What to do with runt?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by nuby, May 7, 2004.

  1. nuby

    nuby Active Member

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    Ok, our New Zealand had 14 kits, lost 2 and 12 are alive today (11 days old today) , but I just noticed a puny runt getting trampled by it's big brothers and sisters. I took it out and gave it about four dropperfuls of goats milk which it took. Never done this before. I thought I should not put it back because it might get killed by the older 11 or maybe the mom would reject it since I've handled it so much. SOOO, I thought maybe my kids could raise it? Do they just keep it in a box, feed it how many times a day? Is there anything I should add to the goat milk? How much to feed at a time? It's eyes are open, but it doesn't move much, probably weak and malnurished :( I'll look at the orphan bunny threads on this forum now ;)

    Any websites on this?
     
  2. mommabear

    mommabear Member

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    Keep in mind I am no expert but from personal experience, I let nature take its course, however 11 days old to me is a little different than a newborn or week-old. If they survive past a week or so, then I wonder, but whoever dies the first week I figure it is nature taking it's course. I will however foster it out to another doe, if I have a doe with less kits of approx same age give or take a few days.
    I would put it back, if you wish to suppliment giving it meals, so be it, but inbetween time I would think it needs the warmth of it's litter mates and nest box to keep it properly warm. Maybe others have a different opinion.
    If he is weaker and not able to push through stronger litter mates to get fed, there could be something wrong with him, yet it could just be that there are so many.
    Anyone here know the mortality rate of kits who people try to hand raise at this age?
    I've yet to have a mother reject a kit once I handled it, I don't know if this is the norm or just luck. But I would think it need the warmth and at least chance to get some of it's mothers milk in addition to suppliment feedings.
     

  3. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    Okay.. this is a hassle.. but you can remove the kits.... split the litter into two groups and return the a nest box (w/each group) once a day for nursing. OR..better.. bring the mom in to the nest boxes. Take her to one in the am.. the other in the pm.
     
  4. Michael Leferink

    Michael Leferink Well-Known Member

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    I think you've gotten some pretty good advise so far. The only thing I would add is to dribble a few pellets in the nest box every day. Our kits will start to nibble on hay and pellets at about 9 - 10 days days of age. Even if their eyes are not open. As they eat more and more pellets, they will need to nurse less and less. Most of our runts, catch up some as they get older. We have rarely lost kits once they pass 2 wks. of age. We've decided to cull does who have too many kits, as readily as we will cull those who have too few. How many kits born is not important. It's how many live to slaughter weight, that's important. One thing to think about, how many times do you let the buck make contact? I usually like to see 3 - 4 times, but if we are getting litters that are too large I'll pull the doe after the second contact. That's assuming, I see it.

    Good luck,

    Mike

    PS: The survival rate of hand raised kits is very low. It can and is done, but be prepared for a broken heart.
     
  5. nuby

    nuby Active Member

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    So, after the kit being away from mother for a day, should I take any precautions when returning it?
     
  6. mommabear

    mommabear Member

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    I have always washed my hands before handling a kit so I have no other animal or food smells. I would suggest taking some of the bedding already in the nest box which will have the mothers fur and gently rubbing it over the baby before returning it.
    Go ahead and give it a feeding once a day if it will and it makes you feel better, but find out from an experience breeder if goats milk is ok.
    I once just held the doe and let a runt nurse while mom was on my lap about once or twice a day for 2 or 3 days and it made a difference. Keep in mind all my rabbits are use to being handled though.
    It's hard, do what your heart leads you to do so if he doesn't make it you don't wonder..... What if I had??????
    If you suppliment it, wash your hands before you handle it and maybe try holding the doe on your lap and allowing this little guy to nurse with no competition for 10 or 15 mins once or twice a day.
    Best of luck.
    It is hard for us human to accept failure and death and simular such issues.
    We feel compelled to save everything and / or intervien, it just shows we have a heart. Sometimes we just need to let nature and the man upstairs have their way. But again I see no harm in suppliment feeding or trying to give this little one non competitive nursing time.
     
  7. nuby

    nuby Active Member

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    I'm now wondering if it's droppings will smell different to the mother, from the goats milk, makiing her reject it? I know experienced rabbit breeders who have raised kits on goats milk, but maybe this one will make it, since it has so far? Who knows, we'll see. I may do the vicks on the mother's nose as a precaution too.