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Nightmarish Doe

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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Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#1  Unread postby tarheel506 » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:45 pm


I wasn't sure if this would fit best here or under behavior issues...let me know if I should move it! Sorry, it's a little long...

I kept 2 does from a litter last year from a good doe that usually has good younguns. One is fine, the other has given me some trouble. She's always been pretty skittish, and with her first litter I had some issues. She had 8 healthy kits, in the box, but at the front and not covered by the actual nest. It was -9F that night, so I found 8 little icicles. I still can't believe I was able to warm them all up and bring them back around. Had it not been so cold it probably wouldn't have been an issue at all, and it was her first litter (and she took good care of them after that) so I thought she may do better with a second litter. Then, I had issues with her lunging at me when I would try to check the box, and had decided she was going to freezer camp once they were weaned. But then, she seemed to mellow after they were weaned, and I decided to try to breed her again and see if her behavior would improve. My first red flag was that she lunged at me after I placed her back in her cage after breeding.

She had her second litter very early this morning (in the nest, yay). She was still cleaning herself up when I was doing morning feeding, so I didn't bother the box. I did pull the box later in the afternoon, but she was lunging at me again. I finally got the box out, and found six great looking kits. Replaced the box, and let her be. When I returned for evening feeding, I noticed a small, dark blob just to the side of the box at the back of the cage. I *feel like* I would have noticed this earlier in the day when I pulled the box, but I suppose there is a chance I did not. I thought it was a tiny, underdeveloped stillborn, but when I retrieved it it was the head and mutilated upper body of a kit. It was hard to judge if the head appeared normal, or possibly from a stillborn that she may have chewed on while eating the afterbirth?

My gut is telling me that this is not the case, and she has eaten one of her kits. I honestly didn't have the time or the nerve to try to wrangle the box back out and see if there were still 6 kits in there, but I will in the morning. I've never dealt with this before, so I'm basically trying to decide...if I find 5 kits in the morning, how should I hedge my bets? Will the remaining 5 be best off with mom hoping she won't kill anymore of them, or should I pull them and try hand feeding (which I have never had much luck with unless they are still getting at least a little bit from mom). Regardless, this doe is done. I just want to try to have the best outcome for the kits.

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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#2  Unread postby SableSteel » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:03 pm


It's not unusual for a doe to be angry after breeding

Nor is it unusual for them to eat dead kits. If a kit dies or is born dead, the mother may eat it (leaving dead kits around is a quick way to attract predators or bring disease into the nest). Unless you physically saw her killing a kit, the chances are, by far, that something else killed the kit, and she was just cleaning it up. Give her a chance.
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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#3  Unread postby ladysown » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:17 am


she's actually being a good doe. Protecting her kits, cleaning up the mess.

BUT sometimes human owners are not comfortable with good protective momma rabbits in which case...

You either have to

1. remove her from your herd.
2. develop an awareness that she's not a bad doe, you just might not be a good fit
3. breed for what you want. if you don't want protective does...then breed against that trait.
4. change your mental attitude toward her.
Last edited by ladysown on Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#4  Unread postby macksmom98 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:31 am


This sounds like normal momma behavior, most of ours act like this. I agree with what ladysown said....

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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#5  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:58 am


I can really empathise with this.... I had exactly the same doe....

everything you have had happen, happened to me during her first breeding....
Tossed her back with a buck for her second breeding and she turned into a demon again!! (she got nick named VIPER)

I had her SOLD or she would currently be in my freezer.... She bit me good and if I hadn't have had on a thick sweater; I may have needed to goto the hospital... she bit my hard on the inside of my wrist!! ....

I warned the new owner that she can be a pill.... I honestly believe she may have serious issues with smaller cages, because she only acted up in the 24x24 cages... the 30x24 and 36x24 she was a sweety....

