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Hand feeding newborn 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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Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#1  Unread postby 2CrazyFools » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:23 pm


So my lovely doe Clover gave birth to 6 sweet little babies at about 6am this morning and then died while retaining two more inside. I do not have a foster doe so I am attempting to hand feed these little squirmies. They were lightly chilled when I found them, but apparently were able to stay warm from their mother's body heat before it dissipated long enough for me to find them still alive. I quickly tossed them into my brassier and then headed inside the house to make a nest and heat up some water bottles. I put two warm/hot water bottles in a box then covered them with a soft blanket and added the extra fur I'd been collecting (mix of rabbit and dog undercoat) placed the kits in there, covered with more fluff and then set out to find out what all I had to prepare for.

I used the stickies in this forum sub category and then asked a good bit of questions from Homer on how to go about making the kit formula. I found the evaporated goat milk at walmart, inquired at petsmart for the bene-bac probiotic and came up empty handed so I grabbed some goat probiotic from Tractor Supply (now I have 25 YEARS worth of goat probiotic... :roll: ) bloody expensive free-range organic eggs for the yolk requirement, light corn syrup, and some goat colostrum also from TSC.

Mixed it up on the stove to a nice warm point, tasted it to test for warmth and concluded it was disgusting, then attempted to feed the kits the thick liquid. From the way they reacted I can only assume they agreed with me about the taste... :lol:

So far it was a mediocre success, got a little bit in just about all of them, and although it was a pain in the rear trying to feed them I am happy that they are so active on trying to get out of my hand, lol. I'm hoping the evening feeding tonight will be better.

4 blue and 2 white. One of the blue's has a cut on his belly, looks like just skin and he definitely ate some formula so I'm just going to keep an eye on him. A white one has a small gash under his chin, but it already looks scabbed over so I'm really not concerned about that. The rest look fine and all very squirmy.
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So I'll try and keep this post updated on the journey. Cross your fingers guys!
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#2  Unread postby JudyM » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:05 pm


Best of luck to you on your efforts! Sounds like a good plan to have an artificial doe!
I'm so sorry about Clover.
Please let us know how it goes.

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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Nymphadora » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:35 pm


I’m sorry to hear about Clover, and I really hope her babies pull through (it had to be the Americans again, eh?). :(

Just want to double check, but you only have the hot/warm water bottle on one side of the kits, right? They have to be able to move away from the heat if they get too hot, from my understanding, or it can cause them just as many problems as getting too cold.

I love that you taste-tested the “formula”. :x :lol:

I really hope they make it! Poor little darlings… but they have a great mom looking after them!
:oops:

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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:53 pm


What rotten luck! I'm so sorry you lost Clover. You're doing all the best things to give the little ones a chance.

I do recommend making sure that the kits can edge away from the hot water bottles if they get too warm. If they need two bottles, put one on one side of the box and the other at the top or bottom. Remember that kits can only digest milk or formula if they are warm to start with--they can't do it while still chilled.

Hoping the kits cooperate better for their evening feeding. They look plump to start with, which gives them a better chance, I would think.
:good-luck:

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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#5  Unread postby 2CrazyFools » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:45 pm


JudyM wrote:Best of luck to you on your efforts! Sounds like a good plan to have an artificial doe!
I'm so sorry about Clover.
Please let us know how it goes.


Thank you so much! I always try to have multiple does pregnant at the same time for this very reason, but of course the one time things go sour... no surrogate. *sigh* Hey, at least I'll have this experience under my wing right? Silver lining somewhere.

Nymphadora wrote:I’m sorry to hear about Clover, and I really hope her babies pull through (it had to be the Americans again, eh?). :(

Thanks Nymphadora, just about broke my husband's heart when I told him. And you're not kidding! :x We have one american doe left and if she doesn't take I'm probably crockpotting her and the remaining buck. I was thinking about selling them if they didn't take but at this point I don't want to give my problem to someone else. Bad luck rabbits or something. :( Poor dears.

Nymphadora wrote:Just want to double check, but you only have the hot/warm water bottle on one side of the kits, right? They have to be able to move away from the heat if they get too hot, from my understanding, or it can cause them just as many problems as getting too cold.

I didn't! However after reading this I went in there to remove the bottles and they had since cooled down and all the kits were just fine. Thankfully now I know for next time! Thanks Nymph ^_^

Nymphadora wrote:I love that you taste-tested the “formula”. :x :lol:

I really hope they make it! Poor little darlings… but they have a great mom looking after them!
:oops:


Awe, thanks a bunch! I'm up to the task and the way they are moving around makes me hopeful. Still not jazzed about eating this evening and I wasn't able to successfully stimulate any of them to expel waste but there's always tomorrow morning (or, of course, they are stimulating themselves with all that wiggling!) They don't look underfed though, just not as full as I would like. Sort of in-between.

