3 week bunny diet questions

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clwillia55

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Hi Everyone,

We have 3 small Holland Lops baby buns (3 weeks) who do not seem to notice pellets at all. They are offered a little hay variety and they seem to really enjoy Orchard grass and timothy hay - but they don't eat all of it by any means. I sprinkle some alfalfa in but I am worried since they are quite little it might cause stomach issues so I have not been adding too much. The doe avoids it altogether. I am also offering a mix of adult mana pro pellets (that is what the doe loves) and some oxbow baby pellets. I also feed the baby oxbow to the doe but she isn't really a fan. I have never seen the kits eat any of them. So I am hoping they will soon, but if they don't is there something else I should/could give them other than hay? They live near the doe but not with her as she is aggressive to them, so we hold her 2 x a day so they can nurse. They also have a very small low crock of water which they hop over and chew the side of. I am hoping they figure that out too. I am just wondering since they are really little (5.5 ounces at 3 weeks) if there are pellet alternatives? The are very active happy little guys. So when it hits 4 weeks and so on I just want to make sure they will adjust ok to less milk. If all else fails I have evaporated goat milk on standby, but I rather not use it unless we have to. Maybe this is normal, maybe they are perfectly fine but we have never done this before and have no idea what we are doing. Any and all help is appreciated!
 

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Blue eyes

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They are just reaching the age where they may start nibbling on some foods.

The following from the House Rabbit Society may help:
Birth to 3 weeks–mother’s milk

3 to 4 weeks–mother’s milk, nibbles of alfalfa and pellets

4 to 7 weeks–mother’s milk, access to alfalfa and pellets

7 weeks to 7 months–unlimited pellets, unlimited hay (plus see 12 weeks below)

12 weeks–introduce vegetables (one at a time, quantities under 1/2 oz.)
 

zuppa

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Hi. If they get mothers milk as you say twice a day you don't need to worry if they don't eat other food yet, have it available for them and maybe feed mother in their enclosure so they can see her eating, she shouldn't be aggressive while eating. They will eat more in the next few weeks for sure, usually by 4 weeks they are trying eating some pellets and hay.

Would be great if you can feed her with them and she can use toilet there and poo so they not completely separated from her. Why is she aggressive towards them, maybe she is just tired they are begging for milk and she has no time to lay down? In this case you can just let her out for a day so she could have her own time and sleep enough etc, then she will be better to them. I wouldn't separate completely, definitely, mother not only feeds them but teaches lots of things, so don't break that connection. It is completely normal that mother can get nervous when babies start hopping out of nest after they are 2 weeks old and she might be just scared of so many new rabbits around and they are very demanding want her to feed them every minute so she might be just lost and what you think is aggression is maybe just defence. Maybe your cage is too small or something, you could build a high shelf for her so they can't reach her in there and she can have a sleep, or as I said you can let her out for a day so she will be more relaxed.

If you use junior pellets based on alfalfa there's no need in feeding alfalfa hay, in your photo I can't see anything wrong with that kit, for 3 weeks looking good.

Mother can nurse once a day and that is usually enough, I never used Mana Pro but if I want to make sure mother produces enough milk I'd give her a bit of rolled oats and just unlimited junior pellets, greens as usual. Do not overthink it they will start eating pellets and more hay when they are ready. I would offer regular hay, meadow or timothy or orchard whatever you normally feed your rabbits, don't feed alfalfa only they can refuse other hays after when you will want to transfer them. There's no need in alfalfa since you already feed junior pellets with alfalfa.

Don't go overprotective, just create good living condition for mother so she can have enough sleep and reduce stress, and she should take care of them.

If you could post some photo of their living space I could tell you more, but from your description I understand that she's just tired and stressed and has no private space where she can relax, that caused her 'aggression'.

Please keep us updated!
 
