Rabbits***What to expect when your expecting!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by WinterChicks, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. WinterChicks

    WinterChicks Chirping

    Jan 7, 2015
    Shawnee, Ohio
    Hey all!

    So the doe I got is possibly pregnant.
    What are anyones tips..or anything about breeding/babies/pregnancy/birth?

    My specific question is how can I tell if she is pregnant? She is 2 weeks along about if she is pregnant

    ~This thread is open for anyone else's questions about this stuff~

    ~Even if you just have something you think would be helpful PLEASE POST IT!~
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    I've only been keeping rabbits since March 2014, but in that time I've gained a lot of experience and have raised two litters of rabbits (with another on the way). Here is some information and tips:

    • Caring for pregnant rabbits isn't any different than caring for a non-pregnant rabbit, really. I feed my does their normal portion of feed until they give birth. At that point, I free-feed them, until the litter is weaned. Do be gentler with a doe that may be pregnant, however, so no rough handling.
    • One method to determining pregnancy in rabbits is palpating. With practice, it works. With that said, I've never been able to do so successfully. If you want to try, here's a link on it: https://www.arba.net/PDFs/palpation.pdf Other than that, you'll notice very few changes in a pregnant rabbit, until a couple days before giving birth (called "kindling").
    • You'll need to give her a nest box approximately 28 days after breeding. Rabbit gestation period is normally 31, but can go as long as 35 days or sometimes as short as 28 days (my two does kindling on day 32). You can buy a nest box, or you can make your own. If you search for nest box designs, you should find information on how to make one or where to get one.
    • When you give her a nest box, first put in a couple inches of pine wood shavings. You an also put in some timothy hay. Provide the doe with a pile of hay as well. If she's pregnant, she should start creating a nest in the box. This is a very good sign that she is pregnant. However, do keep in mind that some does make nest days before kindling, and others wait until a couple minutes before it.
    • Starting at two days or so before kindling, I've found that I can feel the babies inside the doe simply by putting my hands beneath her, towards the lower abdomen area. If you just gently press upward, you'll likely feel small kicks against your hands.
    • I've also read that does will go off their feed a day or so before kindling. This didn't really hold true for my does, however.
    • A doe will pull fur anywhere from several days before kindling to right after she kindles. My two does pulled fur a couple of minutes before they gave birth. Most rabbits will pull enough fur, but some won't (I had no troubles). If they don't pull enough to cover the kits, you can pull some more out of the doe from the chest and back.
    • Litter size varies from breed to breed, and from doe to doe. One of my rabbits had 7 kits, and the other had 3.
    • Be prepared for some still births or dead kits. First time mothers aren't always the greatest. With that said, my does were very good mothers. My first doe that kindled had 7 kits, 2 of which were stillborn (she actually had those two stillborn kits a couple of hours after she had the other 5). My other doe's 3 kits all lived.
    • Also keep in mind that some mothers don't have their kits in the right place. Some does won't have their kits in the nest box. This is often a beginner's mistake, and the doe may be better the next time.
    • You can take a look at the kits right after kindling. It is a common misconception that if you handle the kits, the mother will abandon them. It isn't true. Just distract the mother with a treat or some food and gently move the fur off of the kits. Count them quickly, remove any stillborns, and leave them be. My does were not aggressive with me, though some occasionally are. They shouldn't mind you looking at their kits.
    • Check to make sure that the kits are being fed every couple of days. Remove a kit from the nest box in the morning and look at it's stomach. The kit should be very round, with only a few wrinkles. Be prepared for some kits to grow faster than the others, and for some to be runts.
    • Keep in mind that mother rabbits only feed their kits once or twice a day, for only a couple of minutes at a time. They usually feed early in the morning and in the evening. You may never see the mother feeding them. I've only seen my does feeding their kits once.
    • Kits will probably start coming out of the nest box at a couple of weeks old. Encourage them to nibble on hay and pellets by giving them a low dish of pellets and a pile of hay. The sooner they start eating solid food, the better.
    • The kits will annoy the mother greatly when they start coming out! They'll try to suckle mid-day snacks from her and climb all over her. My does got really tired of their kits and were very glad when the kits were weaned!
    • In most cases, you can wean the kits at 5 weeks or so, or whenever you stop noticing them feeding from the doe. I weaned my two litters at about 4.5 weeks old. Just remove them from the mother. Some people suggest removing a couple kits at a time so that her milk supply slowly dwindles and dries up, but other sources say to just remove them all at once. I removed all the kits at once and had absolutely no problems. When you remove the kits, stop feeding the mother free-choice. Go back to her original rations before she had the litter.
    • If you're interested in breeding rabbits, keep in mind that for optimal production, you should re-breed a doe soon after she has her kits. Many breeders or meat producers re-breed does when their litter is two weeks old or so. They then wean the kits at four weeks, and the mother has two weeks to recover completely before her next litter. I didn't do this, however. I'm not interested in breeding my does for maximum litters per year. I'm happy with just a couple.

    I hope all of this helps! It may sound complicated, but in reality rabbits are easy creatures to breed and care for.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  3. WinterChicks

    WinterChicks Chirping

    Jan 7, 2015
    Shawnee, Ohio
    Thanks for the tips! They are very helpful for me and hopefully others!

    Comone guys! Post some moree!!
  4. ShadyGroveFarm1

    ShadyGroveFarm1 Chirping

    Jul 25, 2014
    SW Virginia
    I'm subscribing to this thread. Might post some more tips when I can ^-^

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