advice needed on new born kits and doe in hot weather

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Hi everyone!
It's been a while since I've posted on here. Our doe had a litter of kits early this morning. She's been a great mom so far, very attentive. Had 8 kits all were alive and thriving this morning. She didn't have a nest box, it 's a bit hard to describe but she has a 3 story hutch. The top is an enclosed area (that has a door we can open to see inside) (see photo attached) . She made this her nest area (and made her nest and pulled fur quite early). We've had unseasonably hot weather here in Stouffville, Ontario. Today it was 31 C / 87.8 F feeling more like 37C / 98.6 F. I was at work today and not able to check on them until late afternoon and decided to bring them inside because it was so hot. Unfortunately we lost two kits because of the heat, and another little one is struggling. Now, I'm not sure what to do... the evening isn't supposed to be much cooler but am afraid if I bring doe and kits inside

a) will the doe nurse the babies given that they are in an unfamiliar cage and a nest box ( not where she gave birth to the kits)?

b) should I put the kits back where they were born in the hopes that she nurses them and then bring them back inside after I can tell they've been nursed?(since the night is supposed to remain hot and humid) and then put them back again in the morning for feeding but them bring them back into the house since tomorrow is supposed to be another scorcher?

c) will the change in temperature from an air-conditioned house to outside be too much of a shock for the kits? We have brought them into the house in a nestbox full of straw and fur from mom, but if I bring them back out to nurse and it's still super hot and humid will the shock be too much for the kits?

I guess my question is, what is better, inside in a cooler environment in a new cage and new nest box
or outside for nursing tonight and until tomorrow morning and then bring them back inside as the day heats up again?

{As an aside this morning, knowing how hot it was going to be I did removed some of the extra fur from the nest, but when I checke on them this afternoon, mom had pulled even more fur and covered them up (which I think is partly why they succumbed to the heat). Even if tomorrow drops to 27 C tomorrow, if Mom keeps covering them with tonnes of fur, they'll get really hot again.

Any advice? I know any changes will stress mom out, but which is the lesser of the two evils?
 

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ladysown

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so basically where she had them way up in the top where the most heat is. I'd pluck them into a nestbox and move them down to the bottom. Remove most of the fur.

Though if you move her inside to the cool, she'll continue to nurse them. At least that has been my experience. Mind, i've had nervous does that would freak at the smallest thing, but if she does that, hold her over them so they can nurse and she'll eventually chill.
 
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Thanks for the advice. It's cooled off a bit so I put them back in the top for the night and I'll see about moving them tomorrow to the bottom or inside. Just hoping that mom will feed them tonight. It's been a stressful day for everyone.
We tried to put a kit on her belly to see if we could get it to suckle a little and maybe even promote milk let down and the doe kicked it and managed to catch it with a nail. It got scratched under the arm and my youngest daughter is beside herself because the kit got hurt and she's afraid the kit will die now. I tried to trim the doe's nails today and it was not a successful endeavour. She's always hated it, and I was waiting until after she kindled so I didn't stress her out too much while she was carrying them. It seems we've got a host of problems. I think we've interfered for enough today so we're just crossing our fingers that they make it through until tomorrow.
 

KelleyBee

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so basically where she had them way up in the top where the most heat is. I'd pluck them into a nestbox and move them down to the bottom. Remove most of the fur.

Though if you move her inside to the cool, she'll continue to nurse them. At least that has been my experience. Mind, i've had nervous does that would freak at the smallest thing, but if she does that, hold her over them so they can nurse and she'll eventually chill.
I agree with @ladysown , the top is baking in the sun, moving the kits to the bottom or even the middle with all of that open ventilation will be better. Rabbits are less likely to die from cold (unless they are naked kits) than they are to heat.

she will continue to care for them if you bring her and them indoors. She may not at first, but once she’s had time to realize she is safe, she will nurse them as usual.

During the first few days of life in winter months, I take the nest box indoors and bring out each morning for nursing, then back indoors (think 23 hours indoors, one hour out with mom) and the kits never have a notable problem with the temperature fluctuations. I’m sure it would work the same in opposite temperatures, especially if you stay away from using that top compartment where heat is being trapped.
 

