Sore hocks, boards and hay haven’t worked.

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Lindsay Krawsczyn

Rabbit Breeder
Joined
May 2, 2024
Messages
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Location
Meigs County, OH
So, I have a couple of New Zealand bucks who’ve gotten sore hocks. Same litter I think. One of them isn’t so bad but the other two have somehow managed to get sores on their front feet as well. The front feet sores appeared after I gave them both boards for their sore hocks, I’ve since started also putting fresh hay daily in their cages but it doesn’t seem to be getting better. I really don’t know what to do, especially since one of them is one of my two good breeding meat bucks. The other two aren’t so important, they’re getting culled from the herd anyways, but my breeding buck does worry me. Neither of my does get sore hocks at all, so it should be more or less fine genetically. But I would really refer for him to be comfortable at the least. They aren’t infected or anything at the least, but they are definitely scabbed and bleed if I or he happens to scrape his foot against something on accident and he seems uncomfortable a lot of the time.
 
So, I have a couple of New Zealand bucks who’ve gotten sore hocks. Same litter I think. One of them isn’t so bad but the other two have somehow managed to get sores on their front feet as well. The front feet sores appeared after I gave them both boards for their sore hocks, I’ve since started also putting fresh hay daily in their cages but it doesn’t seem to be getting better. I really don’t know what to do, especially since one of them is one of my two good breeding meat bucks. The other two aren’t so important, they’re getting culled from the herd anyways, but my breeding buck does worry me. Neither of my does get sore hocks at all, so it should be more or less fine genetically. But I would really refer for him to be comfortable at the least. They aren’t infected or anything at the least, but they are definitely scabbed and bleed if I or he happens to scrape his foot against something on accident and he seems uncomfortable a lot of the time.
If you have a solid-bottomed cage you could keep him in for a while, that would probably be the best bet. Fill it with a generous, thick layer of soft wood or paper shavings and keep them very clean; figure out where he pees and give him a litter tray, change it often and make sure his cage stays scrupulously dry. I've had some folks tell me they apply neosporin to the sores, but my rabbits immediately lick everything off, often re-inflaming the sore spot in the process.

Sometimes when rabbits get sore hocks, they shift their weight forward to relieve the pressure, and then end up with sores on their front feet, as well. Keep an eye on his vent area too, as sometimes they'll stand in a strange position to pee, and develop urine scald (aka hutch burn) to boot. It seems like does are more likely to have that problem than bucks, but I'd watch him carefully to catch anything before it develops into another major issue.

I would not be inclined to use him to produce anything other than terminal meat rabbit bunnies. If your does don't have the problem, I surely wouldn't want to introduce it into my line. It is usually a very heritable characteristic, and especially if at least two related bucks have the problem, I'd steer clear of using either one of them as foundation stock, if I had any other option.
 
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Another thing to consider is that once a rabbit has sore hocks, even after they have healed they are still vulnerable to get them again for quite a while. It is not the skin that protects from the wires, it is the thick coarse fur that cushions against it. This takes a lot of time to grow back, you'll need to be watchful for months afterwards to ensure everything grows back to the protective thickness. Closely inspect the hock weekly, ensure that there are no mats causing uneven pressure around the original sore (I find that mats from easier right next to a bald spot), check that he's not compensating with the other hock and wearing it down to the point of hurt.

While I personally won't take him out of the lineup for one incident (and until he is fully healed subsequent sores are part of the first incident) Alaska satin has a good point about not wanting it in your line.

If you get to the point where he's fully healed and it happens again, you at the very least have to select any descendants very critically.


If you can give him a good several inches of straw across the whole cage, or a 'couch' (box filled to the brim) and a solid floor, that will help him heal... You'll have to commit to a lot of time if you want to ensure he fully recovers. Keep a good eye on his bum, keep it clean so he doesn't get hutch burn- that's the last thing you want when he's already got sores.
 
