Thursday, October 5, 2017

Rabbitry and Lessons Five Through Eleven

 Research taught me that in a commercial operation they loose about 40 percent of the offspring, mainly due to intestinal issues. That seems really high. There has to be a way around that and I began researching the causes of death in kittens. I'm still researching the subject but my efforts so far have resulted in an awesome success rate on the last two batches. Tweaking a day or two here and there on the plan is needed but I feel the formula is sound.

But let me back track to my story from the last post. I wrote down the day I bred Betty Boo but then couldn't find out where that was. The result was she gave birth to ten kittens on the bare wires. Oops!, caught her shortly after though and saved nine. Those went into the nesting box. (Keep in mind this is during the time we are dealing with four grandkids and trying to help a daughter struggling to work full time and fly to Tulsa to do chemotherapy which resulted in severe neuropothy challenges.

Lesson number five - Keep a record book just for rabbits with lessons learned and things tried along with dates. Also order those nifty metal cardholders that attach to the cages where you can keep how much to feed each rabbit in each cage and information like breeding dates and expected kindling dates. 

Lesson number six -- Make sure and gentle your mother rabbit to the point that you can cuddle her long before she kindles. That way she won't be upset if you handle her kittens. 

Lesson number seven -- Mother rabbits may not feed their young for the first day and even two until their milk comes in. 

Lesson number eight -- Put water in a bowl instead of the hanging waterers as the doe will drink far more aiding to bring in her milk.  They seem to prefer nice soft grass hay instead of pellets. The doe's tummy is tender and how can it not having given birth to so many?

Lesson number nine -- Rabbits nurse their young early morning and evening or night time. Betty Boo's favorite hour is seven a.m. and seven p.m.

Lesson number ten -- Handle the babies and check tummies morning and night. Especially on a first time mom. Move kittens with slimmer tummies to the middle of the pile. They get cold easier and this helps to ensure they receive adequate amount of milk the next feeding. In this fashion even the runt did well though he was not always the one who was the skinniest after he was in the middle position. He was just the least aggressive and therefore smaller. I even got to where I knew when Betty Boo was going to feed and I'd get in there just before so I could shift the little ones about.

The second time Betty Boo kindled nine. She is an awesome mamma. On the other hand she majorly questions my mothering skills. In early September, I'd cover the babies, afraid they might get cold, and she'd give me a disgusted look and run over and uncover them declaring them too hot. She of course knew best but I had to do it on occasion because it was just too funny!! No need the second time to shift babies around. She did the job of making sure each was fed just fine. I still check tummies. One can not be too careful and I want them use to being handled from the very beginning.

Lesson number eleven -- Comb fur on the other bunnies so you will have enough to give to the kittens if mom does not pull much of her own fur. This tidbit off the internet makes sense since Betty Boo barely pulled any hair with her first kindling since the weather was warm but in September that can change in a hurry. I set to work on the shedding bucks to cushion the nest and add warmth.

Lesson number twelve -- Soft grass hay or wood shavings makes great bedding. Just be aware that the doe may eat up part of the grass hay. I've bedded with both and done well. I just have to remember to add more hay if she gets the munchies.

 Now the nine bundles of fur from the second batch are twenty-seven days old and the first thing the kiddos run to after school. Yes, they have all made it so far. My kitten feeding plan is working and both batches of Betty Boo's have done extremely well but I see it needs tweaking by a day or two here and there. The record book has proven critical to my success. My kitten feeding program deserves a blog of its own but I need just a little more time to perfect it.  
They recommend for New Zealand or California Whites to be bred at five months for good fertility performance and Betty Boo's, Anna gave birth on October 3. She has five and I'm pleased since I only left her in with the buck for half a day. The babies are very active  but I'm still waiting for Anna's milk to fully come in. I can tell when it does because the amount of water she drinks goes way up. As long as the little ones are popping up like popcorn when touched I know they are getting some milk. As I thought about the five months of age breeding age it made sense to me since kidding a dairy goat for the first time is best when done as a yearling since  it increases the estrogen levels developing her physically and helps milk capacity in the future. Of course both the rabbit doe and the dairy goat doe need to be fed properly to reach their full size. I've never had a problem. Anna is no different as she is quite large like her mama.

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