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CindyGodwin

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This is the first time that I have bred my rabbit. I was told earlier that the doe doesn’t pull hair until the day of kindling. But I found bloody fur in her cage, not in the box. And she doesn’t act like she is having babies. Is this normal? Should I do anything?
 

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This is the first time that I have bred my rabbit. I was told earlier that the doe doesn’t pull hair until the day of kindling. But I found bloody fur in her cage, not in the box. And she doesn’t act like she is having babies. Is this normal? Should I do anything?
I can't tell for sure but that photo almost looks like it's fur with little bits of skin attached. Is that what you see? Usually blood from birthing is pretty bright red; that looks more pinkish, like skin. Can you check your doe and see if she's got spots of missing fur/skin? If so, something might be attacking her and it would bear investigating further.
Some of my rabbits have built nests including pulling fur almost a week before kindling; others don't do it till they've actually had their babies. If they don't have a next box, the early builders will sometimes leave bunches of fur all around, others will try to build a nest in the corner with it. (Note that a doe that pulls fur/builds a nest at about two weeks out is often having a false pregnancy.)
One "trick" you can try to see what's going on is to put a bunch of hay/straw in her cage, and see if she begins "haystaching," or stuffing sometimes unbelievable amounts of hay crossways into her mouth. It will look like this, only maybe without the nest box:
IMG_2022-10-03-18-02-10-411.jpg IMG_2022-10-03-18-02-32-115.jpg
(Sorry for the blurriness of the pictures but you get the idea.)
If she does that, she's wanting to nest, and I'd give her a nest box ASAP. In fact, even if she doesn't, I'd give her a box. Unless you're absolutely 100% sure when she was bred, it's better safe than sorry.
When did your doe get bred?
 
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Buknee

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I have had rabbits build their nest at all stages. Totally normal. The blood is not normal unless they have actually kindled.
 

BuffBrahmaBantam

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I agree that does not look normal for kindling. Could there be a predator biting your buns and pulling hair through the underside of the cage? Don’t know the specifics of your set up, but if that is possible I’d look into it immediately. Tell us more about your set-up and how your rabbits are housed.
 

CindyGodwin

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This is a pic of the set up. I felt her tummy and I can’t feel anything in there moving around. I bred her around October 1st, give or take a day. Any advice??
 

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RabbitsOfTheCreek

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Is that all the hay they get? They need much more, especially for a nest. And if you bred her at the beginning of October then she would have had Kits by now
 

CindyGodwin

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I really don’t think that, that happened because I’m checking in her at least once a day. And that is the only fur that was in the cage. I could be wrong though. What are your feelings on breeding her again?
 

BuffBrahmaBantam

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I agree with Rabbitsofthecreek. They need more hay. I also recommend making your hutches more secure. It looks like the lids could be opened by a raccoon or similar sized animal. Are the lids latched at night? Small predators could slip in through the crack in the lid in the one hutch. Is that crack always open?

Chicken wire is too flimsy to hold back large predators (determined dogs, possibly raccoons, mustelids), and openings are too large to prevent small ones from getting in (rodents, weasels, venomous snakes). We use 1/2 or 1/4 inch hardware cloth screwed to sturdy wood panels, with a padlock on the door locked at night (locked padlocks are for sure racoon-proof - we read about it on backyard chickens years ago). We not have had predator mortality in 5+ years with chickens/rabbits in a rural and wild area. We are surrounded by national forest in the Cascade Range.

I hope this helps. Everyone has their own tolerance for predation, but as caretakers of our animals, I feel it is our role to provide safe secure housing that minimizes stress, and I feel our animals pay us back in dividends. I would not recommend breeding back until you can get more predator proof and secure housing.
 

Buknee

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This is a pic of the set up. I felt her tummy and I can’t feel anything in there moving around. I bred her around October 1st, give or take a day. Any advice??
I would agree with the cages not being secure against predators. Your rabbits are easy prey and the kits will be a target. Especially with the smell of fresh blood from kindling.

I currently have a doe that is past kindling. She has built a beautiful nest and just sits in it like she is waiting for babies. LOL
She was due Friday. Her cousin kindled right on schedule but I am still waiting on her. My guess is, false pregnancy. If so, this will be the first one out of many litters in my rabbitry. I am giving her until Saturday and then I will breed her again. Up until now, the longest any of my does have gone is 32 days.
 

judymac

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I am so sorry to hear of your difficulties. A new mama (and some experienced ones as well) may only pull a little (or no) wool, and have the babies right on the wire floor. I have one doe that is an excellent mother afterwards, raising lovely kits, but she refuses to put the kits anywhere but on the floor. To solve this, I pack the floor with several inches of hay, and move the kits to the nestbox after birth, where she tends them just fine.

