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Discussion Starter #1
I had a first time young doe (6 1/2 months old) give birth to 7 beautiful kits last night on the wire. It was day 30. I put in the nest box on day 28.

Last night I noticed her carrying hay around in her mouth. She attempted to build a "make-shift" nest along side the nest box. Within 15-minutes of me noticing this...she started dropping babies on the wire. I waited until she cleaned them and I picked them up and placed them in nest box. She refused to get in the box or pull fur. I physically put her in the box 2x's before she realized they were in there. I left her alone and went to the house.

This morning she was laying in her usual spot...no fur pulled...7 dead kits in the box.

Question: Did I do something wrong? Is this "typical" of some first time does? My experience is limited, but I have gone through about 20-kindlings this year. This is the first time I have had a mother basically birth kits and leave them to die.

Does she deserve another chance or is she a lost cause...?
 

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I've seen rabbits raise great the very first time with a litter. Then I have seen them lose their first litter and raise their second great. I have also seen them lose the second as well. IF I feel that I even had a small part in them losing the second litter, or abnormal weather (or something else was partially to blame) then I give them a third shot. However if after the third shot at becoming a good mother they fail then they get promoted to my freezer or some other way make it out of my rabbitry (I have given (sometimes sold) them away as pets too).

I do find it odd that she didn't pull fur until AFTER the babies were born. I normally don't give hay (warmer here in south georgia) for nesting boxes and to my recollection they all have pull fur before having their litter.
 

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It's chilly here in OH. Straw (my preferred nesting material) or hay is an absolute necessity in colder weather.

She's young. I would give her another chance. Rebreed her today and hope for better next time. Some does just don't get it figured out the first time.

A couple things that might have helped, hold her down and pull hair (very gently) from her belly (or if she's shedding like mine currently are, from anywhere on her body) and make a little nest with that. Some breeders keep rabbit fur for just such an occasion. Or you can use dryer lint to make a little nest. The babies wouldn't have needed to be fed immediately, you could have taken them into your house and brought them back out to the doe in the morning for her to feed them. It might have made a difference, it might not. Just something to consider trying if it ever happens again. Hopefully it won't happen again.
 

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Another thought, is the box big enough for her? Or maybe she just didn't like the box.

Just throwing out ideas. I never had a problem with the doe not caring for kits although I did have a first timer not make a fur nest for a couple hours (in the spring).
 

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I give my does 3 tries and then to freezer camp.
I always breed 2 does at the same time in case one has too many kitts, isn't a good mom, didn't pull enough fur or whatever.
I have a really good doe that has been a great mother but all of this last litter died at days, possibly could of been b/c a different buck, change in weather.
I always check the kitts within the first day in case there are any dead ones, especially in the summer.
 

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Another thought, is the box big enough for her? Or maybe she just didn't like the box.

Just throwing out ideas. I never had a problem with the doe not caring for kits although I did have a first timer not make a fur nest for a couple hours (in the spring).
I was thinking the same. I had Boxes with Tops, they didn't work, took Tops off everything was fine.

big rockpile
 

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I do not breed that young---(I know people do). All my nesting boxes have hay in them when I put them in on day 28. The Does usually pull some of the hay out and put it back in the way they want.

Your question---Did you do something wrong---Personally I would have not left them in the box uncovered----they for sure will die as cool as it is. I would have made them a bed and pulled fur from her to cover them or atleast take them in the house and put some heat on them--Then take them out the next morning for a feeding.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for everyone's response. Lesson learned for sure.

The boxes are 11"W x 18"L x 10"H...and all the other does find them quite comfortable. One of my Cali's find it too cozy in hers, she won't leave the ---- thing.

It never crossed my mind about taking babies inside or pulling her fur myself. Note taken.
 

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tag - having the same issues here.


I'm using commercial made nest boxes. NZW does, NZW buck.

1st time does, 1st litter, I put the boxes in on day 28 stuffed with hay. They just ate the hay for the most part and didn't nest. 2 of the does didn't pull hair or anything and birthed on the wire but one of the does nested and pulled hair and had three kits in the box and 8 or so more on the wire. Out of 3 does I had 3 kits live - not good.