MaggieJ wrote:What rotten luck! I'm so sorry you lost Clover. You're doing all the best things to give the little ones a chance.

I do recommend making sure that the kits can edge away from the hot water bottles if they get too warm. If they need two bottles, put one on one side of the box and the other at the top or bottom. Remember that kits can only digest milk or formula if they are warm to start with--they can't do it while still chilled.

Hoping the kits cooperate better for their evening feeding. They look plump to start with, which gives them a better chance, I would think.
:good-luck:


Yes, they were plump to start with, I believe most of them were able to feed from mother though she was... already gone. :cry: they've got a good start and no wonder they don't like the goat milk, I'm sure momma's milk tasted much better.

I have since removed the water bottles and will keep that in mind for next time. They are nice and warm all cuddled up in their nest in the closet, as I grabbed out each baby for dinnertime they were toasty and squiggling. Each one got something in their bellies, though not much except for two, a white and a blue were very willing. (Well, maybe not "very" willing, but more-so accommodating and drank about a dropperfull.)

We'll see! :) The good news is no one is fading yet.
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#6  Unread postby alforddm » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:58 pm


I am so sorry you lost Clover.

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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#7  Unread postby 2CrazyFools » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:23 pm


Thank you. :( She was such a good girl, always looking for a face-rub or a tasty treat.
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#8  Unread postby LittleFluffyBunnies » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:06 am


I am so so sorry to hear about Clover. I believe you mentioned she was your favorite, which I am sure makes it extra tough. It's amazing how attached we get to these critters! Clover will be missed.
You know, at least you do have her kits to remember her by. That is very special. Maybe you could keep one(or some ;) ) to remember her by.
I am sure you are doing an amazing job being these kits' caretaker. I hope everything goes well! I'll be sure to watch for your updates.
An extra bonus is these kits should be very tame, with you being their parent and all. That will be fun!
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#9  Unread postby 2CrazyFools » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:50 am


Well everyone has had breakfast except for me... lol! I fed them all once, and then fed them again for a second round. They still aren't drinking much (~0.5ml) before hiding their head "Go away. Let me sleep." But it was definitely better than yesterday! Everyone got about a dropperful down into their stomaches. I was reading that kits should get about 2-2.5 ml of formula in their bellies each feeding and to be honest that seems like a lot. The dropper contains about 1ml and that's pretty much all that I'm able to get in them and they certainly don't look hungry do they?

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LittleFluffyBunnies wrote:I am so so sorry to hear about Clover. I believe you mentioned she was your favorite, which I am sure makes it extra tough. It's amazing how attached we get to these critters! Clover will be missed.
You know, at least you do have her kits to remember her by. That is very special. Maybe you could keep one(or some ;) ) to remember her by.
I am sure you are doing an amazing job being these kits' caretaker. I hope everything goes well! I'll be sure to watch for your updates.
An extra bonus is these kits should be very tame, with you being their parent and all. That will be fun!


She was a favorite, the only rabbit we have (well, Jeri may end up being a keeper regardless too...) that wasn't going anywhere even if she didn't end up producing. Super sweet pet rabbit for sure. My husband woke up this morning and went, "I can't believe Clover is gone..." he really didn't much care about the rabbits, but he fell pretty hard for Clover.

I am looking forward to seeing the difference in temperament from the kits that we left in the hutch with momma, to the kits we shelved and took out to momma for feeding in the AM & PM, and now these kits who will have zero rabbit-mother interaction. My husband also mentioned keeping one of these guys but I'm leaning towards not. It would be sweet and all to have an offspring of Clover, but it would be a meat-mutt (Texas A&M/NZ/American) and I really just want the one meat mutt we have (Jeri) and then some more pures of some breed. We'll just have to see what happens, I may fall in love with one of these. I already like one of the white (they are actually looking more tan to be honest, it's not just in the pictures) kits, little diva. I can tell she's going to be a handful :lol:
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#10  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:44 pm


They look good! Keep up the good work! :goodjob:

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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Homer » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:56 pm


Way to go Crazy! :P Looks like you have the hang of it. :clap:

Their bellies look plump, just watch for bloat. If it happens increase the probiotic slightly. I've never had a problem with the formula made the way I described but you never know.