BUT, that large-holed chicken wire on the sides of your rabbit hutch is a disaster waiting to happen. Kits born on the wire start blindly crawling, hoping to find mama or a warm nest somewhere. With holes that large, they'll crawl right out of the pen. Regular 1" x 2" welded rabbit wire is also too large, they crawl right through that as well. As a new rabbit owner, I was surprised one day by soft squeaking in the grass. Turned out that a mama had had her kits on the wire, and the entire litter had crawled out and fallen into the grass. Fortunately, no predators had found them yet, and I was able to pull some wool from mama's belly, make a nest in the nestbox, and put the little ones in it. They survived, but life is rarely that fortunate.

Raccoon and cats will happily reach through the big holes in the wire and pull out any babies they can reach. Happy for themselves, definitely not happy for us. I would seriously suggest putting 1/4 to 1/2" hardware cloth on the outside of the hutches. Rodents can go through holes as small as a quarter, and will eat newborn kits as well. Snakes, weasels, raccoon. . .there's a long list of possible predators, and chicken wire is so flimsy it's really not a barrier. Sometimes things can go along just fine for quite a while using less than adequate equipment, but it takes something like this to realize we're going to have to step up and take more precautions. I really think with the bloody evidence and no kits, that your doe did kindle, and her kits were eaten. Depending on your situation, and the types of predators involved, you may need to make hutch changes.

In your case, the chicken wire simply isn't going to be adequate protection. They make 'babysaver' welded wire for building rabbit pens, with the larger 1" x 2" holes for the upper sides, but the smaller 1/2" x 1" holes (like flooring) for the bottom few inches, to keep the kits from falling out. (If your pens are already built with the regular welded wire sides, you can add 3" of flooring size wire to the bottom of the sides, or 1/4-1/2" hardware cloth.) For immediate protection, I started using metal urine guards. They are also several inches high, and clip onto the inside bottom of the cage walls. Now there is a solid barrier between predators fishing to catch a wandering kit that is up against the side of the pen, and the kit. Everything you do that prevents predation helps, and this can give some modicum of protection until the new sides are finished.

I would go with smaller meshed heavy-gauge hardware cloth (1/2-1/4" squares) for the sides. I don't like hardware cloth for flooring, as it is not as thick and sturdy as welded wire 1/2" x 1" flooring, and is not as smooth on bunny feet. But, it smaller mesh than available welded wire, which helps keep rodents and snakes and such out.

Raccoon are extraordinarily adept at opening cages, with their very nimble hands. Canines and other large predators can simply batter and bite and twist thinner pen walls and doors until they give. Sturdy wire, and doors that latch securely are a good start. In extreme situations, like having bear or groups of other large predators like bored 'wild' dogs looking for a night's excitement, may require much stronger measures. In these cases, a sturdy building that encases the hutches, and sometimes even electric fencing may be required.

At this point, I think the main priority will be putting something with smaller mesh over the chicken wire sides, and being sure all hinged door areas close securely. Nestbox areas need a lot of clean fresh hay (or straw, or whatever bedding is preferred in your area) in them, as mama will be arranging and re-arranging it suit her. Remove any soiled hay (manure or wet from urine), and replace with fresh. Replenish bedding as needed, some mamas end up eating their nesting material after they build it. If the floor to the nesting area is solid wood, consider drilling some small drain holes in the floor. You don't want ammonia fumes and dampness to build up in the nest area because the urine can't escape. Ideally, the mama won't use her nesting area as a toilet, but it looks like there are rabbit manure pellets mixed in the hay in your nesting area, so your doe is relieving herself there already. Once they have a favorite spot, they tend to keep using it.
 

CindyGodwin

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Wow! I am so glad I found y’all. I had no idea, that I was so clueless on raising these rabbits. I am making the required adjustments to my cages today. The thought of a predator eating my babies turn my stomach. I can not say thank you enough for all the knowledge that you all are giving me!!!!
 

BuffBrahmaBantam

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One more question, should I fix the wiring on the bucks cages too? Are the in danger as well? Or just the doe and babies??
So glad to have helped! Let us know how it goes.

The buck is in less danger because he is bigger and can move around (unlike kits) but if it were me, I'd still give him solid housing. A dog or weasel could kill him. Could you start with the doe's cage and then fix the buck's cage second?
 

CindyGodwin

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Okay , so here are the improvements that I made to my rabbits cage . What do y’all think? Am I ready to breed again? I’m anxious to have babies!! But I do not want to be to pushy that I regret it!!
 

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