Removing Newborn Kits at Night

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Dear All,

I have been reading through a lot of threads about having kits outside in cold weather 40's and below. I have seen several suggestions of bringing kits in at night to prevent drop off and to keep them warm. Can anyone with personal experience please let me know the following:
- any issues with mom abandoning kits
- any issues with temperature variant, moving kits from house in high 60's back outside in 40's or cooler
- any issues with mom getting stressed being seperated from kits

If you have any other information or suggestions with kits being outside i would appreciate it.

Currently our rabbits are outside in 3 sided barn, the barn is split into 5 stalls its protected from wind but not heated in any way, we are planning to put doors on each stall section, but we have a long list of jobs and thats about 1/2 way down the list.
 
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Also as some added info, these are Flemish Giants, 2 does had pregnancy take, 1st doe just had litter, second doe due in about a week, 10 kits are in good nest lots off fur at center of huddle its about 85°, as I noted in my last response about the issue on bringing them inside together (mom & kits) is space, my Flemish have very big cages no way could I carry one in the house on my own, if it was one or two of my holland lops I could find space but these guys take up a lot of real-estate and if I put them in a smaller cage I fear the mom treading on the kits for lack of space.
 
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I "shelve" litters fairly often, bringing the nest box into the house at night and taking it back out to the doe in the morning. In the *really* cold months (basically November - April here in Alaska) I sometimes keep the boxes in the house all the time, taking them to the doe only in the morning and evening. Some does feed once a day, with some preferring morning and others preferring evening feedings, while others feed twice a day, so I give them both options. I've been raising rabbits in AK for over a decade and have yet to have trouble with does rejecting babies in these cases. In fact, they are usually super excited to hop in and feed the kits! And later, when the kits are a little older and more demanding, some of the does actually look like they appreciate the break. :)

I have not had any issues with moving the kits in and out (and the temps in our barn are routinely below freezing in the fall and spring). As long as the nest is deep and well-covered, and there are more than a couple of kits, they stay incredibly warm in their little huddle, and the temperature varies only slightly.

I also shelve litters when the doe decides to make the nest box a lounge or potty tray, sitting in the front or using it as a toilet. When the doe sits in the front, the kits often end up crawling up to her for a snack when it's not feeding time. This can result in scattering the litter so they get cold when she leaves, or in them popping out or being dragged out of the box by the doe. The problems with the doe using the box as a toilet need no explanation. :)

I do usually leave the box in with the doe for the first few days since she often keeps adding fur/building the nest for several days. (I keep extra fur on hand to add in cases where the doe hasn't done a great job of covering with her own.) I am more inclined to start bringing the boxes in when the kits are closer to a week old, when they are more likely to pop out or get dragged out when they don 't let go of mom when she's ready to leave.

A hidden benefit to bringing the boxes into the house is that the kits get a lot of attention and handling (we have kids at home). Not only are we more likely to notice any problems early, but the kits get extremely well-socialized. We begin handling kits as soon as they're born, which results in bunnies that are very friendly and stress-resistant.

As far as I'm concerned, the only negative to bringing the boxes in, is that it is definitely more labor-intensive than just leaving the doe to it. But when temps are low, that's better than finding frozen bunnies on the wire!
 
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I "shelve" litters fairly often, bringing the nest box into the house at night and taking it back out to the doe in the morning. In the *really* cold months (basically November - April here in Alaska) I sometimes keep the boxes in the house all the time, taking them to the doe only in the morning and evening. Some does feed once a day, with some preferring morning and others preferring evening feedings, while others feed twice a day, so I give them both options. I've been raising rabbits in AK for over a decade and have yet to have trouble with does rejecting babies in these cases. In fact, they are usually super excited to hop in and feed the kits! And later, when the kits are a little older and more demanding, some of the does actually look like they appreciate the break. :)

I have not had any issues with moving the kits in and out (and the temps in our barn are routinely below freezing in the fall and spring). As long as the nest is deep and well-covered, and there are more than a couple of kits, they stay incredibly warm in their little huddle, and the temperature varies only slightly.

