Doe Hates Nursing

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SableSteel

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Hello
I don't often ask questions on here

But lately I've been having real bad time getting litters. I've only gotten one living litter all year; and of its 3 kits, 1 looks like its fading.

The mother HATES feeding them. I have to hold her down to let them nurse (I think she's only nursed them herself once - none of the babies get full even with my feedings because she hates this all, but the two healthy babies are doing okay, if a bit on the skinny side) and she flinches each time one of her babies touches her. This has turned a friendly rabbit into a nervous mess, not wanting me near her. Once she finishes nursing she just sits in there and licks her stomach for a good time like it bothers her. She's perfectly healthy; no mastitis or anything. The babies were born friday.

Any advice?

devibabies.PNG
These are the babies right after a feeding (the fader in the back)
 

akane

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How much milk does she actually have? Some does will initially dislike the kits drinking but the discomfort of being full of milk is worse than the temporary discomfort of nursing and once they realize it gets rid of all the milk they usually continue to feed on their own. If she doesn't want to feed I would think she has too little milk so she's not that uncomfortable before nursing and the kits trying to get milk only makes her sore as they fail to fill their bellies and get desperate. Continually forcing her over them may just make the experience worse and her not switch over to doing it herself with future litters because then nursing becomes worse than staying full of milk. If you could foster them they could be rotated to another doe while still making them available for her to try to nurse herself when she calms down and the amount of milk becomes uncomfortable. If she doesn't have enough milk for that it would be better to just foster permanently and see how her next litter goes.

If you can't find another doe to foster you are far more limited what you can do to keep them alive. Trying to make nursing as voluntary and calm as possible would probably help and kits tend to do ok with supplemental handfeeding unlike when trying to completely raise them without a doe and any rabbit milk. If you can temporarily keep her penned over the kits twice a day without physical restraint it might work better and get her to eventually feed them without the stress. I also had a doe I was trying to get to nurse her kits struggle to escape and end up kicking the box. She sliced a kit with a toenail and it bled to death within seconds. It doesn't go well to have to physically hold them in place for 2+weeks.
 

SableSteel

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She has A LOT of milk; the two healthy kits would definitely be able to get full bellies if she let nurse for any longer.

I do have a doe who had a DOA litter on saturday, but I decided against using her to nurse some because she is mean
 

Thorn

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No expert but it sound to me like there aren't enough kits for the amount of milk the doe is producing, so that when they nurse, it doesn't relive enough pressure for her to feel its worth it, if she already finds it uncomfortable.

I had a doe that wouldn't nurse her four kits at all. I removed them once I was sure and kept them in a cardboard box. I tried to hold her and nurse them but that didn't work at first, so once a day I'd take the doe in, flip her on her back,and put the babies on her stomach to nurse. They all grew up happy and healthy.
 

MeadowView

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Wish you were a little closer - I have a himmie litter born on the same day. She had six, we lost the runt, and she's raising two checkered giant kits as well. I would've happily popped them in with her!

I've had to do a few assisted feedings these last few weeks because we have five litters on the ground right now and out of the five, four are first timers. My go to move is to sit down and 'trance' the doe between my legs, then set kits on her and let them go to town. This keeps her relaxed enough to let milk down, but you may need a helper to add/remove kits.

As long as you can get them to a point where they're hopping in and out of the box, they should be fine.

What do you feed, if you don't mind my asking? I did a whole round of breeding and got nothing, then switched to an 18% for the whole herd and did another round, and everyone took - big litters too. Do you think your bucks are just shooting blanks because of the heat?
 

SableSteel

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They might've been the heat. My rabbitry has been reaching about 86 degrees at the peak of the day. Im feeding purina complete, recently switched to it because I wasn't getting any litters on my last feed (hey, at least I got a litter this time).
I don't have problems getting these two fed when i hold her down, it's just a pain and Id rather her nurse them herself and not hate me for forcing her lol <br /><br /> -- August 21st, 2018, 11:44 am -- <br /><br /> She decided after 9 days to feed them; but even now whines and seems upset while nursing.
 

MamaSheepdog

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Glad to hear she is nursing them now, however reluctantly. Rather than forcing a doe to nurse, it is easier and more pleasant for all involved to feed a "treat" such as dry oatmeal or a grain/conditioning mix to her in a corner of the nestbox. They will usually be so intent on eating that they ignore the kits, and entering the nest becomes a reward.
 

SableSteel

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MamaSheepdog":3x4xg0f0 said:
Glad to hear she is nursing them now, however reluctantly. Rather than forcing a doe to nurse, it is easier and more pleasant for all involved to feed a "treat" such as dry oatmeal or a grain/conditioning mix to her in a corner of the nestbox. They will usually be so intent on eating that they ignore the kits, and entering the nest becomes a reward.

I did try that; the moment the kits touched her she was out of there, after a few attempts I was afraid she'd hurt them trying to leap out so quickly.
 
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