Does wouldn't lift - seeking advice on next steps

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ThunderHill

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Hi! I tried breeding two does this week and neither would lift. I watched for 30 minutes or so without seeing a single fall-off and then left them together all day (so I don't know if there were any fall-offs the rest of the day).

I know to mark the calendar anyway and treat as pregnant. My question is, what do you do when you never see a fall-off? Do you try again the next day? And each day until she is receptive? Or wait until you can palpate? Or try putting her back in later to "test breed," and if so, how long after? I already put one of these pairs together two days in a row with nothing, but if she is pregnant, would sticking her back in with the buck a few more times over the next few days to try to be sure hurt anything?

Oh, and I did check the vulva color and they were both pretty light pink, so I guess I should have just waited, but I've never had a buck not get at least a few fall-offs (been lucky, I guess), so I tried it anyway! I like breeding on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so we get babies born on the weekend.

Thanks for your advice!
 

ThunderHill

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Give them a space to run. Rabbits like to do a bit of courtship and chasing each other around helps the shy ones get feisty.
Thanks, I'll try this! But can I try again now? If they did actually become pregnant on Tues/Wed and it's now several days later, will it hurt anything to keep trying to actually see at least one fall off?
 

KelleyBee

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My understanding is to never leave males and females unattended In a cage. An unwilling female can do irreparable damage to a male and should be watched at all times then removed from the male cage if time does not permit the breeder to remain in attendance. The best way I understand to handle such situations is to reintroduce the female each day over the next few days. If still not lifting and if her vulva is bright red to purple (meaning she should be receptive) then you should assist by lifting her…there are videos out there show how. Best wishes.
 

ThunderHill

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My understanding is to never leave males and females unattended In a cage. An unwilling female can do irreparable damage to a male and should be watched at all times then removed from the male cage if time does not permit the breeder to remain in attendance. The best way I understand to handle such situations is to reintroduce the female each day over the next few days. If still not lifting and if her vulva is bright red to purple (meaning she should be receptive) then you should assist by lifting her…there are videos out there show how. Best wishes.
Thanks! Yes, that's my understanding as well, and I would never advise anyone to do otherwise. But I always have, and I guess we've been lucky so far that we haven't had any fights. They really seem to enjoy spending time together in the same cage, even when the does are being difficult and not lifting - grooming and laying next to each other, etc. It does put me at a disadvantage of not knowing if they managed to get a good fall-off during the day though. I appreciate the response!
 

MaggieJ

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Sometimes you need to look deeper than the actual time the rabbits spend together. What are you feeding them? If a mainly pellet diet, it could be that certain vitamins added to the feed -- vitamins A and E in particular -- are being lost during storage, long before you purchase the feed. These vitamins are essential for both the urge to mate and the success of that mating.

A harmless and effective way to test this as a possibility is to feed them small quantities of a dark leafy greens (parsley, dandelion greens, carrot tops come to mind) on a regular basis. Avoid nutritious but "gassy" plants like kale or cabbage and other brassicas if your buns are not well-accustomed to greens. Phase in any new foods slowly. This will supply them with sufficient Vitamin A.

For Vitamin E, I suggest wheat grass. Go to the health food store and buy a pound or so of whole wheat -- sometimes called wheat berries. Plant some of them in a pot or tray on a windowsill, keep moist but not wet, and feed the resulting greens to the buns. They grow fast -- ready to harvest within a couple of weeks. Growing your own in rotation means a convenient ongoing supply. Wheat grass also has Vitamin A, so it may be all you need.

PLEASE, don't overdo this "fix" and go slowly. Phase in the new foods a tiny bit at a time. As a supplement to their usual diet, a handful a few times a week should be plenty, but work up to that over a two-week period and watch their poops for any changes. Added in this manner you should have no problems, but always be vigilant when making changes to diet.
 

ThunderHill

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Sometimes you need to look deeper than the actual time the rabbits spend together. What are you feeding them? If a mainly pellet diet, it could be that certain vitamins added to the feed -- vitamins A and E in particular -- are being lost during storage, long before you purchase the feed. These vitamins are essential for both the urge to mate and the success of that mating.

A harmless and effective way to test this as a possibility is to feed them small quantities of a dark leafy greens (parsley, dandelion greens, carrot tops come to mind) on a regular basis. Avoid nutritious but "gassy" plants like kale or cabbage and other brassicas if your buns are not well-accustomed to greens. Phase in any new foods slowly. This will supply them with sufficient Vitamin A.

For Vitamin E, I suggest wheat grass. Go to the health food store and buy a pound or so of whole wheat -- sometimes called wheat berries. Plant some of them in a pot or tray on a windowsill, keep moist but not wet, and feed the resulting greens to the buns. They grow fast -- ready to harvest within a couple of weeks. Growing your own in rotation means a convenient ongoing supply. Wheat grass also has Vitamin A, so it may be all you need.