I also shelve litters when the doe decides to make the nest box a lounge or potty tray, sitting in the front or using it as a toilet. When the doe sits in the front, the kits often end up crawling up to her for a snack when it's not feeding time. This can result in scattering the litter so they get cold when she leaves, or in them popping out or being dragged out of the box by the doe. The problems with the doe using the box as a toilet need no explanation. :)

I do usually leave the box in with the doe for the first few days since she often keeps adding fur/building the nest for several days. (I keep extra fur on hand to add in cases where the doe hasn't done a great job of covering with her own.) I am more inclined to start bringing the boxes in when the kits are closer to a week old, when they are more likely to pop out or get dragged out when they don 't let go of mom when she's ready to leave.

A hidden benefit to bringing the boxes into the house is that the kits get a lot of attention and handling (we have kids at home). Not only are we more likely to notice any problems early, but the kits get extremely well-socialized. We begin handling kits as soon as they're born, which results in bunnies that are very friendly and stress-resistant.

As far as I'm concerned, the only negative to bringing the boxes in, is that it is definitely more labor-intensive than just leaving the doe to it. But when temps are low, that's better than finding frozen bunnies on the wire!
Thank you so much for the indepth information, were in WV and although its not below freezing yet, i have a few more litters planned and this has helped put my mind at ease. I will keep a close eye on the kits and temp check regularly if everything seems good I will leave them for the first week then start bringing them in. I have 3 kids between 3 and 10 so with handling daily they should be bombproof by adulthood lol.
 
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Thank you, I appreciate the information. Just out of curiosity how can it go badly, rejection or stress? Thank you
Even though I've only done it a couple of times out of necessity, e.g. moving, I've had a number of things result from moving mother rabbits with young. A couple of them went off their feed, others act extremely nervous, and one actually stomped/ate her litter. Of course these things could have happened for other reasons, but the timing was suspicious to say the least. I've found that adult rabbits just don't like change, period, so I avoid any changes when at all possible.
 
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Even though I've only done it a couple of times out of necessity, e.g. moving, I've had a number of things result from moving mother rabbits with young. A couple of them went off their feed, others act extremely nervous, and one actually stomped/ate her litter. Of course these things could have happened for other reasons, but the timing was suspicious to say the least. I've found that adult rabbits just don't like change, period, so I avoid any changes when at all possible.
Thank you i will make sure the moms stay put, i definitely don't want to risk any of those.
 

ladysown

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Dear All,

I have been reading through a lot of threads about having kits outside in cold weather 40's and below. I have seen several suggestions of bringing kits in at night to prevent drop off and to keep them warm. Can anyone with personal experience please let me know the following:
- any issues with mom abandoning kits
- any issues with temperature variant, moving kits from house in high 60's back outside in 40's or cooler
- any issues with mom getting stressed being seperated from kits

If you have any other information or suggestions with kits being outside i would appreciate it.

Currently our rabbits are outside in 3 sided barn, the barn is split into 5 stalls its protected from wind but not heated in any way, we are planning to put doors on each stall section, but we have a long list of jobs and thats about 1/2 way down the list.
It's called shelving. People shelve for various reasons and for different lengths of time.

I live in SW Ontario in the snow belt.
My rule of thumb is the following
- litter of three or less, come in at night until fully furred (about 10 days), UNLESS we are in the deep freeze of winter then they come in during the day as well (only out for about 1/2 hour in the morning, and about 2 hours at night.
- Mom is prone to losing kits out of the box, so kits come in at night only, so kits don't drop out of the box for whatever reason. They come in from about day 10 through to two weeks old.
- clueless mother. A mother needs to prove herself clueless (so digging out the box, eating all the nest material (repeatedly), and/or peeing in the box (repeatedly). kits come in until I can find a foster or mom grows a brain. Sometimes does don't want to be mom for a litter. I don't know why, but it is usually just one litter they do this with after having at least two successful litters.

