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Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Addressing the special needs of the breeding doe and her kits. Includes nutrition, gestation, nest boxes and materials, and tips to ensure survival of the young.
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Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Jim S » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:59 pm


My rex doe (this is her first litter) has been picking up her three kits, and swinging them round. I can't find anything online about this kind of behaviour, and have separated her from the kits. I have a number of questions.

1. Has anybody come across similar behaviour before, and did it cease?

2. I have another doe, with a litter of nine, of the same age - these turn three weeks old tomorrow - is this too late to foster kits, and in any case, would it be advisable to do this, and create, in effect, a litter of twelve?

3. If fostering is not an option, everything I've read suggests that these kits are too young to wean, although they are eating solids - any advice?

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Re: Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby shazza » Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:54 pm


does should not be throwing kits around. gently discipline if needed, sure, but swinging is unacceptable behaviour. i feel like you did the right thing by separating them.

i have no experienced anything similar myself, but a friend of mind recently had a doe begin to eat all the ears off of her kits starting around four weeks old. they were weaned immediately, but their immune systems were so weak that the ones that didn't die to infection suffered from bloat/stasis and only two of the litter of nine are still alive. i recommend plenty of hay, probiotics, and not moving them or stressing them unduly until they're closer to eight weeks old.

i have fostered older kits before but it is hit or miss. i have one doe i can trust not to kill older babies (she'll box them a bit and wonder who they are, but by the end of the day they'll be integrated fine,) but i would be wary. if you try, keep and eye on them and try to minimize stress. it maybe easier to just keep the kits separate.
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Re: Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:27 pm


take the nest box and kits out of the cage, put them back in for an hour or two, each day to let her nurse,
- then take them back out again.- she is tired of them. Does she have a place to get away from them [IE a perch, or something like that??] If they are allowed to chase her, and try to nurse all the time, she may kill them.
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Re: Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Zass » Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:17 pm


I've never seen a doe do anything like that, and would consider the situation incredibly dangerous to the kits. I also agree you were right to separate them.

My experience is that if you let kits mingle away from a doe, and then return at feeding time, she won't even know who was hers originally and who wasn't. Unfortunately, I've also found that a lot of kits that age won't even try to nurse from a new dam. I agree with Michael that returning them to their dam just for feeding times would be ideal. Plenty of grass hay and oats can help ease weaning.

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Re: Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby ladysown » Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:22 pm


cull that doe. You don't need that kind of garbage going on. Even a frustrated doe should simple keep hopping away from her kits. Nastiness gets culled dead.

At three weeks those kits will be just fine. Seriously.
My rule of thumb... if I can get them to 17 days I have no problems saving them.
Milk (goats milk in a bowl) or if you want to measure feed.. use a pipette, oatmeal, hay, and pellets. That's all you need.
And the milk is VERY negotiable if they are drinking water. Go heavy on the oatmeal and hay, light on the pellets. add more pellets to the mix the older the kits get. If you have access to oat grass (or fresh spring grass) that works well too.

Best if you remove the doe rather than the kits. Leave them in their own cage. if you have a kind and patient five-six week old, add him/her to the bunch (I have the best success with young males). They'll be a stable heat source.
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Re: Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Jim S » Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:49 am


This behaviour was a one off (so far) and had abated, when I put the doe and the kits into a neutral environment.

My theory is that this developed from a mistake I made, namely, putting those kits in with another litter, whilst I cleaned the cage. I suspect that the scent from the other litter confused the doe. A night in the nest box seemed to have got enough of the familiar smell onto the kits that this ceased to be a problem for the doe, by the following day.

I'd like to thank you all for your valuable advice. :)

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Re: Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:34 am


we all make mistakes, .. lesson learned...
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Re: Aggressive behaviour from doe towards 3 week old kits?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby sarai » Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:20 pm


my bun did it with newborns and in the end she ate all of them :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

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