So much internal fat!

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ThunderHill

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So we culled our first "three strikes and you're out" doe today, whose track record has been a litter of two stillborn kits, then a total miss, then a litter of only one stillborn kit. In both instances where she kindled the stillborn kits, she mostly just ate all the hay in the nest and pulled a very small amount of fur. For these reasons, we decided to cull her today.

Well, she was just full of internal fat! Gobs of it, all throughout her abdominal cavity. So I guess that explains why she wasn't having success with breeding and kindling, but she didn't look or feel fat from the outside, and she was only around 8 months old (around 5 months when first bred). When I pet down her back, I could easily feel her spine, she had a small dewlap, etc. So now I'm worried that I really don't know how to gauge if my rabbits are overweight!

What is the best way to tell if rabbits are overweight or accumulating internal fat (I raise New Zealands)? I've never really measured out or weighed pellets, but I am going to start with that to prevent further issues. Could it be some kind of genetic condition that predisposed her to fat accumulation even though she didn't seem overweight?

Another thing to mention is she is the only rabbit older than around 12 weeks I've ever butchered. Is it normal to see a lot more fat in a more mature rabbit and I'm worried for nothing? It really seemed like a lot and I've always read that it's unhealthy, so I doubt it, but just wanted to give all the info I could.

Thanks in advance for any advice or information!
 

Hopperpopper Queen

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I wouldnt be concerned. Older rabbits have quite a bit of fat. I culled a few that were 6ish months and had "gobs" of fat too. In my experience its normal. But im also fairly new to rabbit husbandry.
 

KelleyBee

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I’m new, also, so cannot answer your question, but I thought I’d chime in on the feeding. I weigh each pellet serving for my 4 breeder does and 2 bucks everyday for just the reason of your concern. In one of the many books I’ve read on rabbitry, it says adjust the amount based upon the feeding from the day before (I refill once per day). If feeder is empty, I increase by half an ounce and if feeder is not empty I reduce the pellet amount by about as much as is still in the feeder. I also keep daily written records in a 3 ring binder so I know how much each rabbit is consuming. Each rabbit is in its own cage.
 

Olbunny

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Kelly is right about keeping a log. We write notes on a calendar. Yes your doe was fat. Probably because you enjoyed their company n wanted to give them all the love you could.
Hey bunnies are cute, you'll have that.
My advice is from starting out with a new doe. We feed a maintenance diet of 1 cup of pellets a day open feed timothy hay always have clean water. We use heated water bowls. 1 also feed a 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds a day as it gets kinda cold.
I can say that our does did well. We will cull 1 doe that missed a pregnancy n had other birthing issues. She is a bad mom as she doesn't perform on a rabbit farm. Where I have to try to be as efficient as possible.
And I want to mix up the bloodline a bit. I have a doe that performs exceptionally well. And has great traits. She has large litters of 9-10 kits and never lost a 1. Although 1 baby was born with a torn flank near the belly and she removed it from the nesting box. Very nice attitude n enjoys pets n attention. Eats well, keeps her pen clean, takes on orphans easily. Kinda like the perfect rabbit. So I will be keeping the best looking doe from her last litter to replace the other doe.
We have to try to be as efficient as possible but our rabbits are treated with care. At all levels.
Hey you all are doing great. You got started. It's going to take time n there are hard lessons. But that is the important thing. I know our rabbits get good care in clean condition delivered with care. And your family is getting more than a top quality protien, your learning animal husbandry. And how to be more self sufficient. Glad to see you folks around
 

ThunderHill

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I’m new, also, so cannot answer your question, but I thought I’d chime in on the feeding. I weigh each pellet serving for my 4 breeder does and 2 bucks everyday for just the reason of your concern. In one of the many books I’ve read on rabbitry, it says adjust the amount based upon the feeding from the day before (I refill once per day). If feeder is empty, I increase by half an ounce and if feeder is not empty I reduce the pellet amount by about as much as is still in the feeder. I also keep daily written records in a 3 ring binder so I know how much each rabbit is consuming. Each rabbit is in its own cage.
This sounds like great advice. Thanks so much! I usually just try to eyeball it, and like you said, if they have any left in the morning, give a little less the next day, etc. But when pregnant, I give more. That's probably what went wrong with this one, as I thought she was pregnant pretty much 3 months straight - one month and a stillborn litter of 2, another month and no babies, then a third month and a stillborn litter of one. So all that time I wasn't watching her food intake very closely. I still haven't gotten the hang of palpation, so it's hard for me to confirm if they are actually pregnant.
 

Olbunny

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I believe you're senses are correct. In that internal fat could effect the pregnancy. I have a doe that I've raised for 2 years and she turned out to be a doe not suitable for a working farm. That will be culled when she is done nursing her current litter.
And replaced with a doe we will select from our best doe. Who is very gentle and a great mama. So it's nice to be building our own herd n bloodline. We bought our current 3 does n 1 buck as kits. We had what we got.
 

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