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Tips for Handraising 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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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#31  Unread postby Miss M » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:59 pm


KaceyP79 wrote:I have a little one that is falling a little behind and I was going to start supplementing between feedings. But I can't find the evaporated goats milk in my area, what else can I use? The only thing I could find is puppy formula at Walmart, and they had goats milk in the refrigerator section along with reg. cows milk.

You can use the goat's milk in the refrigerator section. It just won't be as nutrient-dense.

Maybe check with the evaporated milk (should be on the baking supplies aisle) one more time, just to be sure they don't have it. It can be easy to miss. The evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and powdered milk should all be together there.

Puppy formula is probably made from cow's milk. I would not use it or any other formula based on cow's milk, as cow's milk can cause fatal diarrhea in baby rabbits. They can't process it very well.

You will find members who have successfully raised kits on kitten milk replacer (kitten formula), but the risk of diarrhea is just too great for me to take the chance unless nothing else is available.

Good luck with your little! :)
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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#32  Unread postby Preitler » Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:38 pm


I don't know if every Walmart has the same stuff, but the canned evaporated goat milk I have is from there.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Meyenberg-Eva ... z/12018583
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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#33  Unread postby Miss M » Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:16 am


Preitler wrote:I don't know if every Walmart has the same stuff, but the canned evaporated goat milk I have is from there.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Meyenberg-Eva ... z/12018583

Yep, that's what I get. :)
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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#34  Unread postby Nika » Sat Nov 14, 2015 1:50 pm


I have a litter without mother taking care of them, how can I supplement cecotropes? My other rabbits eat them straight from their behind, so I can`t just gather cecotropes around..

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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#35  Unread postby Miss M » Sat Nov 14, 2015 6:04 pm


Nika wrote:I have a litter without mother taking care of them, how can I supplement cecotropes? My other rabbits eat them straight from their behind, so I can`t just gather cecotropes around..

While cecotropes would be more helpful, you can actually use the regular feces as well. Most does will put a few into the nestbox for the kits to nibble on, and you can collect some and make them available to the kits.
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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#36  Unread postby Stephanie » Fri Dec 11, 2015 2:42 pm


I had a young doe, who I was convinced had not gotten pregnant, birth very early this morning. Being certain that the breeding last month was a failure, I hadn't been watching her very closely. I got up about 8:30 or 9 and went out to feed and water them all when I found kits all over the cage. They were all cold, and appeared dead. But, I gathered them all up and took them inside to warm them in hopes that they hadn't yet died. There were 6 kits. 3 started moving, but after an hour or so, only one was still alive. So, out of a litter of 6, I had one left. I quickly logged in here to see if I could find anything posted that might help, when I ran across this thread. After a quick online search, I found several stores in my area that carried evaporated goat's milk. The easiest one to go to was Walmart. When I got there, they had the canned evaporated milk, but they also had whole powdered goat's milk. I figured there would be much less of a storage issue with powdered over canned, so I got that, and just mixed it a bit stronger than the label indicated. I added the egg yolk and syrup and tried it on the kit. He balked a little at the glass dropper, but when I wet his lips with the formula he perked right up. He still hasn't quite yet developed much interest in the dropper itself, but I have managed to get some into him. I got him to pee, and he is defecating on his own.
This is my first litter. It was devastating to lose so many, but at least I did get one. I'll be working tomorrow to try and get the mother to nurse him. She seems completely disinterested. But, this being her first, I'm hoping it's just inexperience. She's still outside in her cage, but I have the kit inside, warm and sleeping atm.
Lesson learned: Don't give up too easily on a doe. Things aren't necessarily as they might appear.

-- Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:42 pm --

Well, my single kit didn't make it. I was getting hopeful that he would after his eyes opened yesterday. But, he died this morning. I suspect formula inhalation was the cause. He was a bit excited at his feeding Thursday evening and I let him have it too quickly. I saw a drop come out his nose and then he sneezed repeatedly and shook his head. Early this morning, he was still alive, but nowhere near as lively. When I got home from work, he was dead. It bugs me that my lessons come at their expense.

