Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Suburban Homesteading: February Rabbit Babies

We've had a lot going on in our little rabbitry. We had three litters born back in December. Unfortunately we lost quite a few of them After research and talking to other rabbit breeders I think that it has to do with their early and abrupt weaning. Their mothers decided at 4 weeks that they were done and were actually charging and snapping at the babies when they went to nurse. The "diagnoses" is called weaning enteritis. I made their diet partly pellets but mostly oats and hay. As long as that was their diet, they did well. If I increased the pellets in the ratio (thinking that they were old enough), we'd lose a baby or two. So, that's the diet they will have until they are old enough to process (next month). There was a pretty solid black baby doe that I was considering keeping. She loved to snuggle under my chin (picture below). We lost her one day when she decided to run up my shoulder and jump off. :'(

The mamas: Mopsy, Flopsy, Flora, and Beatrix

Since the babies had been weaned for awhile, I decided to rebreed the mamas in early January. We rotated the boys in the run for a few weeks. I was hoping for 4 litters since Flora was old enough to breed now. However, that didn't happen. On the evening of Feb. 11th Beatrix have birth to 8 kits. That night something spooked the animals. The mama rabbits, the chickens and the weaned rabbits took notice around 9:00pm. The chickens began making alert bawks (if you have chickens, you know this sound!) so I ran to the window. I saw them looking and bawking at the gate to the side yard. The weaned kits were standing at attention in the pen, also looking at the gate. The mamas were running around, standing at attention, looking at the gate and thumping their hind legs. I continued to keep watch while hubby got ready to go outside. I never saw anything and he didn't see anything once he got outside. Who knows what it was but it sure did frighten the animals. The next morning I found 5 more kits scattered around the run, obviously dead. I'm just assuming that they were Beatrix's but could have been Flora's or Flopsy's. We'll never really know b/c neither Flora nor Flopsy had a litter afterwards. Mopsy, however, did have a litter overnight on the 17th. She had 12 kits (1 of which was a stillborn). I couldn't believe she had so many! Unfortunately, I discovered the rest had passed 2 days later. My best guess is she abandoned them but don't know why. In this time we also lost 3 of Beatrix's. Good news is the remaining 5 are doings great. They are now 2 weeks old and have started opening their eyes!! The other 3 mamas have been rebreed and hopefully are due at the end of March.

Beatrix and her kits:


This is a sight I had not expected. Henrietta, our Easter Egger hen laid one of her pretty blue eggs in the nest with Beatrix's kits.

And I can't write a post about our rabbits and leave out our house rabbit, Thumper. He's a snuggler...who has taken to licking me. Strange rabbit!

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