Formula feeding baby bunnies *PICS & VIDS*

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Miss M

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Well, we've been hand-feeding about half of Squeak's litter. For most of them, we're just supplementing what they're getting from Squeak. Oatmeal coated with blackstrap has been helping Squeak produce more milk, but still not enough to feed the whole litter unaided.

The litter started out with 10, two of them being runts -- a chinchilla and a red. Then one of the others, a broken red, got out of the cage and missed a couple of feedings, effectively making him a runt as well. So when this one, who we called "the prodigal" or "the wanderer" was 4 days old, we started hand-feeding him formula. We added the two runts to this routine, since they were runts. We lost the tiny chinchilla due, I believe, to overfeeding, which I did not know was possible at the time. He died very bloated. We backed off on the others, and the prodigal, who had been looking very similar, started looking more normal.

After a couple more days, we realized that some of the others were falling behind, and that's when I realized Squeak must not be producing enough milk. She's never had this problem before. At the suggestion of others, I checked for mastitis and non-functional nipples. All seemed well, so I started giving her oats coated liberally with blackstrap molasses. I added molasses to a second water bottle, as well, but it started growing algae or something so incredibly quickly in this heat, that I stopped. She's been drinking just fine anyway.

So we ended up hand-feeding five baby buns every night, to supplement what they got in the morning. Sometimes, we would give the four largest a dropper each as well, just for good measure.

We learned that hand-feeding is very time-consuming, because you can give tiny babies only about a half a drop at a time. Then you have to watch their noses, since it is very easy for the milk to get into the nose and make the baby sneeze or have difficulty breathing. We worried that they were aspirating the formula and would end up with pneumonia, but that never happened.

Feeding the prodigal:
Rabbits2011May21.jpg


Full tummy:
Rabbits2011May21b.jpg


Sometimes we had to hold their heads until they realized that hard thing had food in it:
Rabbits2011May21c.jpg


Feeding the little chinchilla runt:
Rabbits2011May21d.jpg


About a week ago, we realized that the prodigal was probably not getting any food besides formula, so we're now feeding him twice a day. And the red runt, and one of the chestnuts. Of four chestnuts in the litter, only the (slightly) broken did not need supplementation. Two of them have caught up, and no longer need it. The chinchilla that had been one of the big ones has fallen behind just a little, so we've added him in. So now we're feeding four.

They are three and a half weeks old now, and are formula-aholics. Well, except the chinchilla, who isn't really used to the routine yet. So we have to wrap him up like a burrito to feed him. Guess what his name is now...

Here are some videos. As you can see, they are very enthusiastic:

http://s158.photobucket.com/albums/t84/ ... 080034.mp4
I misspoke. I should have said 1/2 Tablespoon, not teaspoon.

http://s158.photobucket.com/albums/t84/ ... 080035.mp4

http://s158.photobucket.com/albums/t84/ ... 080036.mp4

Speaking of names, the prodigal is still, at three and a half weeks, about a third of the size of the largest bunnies in the litter. Unsure whether he will ever reach dinner size, we have named him "Snack". If Snack stays too small, like we think he will, we'll try to find a pet home for him. :roll:

The clues to us that Snack probably wasn't able to get a seat at the dinner table pretty much ever were:
He wasn't really growing.
He was missing some fur.
The fur he did have was scruffy-looking.
His legs were like little toothpicks.

Now he is starting to fill out in his legs a little, and he is getting fur on his tummy and his neck. And he's a little bit bigger. :D

The formula recipe I'm using:
1/2 Cup canned evaporated goat's milk, undiluted
1/2 Tablespoon corn syrup
1 Egg yolk

It's good for about 4-5 feedings for what I'm doing. The can of milk gives me three batches, I think. I cannot tell you how much the kids love feeding baby bunnies! :p Okay, it is fun...
 

MaggieJ

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You've done really well with them, Miss M :goodjob: Congratulations!
 

Miss M

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Thank you!!! We could not have done it without all of y'all! :D

Thankfully, we did not have the complication of having lost the doe. We have not had to potty the kits or anything. Just take them out, feed them, and put them back.

I thought a couple of them were going to eat the dropper tonight! Gracious!
 

Miss M

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How would you do that? They'll hop over to the bowl before I start, and they'll sniff at the formula, but they don't drink. I've expected them to, but they haven't. Do I try to touch their noses to the formula, and they'll get the message when they lick their noses clean? :)
 

fuzzy9

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Awwww, these are adorable! Congrats! You have done very well with them.
 

Piper

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Miss M":3mx975we said:
Well, we've been hand-feeding about half of Squeak's litter. For most of them, we're just supplementing what they're getting from Squeak. Oatmeal coated with blackstrap has been helping Squeak produce more milk, but still not enough to feed the whole litter unaided.