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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#37  Unread postby Joey0246 » Sun May 08, 2016 5:54 pm


Shara wrote:I recently had an enlightening experience with a litter. My NZ doe kindled nine days ago. I have an indoor colony, and one of my does killed off my NZ's first litter. She attacked them again, the second litter, and I removed the five surviving kits. I brought my NZ and the kits into the house in the hopes that she would rear them with no issues, now that she was out of that setting. What happened instead, was that she abandoned them. I tried for a day to get her to take them, and she wouldn't.

So I decided to try and raise the litter myself.

Tip #1: Keep those babies warm! A litter full may be able to do it themselves, but check and make sure they are warm to the touch. When mine began dying, the first symptom I noticed was that they could not stay warm. Keeping them warm did not keep them alive, but it is something to look for.

Tip #2: If you can, get a rabbit to feed those kits. Even if you have to flip a doe, the rates of survival in kits fed a formula is abysmal. The milk has everything they need, in the proportions they need it, and has a perfect delivery system. There is no chance that a kit will aspirate if it is nursing, but the risk is pretty high if you are trying to feed it yourself.

If mom dies and you have no other lactating does, or baby just isn't getting what it needs from mom, I found this homemade rabbit formula recipe, which claims better success than KMR. My kit wouldn't take it, so I have no idea how well it works, but there are rabbit raisers who have used it and the kits survived, although they showed signs of having been malnourished as adults. I can't find the link right now, but here is the recipe:

Rabbit Formula Recipe

1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup water
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon corn syrup

Mix well, heat to body temp. Feed the formula slowly, as rabbits can aspirate easily. DO NOT force the food in their mouths. If they breathe it in, they will likely get pneumonia and die within a few days.

I did not have a dropper, and still had mom, so I decided to flip mom and allow her kits to nurse.

Tip #3: ALWAYS remember to potty your kits. I didn't realize this was needed, and on day three, four of the five kits died. The remaining kit I was careful to always potty, but it didn't always go, and I believe that was a sign of the kit not getting enough milk. Once the rest of the litter died, I had a much harder time getting milk into the baby, and believe it was a combination of factors, stemming from the fact that the rest were gone.

It is very easy to potty your kits, although it can be frustrating. All you need is warm water, a cotton ball (I just used soft fabric) and to rub the baby's genitals and lower belly gently until they pee. Be caerful! It comes out in a LONG stream. And it doesn't smell pretty either. I never was able to get my kit to poo, but when I watched him, I noticed he was pooing on his own.

Tip #4: I had better success getting my lonely only to feed if I was irritating and annoying him. There will be a video of the process I used. Basically, I tried to simulate a litter full of bunnies kicking and squirming for a nipple. It did seem to make him suck harder and get more milk than he had been.



The morning of day nine, I awoke to a chilled baby, when he had been doing fine with the fur in his nest. I warmed him up and tried to get food into him, but he would not nurse. I put him out of his misery. Sadly, I think that I didn't start the body stimulation early enough, and think that if I had done that from the beginning, he would have been more likely to not have gotten thin in the first place, as once he got thin, he never seemed to have enough strength to nurse until he had a full tummy. His life was short and sad, but it is my hope that my experience can help others who find themselves with a baby to care for.

I would appreciate any other tips and tricks others may have learned in their own rabbit raising experiences!


Thank you so much for all the info! Just yesterday I had to take in a kit on my own! This helps more than you know :)
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Re: Tips for Handraising Kits

Post Number:#38  Unread postby Easy Ears » Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:46 pm


Tip #3: ALWAYS remember to potty your kits. I didn't realize this was needed, and on day three, four of the five kits died. The remaining kit I was careful to always potty, but it didn't always go, and I believe that was a sign of the kit not getting enough milk. Once the rest of the litter died, I had a much harder time getting milk into the baby, and believe it was a combination of factors, stemming from the fact that the rest were gone.

It is very easy to potty your kits, although it can be frustrating. All you need is warm water, a cotton ball (I just used soft fabric) and to rub the baby's genitals and lower belly gently until they pee. Be caerful! It comes out in a LONG stream. And it doesn't smell pretty either. I never was able to get my kit to poo, but when I watched him, I noticed he was pooing on his own.


For how long do you "potty" your kits? I've done mine up to 2 weeks before ....it is needed longer?
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