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zuppa

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Remember, you can't be better mother than their natural mother, don't try to protect them from her, you better try to help her and understand her stress and reduce it. She is alive and can take care of her own kits, don't separate them from her until at least 7-8 weeks, you can't teach them what she can you're not a rabbit. No need in using goat milk or other replacement when you have their living mother there, isolating mother from kits is no good at all.
 

majorv

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Can you explain how she’s aggressive towards them? It’s not unusual for mom to get testy if the kits are chasing her for milk. You would need to provide a perch for her to jump on in that case, to get away from them.
Many breeders feed manna pro pellets so I would give the kits the same as what mom eats.
 

clwillia55

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Can you explain how she’s aggressive towards them? It’s not unusual for mom to get testy if the kits are chasing her for milk. You would need to provide a perch for her to jump on in that case, to get away from them.
Many breeders feed manna pro pellets so I would give the kits the same as what mom eats.
Hi! Sorry not to get back right away. Other bunny issues required a vet appointment today. She originally had 6 live kits. But she ate most of two of them. One was born a peanut who died on day 3. So now we just have the remaining three. Like I mentioned we hold her 2 x a day so they can all nurse. If we don't hold her she will grunt at them and charge. If someone doesn't step in she tries to bite at them. She just seems to really dislike being a mom. Our vet said she would not mix them back together. I was hoping hormones involved in nursing would make her more agreeable to this over time but it hasn't that I can tell. She previously had a litter of a single kit but when we found him all the legs and most of the skin were eaten. It was still alive and making a lot of noise which is how we discovered it. I read that a first time mom can get confused and eat them accidentally if there are issues, but she did it again, so not sure if we can trust her. I think she will be spayed after all of this, but I just really want these kits to make it.

They can't get much help from her, so we are trying workarounds. The vet said to give them benebac plus or other probiotics and parsley. I wasn't sure about greens at 4 weeks, but maybe it is ok? Not sure the volume of rabbits our vet sees, I think she is mostly dogs and horses, but spays some rabbits as well. I was just back and forth with the vet as one kit, has a little mucus in its feces. She said add the probotics and try critical care to get them to eat more solids. And add parsley. They nibble hays and now drink water, but no pellets, and I don't think they are eating a huge amount of hay. Perhaps because we are still letting them get milk 2 x a day so they rather wait. Currently they are super active hop all over and seem great. The one with the mucus has what I would consider a slight head tilt which began 2 days ago. He washes and scratches at the ear - which is drooping. That with the mucus got us a virtual vet appointment since our vet can't see anyone in person right now. I did drop off the poo at the door and they called saying it was cleared of parasites. That kit (which is my favorite) is still as active as the others and eats as much as the rest do. I had read to try to find cecotropes and squish them up for them to eat, but I haven't done that. I have sprinkled the does poos in their area so maybe they will choose to nibble them, but I have never seen that either.
 

clwillia55

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Hi. If they get mothers milk as you say twice a day you don't need to worry if they don't eat other food yet, have it available for them and maybe feed mother in their enclosure so they can see her eating, she shouldn't be aggressive while eating. They will eat more in the next few weeks for sure, usually by 4 weeks they are trying eating some pellets and hay.

Would be great if you can feed her with them and she can use toilet there and poo so they not completely separated from her. Why is she aggressive towards them, maybe she is just tired they are begging for milk and she has no time to lay down? In this case you can just let her out for a day so she could have her own time and sleep enough etc, then she will be better to them. I wouldn't separate completely, definitely, mother not only feeds them but teaches lots of things, so don't break that connection. It is completely normal that mother can get nervous when babies start hopping out of nest after they are 2 weeks old and she might be just scared of so many new rabbits around and they are very demanding want her to feed them every minute so she might be just lost and what you think is aggression is maybe just defence. Maybe your cage is too small or something, you could build a high shelf for her so they can't reach her in there and she can have a sleep, or as I said you can let her out for a day so she will be more relaxed.

If you use junior pellets based on alfalfa there's no need in feeding alfalfa hay, in your photo I can't see anything wrong with that kit, for 3 weeks looking good.

Mother can nurse once a day and that is usually enough, I never used Mana Pro but if I want to make sure mother produces enough milk I'd give her a bit of rolled oats and just unlimited junior pellets, greens as usual. Do not overthink it they will start eating pellets and more hay when they are ready. I would offer regular hay, meadow or timothy or orchard whatever you normally feed your rabbits, don't feed alfalfa only they can refuse other hays after when you will want to transfer them. There's no need in alfalfa since you already feed junior pellets with alfalfa.

Don't go overprotective, just create good living condition for mother so she can have enough sleep and reduce stress, and she should take care of them.

If you could post some photo of their living space I could tell you more, but from your description I understand that she's just tired and stressed and has no private space where she can relax, that caused her 'aggression'.

Please keep us updated!
Thank you for all of this information! It has just been an unfortunately busy bunny time. As I mentioned in the response below one of my kits has a dropped ear and weird poops so we had to attempt a online vet appointment.

