The runts

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Joplus

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I have a litter of Flemish Giants. One tiny baby the mom kicked out of the nest. I bottle fed the baby for the past 3 weeks. She never grew or thrived at all. This morning she passed away. I'm heartbroken. I'm pregnant and emotional and crying all day. I read the runts should be culled from the start. And I feel I invested too much of myself in this runt. What do you do with the runts? I don't know if I can just do nothing.
 

ckcs

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I know that just sucks. I have a litter of 4 with 3 runts and do not think they are going to make it. I've tried to hold the mama to them with no luck. I've also tried other does. It probably is best to cull them right from the start, but the only other runt I had made it, so I hold out hope. Since I sell them as pets I am not concerned with whether they would be good stock to breed with. I used to bury everything around our property. My daughter would bury the dead babies and make little crosses. She lost interest in doing that so the job became mine. I did it for a while but now they go into the compost pile. If something comes along and eats them, I am ok with that now. I have never lost an adult and when I do they will get buried. My connection with my adult rabbit is of course much greater.
 

MaggieJ

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I think whenever one elects to hand-feed a kit that one needs to go in hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst. The sad fact is that very young kits are very difficult to hand-feed successfully.

I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, but you did very well keeping it alive for three weeks and giving it a chance.

You said the doe kicked it out of the nest. Did you try putting it back before deciding to hand-feed it? Sometimes kits get dragged out on momma's teat if they fail to let go in time at the end of feeding time. Rabbits do not pick up and carry their kits the way a dog or cat would and so the mother would not have tried to put it back in the nest. Finding a kit outside the box does not necessarily mean that the doe rejected it.
 

Zass

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I have had plenty of runts survive and thrive, even from large litters. I never cull them from the start, even when I probably should.
I do lose some of them as well, but...that is just part of the territory with rabbit breeding. Everyone loses a few every now and then. Sometimes they are just born imperfect and cannot thrive no matter how much you care for them.
I've raised a lot of baby animals, and I think rabbits are probably one of the most difficult to hand feed. It doesn't matter what type of critter it is though, I always go into it expecting the worst and doing everything I can to give him or her a chance. It's all I can do.

What kind of formula did you use? You might be able to get some really good tips on hand feeding from members of this forum. :)
 

Joplus

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I never removed her from the box. And I do think she nursed sometimes. So I was supplementing mainly, just to get her to grow. She was the same size at birth almost, like a quarter of the size of the others by 3 weeks. I fed her 1/2 kmr, half goats milk, a little heavy cream and a pinch of Culturel for kids. I fed her 5-10 MLS a feeding at 3 weeks old, twice a day. I just think there was something wrong but I mainly want to know what to do next time. I will probably try again and fail but I guess that's ok. I'm just so sad. I will give her a proper burial. And I have many more fluffy perfect babies.
 

Marinea

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I am sorry you found us because of a loss, but welcome to RT, Joplus!

I would not beat yourself up over the loss. It is VERY difficult to hand raise kits. I am like you, I have to try, but I set my mind from the start that I will lose them eventually. It doesn't take away all of the sadness, but it helps if you try to consider a save as a gift, rather than to go into it expecting the save.

Based on your description of her size at three weeks, the kit may have other issues, and likely would not have made it no matter what you did.

By the way...we love pictures of kits here :)
 

Zass

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formula-feeding-baby-bunnies-pics-vids-t3691.html

I've been using this recipe to supplement my own current runt. I did lose one before I realized that some of the smaller ones just weren't getting enough. They are three weeks old now too, but it seems to be stronger and more energetic by the day and getting more milk from Momma, now that the rest are eating more solid food.
It was born 1/2 sized in a litter of 11.

image.php
 

squidpop

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Joplus":1d7r2zqx said:
How do I upload pics. I've got tons

To post pics, press the "post a reply" button and look down and left and you should see an "upload attachment" tab, then "choose file" and press the "add the file" button.

I'm really sorry about your runt. I think you did the right thing trying to help it. I wouldn't cull just for one being smaller unless I knew for sure there was definately something wrong that I could see- like a mal-formed pallet or something. I had a runt half the size of the others and it caught up to the rest and became the middle weight of the rest. So you just never know with a runt and everyone deserves a chance.

I also think culling runts might depend on what kind of rabbits you raise and your goals. If you raise meat rabbit or breeds that are supposed to be large and you have really large litters it would make more sense to cull the runts. But if you raise cute fluffy pet bunnies, being small might be a positive asset.
 

skysthelimit

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Sorry about your experience. I don't cull runts either. Most of the time they live just fine, but take longer to reach the right size. Sometimes they catch up after weaning. If they don't I make sure not to use them in my breeding program.
 

