then be difficult to foster baby kits at all, and I know it is a common practice.
 

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If her kit was stillborn how do you know she wasn't a good mother in the first place? And yes, as a mother who has nursed, milk supply does increase with demand, but it takes awhile for the supply to catch up with the demand. And a traumatic event, such as a stillbirth, can affect the milk supply.
How long after doe two stillbirthed did you put doe ones three babies in with her?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
first time breeders often have problems with their litters... in arranging nests, having the babies in the nest, having babies in general, and figuring out what to do with them afterwards. The odds are often poor for the first litter. Which is why I wanted to give her the experience of nursing so she could take it to the second and subsequent times.

I put the kits in about five hours after they were born, and about three hours after her still birth.
 

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well good luck Jack!
Having similar difficulties the surviving doe, she doesnt seem to know what to do (child had been sitting momma on her lap and allowing kits to feed all week- after we lost one cold outa the nest.) 3 down so far, I hope once their eyes are open they will be able to find momma and nurse a bit better, they are 14 days next monday....
 

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Jack,

I agree with you that animals, all animals can learn behaviour's but I don't think mothering is a behaviour it is instinctual(this is even displayed in humans) either they have it or not but i noticed with rabbits if they show any sign from the first litter it gets better with maturity and age.

I applaud you for you efforts understanding how, when, why, and, what to do to because it is a responsibility of a farmer to know all those things and there is no better teacher then experience.

I personally would not have done it the same way if you have a good mother let her be the mother, there could have been many reason why they where still born but to me her physiology said she was not ready to be a mother. Now if doe 1 had 10 kits and could only take care of 6 that's when I would make the leap to give her a shot at that point there is nothing to be lost only a clear gain on experience and possible kits.

I just want to make it clear, because to me my post comes out a little preachy(like some others.) but, I'm not judging you one way or another like you said it was an experiment and without them we would never make advances of understanding and better our operations.
 
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