I have never had a doe abandon her kits. I did have one doe tear the nest apart the first time I brought the kits out to her. The kits were fine, she was frantic, I removed the kits and held them until she settled, rebuilt the nest and offered again. She fed them and was fine. She never did it again.

I wouldn't be bringing in kits unless it was very cold. 40's is for sure not cold enough for me to be bringing them in. Needs to be at least below freezing for me to bring them in.

I've not had does be stressed about the litter not being there. Does tend not to care a whole lot once the kits are gone.

I've never seen a temperature variant unless I cover the nest with a towel in the house. The nest fur both insulates and protects kits from temperature variations. I try to have an empty cage in the winter for shelving kits when I need to. I will cover them with a towel just to keep kits secured in the nestbox. This works outside when it is very cold.
 
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It's called shelving. People shelve for various reasons and for different lengths of time.

I live in SW Ontario in the snow belt.
My rule of thumb is the following
- litter of three or less, come in at night until fully furred (about 10 days), UNLESS we are in the deep freeze of winter then they come in during the day as well (only out for about 1/2 hour in the morning, and about 2 hours at night.
- Mom is prone to losing kits out of the box, so kits come in at night only, so kits don't drop out of the box for whatever reason. They come in from about day 10 through to two weeks old.
- clueless mother. A mother needs to prove herself clueless (so digging out the box, eating all the nest material (repeatedly), and/or peeing in the box (repeatedly). kits come in until I can find a foster or mom grows a brain. Sometimes does don't want to be mom for a litter. I don't know why, but it is usually just one litter they do this with after having at least two successful litters.

I have never had a doe abandon her kits. I did have one doe tear the nest apart the first time I brought the kits out to her. The kits were fine, she was frantic, I removed the kits and held them until she settled, rebuilt the nest and offered again. She fed them and was fine. She never did it again.

I wouldn't be bringing in kits unless it was very cold. 40's is for sure not cold enough for me to be bringing them in. Needs to be at least below freezing for me to bring them in.

I've not had does be stressed about the litter not being there. Does tend not to care a whole lot once the kits are gone.

I've never seen a temperature variant unless I cover the nest with a towel in the house. The nest fur both insulates and protects kits from temperature variations. I try to have an empty cage in the winter for shelving kits when I need to. I will cover them with a towel just to keep kits secured in the nestbox. This works outside when it is very cold.
Thank you for all the information, i appreciate all of the insights and i will definitely make notes on the good reasons to shelve kits. Thank you again for your response.
 

Buknee

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I left my litters outside in their shelter. There was no wind as three sides were closed but with simple material. No issues with cold for the rabbits. Some nights in the single digits.
 
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I left my litters outside in their shelter. There was no wind as three sides were closed but with simple material. No issues with cold for the rabbits. Some nights in the single digits.
Thank you for your response, i am glad they tolerate the cold, im guessing you had some good moms that built nice warm nests.
 

Therese

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I'm in New Hampshire. It can get below zero. I have the cages inside a fairly open carport structure. Mammas have banana boxes with lots of hay for nesting. The combination of mamma's fur with hay inside a box is amazingly warm. I have no problem with kits in the cold! (We leave the banana boxes whole until the kits have their eyes open, then cut a chunk out of one side as a door--that way they rarely get pulled out of the box onto the wire.) I would think in WV, the kits should be fine (especially inside a barn) as long as you can prevent them being pulled onto the cage floor (that is quick death in the winter!!!). Wish I had a barn to help regulate the climate! God bless you!
 