At first they don't/won't take much. That's why you have to feed them so many times a day. Soon you'll be feeding two 3cc syringes per feeding per bunny! :shock: Just as soon as their eyes start to open I kept a water bottle and timothy hay to nibble available at all times. seems to help a little.
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Nymphadora » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:39 pm


2CrazyFools wrote: Thanks Nymph ^_^

:oops: that nickname made me happy :D

2CrazyFools wrote: I already like one of the white (they are actually looking more tan to be honest, it's not just in the pictures) kits, little diva. I can tell she's going to be a handful :lol:


I’m really happy to hear they’re still hanging in there (and they look decently fed). I’m really curious about the tan-colored ones, now that you mentioned them, of course . Any idea what the color genetics might be? You said it was a cross between the American and a Texas A&M/NZ, so they have to carry dilute, right? What little cuties though. :D

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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#13  Unread postby 2CrazyFools » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:15 pm


Thanks Maggie! So far so good ^_^ Feeling optimistic.

Homer, how would I know if they have bloat? If they have what appears to be full tight bellies except sounds hollow when tapped or something? How scary :x Thanks for letting me know that at first they won't eat much, that makes me feel better about it! I just checked on the cuties and they are all wiggly and thinner, so at this point no bloat but now I'm going to watch for it.

Nymph, I think you have just the cutest forum moniker, with a great nickname! Where did it come from and what is the story behind it?

I have no idea why these babies are looking more tan / orange (just checked on them a few minutes ago and I'm feeling more confident they aren't going to be white) because their poppa is Jeri's poppa, D'artagnan, a white A&M / New Zealand buck, and their momma was a blue American. The litter that D'artagnan fathered earlier with another white meat mutt just produced whites and blacks, but he may be hiding more colors under that white coat. The blacks definitely came from Jeri's momma's side, as her grandfather was a solid black New Zealand.

But there's always a chance they may be sort of pee stained or something? Paired with the pink skin and lighting perhaps they just look tan when they are actually white.... but I'm familiar with white kits and they never made me cock my head to the side like this, lol. We'll see. :)

Heating up dinner and I'll look closer at them.
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Homer » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:02 am


2CrazyFools wrote:Thanks Maggie! So far so good ^_^ Feeling optimistic.

Homer, how would I know if they have bloat? If they have what appears to be full tight bellies except sounds hollow when tapped or something? How scary :x Thanks for letting me know that at first they won't eat much, that makes me feel better about it! I just checked on the cuties and they are all wiggly and thinner, so at this point no bloat but now I'm going to watch for it. ...


Didn't mean to scare you. Just an f.y.i. One of the best gauges are the other litter mates. It's been a few hours time to feed again. You look them over and what's this, one is still fat...real fat. At that point you pick it up and it doesn't wiggle much. But one of the best ways to tell is to take a whiff. "The nose knows"...did you lose your breakfast? :o Get the idea? Don't thump their hard belly you'll just hurt them at this stage in life.

Yours sound like they are doing exactly what you want. empty tummies by the time you should be feeding again! ;)
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Re: Hand feeding newborn kits

Post Number:#15  Unread postby 2CrazyFools » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:38 am


Hungry babies this morning! About half of them were absolutely attacking the eye dropper! "MOOOREEEEEEEEE" I pulled them out of their shelf and everyone is actively digging around and mewling, and then post feeding the box is dead silent with a ball of fat sleeping kits. :in_love: It's finally feeling rewarding. Only one of them was still resistant to "nursing," and I had to continue with the drop of formula on his lips for him to lick off. I thought about doing another round with them this morning and seeing if they would eat anymore but the way they were acting, passed out in the box, I think they'll be just fine until next feeding.

About stimulating them to use the restroom, I had read on this forum that you really only need to do this if you have one singleton that needs to be bottle fed, but when you have a litter they pretty much stimulate themselves with their crawling all over one another. The first day of life I attempted stimulation and wasn't successful, and then yesterday I tried as well without anyone "rewarding" me for my efforts. I wasn't worried about it since they look like they are digesting the formula and slimming down with time, IE it's going somewhere! Today I grabbed up all the black/blue kits and put them on the towel (I had one left to feed and didn't know which one! Full belly comparison time...) and as I was looking to determine which one was left they were squirming over one another and I was blessed with a long stream of liquid from a big full bellied kit. Awesome. Most excellent. No longer worried about kit stimulation. :D

I just want to thank all the awesome people in this forum for the invaluable help y'all have been. From my very first post here stressing out about overdue does, to this post here where I have to hand-feed newborns. Y'all are rockstars and I really appreciate it. :wr_love:

-- Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:38 am --

Cute pictures and a quick question. Should I be concerned about the flaking on the kits? Should I try to clean it off like a mother would? (Well, with a towel not with my tongue..) Or just let it be?

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The white kits are most definitely not white, lol.
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