Concern for Baby Rabbits that Mother is not feeding

Discussion in 'The Rabbitry and Show Room' started by peiji, Aug 28, 2013.

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  1. Aug 28, 2013 #1

    peiji

    peiji

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    A little background... I have actually raised several successful litters before but they all went without a hitch. I have a new doe about 7 months old that just had her first litter. A mini rex. She didn't pull much fur, the babies were born on the wire floor but we quickly put them in the nest box. That was Monday some time between 9 am and 2 pm. Since then, I've never seen the doe go in the nest box, which isn't surprising, but I also haven't seen full bellies. The babies are still warm and active, just skinny. This morning, I turned the doe on her back and put a baby on her belly. She found the teats but it never seemed like any milk was coming out. I didn't see any and the baby just kept searching for other teats.

    I don't know if I should be concerned and if I should start feeding by hand the kitten milk or if I should just give it time. I've read that it could take up to 4 days for the milk to start flowing. Your thoughts based on experience? I have a small video about 5mb or an image that shows the condition of the baby better that I could email but I don't know if I can show it through this forum.
     
  2. Aug 28, 2013 #2

    missyscove

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    I moved this thread to our rabbitry because I think you'll find more relevant answers here.
     
  3. Aug 28, 2013 #3

    majorv

    majorv

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    If they're skinny then hand feed them ASAP. Newborns won't survive past 48 hrs without a feeding, and if you wait too long they'll be too weak to suck. Once you get some milk in them then see if you can get the mom to nurse again. Have you looked to see if she has milk?
     
  4. Aug 28, 2013 #4

    RabbitGirl101

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    Kits can last up to 72 hours without getting fed. Look at the back of there necks is it dry? One of the first signs that a rabbit isn't being fed is when the skin start to get dry ,it reminds me of dandruff. Check to see if they are hydrated, thats another sign to see if the kits are being fed. I know with one of my litters I always thought they weren't being fed but the mother was feeding them at an odd time during the day so when I came in to check on the rabbits they had peed the milk out and look skinny because they were waiting for there 2nd feeding.
    With first time moms it isn't odd that she isn't really caring for them. A lot of first-time moms lose there litters, and almost always get it the second time.

    When you try to latch the kits on the mom you can't just attach them you need to rub the mothers stomach, you can squeeze the nipple to test to see if any milk is coming out, continually rub the belly until she is producing milk in all of her teats. I've also had hands on experience with this I took a doe and I rub around her teats and belly and after what seemed like forever she finally start to produce milk, patience is key in this. When you rub the belly your stimulating milk flow and production. Also when checking to see if she is producing milk gently grab the bottom of the teat and worked your way to the top, just as if you were milking a goat or cow.

    **Can you upload any pictures of the kits? Show the necks and what they look like. Also you will need to check if they are hydrated we will not be able to tell through a picture or this online forum. If you gently pinch the skin together and it does not go back to its normal position the kit is dehyrdated, if you've rubbed the belly and no milk is being produce the next option is to foster the kits to any other doe's you may have on litters. Your last option would be to feed them the formula.
     
  5. Aug 28, 2013 #5

    peiji

    peiji

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    I just figured out how to attach an image. Wish I could attach a movie file because that shows a better look. I can email it though if you want to PM me your email address.

    When I get home I'll check to see if it's hydrated. Will trying to "force" the teats to produce milk throw off the feeding rhythm? How long should I wait? I have read that it can take several days for the milk to start coming in.

    IMG_3538.jpg
     
  6. Aug 28, 2013 #6

    peiji

    peiji

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    Yes. I checked for milk but didn't see anything coming out. The teats are quite buried under all that fur too and don't appear to be swollen.
     
  7. Aug 28, 2013 #7

    RabbitGirl101

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    They do look thin when you get home definitely try to rub the mothers belly. It really depends on the doe for how long it takes for the milk to start filling the teats some doe's took around 30 seconds others of mine took several minutes. I've never heard of a mother milk coming in a few days after birth. I always though it was right before or right after. I've never had a doe that hasn't produced milk I have had doe's that didn't care for kits though.

    Also are any of the babies peanuts? One of my doe's produced a peanut and she didn't care for it at all.

    If it her first litter this behavior seems normal. I've been very lucky and my first-timers seem to know they need to care for the kits but sometimes they don't know how to care for them. I would say if by the end of the day if nothing is working, I would get something in those kits to soothe their stomachs over the night.
     
  8. Aug 28, 2013 #8

    peiji

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    No peanuts. Just 4 babies.
     
  9. Aug 29, 2013 #9

    peiji

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    Just an update. I tried massaging the belly and around the teats for a long time. I eventually let the babies have a go at them and although they sucked and sucked, it never seemed like they got anything out. I never saw any milk. Is it possible that it's already dried up after 48 hours and that she likely won't produce any milk? By the time I went through that ordeal, the babies were either too tired or actually full and they wouldn't take the formula by hand. I'll look at them in the morning. They don't seem like they're about to die or anything, they just don't seem like they've been fed. Maybe they have and they're just naturally skinny for some reason.
     
  10. Aug 29, 2013 #10

    majorv

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    I really think it's safer to not wait past 48 hours before trying to feed them. You wait too long and they quickly become too weak and may not bounce back once you get around to taking action...just my experience. Does should have milk for her kits by about 24 hours after kindling and if she doesn't then you need to stimulate her to produce or get something from the vet to help.

    You'll probably lose them. If they were being fed they wouldn't look like that.
     
  11. Aug 29, 2013 #11

    peiji

    peiji

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    I did try using KMR but by then, they were asleep and not eating. Probably too tired. I'll try again in about an hour or so. I just read one person's experience where after hand feeding for 4 days, the doe finally started lactating. I hope that is my experience.
     
  12. Aug 29, 2013 #12

    majorv

    majorv

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    If they don't react by jerking around when you pick them up and if they seem very sluggish then....that's not good. We had a doe kindle but went into distress not long after. She wouldn't eat anything and just laid in the box with the kits. A very experienced breeder told me that newborn kits need that first feeding within 48 hours or they probably won't make it. We were getting frantic, both for the doe and kits, as the 'deadline' got closer because they were getting so thin. We got some KMR and syringed each kit enough to keep them going and then took them to a friend who fostered them to her nursing doe. Thankfully, with that feeding we gave them, they still had enough strength to nurse from her, and they made it. We took the doe to the vet, who was able to save her. Sorry for the ramble, but we've had lousy luck trying to hand raise kits who were abandoned by the mom. Thank goodness it's only happened a couple of times.
     
  13. Aug 29, 2013 #13

    BlueGiants

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    Put the mother on top of the babies and hold her there for 4-5 minutes. If the babies don't react, start nuzzling and looking for teats, they are not going to make it. If the babies are at least trying to nurse, let them... and put her on them 3 times a day. That is more often than she would normally feed them, but the action of the babies pulling on the teats will help stimulate the milk production. The babies really need the colostrum that the mother produces the first 3 days of nursing, for their immune system and digestion. You can supplement with formula to keep them going, but the best thing would be to get the mothers milk flowing. As long as the babies are alive and willing to nurse, put her on top of them... I have seen a Doe start producing milk after 48-72 hours. Once her milk "drops", you may need to put her on top of them and hold her there twice a day for 2-3 days until she gets the routine down.
    Best of luck...
     
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