2nd go around someone said to put the nest boxes in earlier so I did..2 of the does I thought were pregnant didn't take and the one doe that had three kits live did take....but had all of her kits on the wire this time. None lived.


round three....... :buds:
 

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It's not uncommon for does to mess up the first time and then raise litters well after that. Most follow the 3 strike rule. Some does do not pull fur until after the kits are born and then they make their nest. Fine in mild temps but not good ones to breed in cooler temps. In good weather or a good nest they can also go up to 48hrs before the first feeding. Some does are just late. Any of that can lead to kit death in cool weather because they need insulation and they need food to make heat. If a doe repeatedly is slow to care for her kits you will have to decide if you want to keep her or her offspring and possibly only breed in warmer temps or remove her from your herd.
 

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The reason some breeders prefer straw is because the doe is a bit less likely to eat it. Notice, I said "a bit". I had does that would eat all the straw and then want more.

Wood shavings are used by some breeders because rabbits won't eat them. Never use cedar, only pine or aspen (unless you can get some nice maple shavings from a woodworker). Shavings and straw are what I used most of the time.

You also need to make sure you don't put a nest box in the doe's preferred potty spot. If you do, she'll pee in the box and on the kits.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I put 1 - 2" of pine shavings in bottom and a handful of hay in box. We feed hay daily to all the rabbits so hay is in the pen 24/7. They have plenty to eat and/or use to build a nest.

Yes they definitely have their favorite corner to use potty in.
 

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I ran all the black Friday news papers through the shredder (unfortunately my wife got to read them first) and filled the rabbit nest boxes. I'll do it again when it gets closer to the kindle date for fresh paper.

put the boxes in early, last time at day 28 they pushed them around and never really settled in or used it as a toilet even though I avoided that area. Now they're snug in the boxes, not pushing them around and seem happy to sit in there on the news paper shreddings.
 

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I give rabbits two chances. A lost first litter can happen, but a lost second litter means we need to have rabbit pie.
And it is hard to move bunnies, especially if you have a nervous doe. Some people just put the doe with the babies 2x daily to feed then remove the nest box between times. They only leave the babies with mom when they can supervise while she feeds them.
 

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I do the "three strikes yer out" method too. Worked well when we were raising rabbits.

Looking forward to finishing the barn, so we can have rabbits again.
 

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depends on the reasons for problems the strikes is a good plan , after years of selective breeding and getting ahold of some great breeding stock to start I have not had a bad mom in a long time , look for the reson you are loseing littersas well a a bad mom
 

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The general rule is 3 strikes she's in the crockpot.

I'm on a forum with over 18,000 members where I've read lots of post where first time mothers let the first kindle die. They often do not pull fur. A lot of people take the kits inside to keep them warm, taking them out or bringing the doe in once a day so the kits can eat, and sometimes having to hold the doe and force her to let the kits eat.

Many times, in fact most times, those bad first timers will turn into great mothers with 2nd or 3rd kindles. It's almost like it's takes them a time or two to figure out that they are mothers. Once they get it figured out, they become great mothers.

One thing I like about being a member of such a large forum is that I learn a LOT from reading about other peoples problems and there are tons of problems posted daily from around the world.
 

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We follow the 3 strikes rule also and it works quite well. I agree with Spinner: often the does that the roughest time their first kindles, turn into the best mothers later!

We just had a nice New Zealand white kindle yesterday. She was on her third and final try. She had aborted her first two litters, but seems to have finally gotten things right and has a nice bunch of 9 kits and no runts.

We live in a warm, tropical climate (Natal, Brazil), so quite often our NZ does do not pull fur. Our nesting boxes are cheap leftover pallet wood (cages are made from aluminum angle and heavy wire screen) and have no bottom panels. We staple very cheap, non-woven fabric to the bottom. It only lasts a week to week and a half, but keeps the newborn kit's legs from sticking out the heavy 1/2" hole wire below. By the time the cheap material is finally falling apart, the kits can keep their legs up on the wires easily and we pull the boxes and clean and staple new material on them for the next use.

After trying several things, this seems to be the best solution for our warm climate and keeps our kits cleaner and healthier. Changing the material is very fast, as we just staple it, then cut off the extra with a box knife. Does sometimes tear up the bottoms, but we just put a new box in with new cloth. If they do it with the kits inside, we just put the kits in a new box and take the old out. Very quick and easy.

The cheap nesting boxes offer a bit of chewing entertainment for some does, but they soon tire of the cheap pine. We get the wood free as it's from old shipping pallets. Works great, is cheap and easily disposable, as is the used fabric (we burn old stuff).
 
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