If you have a solid-bottomed cage you could keep him in for a while, that would probably be the best bet. Fill it with a generous layer of soft wood or paper shavings and keep them very clean; figure out where he pees and give him a litter tray, change it often and make sure his cage stays scrupulously dry. I've had some folks tell me they apply neosporin to the sores, but my rabbits immediately lick everything off, often re-inflaming the sore spot in the process.

Sometimes when rabbits get sore hocks, they shift their weight forward to relieve the pressure, and then end up with sores on their front feet, as well. Keep an eye on his vent area too, as sometimes they'll stand in a strange position to pee, and develop urine scald to boot. It seems like does are more likely to have that problem than bucks, but I'd watch him carefully to catch anything before it develops into another major issue.

I would not be inclined to use him to produce anything other than terminal meat rabbit bunnies. If your does don't have the problem, I surely wouldn't want to introduce it into my line. It is usually a very heritable characteristic, and especially if at least two related bucks have the problem, I'd steer clear of using either one of them as foundation stock, if I had any other option.
Ok then thank you, I’ll see what I can do. Whilst I don’t have a solid bottomed cage I can most probably get ahold of one. I have a second buck who’s pretty reliable for breeding, a Cali, and he’s never even gotten a hint of sore hocks. Plus he’s a gorgeous buck really. So, I can just switch over to using only him for breeding my meat rabbits. I am expecting a litter from my buck with the sore hocks the beginning of May, but they’re going to be terminal meat rabbits especially since now their father has such bad sore hocks. I was hoping to possibly hold back a breeding doe from that litter originally, but it would probably be preferable not to so I’m going to be buying one off of this guy I got one of my other does off of instead.
 
Ok then thank you, I’ll see what I can do. Whilst I don’t have a solid bottomed cage I can most probably get ahold of one. I have a second buck who’s pretty reliable for breeding, a Cali, and he’s never even gotten a hint of sore hocks. Plus he’s a gorgeous buck really. So, I can just switch over to using only him for breeding my meat rabbits. I am expecting a litter from my buck with the sore hocks the beginning of May, but they’re going to be terminal meat rabbits especially since now their father has such bad sore hocks. I was hoping to possibly hold back a breeding doe from that litter originally, but it would probably be preferable not to so I’m going to be buying one off of this guy I got one of my other does off of instead.
Has your buck lost any weight? My buck has terrible sore hocks and has lost a ton of weight. I have been giving him pellets and grass and he eats some of the hay I leave for bedding. I am definitely getting rid of him but, I need him to heal up and gain back the weight. Do you know any good feeds or medicines that could help with sore hocks or to gain weight? He was one of my nice breeders but, now I'm looking for a new one.
 
Has your buck lost any weight? My buck has terrible sore hocks and has lost a ton of weight. I have been giving him pellets and grass and he eats some of the hay I leave for bedding. I am definitely getting rid of him but, I need him to heal up and gain back the weight. Do you know any good feeds or medicines that could help with sore hocks or to gain weight? He was one of my nice breeders but, now I'm looking for a new one.
No I don’t think so, he’s I think between 9 1/2 and 10 lbs. I don’t know much about feeds or medicines to help with any of it, but someone else on here might.
 
Yeah I would stop using him for breeding also. I have tried to heal sore hocks in the past and it became a sort of constant maintenance issue, plus heritable. In my case the silly buck really loved thumping his foot a whole lot, which did not help. He was pretty, but he had to go.
 
Has your buck lost any weight? My buck has terrible sore hocks and has lost a ton of weight. I have been giving him pellets and grass and he eats some of the hay I leave for bedding. I am definitely getting rid of him but, I need him to heal up and gain back the weight. Do you know any good feeds or medicines that could help with sore hocks or to gain weight? He was one of my nice breeders but, now I'm looking for a new one.
When a rabbit has serious sore hocks, it's too miserable to do much of anything, so it will very often lose condition pretty dramatically. And when it goes off its feed, its gut gets upset, which makes it even more uncomfortable, and so it goes... Add to that the above-mentioned tendency to develop urine scald, aka hutch burn, because of the weird way it will hold itself due to the pain, and you have a pretty sad bunny. I am fighting this issue with my Champagne D'Argents at the moment and I expect it will take several generations to shake it out, but I know it can be done.