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I'm in New Hampshire. It can get below zero. I have the cages inside a fairly open carport structure. Mammas have banana boxes with lots of hay for nesting. The combination of mamma's fur with hay inside a box is amazingly warm. I have no problem with kits in the cold! (We leave the banana boxes whole until the kits have their eyes open, then cut a chunk out of one side as a door--that way they rarely get pulled out of the box onto the wire.) I would think in WV, the kits should be fine (especially inside a barn) as long as you can prevent them being pulled onto the cage floor (that is quick death in the winter!!!). Wish I had a barn to help regulate the climate! God bless you!
Thank you, i will look into banana boxes as i found a kit on the wire at morning check, it was about 53° in the barn, i quickly put the kit down my top to warm him/her up i think it will make a full recovery thank god, i tried to warm it up gradually so it doesn't go into shock.

I am currently using plastic pet carriers seperating top and bottom and putting the top in one cage and bottom in another, then filling full of hay, i guess this one got dragged out through the door opening. I will have to look into getting some banana boxes, where do you get yours? Somewhere like sams/Walmart?
 

Therese

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Thank you, i will look into banana boxes as i found a kit on the wire at morning check, it was about 53° in the barn, i quickly put the kit down my top to warm him/her up i think it will make a full recovery thank god, i tried to warm it up gradually so it doesn't go into shock.

I am currently using plastic pet carriers seperating top and bottom and putting the top in one cage and bottom in another, then filling full of hay, i guess this one got dragged out through the door opening. I will have to look into getting some banana boxes, where do you get yours? Somewhere like sams/Walmart?
Sams/Walmart should have banana boxes. Grocery stores usually have a plethora of them. We get expired/damaged produce to feed our pigs and it is usually packed in banana boxes so that's how we get ours. I bet you could ask the manager of the produce section about boxes.

The banana boxes have other advantages over plastic and metal: no condensation. Also, they are automatically insulated. And, they are disposable for good hygiene (no transfer of disease/parasites). And, they are inexpensive! And they are good for large rabbits (we have American Chinchillas). If the box gets dirty while the kits are still in the box you can just swap it out (it's good to keep a bit of fur when you brush out tanned hides so you can add it to the new pile of hay for the kits).

When the kits start opening their eyes (about 2 weeks old) you will need to cut the side of the box down or they will jump out to explore and not be able to get back in...and maybe die on the wire!

Anyway, these boxes have been a life saver in many ways for our bunnies--and for us!

God bless you!
 

RabbitsOfTheCreek

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When the kits start opening their eyes (about 2 weeks old) you will need to cut the side of the box down or they will jump out to explore and not be able to get back in
In Chip's litter (Chip, Maurice, and Gaston), one would go to one of the front corners in the cage where the wall is the lowest, another one would climb on top of them, and the third one would climb out lol. There was usually just the bottom one left trying to figure out how to get out
 
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In Chip's litter (Chip, Maurice, and Gaston), one would go to one of the front corners in the cage where the wall is the lowest, another one would climb on top of them, and the third one would climb out lol. There was usually just the bottom one left trying to figure out how to get out
Thats adorable.
 
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Sams/Walmart should have banana boxes. Grocery stores usually have a plethora of them. We get expired/damaged produce to feed our pigs and it is usually packed in banana boxes so that's how we get ours. I bet you could ask the manager of the produce section about boxes.

The banana boxes have other advantages over plastic and metal: no condensation. Also, they are automatically insulated. And, they are disposable for good hygiene (no transfer of disease/parasites). And, they are inexpensive! And they are good for large rabbits (we have American Chinchillas). If the box gets dirty while the kits are still in the box you can just swap it out (it's good to keep a bit of fur when you brush out tanned hides so you can add it to the new pile of hay for the kits).

When the kits start opening their eyes (about 2 weeks old) you will need to cut the side of the box down or they will jump out to explore and not be able to get back in...and maybe die on the wire!

Anyway, these boxes have been a life saver in many ways for our bunnies--and for us!

God bless you!
Thank you i will definitely pick some up at sams this weekend.

God bless you aswell.
 

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