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Tough kits

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Tough kits

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Rabbitdog » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:44 pm


Let me preface this post by saying I don't have any animal rights tendencies nor even a mild case of "bambi syndrome". In fact, I'm usually angered when I see news stories that say everyone should remember to bring their pets inside at night due to severely low temps. I've always maintained that healthy and well fed outside animals do just fine in cold weather, as long as they are dry and have shelter.
On Saturday, one of my does kindled right on schedule. I had a good layer of bermuda grass hay in the drop box and she pulled a normal amount of fir. Unfortunately, the temps dropped to 1 or 2 below zero last night (we had about 8 inches of snow Friday/Saturday). I knew that they could handle lows in the teens while kindling but I really expected that I would lose this litter after seeing the temps this morning. Well, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. All kits are doing just dandy. Approximately a day and half from birth and below zero temps in a barn with no door (there is a single low wattage light and a radio on though) and the kits don't even know it. I'm quite certain that they were happier in those temps than kits that are born in late July!
I always tell people that wild rabbits (and deer, and skunks, and mice, and .....) do just fine in winter weather, even rain. Their bigger concerns are hawks and coyotes. Of course, those wild rabbits aren't delivering young in January either. However I bet my rabbits are eating much better than the wild ones this time of the year. Anyway, the point is simply that animals do quite well when we provide adequate food, water and shelter (and that doesn't have to be your heated porch/basement). ;)

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Rainey » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:53 pm


I agree with you about the rabbits being happier in the cold than in the heat. We don't breed for kindling in the mid-winter here in northern NY because it is easier for us to just carry breeding stock through the coldest months--fewer water dishes to cope with. And when we start breeding late winter, we breed the proven does first and the young ones a bit later because we're not sure if they'll figure out to kindle in the nest the first time around. (A doe that has a second litter on the wire is not a keeper) A reasonable size litter in a nest with a reasonable amount of fur generates a lot of heat and is comfortable in very cold temps.
Congratulations on your litter--sounds like that doe is a good mother.

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Rabbitdog » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:12 pm


Rainey wrote:... Congratulations on your litter--sounds like that doe is a good mother.


I used to avoid deep winter litters but now I try to keep my does in regular production (I've had some bad and very frustrating experiences with other does getting "off cycle" in the past). However, these commercial does from down South are unbelievable re: production, durability and growth rate.
Only negative is, they do sometimes get just a little on the cranky side. :x

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Ferra » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:27 pm


It can be pretty amazing what they can handle, huh?

I just had my first litter as a rabbit-raiser, with a young 4.5 month doe who basically bred herself. She's in the lowest cage and opened her own cage door while I was walking my buck. I decided not to stop her. I kinda figured she'd get a "practice litter" and probably lose it, for many reasons. After all, she's a young, first timer doe, kindling on the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) in the middle of a cold-snap in a sub-arctic climate. I was hopeful for kits, but not expecting many to live at all. She kindled a litter of 5. We got a brief break from the cold snap for the first day or two after she kindled, with it being only 7F (-14C) or so at the time. And then it dropped back down to -13F (-25F) for the next week of their lives. It's been bouncing around between -4F (-20C) and 7F (-15C) since...

I thought I'd have little bunsicles, but they're all alive, happy, and hoppy (when I bring them indoors for weighing anyhow: outdoors, they have no inclination to leave the nest box! Not that I blame them... I have little inclination to leave my house at those temperatures, either!). The little bunlets are just shy of the 3 week mark now.

They're tough little cookies, and there is one chinchilla kit in there that I'm really hoping is a doe: it's growing like a little weed! I also have it on good authority from a friend that it is also the softest, most fluffiest kit.


Although, my doe too has been a touch "cranky". My hand scratches are just finally starting to heal up!

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Rabbitdog » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:29 pm


Ferra wrote:... She kindled a litter of 5.

Although, my doe too has been a touch "cranky". My hand scratches are just finally starting to heal up!


Congrats on the 5 and welcome to my world of cranky!

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#6  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:08 pm


Ferra and I had does kindle on the same day!
My Ester had 9 live and I still have 9...... they are at the age now were they can almost get out of the nest box on their own and I have had to return a couple to the box after mom has pulled them out (attachment issues)

My Rabbitry is in an unheated horse barn.
The kits have been growing well and get more energetic than the summer kits.
Breeding Rabbits for Meat and Pelts...
Working towards a farm to raise animals with respect and care.

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Ferra » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:23 pm


SarniaTricia wrote: they are at the age now were they can almost get out of the nest box on their own


The blue kit with otter markings (#5) which a friend of mine has now nicknamed "Gandalf", proved the other day inside the house that s/he can get out of the nest box any time s/he wants. During some inside time, this kit proved it can climb 6" cardboard without issue. So given that none of my kits have left the box, I suspect they're exercising good judgement and staying where it is warm. Smart bun!

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Zass » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:41 pm


I've had kits out there in -20 f. There are conditions though. The rabbitry has to be relatively draft free, the bedding has to be plentiful and dry. The nestboxes have to be sturdy, and warm. I don't like metal or wire bottomed boxes during a cold snap. All wood please. The doe has to pull enough fur too.

Finally, I have to make sure no one gets pulled out of the box before they are old enough to find their way back in. I tend to bring my boxes in the first 10 days or so just to prevent that.

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Rabbitdog » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:08 pm


Zass wrote:I've had kits out there in -20 f. There are conditions though. The rabbitry has to be relatively draft free, the bedding has to be plentiful and dry. The nestboxes have to be sturdy, and warm. I don't like metal or wire bottomed boxes during a cold snap. All wood please. The doe has to pull enough fur too.

Finally, I have to make sure no one gets pulled out of the box before they are old enough to find their way back in. I tend to bring my boxes in the first 10 days or so just to prevent that.


Ditto that. My barn is not really draft free but they are completely sheltered from direct wind and of course, they are dry. Bermuda grass hay is absolutely the best for winter nesting and they've got plenty of it. Females all do their part very well re: fur pulliing. I can't say enough about these commercial genetics.
The benefit of drop down nest boxes is that it's just about impossible for kits to get out of the nest. They definitely never ride out holding onto a teat.

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Re: Tough kits

Post Number:#10  Unread postby bigfoot_158 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:36 am


I skipped breeding last summer. I was waiting for it to get cold. I got month old babies right now fresh out of the box. :)
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