Sad day here. Keep thinking I should of done something!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by bossynbella, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. bossynbella

    bossynbella Songster

    Aug 11, 2007
    Some of you know we have been having some major issues with our rabbit litters. This is our first time trying in the winter, and I think it will be the last. Everyone told me it was "easier on the does" well it might be, but I don't think so, and I don't think it is easier on me either!

    Today I found the 7 kits I left with my Mini lop doe Ninja dead, They where curled up in the nestbox like usual, it even looked like she had added more hair, but they where all cold and dead. They where born on Saturday the 21st, and had finally gotten some fur and started looking like baby bunnies. She had 11 to start with, I should of removed a few the first day and fostered them to someone else, but my mini rex had three peanuts I was waiting to die, then my other mini lop flipped her nest and I lost a baby and had to bring the rest inside where I now have to take her to them twice a day to feed them. So on thursday I pulled four of Ninja's babies, they where obviously not geting enough to eat (she is not the best milk producer with her usual 7-8, much less for 11!). I gave three of them to the Mini rex doe, who had one kit of her own (only one not a peanut in the litter) and one of the other Mini lop doe's (Eva). I then put one more in with the ones Eva is feeding. So she had 7, Ninja had 7 and Jane (MR) had 5. I went out and checked the rabbits at 10 last night and the kits where warm and alive. When I went out to do chores around 10:30 this morning they where dead and cold.
    So sad. Wish I would of pulled them all in. But that would of been to many for either of those does, and my husband would of killed me if I had brought another rabbit inside. With two does in here now, and two litters of babies. I wish I would of put a couple more with my satin doe, but I don't even know how many she has (I just put my hand in every day to make sure all are alive and warm, I know there are quite a few though). I know these things happen, I just hate it.
    Seven cute little bunnies died and I could of done something to prevent it. Nope no more winter litters for me. Unless I get a heated barn.

    Sorry this is so long, thanks for listening!

  2. Gatorpit

    Gatorpit In the Brooder

    Jan 24, 2012
    Oh man! that sucks. :(

    Maybe it *is* easier on the does being bred in the winter, (I have no idea...don't know much about breeding rabbits in particular, but DO have lots of experience raising orphans of nearly every imaginable species, including a few wild rabbits) but I can't see at all how winter birthing could possibly be better for the kits, givin a rabbit's baby-care behaviours. Unless it's a super-well insulated nest box (even then, I can't see it working well unless the hutches were in shelter, like in a barn or something), the babies would get chilled in the winter since the does don't stay with them to keep them warm. I wouldn't think that any amount of doe fur bedding would have made too much difference, as neonate mammals have no ability to regulate their own body temperatures, they usually need warmth from an outside source for the first couple of weeks, especially those mammals born without hair.

    In the spring or summer the air temps would be warm enough that a baby mammal wouldn't require any other heat source to maintain a safe body temperature, not so in the chill of winter. If it's 20 degrees outside, even with a nice fur bed, a regular (1-layer plywood enclosed nest box with an opening just large enough for mom to get in/out) *might* be 10-20 degrees warmer than the air outside. At the most, this gives a temp. of 40 degrees in the box. That's waaay too cold for a neonate mammal that can't regulate it's own body temp. (especially one without any hair) Most rabbit nest boxes I've seen are completely open on the top, high walled in the back, low walled in the front, with tapering sides (low front high back). This style would offer exactly 0 protection from the cold air.

    As for the does tipping their boxes, is there any way to secure your nest boxes to the cage to prevent them from being knocked about?

    Here's some examples I've found on how others have kept winter babies warm, everything seems to back up the idea that rabbit kits (like other baby mammals) *do* require additional heat if born in the winter:

    These rabbits are already kept inside a barn, and they prevent infant freezing with heat lamps and space heaters.

    Our only problem in the winter is popsicle babies, we usually hook heat lamps up and put on oil filled safe heaters (if they are knocked over somehow, very hard to do since they have wheels and are heavy) they automatically shut off.

