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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, something is killing my rabbits. I was hoping to get some ideas from you as to what it might be. Here is what is happening:

1. Symptoms come on quickly and include, diareah, fatigue, lack of appetite, soft feeling stomach, slow breathing.
2. The rabbit dies within hours of the first symptoms.
3. It is only affecting rabbits 4 weeks old to 4 months.
4. It seems to be affecting only my harlequins and mixed breed meat rabbits. The rex,l ops, and netherlands seem to be ok.

Here's what I have done so far:

1. Cages are being cleaned out and bleached down. (they are in the shade)
2. Food and water dishes have been bleached.
3. Everyone has been on antibiotics for the lst four days.
4. I cut one open this morning and found no lesions on the liver,kidneys,lungs,heart. The stomach and intestines look good. The only thing I didn't check was the brain.
5. I will be taking one down to get autopsied as soon as I can contact the lab.
6. I buy new feed every couple of days rather than storing a large quantity.
7. I checked the hay for mold and toxic plant material.


Any ideas?

I am willing to consider any possibilities.

Thanks for any help.
Liz
 

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I don't know much about your particular breed, you know for any genetic problems, but my rabbits don't get any hay at all. The pellets are sufficient. Now one thing I do know is that if you have rabbits with diarrhea and you can give them some dried raspberry leaves, it will stop the diarrhea, and they love it! I went and got some raspberry leaves and put them on a cookie sheet in the oven (I have a gas stove) and left them there all day and overnight and the next day the leaves were dry and I took them out and gave about 5 or 6 to the rabbit with the diarrhea. I did that daily for about 3 days and the diarrhea was gone.

Have you changed your type of food? Might be something in the food that is different and could cause it. If you have changed your food you might want to back off of the hay, and slowly change the feed from your old type to the new type, say 1 part new to 3 parts old and then just slowly increase the new and decrease the old.

I don't know what else but I'll also be watching this thread for other ideas. Good luck!

Valorie
 

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Raspberry leaves are good, as are blackberry and strawberry leaves, but I feed them fresh if possible. Of course, the buns here are all well accustomed to green foods. There's a little plant called Shepherd's Purse that is even more effective. Feed above ground parts - just a handful or two - for a few days.

http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/weedguid/shepherd.htm

I am not convinced that the problem is that simple, however.

Are all your rabbits fed exactly the same way? What do you give them? Are the affected rabbits and the healthy ones in the same area or are they separated? Look for ANYTHING that is different. If the healthy rabbits are not already separated, I would certainly consider doing that until you get this sorted out.

Good luck and please let us know how you are getting on.
 

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My guess is some kind of enteritis. That hits young rabbits quickly. There's not much of a cure for an individual once an individual rabbit has it, but if you change out the pellets for hay and rolled oats it might stop new cases. Also the antibiotics is probably a good idea.

Scroll down half way for a discussion from a UK website on rabbit health.
http://www.aquavet.i12.com/Rabbit.htm

Here's another good one. It gives a very nice explanation of why rabbit digestion is different from other animals. Well worth reading.
http://www.fao.org/docrep/x5082e/X5082E0c.htm

Hope you don't see any more cases!

Jennifer
 

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Liz, I really hope the links Jennifer posted will be of help to you. I have only "sampled" the contents so far, but I see that 4 - 10 weeks is a danger area for young buns.

Jennifer, I can't thank you enough for posting those links. Although I have had virtually no problems with my rabbits, I am at the point where I am looking beyond the "how to raise rabbits" stage and I can benefit from articles of the sort you posted. Particularly as I transition them from a pellet diet to natural foods! I keep expecting some problem to arise - and it well could happen once they kindle - but so far they have never looked or acted healthier. Keeping my fingers crossed!
 

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Granted, my experience with rabbits is definitely limited, but I wonder how the temps are by you. Are you dealing with a lot of hot and/or humid weather? It's my understanding that certain breeds are more heat-tolerant than others...

I sure do wish you the best, and hope that you can find out what's going on with your rabbits.

Pony!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
HI, thanks to everyone who responded. I removed the food dishesand fed everyone raspberry leaves. I continued the course of antibiotics. So far there have bee no more deaths since the morning of my first post. As such I had nothing to bring into the vet for autopsy. So I will never know for sure what it was. But eveyone else is back to eating well and bouncing around the hutches.

As for the weather here: it has been overcast and humid for a few days with spot showers, but fairly cool 70-75. Only one day in the upper 80's.

Thanks again,
Liz

P.S. I did give back the feed when the raspberries were gone.
 

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I'm glad the rabbits are improving and that the raspberry leaves seemed to help. I feed them to mine regularly as part of their green feed (about 80% of their diet, the other 20% being grass hay and pellets). Raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, and plantain leaves are what I think of as regulators... They won't cause constipation but will help prevent or stop diarrhoea. Shepherd's purse is stronger, I think, and I feed it too, but only in small quantities about once a week. All these can be dried easily for winter use - just bundle and hang like herbs. Plantain leaves and strawberry leaves being smaller are easy to dry in onion sacks.
 

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STILL not Alice
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MaggieJ said:
I'm glad the rabbits are improving and that the raspberry leaves seemed to help. I feed them to mine regularly as part of their green feed (about 80% of their diet, the other 20% being grass hay and pellets). Raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, and plantain leaves are what I think of as regulators... They won't cause constipation but will help prevent or stop diarrhoea. Shepherd's purse is stronger, I think, and I feed it too, but only in small quantities about once a week. All these can be dried easily for winter use - just bundle and hang like herbs. Plantain leaves and strawberry leaves being smaller are easy to dry in onion sacks.

What about comfrey? Ever use it?

I have quite the comfrey patch growing alongside the compost bins. I've read that it's good for rabbits, but haven't read of anyone who's actually using it.

Pony!
 

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MaggieJ said:
Jennifer, I can't thank you enough for posting those links. Although I have had virtually no problems with my rabbits, I am at the point where I am looking beyond the "how to raise rabbits" stage and I can benefit from articles of the sort you posted. Particularly as I transition them from a pellet diet to natural foods! I keep expecting some problem to arise - and it well could happen once they kindle - but so far they have never looked or acted healthier. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Maggie, you're welcome. I'm amazed everytime I Google for something on rabbits how much information there is out there on them. It probably stems from the fact they are a laboratory animal as much as a food animal, so you get hits from everything on them.

I really liked that UN book/article on them. There was a lot of good reading in it. I downloaded that one as "available offline" in my favourites file.

Liz, I hope the buns are staying to the straight and narrow. :)

Jennifer
 
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