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Stillborn kits

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I have three English Lops rabbits(I thought they were a different breed originally).  I have one buck and two does, all in separate cages.  I introduced them to the male on different days but wasn't sure if they had gotten pregnant (first time breeding rabbits so it's a learning curve).  For the last few days I've been looking for signs of fur being plucked out for nesting so I could put in a nesting box.  Never saw any sign and all and started to figure that maybe they weren't pregnant.  I later learned to introduce them to the buck twice in the day about 8-10 hours a part and had only done it once for each doe.


Well my son called me on my cell this morning.  He went out to do the daily chores and noticed two stillborn bunnies on the wire in one of the cages.  We removed them both and I had him put in a nesting box.  I haven't heard of her delivering anything further yet. From what I'm reading on various sites is it isn't uncommon for a first kindle to have some/all still born.  However, I many have introduced them to the buck too early.  The buck is a year old but the does were 3-4 months old.  What I've seen recommended for English Lops are 9 months or 10lbs.  I haven't weighed them but the does are big and I'd say that if they aren't 10lbs they are very close.  


I had my son place a nesting box in the second does cage as day 31 would be this Sunday.  I figured it would be a good idea in case she is going to deliver.  


Feel badly about the two stillborn.  Don't know if it was my fault for breeding too soon (mistaking the breed) or if it was just unavoidable.


Thoughts and advice welcome.  Thank you. 

post #2 of 3

Most does, regardless of age or experience, don't pull fur until just before or just after kindling. If you were to look for fur pulling as an indicator that it is time to put the nest box in, 90+% of the time, you'd be too late. I have had a few does that pulled a few mouthfuls a day or so before, but that's not a reliable indicator. I had one Jersey Wooly that started pulling fur 10 days before kindling, and kept it up until the kits came (by which point she was almost completely naked) but she was an extreme case. All does are different; you can't be sure what any particular doe will do until she does it.


A week or so before she's due, most does will start nest-making activities. You may see them digging in a corner or carrying a mouthful of hay around. These are useful clues, because they will tell you what spot the doe has chosen for her nest, and give you an idea of where to put the box so (hopefully) she will be more likely to accept it and use it.


Does kindling on the wire happens a lot. Sometimes, it's hard to tell whether the babies were born alive or not. I have had babies that I know were born alive get pulled out of the nest box and die, apparently of hypothermia, when the temperatures were in the 60's; they rely on the shelter of the nest and shared warmth of their siblings pretty much until their eyes open (10 - 12 days). A confused and stressed-out mother may step on the babies, too, even in a nest box (I have had a few does that were so anxious that they were jumping in and out of the box and stepping on their kits; in such cases, I may remove the box or block the entrance to it to keep the doe out until she calms down). 


With most rabbit breeds, it is recommended that a doe be fully grown before she is bred, though there doesn't seem to be a consensus on at just what age that happens. With most smaller breeds, they say 6 months, though some of the larger breeds are still growing at that age. Some people start breeding meat rabbits well before 6 months, though such young does seem more prone to messing things up, there are enough successful litters born to such young mothers to justify it in the eyes of the breeders. 3 - 4 months is awfully young, even for one of the small breeds; a lot of does that age aren't even fertile yet. 


Good luck with the other doe

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the advice on the nesting box.  I will make sure that I add the box several days prior to day 31 to be on the safe side.  Thank you for the advice.  We'll see what happens with the other doe now.  Nesting box was put in yesterday so maybe things will go better.



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