In the meantime, here's what seems to be giving relief to the poor sore bunnies. All of the Champagnes get a resting mat, whether or not they have sore hocks (yet). That can be a bit of a Catch-22, since it tends to catch dirt and then wetness, so they end up sitting on that, which makes things worse. So, if you put any kind of resting board (wood, plastic or tile), you need to really keep ahead of getting it cleaned or replaced as soon as there's any nastiness on it. But a rabbit that has or tends to have sore hocks really needs a clean place to get off the wire, whether it's a board or a solid-bottomed cage.

The worst situation I've had was a doe that had just come off a litter, who went from looking uncomfortable to being emaciated (6lbs when she should have been 10) with the most awful case of urine scald I've ever seen, all in the span of 5 days. It was incredible how fast she faltered. I brought her in the house where I could keep a good eye on her and put her in a small cage with a resting mat that took up most of the floor space (she wasn't moving around much anyway). Her hutch burn was so bad that she actually smelled dead :sick: I rinsed her gently with warm water and patted her dry. I had to do this a few times, but I was amazed at how fast she turned around and her skin went back to healthy pink instead of flaming angry red. The sore hocks took quite a lot longer to heal.

To bring the rabbit back up to a good weight, the key is to remedy the problem that caused the weight loss in the first place. In this case it could be the sore hocks, but consider if something else might also be a contributing factor. Once you're satisfied that you've addressed any other problems, doing what you're doing - feeding a quality pellet and lots of grass and hay - is the right start. Giving the rabbit a probiotic like Benebac is something I usually do for any rabbit that has had weight or other digestive issues. Adding BOSS (black oil sunflower seed) is always a good option to put weight on rabbits, and given in reasonable amounts (1 tsp - 1Tbl a day, depending on the size of the rabbit), I've never seen it trigger any new problems. It's pretty easy to find, often sold as wild bird seed. Other supplements that will put on weight are oats/dry oatmeal, and Calf Manna.

As @eco2pia points out, this tends to be a constant maintenance concern. And as she also points out, it can stem from behavioral traits (thumping at everything), as well as thin fur on the feet, or narrow feet; behavioral tendencies, foot width and fur thickness are all heritable, so I think you'd be wise to avoid keeping his offspring as breeders.
 
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Yeah I would stop using him for breeding also. I have tried to heal sore hocks in the past and it became a sort of constant maintenance issue, plus heritable. In my case the silly buck really loved thumping his foot a whole lot, which did not help. He was pretty, but he had to go.
My buck likes to dip his feet in water/pee and do anything he can to get wet and then shake the crap out of his feet (mostly his front ones). I am disappointed because I spent good money on him just to feed him to my dogs. I had thought about giving him to an auction once I got him back to good health but quickly shut that thought down(Lol, I think I just was mad/disappointed with him and wanted him gone) I don't want to give someone else a bad day too.
 
My buck likes to dip his feet in water/pee and do anything he can to get wet and then shake the crap out of his feet (mostly his front ones). I am disappointed because I spent good money on him just to feed him to my dogs. I had thought about giving him to an auction once I got him back to good health but quickly shut that thought down(Lol, I think I just was mad/disappointed with him and wanted him gone) I don't want to give someone else a bad day too.
Yeah, sometimes bucks do that; I suspect it's a marking behavior. (Ugh.)
I definitely wouldn't send him to auction... Do unto others, etc. The only way I'd sell him was to someone looking for meat who would butcher right away, or to someone looking for a pet who knew what they were getting into and could coddle him a little.
 
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