Our doe is a free range in the house lady. She also has one of those black wire snap together pens and it is huge in my opinion. She basically took up most of the second bedroom. I would really love her to just take care of these kits because I feel they have the best chance when the natural method works out. She has cannibalized enough kits already I think though including clearly alive larger kits, so I am afraid to let her have the remaining ones.

I will try to get the area around her pen straightened up for some photos and get them on here for you to see. I was thinking maybe we could alter her snap together pen so that they could be neighbors ans see each other through the "wall" of the pen. I am not sure if they would get stressed seeing her and being stuck on one side though. They seem to really like her even it she is very stompy, grunty, and then bitey. But if they could be neighbors then they could maybe watch her and learn bunny stuff from safety?

Also, diet-wise - my vet recommended they get some Oxbow Critical Care, and parsley to encourage the weaning process. But I do not feed this to the doe. Any thoughts on giving them this bonus food? I am not sure exactly why she recommended it. It was hard to hear on a virtual office call, but maybe because the one buns poops are very small and hard. I have never seen baby poos before so I can only assume they are ok. They still act fine that I can tell. They still only eat a very small amount of hay (timothy & orchard grass I mix together) and water. They see perplexed on the whole pellet thing and completely disregard them. I was hoping in another week or two they would just start eating them. Like you mentioned by week 4 maybe that will happen. They will be 4 weeks this thursday so hopefully soon.

Thank you SO much for all your help! I appreciate everyone's suggestions. Oh and thank you for saying the kit looked normal. I originally had questions on them when they were born and a breeder told me to use FB private Holland Lop breeding pages/groups for help. They just told me my kits were "faders" and likely too small to live. I have found forums like this much more helpful and encouraging with actual information. :)
 

majorv

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Based on the doe’s history and actions I’d say she is not mother material. Holding her to nurse is best, and I agree that getting her fixed is best. Be careful feeding greens to 3 week old kits. Besides getting them to nurse and giving them hay, the probiotics would be good. See if you can get them to take some pellets, whether it be oxbow or manna pro. Maybe mix a little water in it to make it softer?
 

clwillia55

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Based on the doe’s history and actions I’d say she is not mother material. Holding her to nurse is best, and I agree that getting her fixed is best. Be careful feeding greens to 3 week old kits. Besides getting them to nurse and giving them hay, the probiotics would be good. See if you can get them to take some pellets, whether it be oxbow or manna pro. Maybe mix a little water in it to make it softer?
Thank you for your help. They started eating pellets yesterday. I'm starting to think they know perfectly well what to do and when and I shouldn't get too concerned. I think since they appear to really enjoy the Timothy hay and pellets I'll skip the greens. It just seems safer that way. I sprinkle the does poop balls around too. Maybe they will nibble them? I kind of feel now if they are supposed to, they will on their own time.

I was originally really worried about all this because the ladies in the FB group told me they wouldn't live past 5 weeks. So I've just been nervous something will go horribly wrong. They all so sweet, and you just want to see them all grow perfectly. As far as I can tell, they seem perfectly normal. I'll attach a photo just because they're pretty cute.
 

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Mac189

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Thank you for your help. They started eating pellets yesterday. I'm starting to think they know perfectly well what to do and when and I shouldn't get too concerned. I think since they appear to really enjoy the Timothy hay and pellets I'll skip the greens. It just seems safer that way. I sprinkle the does poop balls around too. Maybe they will nibble them? I kind of feel now if they are supposed to, they will on their own time.

I was originally really worried about all this because the ladies in the FB group told me they wouldn't live past 5 weeks. So I've just been nervous something will go horribly wrong. They all so sweet, and you just want to see them all grow perfectly. As far as I can tell, they seem perfectly normal. I'll attach a photo just because they're pretty cute.
They are so cute it's criminal!
 

BunBun71

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Thank you for your help. They started eating pellets yesterday. I'm starting to think they know perfectly well what to do and when and I shouldn't get too concerned. I think since they appear to really enjoy the Timothy hay and pellets I'll skip the greens. It just seems safer that way. I sprinkle the does poop balls around too. Maybe they will nibble them? I kind of feel now if they are supposed to, they will on their own time.

I was originally really worried about all this because the ladies in the FB group told me they wouldn't live past 5 weeks. So I've just been nervous something will go horribly wrong. They all so sweet, and you just want to see them all grow perfectly. As far as I can tell, they seem perfectly normal. I'll attach a photo just because they're pretty cute.
Awwwww so cute. 💕 😍
 

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