    This guy provides well insulated nest boxes for birthing, then takes the boxes full of kits indoors, and brings them out (in their well insulated boxes) just long enough for moms to feed.


    Another source suggesting babies require additional heat provided by either a heater, a heat lamp, or by bringing the nest boxes inside.

  3. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Songster

    Jul 9, 2011
    Northern Wisconsin
    We actually never do winter kits because of the unlikely hood of survival, earliest is april. We did have a litter on accident due to my newphew's over curiosity last year! It was early feb and negatives here when I walked out and found a litter! My husband refuses to allow any of the outside animals in so I had to quickly set up a rabbit "brooder" I took mom and babies out of orginal cage/ took the nest box, placed them all in our chicken brooder ( we put our broody hens in it, its a large wire cage that is connected to a large enclosed (but for a small opening in the front) wood box, the box has a cut on top for the heat source which in the winter is a heat lamp. It worked great! I put a lot of hay and they all made it fine even when it dropped down to -20! However one of my broodys ended up in the house with 5 chicks that month due to the weather and not able to put them anywhere else! LOL let's just say the husband wasn't pleased with that at all, so no more bunnies in the winter!

    I am truly sorry, its always hard to lose anything.
  4. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    I am so sorry to hear that you lost the litter. It's hard to lose babies for any reason, but to feel like it was preventable is just sickening, isn't it?
    This is why I learned to "kitnap" my baby bunnies. I got to the point that I felt like, "if I see one more dead litter, I'm gonna scream!" [​IMG]

    I knew people who brought their nest boxes inside, but I was worried about the does' possible reaction and rejection of the litter. But between losing them to the doe, or losing them to the cold, what had I to lose? So now, my bunnies spend the winter nights (and sometimes, cold days) in my hall closet, snug and warm in their nest boxes. I take them to the does for the morning feedings, and maybe in the evenings (some of my girls will only feed once per day). My does deal surprisingly well with all the disruption - I have had exactly one doe reject her litter because of my interference, in more than 15 years of doing it this way.

    I know, there are lots of people who live in far colder climates than I do, that never lose litters to cold. All I can say is, more power to them! It didn't work for me, and when that's the case, you learn to do what you have to do.
  5. bossynbella

    bossynbella Songster

    Aug 11, 2007
    Though I know that the cold had something to do with loosing them I don't think it was entirely to blame. My satins kits are still alive and doing well. I should of brought them in and taken them out but its hard to do here because of a couple things. One the size of the nest boxes means I would have to carry each one in and out individually, our gate that leads out of the fence that goes around the house to keep our beagle in has to be hooked with three latches up and down the side of it to keep her from nosing it open, so most of the time we just climb over the corner of the fence where we have a couple cement blocks on each side so short me can step up and over. This is easy with a jug of water in your hand. Much harder with one much less two nest boxes and the one day I did it I was terrified I would drop one of the boxes. Then the door to the garage where the rabbits are in the winter is a heavy wooden door that slides to the side, I have to use both hands to open it so I have to set the box on the cold snow/ground to open it, and again on the way back in. Right now my plan for any future winter litters is to either set them up in the entry way (we heat it with a radiator type heater for the dogs). Or in the basement, which is probably in the 40's -50's and I could easily put a heater down there near them.

    Something to plan for next winter anyway.

  6. aprille218

    aprille218 Songster

    May 1, 2009
    northern MN
    I live in Northern MN and used to raise mini lops for show for many years. Since my rabbit barn was insulated but not heated I avoided having any lop litters in the winter. Cold weather causes ears to be shorter which in lops can be an issue if they don't lop over correctly. Cold weather also makes the color on siamese or pointed colored rabbits muddy. If you do litters in winter how about just moving the kits and leaving the nest box. When I did Netherland Dwarf litters they were born when it was colder (even shorter ears) and I just brought them back and forth in a tote bag/ purse to the mom morning and night. It worked fine.

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