Therese

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I live up North where we have sweltering, muggy summers and bitter-cold winters. Our rabbits are outside in an open carport structure, so they have cover from direct sunshine and wind, but air flow. They have their young year-round in banana boxes filled with hay. The mammas add varying amounts of fur, and cover/uncover the kits to meet the weather conditions. We figure that both hay and fur are insulators--both to keep heat/cold out, and to keep heat/cold in (like a thermos bottle). We have found that if the mammas have what they need, they do a fantastic job regulating the environment for their babies. In three years, we haven't had a problem except for the occasional kit in the winter that gets pulled out onto the floor after nursing. We have marveled again and again at the amazing instincts God has given rabbits!
 
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I agree with @ladysown , the top is baking in the sun, moving the kits to the bottom or even the middle with all of that open ventilation will be better. Rabbits are less likely to die from cold (unless they are naked kits) than they are to heat.

she will continue to care for them if you bring her and them indoors. She may not at first, but once she’s had time to realize she is safe, she will nurse them as usual.

During the first few days of life in winter months, I take the nest box indoors and bring out each morning for nursing, then back indoors (think 23 hours indoors, one hour out with mom) and the kits never have a notable problem with the temperature fluctuations. I’m sure it would work the same in opposite temperatures, especially if you stay away from using that top compartment where heat is being trapped.
Thanks for the advice. I’ve moved them from the top to the middle section in a nest box as everyone suggested. We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed 🤞🏻
 
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So update, kits are doing well in a nest box in the middle but mom didn’t feed then last night or this morning. All had empty wrinkly bellies. As I was checking them our doe ran up to the top portion. It was cool here mid morning so I placed the kits up there with her and closed the door and she nursed 4 of 6 kits. 4 has beautiful full bellies. Two somehow got missed. I left the two unfed up there by themselves for a while in the upper area hoping she might go back to feeding them. She checked on them but she didn’t nurse them. 😔
I put everyone back in the nest box in the middle to avoid overheating in the afternoon.

Should I continue to move the kits into the upper area at night to nurse or just hope she’ll take to feeding them in the nest box?

I’m concerned the two that didn’t get fed might not be able to wait until she figures it out.
 

marshaclark52

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So update, kits are doing well in a nest box in the middle but mom didn’t feed then last night or this morning. All had empty wrinkly bellies. As I was checking them our doe ran up to the top portion. It was cool here mid morning so I placed the kits up there with her and closed the door and she nursed 4 of 6 kits. 4 has beautiful full bellies. Two somehow got missed. I left the two unfed up there by themselves for a while in the upper area hoping she might go back to feeding them. She checked on them but she didn’t nurse them. 😔
I put everyone back in the nest box in the middle to avoid overheating in the afternoon.

Should I continue to move the kits into the upper area at night to nurse or just hope she’ll take to feeding them in the nest box?

I’m concerned the two that didn’t get fed might not be able to wait until she figures it out.
I had a doe that had nine kits. 3 looked undernourished and once they get left behind, I find they have a hard time fighting for a nipple. What I did was remove four of the biggest and fattest kits for a night. They could stand to miss a meal. This gave the weaker kits a chance to eat. Each night before feed time, I removed 4 fat babies. The weak ones managed to catch up.
 

northernnevadahollandlops

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I agree with @KelleyBee shelving babies is a common practice. They only need to feed their young 1-2 times in a 24-hr period. I would bring the whole nest box with babies inside during the day. For the kits that aren't getting fed, you can take the bigger ones out when you put the box back at night to ensure the little ones get fed first. Then put the bigger kits back in. Chances are she will feed them again at dawn.
 
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I had a doe that had nine kits. 3 looked undernourished and once they get left behind, I find they have a hard time fighting for a nipple. What I did was remove four of the biggest and fattest kits for a night. They could stand to miss a meal. This gave the weaker kits a chance to eat. Each night before feed time, I removed 4 fat babies. The weak ones managed to catch up.
Yes, I read about this technique on another post and tried it. I pulled the 3 biggest who were obviously getting fed. I did it on 3 separate occasions obviously on alternate nights so the big ones did get fed and it worked beautifully. The little ones got stronger and caught up. They are all 16 days old now and thriving. Nursing well, exploring a bit during the day. So thanks! These threads and posts are so helpful!
 

