Nesting box required??

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Milk n' Honey, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. Milk n' Honey

    Milk n' Honey Well-Known Member

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    My doe has a nesting box. However, she kept digging all the hay out and she made a nest in the corner of the cage with hay and hollowing out a spot and had them right there. I just went into the barn to check on her because she was due yesterday. She had put a bunch of fur on top of them and it was moving. I don't have a count yet. I was just wondering, should I put them into the box now or go with her plan? Will the babies crawl away from their nest that she has made and get chilled or starve? I haven't had much luck in the past with all the babies living with the nesting box method. I usually lose at least half the litter. One at a time die and I assume they aren't all eating possibly. Maybe I should try this for a few days and then put them in the box. What do you all think?
     
  2. Serena

    Serena Well-Known Member

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    I have some does that will do that and I generally will scoop up the nest and put it in the nestbox. They WILL crawl away and can get chilled and die.
     

  3. Dee

    Dee Well-Known Member

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    My thought is that something in the nesting box is wrong. Why did she not want to use it and why did the kits keep dying in it? Is it too small for her? Does it have some mold or rot in it?

    Are you living someplace warm? If so, you can scoop them up and put them in a new, clean kitty litter pan. If not, you have to put them in something confining with a lip that the kits can't climb out of.

    Good luck.
     
  4. BellsBunnies

    BellsBunnies Well-Known Member

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    We have 1 holland doe that will not use a nest box. We hve tried several different boxes with her and she always moves her nest and raises every kit. We handled our kits from right after the time they are born- check the nest to make sure everyone is alive and to remove any of the nesting material that maybe dirty from the birth. This doe will also pull new fur everyday for the nest for about the first week after the kits are born.
     
  5. pasotami

    pasotami Hangin out at the barn!

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    A box is not a must but you will need to do something so the kits do not go through the sides of the cage or get hung in the floor wire. They tend to wiggle a lot.
    I bet your nest box is too small and she steps on them or there is something wrong in the box (toxic). She has learned that if she wants her kits to live, not to have them in there. I'd try a cardboard flat to see if she would let them stay on it and then put sides in two corners of the cage this time.
     
  6. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Usually, when a doe refuses to use a nest box, it's because she doesn't like the location of the nest box. I would try placing the kits in the nest box and move the box to where she had made her nest.

    I would suggest using straw for nesting material and not hay... some hays have been known to give off toxic fumes when wet or damp.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  7. Milk n' Honey

    Milk n' Honey Well-Known Member

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    Pat - Won't straw hurt a rabbit if they eat it? She made her nest right by the door. Luckily, I made sure she was in one of my cages that has nothing larger that the 1/2" x 1/2 " squares. So far, I've left them alone and all are well. She had nine kits and they all seem healthy. I just checked on them again tonight. They aren't trying to crawl away, yet. I was thinking of leaving them be for a few more days. Maybe if they get strong enough, they'll be less likely to die in the box. The nesting box is, I think, made of pine. I don't know if it is treated or not. What dimensions should it be? What do you do in between litters to disinfect the boxes? She dug all the hay out of the box and then scratched and scratched at the inside of it.
     
  8. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The straw won't hurt the doe if she eats it. In fact, it is higher in fiber than hay! I've even known some breeders who feed straw instead of hay. It's just that rabbits have taste preferences and will normally choose to eat hay over straw, so they're not as prone to eat their "bedding" when using straw.

    The "digging" is just a natural instinct in trying to dig a burrow/nest.

    What breed is your doe? Can't recommend a nest box size without knowing the size of the doe. The box should not be big enough for the doe to turn around in and has to back out of. The larger the box, the more likely she is to use it as her own bed and which can squash the kits. Untreated pine should be fine.

    After cleaning out the debris, we dipped each wooden nest box in a tub of bleach water (10% chlorine bleach), then set them out in the sun to air dry. The sun also has sterilizing abilities.

    For the stubborn doe who has a history of refusing to use a nest box to kindle in, using TWO nest boxes usually solves the problem. The two boxes take up all the available space, so the doe HAS to use at least one of them. The unused box can be removed after kindling.

    Pat Lamar
     
  9. Milk n' Honey

    Milk n' Honey Well-Known Member

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    OK, I am excited. I did finally move the kits into the nesting box but I left them alone for 1 week. When I noticed they were trying to venture out, I moved them into the box. So far, all is well and they are all alive...all 9 if them!! That may not be a big deal to most but my largest litter of survivors has only been 5 so far. I think leaving them out for a week and giving them time to get strong, has helped. However, it is still warm enough to do that. Now the weaker ones aren't getting left out at feeding time. They look great.

    Pat - I am going to remove the hay and put some straw in. I have a Californian doe with kits now. I have 4 Californian does. I have one NZ doe who is quite a bit larger. I also have a Harlequin doe who is about the size of the Californians. I have some other nesting boxes so I can leave that one in and disinfect the others so they are ready. Then when it is completely dry in a couple of days, I'll switch them out. Thanks so much for the suggestion. You are right about hay. I don't know why I didn't think about that. Thanks again!!