Can I minimize chances of kit mortality in rabbits first litter?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by lpmorgens, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. lpmorgens

    lpmorgens New Egg

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    Mar 26, 2017
    Hi,
    We have a very small Netherland Dwarf doe that has been making a nest all day, likely to kindle in the next day or so.

    We are new to this and have been told that a does first little "usually" doesn't make it.

    I read a lot online about how to help when a kit is "stuck" during kindling (e.g., put doe in warm basin, apply mineral oil, feed raspberry leaves, etc.), but I didn't see anything that indicated there is anything I can do to facilitate the kindling preemptively.

    Is there? We really want to make sure our doe survives, and we would like to maximize the chances of her kits making it... especially, since the father, a beloved buck, passed away (2 weeks ago). It would be very special for his kits to survive.

    Thanks,
    Liana
     
  2. br0nc0

    br0nc0 Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, I breed Dutch belted rabbits, and I haven't had any issues with first litters. I don't do anything special, I feed them as usual, but I put a wooden box with a rabbit-size hole inside for them to make a nest somewhere secluded about a week before the date.

    I'm not familiar with the breed you have, apart from the fact that some carry the dwarf gene. All in all, as far as the doe feels safe and the buck wasn't too big (resulting in big babies which could get stuck), there *shouldn't* be any issues.
     
  3. lpmorgens

    lpmorgens New Egg

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    Mar 26, 2017
    Thanks. I hope it is the same for the Netherland Dwarfs. The breeder I got my doe from said the first litter usually doesn't make it. I'm prepared for that, but still want to do anything possible to minimize that outcome.
     
  4. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    If I have a litter due that it will just break my heart to lose, I do whatever I think will help to make sure the kits will still be alive when I get a chance to check on them. If the weather is likely to be cool, I put the nest box and the doe in a carrier, and put the carrier in my hall closet overnight - I call it my "maternity ward." I have had quite a few litters born in there.

    Generally speaking, though, a few days before a litter is due, I give the doe some hay and watch to see what she does with it. Hopefully, she carries it to her nest box and puts it in there. If she goes to a different corner and starts building a nest there, I move the nest box to that corner. Sometimes I wind up moving the box several times, but my hope is that if she puts the nest material where it belongs, she will also put the babies there when the time comes. If she refuses to use the box, I may put a board on the floor in the corner she insists on, and basically stuff the whole cage with hay, so there will be plenty of insulation to protect the kits from their mother's lack of understanding.

    If I find that a doe has kindled outside of her box, I take whatever nest material she has used, stuff it into the box, put whatever fur she has pulled on top of it, and place the babies in it. I then put the box in the corner when the doe nested. Usually, the doe will check it out, and find her family snug in the box. Almost all does lack the instinct to pic babies up and move them, so once in the box, the kits stay there unless they crawl out themselves or get dragged out.

    I'm sorry to hear that you lost your buck; hopefully your doe will do what she's supposed to and give you some adorable babies from him.[​IMG]
     
  5. lpmorgens

    lpmorgens New Egg

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    Mar 26, 2017
    Thanks! The cage is in my kitchen, and we knew the breeding took yesterday, when she began scooping up lots of hay in her mouth and transporting it... this happened while she was hopping around the kitchen... She decided to build the nest in a corner. We tried to get her to build it in the box in her cage, but she kept trying to bump the cage door open with her mouth full of hay, so to minimize her stress, we let her build it in that corner of our kitchen, so temp should not be a problem.

    I'm just worried about a kit getting stuck... I read that once that happens, its too late for the kit and the ones following...
     
  6. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    There really isn't anything that you can do to prevent stuck kits, but IME, it isn't normal sized kits that get stuck, it's the oversized ones. A healthy young doe with a normal litter for her breed (for a small Dwarf, that would be 2 - 4 kits) shouldn't be having oversized kits. Most of the time, the oversized kits are singletons, and there aren't any other kits behind them to worry about.[​IMG]
     
  7. lpmorgens

    lpmorgens New Egg

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    Mar 26, 2017
    Yeah!!! She had her kits! two of them, warm and wiggly. Good signs, right? Our doe made a nest and filled it with her own fur. She cleaned them and seemed to sit on the kits for just a few minutes, and then off she went... Is that normal? I felt them, and they are warm. I hate to be a nervous first time breeding mom, but I just want to make sure it is normal for the doe to leave the nest so soon. Thanks...
     
  8. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    Yay for warm and wiggly![​IMG]

    Normally, a doe will only nurse her kits for a few minutes, a couple of times per day (usually around dawn and dusk). A first-time mom may not have a whole lot of milk for the first couple of days, but as long as the kits are getting something, they should be OK. Newborn kits have nearly translucent skin; you should be able to see their stomachs as whitish blobs right in the middle of them. What you don't want to see is a slack, empty belly - that indicates that either the mother isn't feeding, or she has no milk at all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  9. lpmorgens

    lpmorgens New Egg

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    Mar 26, 2017
    Thanks so much!!! Feeling so much better!
     
  10. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    Congratulations on the litter! Hopefully the kits continue to do well.
     

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