Rabbits by Accident

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The mammas add varying amounts of fur, and cover/uncover the kits to meet the weather conditions. We figure that both hay and fur are insulators--both to keep heat/cold out, and to keep heat/cold in (like a thermos bottle). We have found that if the mammas have what they need, they do a fantastic job regulating the environment for their babies. In three years, we haven't had a problem except for the occasional kit in the winter that gets pulled out onto the floor after nursing. We have marveled again and again at the amazing instincts God has given rabbits!
I agree! I have a litter of 10 day olds and the weather has been 98-100F. I've been putting ice bottles against the nest box and the mom will lay against it. I finally got it cooler by hanging a wet towel and the mom MOVED THE ICE AWAY from the kits. They are amazing!
 

Rabbits by Accident

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During the first few days of life in winter months, I take the nest box indoors and bring out each morning for nursing, then back indoors (think 23 hours indoors, one hour out with mom)
Question: I've heard that they nurse in the middle of the night. Can you actually keep the kits out all night and the doe will nurse them whenever you return them? You don't have to get up at 1 a.m. and bring them out? That's great!
 

KelleyBee

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Question: I've heard that they nurse in the middle of the night. Can you actually keep the kits out all night and the doe will nurse them whenever you return them? You don't have to get up at 1 a.m. and bring them out? That's great!
Mom is quite eager to nurse them when I bring them to her. I usually get them to mom anywhere between 8 and 10 a.m., depending upon my schedule.
 
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That is so interesting. I’m a bit of a newbie with breeding and both my does were totally different in their approach to nursing kits. My first doe nursed twice a day once around 11pm and once early morning between 5-6am. We had them inside at the time and could hear the commotion when she went into the nest box to nurse. After nursing she wanted nothing to do with them and was even a little distressed by the kits getting out of the nest box. Our second doe is a great and attentive mom to her kits constantly checking on them, pulling fur and covering or uncovering if its hot. She was happy to have them around, licked and groomed them frequently but once she was done nursing would not allow any kits to try to nurse again. Even when we tried to place kits that got missed (the runts) directly on her, she wanted none of it. If we brought them to her and gave her some privacy she still wouldn’t nurse them until the next day (we could tell by their bellies). So for us,in the first week, pulling only the strongest ones that were clearly getting fed on alternating nights was the best way to allow the weaker kits to actually get fed. Within a week of doing this the little ones caught up to their siblings and were strong enough to fight for their place at the “milk bar” lol. I’m fascinated to hear that some does will nurse anytime. It’s good information to have. Thanks for sharing.
 

KelleyBee

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That is so interesting. I’m a bit of a newbie with breeding and both my does were totally different in their approach to nursing kits. My first doe nursed twice a day once around 11pm and once early morning between 5-6am. We had them inside at the time and could hear the commotion when she went into the nest box to nurse. After nursing she wanted nothing to do with them and was even a little distressed by the kits getting out of the nest box. Our second doe is a great and attentive mom to her kits constantly checking on them, pulling fur and covering or uncovering if its hot. She was happy to have them around, licked and groomed them frequently but once she was done nursing would not allow any kits to try to nurse again. Even when we tried to place kits that got missed (the runts) directly on her, she wanted none of it. If we brought them to her and gave her some privacy she still wouldn’t nurse them until the next day (we could tell by their bellies). So for us,in the first week, pulling only the strongest ones that were clearly getting fed on alternating nights was the best way to allow the weaker kits to actually get fed. Within a week of doing this the little ones caught up to their siblings and were strong enough to fight for their place at the “milk bar” lol. I’m fascinated to hear that some does will nurse anytime. It’s good information to have. Thanks for sharing.
To be clear, my does do not nurse “anytime.” Instead, like yours they nurse only once or twice per day. It’s just that if the nest is pulled, she then adjusts her nursing schedule to whatever schedule you set for her, still only nursing once or twice per day. I think pulling the biggest kits to allow the littlest to feed first is a good idea.

I’m now beginning to migrate from the idea of putting mom on her back to nurse the littlest first. While it has worked for me, I’ve come to realize there must be a better way to help the littlest ones along.
 
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