The litter started out with 10, two of them being runts -- a chinchilla and a red. Then one of the others, a broken red, got out of the cage and missed a couple of feedings, effectively making him a runt as well. So when this one, who we called "the prodigal" or "the wanderer" was 4 days old, we started hand-feeding him formula. We added the two runts to this routine, since they were runts. We lost the tiny chinchilla due, I believe, to overfeeding, which I did not know was possible at the time. He died very bloated. We backed off on the others, and the prodigal, who had been looking very similar, started looking more normal.
-- I deleted the middle part of the post --
Miss M":3mx975we said:
The formula recipe I'm using:
1/2 Cup canned evaporated goat's milk, undiluted
1/2 Tablespoon cane syrup
1 Egg yolk

It's good for about 4-5 feedings for what I'm doing. The can of milk gives me three batches, I think. I cannot tell you how much the kids love feeding baby bunnies! :p Okay, it is fun...
Do you still think it was overfed and how much should you feed, say by 3 weeks old. Can they be free fed, by that time? Are you still recommending this recipe or have changed it at all?
 

Miss M

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Piper":1ry1az1a said:
Do you still think it was overfed and how much should you feed, say by 3 weeks old. Can they be free fed, by that time? Are you still recommending this recipe or have changed it at all?

Sorry I didn't see this sooner, Piper!

Yes, I still believe the two kits were overfed. I remember being told that if they are overfed, their organs start shutting down. I was seeing strange symptoms on those two: Very round bodies, out of proportion with the head and legs, skinny legs, and stumbling and wobbling when they had not been doing it before.

Once I learned they could be overfed, I decided not to feed them at all for a couple of feedings, so their bodies could catch up. The little chinchilla died before he missed a feeding. The other, Snack, began to take a more normal shape. After a few days on restricted formula, the wobbling stopped, and he slowly started filling out in his legs. I think at 3 weeks I was giving them 4 - 5 eyedroppers of formula.

Eventually, to our surprise, Snack reached the same weight as his siblings, and went to freezer camp with the rest of the litter. It was sad, but it's what he was raised for.
 

Piper

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Will watch for this, if I am ever in the same situation. The only correlation I have right now, is this. If we had puppies that ate, without enough movement, they would not have leg strength and would be butter balls that could not walk. We did not get to the point of losing one, or if we did, my mom did not tell me.
 

Kyle@theWintertime

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That is amazing!!!!!!!!!!! I laughed so hard at the videos...it looks like they'll climb right into the air to get that formula!!! So adorable, very awesome. Thank you for sharing, that made me smile...and those are some good looking rabbits, congrats on getting them to thrive!!!

I bet they'll be the most tolerant adults of being held or posed, lol!!!
 

Miss M

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Kyle@theHeathertoft":2abetqwr said:
I bet they'll be the most tolerant adults of being held or posed, lol!!!
Glad you enjoyed the videos, Kyle! :D

My original post is over a year old now, though. This was a meat litter, so they all went to the freezer long ago.

With meat buns, I know many would not have intervened so. Obviously, I raised the cost of the meat by supplementing like this. But, especially with the kids, it was hard to just watch the struggling ones fade away, especially since it was only because they weren't getting enough milk.

It was fun to do, and, with such a small rabbitry, it was something that we could do. Obviously, with more rabbits, there wouldn't be time for stuff like this.

Does make for funny videos, though, if I say so myself! :lol:

Piper":2abetqwr said:
If we had puppies that ate, without enough movement, they would not have leg strength and would be butter balls that could not walk.

Yes, I could imagine!

With these guys, they were moving plenty. Just as active as their littermates. But they were eating way more formula than the others we were supplementing... like they couldn't tell they were full already. They would just keep eating until we finally stopped giving them more. They ended up with abnormal appearance and abnormal poo, even though they were still very active. Then the wobbling started.
 

MamaSheepdog

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I watched the videos too! Loved hearing the kid's laughter- that was the best part. :D

Those bunnies sure were funny, climbing through the air. Kittens are different- they claw away at the bottle in their first frenzy. Savages!
 

Miss M

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MamaSheepdog":3t6fa3lv said:
Loved hearing the kid's laughter- that was the best part. :D
They were holding the bunnies that weren't being fed at the time, too! So they had lots of fun! :lol:
 

Kyle@theWintertime

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That's okay, I think it frankly teaches children that even meat animals need a little TLC once in a while! :)

I'm gonna remember that formula for if I ever have a failure-to-thrive litter or a really weak runt. :D<br /><br />__________ Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:55 am __________<br /><br />Gonna try your formula recipe...how much per kit should newborns get???
 

MamaSheepdog

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Until Miss M gets back to you, just feed until they have a slightly rounded belly, but not too taut.
 

Kyle@theWintertime

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Okay...for their first feed I let 'em take as much as they would and when they stopped, so did I. They didn't take much but then again they are so, so tiny!!!

I know they have a very slim chance but I'm really hoping they make it. I was so relieved when the first one figured out how to nurse the bottle! Talk about a moment of pure relief!!!!
 

MamaSheepdog

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Good! It's a start, anyway. I saw in the other thread that you are keeping them in a carrier. Might it not be a better idea to leave the nest in Sparkle's cage, so that if and when her milk comes in she can hop in and feed them?

I think that when I was flipping my doe Feather to feed back in December that she wasn't letting her milk down. It might be too traumatic for some does and they are unable to relax. I wish I had known to "trance" her- there were a couple incidences of flying popples (or "falling with style") when she kicked the poor things across the room. :x

Good luck, Kyle!

I see you are circumventing your "Hiatus" quite effectively with Wi-Fi! :lol:
 

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