Personally, I don't like the violence... I bribe new moms with a top dressing (boss, oats etc) and that usually straightens them up with any aggression.
If a top dressing on the feed doesn't sweeten her mood to you.... assess her current litter for a replacement
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tarheel506

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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#6  Unread postby tarheel506 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:03 pm


SableSteel wrote:It's not unusual for a doe to be angry after breeding


I haven't run into this before, so it's good to know it may be normal.

I did get the box back out today, and all six original kits were okay. The one I found chewed up must have been DOA...I'm not sure how I didn't see it when I was first in there, but there ya go. I don't really trust this doe to begin with, so I assumed the worst.

I'm glad all the kits are okay, and I'm fine with does that want to check out what I'm doing with their kits, but like SarniaTricia said, having to dodge scratches and bites all the time is different. She did land a bite today, but I was wearing heavy gloves that kept it from breaking skin. I'm going to continue to try distracting her with tasty treats...hasn't worked so far, but maybe she'll figure it out...but unless there's a huge change with this litter, I won't be keeping her around.

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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#7  Unread postby shazza » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:55 pm


i have a doe that was like that when i bought her. having a litter drastically mellowed her out. she was terror up until her kits weaned then she calmed down. she still isn't friendly but instead of lunging at me teeth first when i put my hands in her cage she instead runs to the back corner and stomps. i'll take it.

i agree with sarniatricia, if she doesn't mellow out after you wean her kits i would pick the nicest doe kit to replace her. it's not fun dreading needing to open that cage. i may have kevlar gloves but that doesn't mean i want to have to put them on ;P even i am looking at my grumpy doe's offspring to replace her soon...even though she's better she is still not what i want in my rabbits, y'know? i want all of them to be friendly, people like friendly rabbits.
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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#8  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:48 am


I had an opportunity to talk with the lady that purchased my meat mutt line.... she had some serious scratches from the VIPER... but no bites yet...

She does love Little Red Riding Hood.... the sweetest doe I have ever had... she doesn't want your food or water... she wants you to pet her and rub that spot between her ears and kiss her head.... :( so sad she isn't in my barn any more, but I know Heather will take good care of her.

I currently have a doe that was sent over for a test breeding and she started out aggressive, but after going after me when I was holding a cup of water a few times she stopped (might have gotten tired of getting soaked)... she is now a sweety.. don't loose hope... make sure she isn't uncomfortable from something environment.
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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#9  Unread postby tarheel506 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:53 pm


Holding a cup of water is an interesting idea...kind of like using a squirt bottle with a cat I guess :)

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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#10  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:58 am


tarheel506 wrote:Holding a cup of water is an interesting idea...kind of like using a squirt bottle with a cat I guess :)


YUP! she was a boxer, not a biter... I think that is the difference between cull and work with her....
She's sweet now... was giving her a little extra attention this morning... she is enjoying being pet and pampered (she has a litter, so she also gets treats in the form of high calorie top dressing)
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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Lowstorm » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:47 pm


My nightmare ended up in the freezer, but she had more strikes than just aggression. If she was just aggressive I would have dealt with it by wearing my winter boots (colony group) but the lack of kit care was the last strike. So if she only raises a few kits I'd camp or sell her. Mine had huge litters but out of 30 kits only 6 made it to weaning, including ones my flemish raised

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Re: Nightmarish Doe

Post Number:#12  Unread postby SixGun » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:06 pm


One of the best looking does in my herd, a grand champion, turns into a nightmare about two weeks prior to kindling until about 2 weeks after they've been born. I check the nest box with oven mitts on. I've considered switching to welding gloves. Because yes, she bites... but, now that they're almost 6 weeks old, she could care less, although I do see her eye-balling me sometimes. But, I'm a very involved herds-woman. Those kits get counted and checked immediately, and I do 30 to 60 min mom checks from day 29 of gestation on. And they get handled twice a day. So these kits don't get a chance to not be handled, and these does, get annoyed. If we can work it out, we will. I have noticed that until she started calming down, the kits stayed apprehensive when I came in, but now that she doesn't care, they run to the front of the pen. So all in all, it will work out.

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