PLEASE, don't overdo this "fix" and go slowly. Phase in the new foods a tiny bit at a time. As a supplement to their usual diet, a handful a few times a week should be plenty, but work up to that over a two-week period and watch their poops for any changes. Added in this manner you should have no problems, but always be vigilant when making changes to diet.
Thanks so much for the advice! I've been wanting to take the plunge and start incorporating some natural, foraged foods for a while, and I'm going to go ahead and get started as you have advised. I have 6-week old kits in with three does right now. Can they have this also, if introduced very slowly?
 

MaggieJ

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Thanks so much for the advice! I've been wanting to take the plunge and start incorporating some natural, foraged foods for a while, and I'm going to go ahead and get started as you have advised. I have 6-week old kits in with three does right now. Can they have this also, if introduced very slowly?
Yes, your 6-week-olds can have the same greens, as long as they are introduced slowly so that they have time to develop the gut flora they need to digest fresh greens.

If you are planning to introduce green feeding to all your rabbits, you will find that kits right out of the nest box adapt naturally to fresh greens. Wild European rabbits -- from which our domestics are descended -- begin nibbling greens as soon as they leave the nest. This is as nature intends.

The trouble arises when kits transition straight from momma's milk to pelleted feed, especially if they do not also get good grass hay. This is the main reason why so many kits develop enteritis. It's too big a step. When provided with safe greens and hay from the beginning, their digestive tracts adjust more easily. A bonus is that many of the weeds and leaves you will be feeding are a safeguard against diarrhea -- meaning the problems never develop.

The best piece of advice I was given when I was beginning to introduce greens to rabbits was to start out as I mean to continue. I was hesitant, but it turned out to be true. Nestlings will nibble whatever is available, but the tiny quantities they eat them prepare them for the larger amounts they will eat when they are a bit older.
 

ThunderHill

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Yes, your 6-week-olds can have the same greens, as long as they are introduced slowly so that they have time to develop the gut flora they need to digest fresh greens.

If you are planning to introduce green feeding to all your rabbits, you will find that kits right out of the nest box adapt naturally to fresh greens. Wild European rabbits -- from which our domestics are descended -- begin nibbling greens as soon as they leave the nest. This is as nature intends.

The trouble arises when kits transition straight from momma's milk to pelleted feed, especially if they do not also get good grass hay. This is the main reason why so many kits develop enteritis. It's too big a step. When provided with safe greens and hay from the beginning, their digestive tracts adjust more easily. A bonus is that many of the weeds and leaves you will be feeding are a safeguard against diarrhea -- meaning the problems never develop.

The best piece of advice I was given when I was beginning to introduce greens to rabbits was to start out as I mean to continue. I was hesitant, but it turned out to be true. Nestlings will nibble whatever is available, but the tiny quantities they eat them prepare them for the larger amounts they will eat when they are a bit older.
Sounds like good advice! My biggest hesitation has been fear of contamination from wild rabbits on greens I would pick from the farm. Is this something I should worry about? Should a good rinse be enough to make them safe?
 

MaggieJ

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Sounds like good advice! My biggest hesitation has been fear of contamination from wild rabbits on greens I would pick from the farm. Is this something I should worry about? Should a good rinse be enough to make them safe?
Unless you have an abnormal population of wild rabbits or a local outbreak of some known disease among the wild population, I don't think this is a big concern. I never did anything to clean the greens -- some people think that soaking wet greens can be a problem causing diarrhea. I think the main thing is to be observant and vigilant to any possible issues.

The way I see it, wild rabbits eat the greens wet or dry with no apparent ill effects. My credo is "As in nature."

EDITED TO ADD:
I'm sure you know not to just go out and gather any greens that take your eye. I will be reposting a Safe Plants list in the Natural Feeding forum that will get you started. It is a good introduction to some of the most commonly available and easily recognizable weeds and trees that are safe for your buns.
 
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ThunderHill

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Unless you have an abnormal population of wild rabbits or a local outbreak of some known disease among the wild population, I don't think this is a big concern. I never did anything to clean the greens -- some people think that soaking wet greens can be a problem causing diarrhea. I think the main thing is to be observant and vigilant to any possible issues.

The way I see it, wild rabbits eat the greens wet or dry with no apparent ill effects. My credo is "As in nature."

EDITED TO ADD:
I'm sure you know not to just go out and gather any greens that take your eye. I will be reposting a Safe Plants list in the Natural Feeding forum that will get you started. It is a good introduction to some of the most commonly available and easily recognizable weeds and trees that are safe for your buns.
Yes, I've read many of your posts with info on some of the most common and helpful plants, and we have tons of plantain, dandelion, and wild raspberries, in addition to a few poplar trees, comfrey, and some young fruit trees and blueberry bushes we've recently planted. Also planning to put in some Jerusalem Artichokes, which I've read are good. I'm sure there are so many more and will certainly use your list! Thanks again!
 

