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Hydrocephalus & Premature Birth

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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Hydrocephalus & Premature Birth

Post Number:#1  Unread postby SuiGeneris » Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:52 pm


My wife and I began raising meat rabbits back in August of 2017, starting with young rabbits that we raised to breeding age, and recently started breeding. We got two New Zealanders does (Mackenzie and Rose) from different breeders, and a Californian buck (Moose).

The first litter from Rosie had many issues - out of 9 kits, 1 was stillborn and 4 others died within a week. Close inspection of the dead kits revealed that they had all had hydrocephalus (swollen brains/heads), while those that survived did not. The survivors were otherwise healthy and reached butcher weight in 8-9 weeks. A little reading revealed that the hydrocephalus was likely due to one of two factors - genetics or Vitamin A deficiency. At this time we switched feed and started supplementing all our rabbits with vitamin A-rich foods (small amount of sweet potato or carrot) a few times each week.

Next, Mackenzie gave birth to a good sized litter (10), all healthy, although we did loose a few due to new-mom & cold weather issues. Right now she's sharing her cage with 8 3-week old bunnies. Because Mac is from a different breeder we still didn't know if we had a food issue or a genetics issue with Rosie.

Last week Rosie gave birth to her second litter; this time 11 kits. One was born ~18 hours prior to the other 10, and was still-born. We had not heard, nor did we find, any info on this happening. The next day she gave birth to the other 10. Nine currently live and are growing well (no hydrocephalus); the second one we lost was our fault - our cat grabbed it while we were weighing & checking the kits. The good news is that our initial problem with hydrocephalus was probably dietary, but we're unsure what to make of the premature birth of the one kit. One other thing that stood out about Rosies 2nd pregnancy is that she all but stopped eating and drinking in the last week, and then resumed normal eating/drinking within a day of giving birth to the full litter.

What I was wondering is if anyone knows what is going on with Rosie - especially in regards to that one kit that was stillborn a day early.

Thanks

Bryan

EDIT: I have a photo of the hydrocephalus somewhere; I'll see if I can dig it up & append it to this thread

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Re: Hydrocephalus & Premature Birth

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Nymphadora » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:52 pm


Hi SuiGeneris!

Welcome to RabbitTalk! :welcome: :welcomewagon:

I haven't personally experienced what you’re going through with Rosie, but I'm still relatively new to breeding, as well. I have seen others post about does that deliver kits over the course of a day or two, instead of all at once, though. The causes can range from the mom getting spooked by something mid-delivery, to having a stuck kit that ends up holding others back, or sometimes I’ve noticed there doesn’t seem to be a cause at all.

With that said, it’s also fair to note that some losses are to be expected in the long run of raising rabbits. One of our does, for example, doesn’t do well with large litters. So we have to make sure that she’s bred at the same time as another doe so we can foster any “extra” kits. Otherwise we would lose them. Maybe something was just developmentally wrong with the still-born kit that Rosie had? I wouldn’t count this second litter against her, if the rest of the babies are doing well and she’s taking care of them.

The lack of appetite a few days before delivery is also pretty normal from what I’ve read and experienced. Two of our girls pretty much don’t eat anything the day before they deliver, that’s how I know we’re close! If you’re worried about the water, maybe offer a little block of Himalayan salt (or a mineral block), it may motivate them to drink more.

Best of luck! :)
Nymph

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Re: Hydrocephalus & Premature Birth

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Zass » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:33 pm


It is not uncommon for a rabbit to have a healthy litter after passing one or more stillborn kits.
It's also not unheard of for a doe to pass stillborns up to several weeks after a kindling. :shrug: They like to keep us on our toes.

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Re: Hydrocephalus & Premature Birth

Post Number:#4  Unread postby SuiGeneris » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:29 am


I'm glad to hear that the stillborn kit being born early is "normal". Rosie is an excellent rabbit - friendly, good mom, loves to be handled, etc. We don't want to replace her, and it sounds like there is no need to.

Thanks for the info

B

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Re: Hydrocephalus & Premature Birth

Post Number:#5  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:40 am


when she was bred --was she bred on more than one day [IE multiple breeding's over a two day time period]???
meat-mutt rabbits, a few laying hens.

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Re: Hydrocephalus & Premature Birth

Post Number:#6  Unread postby SuiGeneris » Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:12 pm


No, Moose had 4 fall-offs during Rosies last breeding, but all within ~4 hours.

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