Joplus

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It won't upload pics. Says invalid. Maybe its not possible from my phone?
 

Bandits Bunny Farm

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I just lost a runt. He was one of my mini rex litter of 7. I knew he wasnt going to make it because he was so small and not nearly as active as the other 6. He died Friday morning.... i just wanted him to go naturally because ive lost so many and couldnt bear to kill a baby
 

akane

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I used to give runts to my mini rex doe that would raise about anything. She had 3 different aged litters at one point. I quit handfeeding. If they aren't old enough to eat softened adult food then it's not worth the effort. Even if you handfeed them milk well they have major issues moving on to solid food. A rabbit's milk changes as the kits age and we just don't have good substitutes for it. They also need some form of probiotic when they start eating pellets and hay. Many baby animals get the necessary bacteria to digest adult food from eating the droppings/manure of the adults. I used something like bene bac at around 2 weeks until they fully switch to pellets and hay. They gobble up the paste bene bac that comes in a small tube. Now I just let nature run it's course. I leave them with the doe and if they make it great. If they look like they will definitely die in a day or 2 I cull them and feed to the dogs.
 

Richard & Tresa

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Small Guy, 2.jpgI logged on looking for fighting behavior solutions between 8 week olds in a grow out cage (Still building my "Rabbit Bonker" so I'm still not ready), but found this thread.

We also raise Quail (besides chickens for eggs and Tilapia in Aquaponics systems) and had to share:

Just one week into our first home laid, home incubated Quail hatch. I "helped 2 chicks out of their shells while hatching (MANY consider this breaking a cardinal rule, following the "Let mother nature take its course... there's a reason they're not supposed to live"...) We lost four total out of 24 (not unusual and definitely not unusual consider the two pulled from eggs and the other two being runts.)

However, among our kits from our first Kindle a couple of months ago, we had a really tiny runt. Our hearts took over and we did some searching here on RT, found the "Goat milk" formula and started hand feeding the tiny guy. 8 weeks later, we can't tell the difference between the runt or the one we thought would grow to be a giant! =D

I've learned that it's all a personal choice and, especially armed with as much info as you can gather, you can't "do it wrong"... For us personally, we will continue to try and save our runts (as long as they are not suffering), do our best and recognize that in the end, Mother Nature will always have her way regardless of the outcome... We were glad we intervened with the kit and with the Quail, we'd probably do it again as a last minute attempt to help them if they haven't made it on their own at the end of the hatch period.

Good luck.

Richard & Tresa

(Found a solution to out fighting juniors... We have extra Quail Grow Out cages in the Breezeway. Modifying a feeder, hanging a water bottle and the fighting rabbit will have two more weeks until our Quail chicks need to move in... Then it's off to freezer camp. (Weird... we put our hearts and souls into these little creatures, doing the best to take care of them... and then we eat them! lol! (my dark side)
 

Marinea

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We just went through a litter with a runt. I did not hand feed formula, but I did give it an extra solo feeding a day with the doe, using the "doe in the lap" method.

The kits are 4 1/2 weeks old now, growing like mad. The runt is still a bit smaller, but not much, and is making huge weekly weight gains. The solo feedings stopped after a week or so, and it is doing well.

Richard & Tresa":1ln41qlh said:
(Weird... we put our hearts and souls into these little creatures, doing the best to take care of them... and then we eat them! lol! (my dark side)

Here at RT, I think NOT doing that would be weird :)
 

Miss M

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We have intervened on quite a few runts ourselves. We've actually lost very few of them. We've had two like you describe... they never grew. They furred out, but never grew, and eventually died. One after two weeks, the other a little earlier. I just figure they had some sort of abnormality, because we've supplemented our share of runts, and they usually catch up eventually. And then they go to freezer camp with their siblings.

Some breeders put their runts down, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's all a matter of your goals, your available time, your choices. :)

Richard & Tresa":ld3utz3d said:
(Weird... we put our hearts and souls into these little creatures, doing the best to take care of them... and then we eat them! lol! (my dark side)
Marinea":ld3utz3d said:
Here at RT, I think NOT doing that would be weird :)
:yeahthat:
 

Zass

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:yeahthat: I just want to agree with everyone else. :D

Also, this one was born 1/2 sized, but into a litter of only 4 kits.

I didn't do anything to supplement.
This baby isn't just fed...it's...obese!

I don't see any reason to routinely cull every runt that appears.
 

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squidpop

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Its hard not to want the runts to live. Helping the runts live I think is all about rooting for the underdog, and hoping it will rise up against all odds. Plus they're :) so cute!
 

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