MaggieJ

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Yes, I've read many of your posts with info on some of the most common and helpful plants, and we have tons of plantain, dandelion, and wild raspberries, in addition to a few poplar trees, comfrey, and some young fruit trees and blueberry bushes we've recently planted. Also planning to put in some Jerusalem Artichokes, which I've read are good. I'm sure there are so many more and will certainly use your list! Thanks again!
What wonderful diversity! You're well on your way to natural feeding. It sounds like you have acreage. That makes natural feeding much easier. And more fun.
 

KelleyBee

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Sometimes you need to look deeper than the actual time the rabbits spend together. What are you feeding them? If a mainly pellet diet, it could be that certain vitamins added to the feed -- vitamins A and E in particular -- are being lost during storage, long before you purchase the feed. These vitamins are essential for both the urge to mate and the success of that mating.

A harmless and effective way to test this as a possibility is to feed them small quantities of a dark leafy greens (parsley, dandelion greens, carrot tops come to mind) on a regular basis. Avoid nutritious but "gassy" plants like kale or cabbage and other brassicas if your buns are not well-accustomed to greens. Phase in any new foods slowly. This will supply them with sufficient Vitamin A.

For Vitamin E, I suggest wheat grass. Go to the health food store and buy a pound or so of whole wheat -- sometimes called wheat berries. Plant some of them in a pot or tray on a windowsill, keep moist but not wet, and feed the resulting greens to the buns. They grow fast -- ready to harvest within a couple of weeks. Growing your own in rotation means a convenient ongoing supply. Wheat grass also has Vitamin A, so it may be all you need.

PLEASE, don't overdo this "fix" and go slowly. Phase in the new foods a tiny bit at a time. As a supplement to their usual diet, a handful a few times a week should be plenty, but work up to that over a two-week period and watch their poops for any changes. Added in this manner you should have no problems, but always be vigilant when making changes to diet.
Awesome answer. I have those wheat berries and plan on growing over winter. Have a lot of other rabbit foods potted up for winter feeding, as well.
 

ThunderHill

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Yes, I've read many of your posts with info on some of the most common and helpful plants, and we have tons of plantain, dandelion, and wild raspberries, in addition to a few poplar trees, comfrey, and some young fruit trees and blueberry bushes we've recently planted. Also planning to put in some Jerusalem Artichokes, which I've read are good. I'm sure there are so many more and will certainly use your list! Thanks again!
Thanks so much for posting that list! Do you know if Persicaria longiseta, common name Oriental lady's thumb, is safe? Our barn is literally surrounded by it! Thanks!

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MaggieJ

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There are at least three species of Persicaria and I've never learned to tell them apart. Common names include lady's thumb and smartweed. They are considered safe for humans, and usually that also means safe for rabbits. They do contain oxalic acid, so should be fed in moderation and preferably in with a mix of other greens. I have fed small quantities of one of them to my rabbits, but I didn't have enough confidence in it to add to the Safe Plants list.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I want more information about a plant's safety for rabbits, it is often enough to google the plant's Latin name followed by the words safe for rabbits. You will get a lot of different opinions, but by reading several sources you should be able to get a sense of whether it is likely to be a good choice for your rabbits.

Many people have one or two rabbits they use as testers. While this may sound heartless to some, it saves making an error that could wipe out a herd. NO PLANT should be fed to rabbits if you are not quite sure it is safe. This is an added layer of protection, not a license to test plants without doing your homework first.

All new plants should be fed in tiny quantities at first, along with a variety of known greens.

Fortunately, there is a great deal more information available now than when I started with natural feeding back in 2006. It was a relatively new trend that emerged amid growing concerns about feed contaminants coinciding with a resurgence of interest in sustainable practices.
 

ThunderHill

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Hmm... I've tried searching online for whether Euonymus fortunei, or Wintercreeper, is safe and can't find anything. I found one site that mentioned that wild rabbits feed on it during the winter, so that seems like a good sign. It's invasive here and we have a bunch of it, so it could be a good winter forage if safe! Anyone know for sure or have experience feeding it?

Otherwise, we've been having fun foraging (dandelion, plantain, mulberry, clover, comfrey, rose brambles, and pear twigs so far), and the bunnies are loving it (still in small doses, but slowly increasing and no negative effects)! I've found that we have several wild pear, Hackberry, mulberry, rose brambles, and Wintercreeper growing all around our barn and fence line right by the barn! Also found a few nice little maple sapling volunteers growing in our blueberry patch that I didn't really want to just cut down - I might transplant them to behind the barn to just keep cut back and bushy for nice little twigs and leaves.
 

ThunderHill

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Still no luck finding anything definitive on wintercreeper, but I've found several sites mention that they are commonly damaged by wild rabbits eating them, so based on that I'm going to slowly introduce to a test rabbit. I'll post what happens!
 

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