Mom isn't feeding her babies?

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Bee's Beautiful Bunnies

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I've had a lot of litters in the past and they all did great, all of them got fed and were nice a fat. I recently bred a doe of mine for the first time, she only had two babies but they both did fantastic and were rehomed. Just after we rehomed them, the parents accidentally got together again and so she gave birth again. This time she had 7 babies, one was still born. I noticed around this time that the mother feels thin (can feel her spine much more than is healthy) so I've been doing everything to fatten her up but it's not doing anything.
About a day later one of the kits got out to the entrance of the nest box and died from the cold so I moved the mother and babies inside to a bathroom and everything appeared to be going good until maybe a day later and two more babies were dead.
I realized that the babies looked thin and dehydrated to I began syringe feeding them some warm raw goat.
I continued to feed them once daily because I had seen the mother feeding the babies a couple times.
The three remaining kits continued to get worse and worse and I would often find one or two babies outside of the nest box so I would put them back in.
Occasionally I would hold the mother in the nest box and the babies would nurse but the mother DID NOT want to nurse them.
Today one of the babies was extremely cold and thin but not dead so I put it in my shirt and tried my best to warm it up using different methods.
I also fed it but during the feeding it passed away. I have two remaining kits and they are both wrinkly and dehydrated, I'm feeding them more but they are 11 days old and besides having some fur they haven't grown at all since birth.
I'm not sure what is wrong or how to save the last two babies. Could the mother be malnourished or not producing milk? Why are the babies outside the nest box?
 

JBun

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The babies are likely outside the nest, as they get pulled out when latched onto mom when she hops out. It could be happening because they aren't getting enough milk as she's not producing enough, so they aren't letting go when she hops out. With how poorly the mother sounds like she's doing, even though it's a risk to hand feed, and since you're doing it already, I would be inclined to just hand feed them and not bring them to mom to nurse anymore. It sounds like she has something going on and nursing will just deplete her further, until you can sort out what health problem is happening with her.

For the babies that you're hand feeding, they'll need more than one feeding a day, as goat's milk has less fat, protein, and nutrients than the mother rabbits milk. So they need more feedings to make up for the less nutrient dense milk that they are getting.. To boost the fat levels, sometimes unsweetened plain heavy whipping cream can be added, and also some dried goats milk or kmr powder to boost the nutrient levels.


Are you free feeding the mom a good quality alfalfa based pellet? What about supplementing her with alfalfa hay? Is she eating her food really well, or is there any reduced appetite? How do her poops look, are they small, dark, and hard or are they large, golden, and crumble easily? Have you checked over her nipples for any signs of mastitis? After the babies nurse, do they have big round tummies or do they stay wrinkly and dehydrated looking?

It's possible the mom has mastitis and that's why the kits are dying. If she's not eating well, she could have a dental condition affecting her ability to eat, and so isn't producing enough milk to support nursing. Other possibilities are other pregnancy conditions like uterine infection, low blood calcium, pregnancy toxemia, or she could have rabbit syphilis even. If you can't figure out what's going on with her right away and give her the necessary treatment to correct the condition, I would recommend getting her checked by a knowledgeable rabbit vet for a proper evaluation right away, or you could be at risk of losing her as well.

(WARNING: LINKS CONTAIN GRAPHIC NECROPSY PHOTOS)
Medirabbit: mastitis in nursing does
Medirabbit: uterine infection
Medirabbit: rabbit syphilis


 

Bee's Beautiful Bunnies

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I have been feeding them more often and they seem to be doing better. We just bought some heavy whipping cream so I be sure to add some! Is there a certain heavy whipping cream to milk ratio?
Yes, the mother has alfalfa based pellets, I have not been giving alfalfa hay though. She is eating good and she looks healthy besides being underweight. Her poop also looks normal and healthy. Nipples look fine but no signs of milk at all. The babies still look wrinkly and unfed even after she nurses.
I've had the babies away from her all day to take care of them but saw she was in the nest box trying to nurse so I let her see the babies. She licked them for a little bit but didn't attempt to nurse then left them.
The mother is acting and looks completely normal and healthy but just doesn't show any signs of lactation and is a little underweight.
I'm guessing that she's nutritionally depleted because she just had a litter so soon ago so is not producing milk?
Another thing is she didn't pull much fur for the nest and her belly is still fully furred, is it possible that the kits couldn't nurse because there was too much fur so the milk production stopped?
Thanks so much!

The babies are likely outside the nest, as they get pulled out when latched onto mom when she hops out. It could be happening because they aren't getting enough milk as she's not producing enough, so they aren't letting go when she hops out. With how poorly the mother sounds like she's doing, even though it's a risk to hand feed, and since you're doing it already, I would be inclined to just hand feed them and not bring them to mom to nurse anymore. It sounds like she has something going on and nursing will just deplete her further, until you can sort out what health problem is happening with her.

For the babies that you're hand feeding, they'll need more than one feeding a day, as goat's milk has less fat, protein, and nutrients than the mother rabbits milk. So they need more feedings to make up for the less nutrient dense milk that they are getting.. To boost the fat levels, sometimes unsweetened plain heavy whipping cream can be added, and also some dried goats milk or kmr powder to boost the nutrient levels.


Are you free feeding the mom a good quality alfalfa based pellet? What about supplementing her with alfalfa hay? Is she eating her food really well, or is there any reduced appetite? How do her poops look, are they small, dark, and hard or are they large, golden, and crumble easily? Have you checked over her nipples for any signs of mastitis? After the babies nurse, do they have big round tummies or do they stay wrinkly and dehydrated looking?

It's possible the mom has mastitis and that's why the kits are dying. If she's not eating well, she could have a dental condition affecting her ability to eat, and so isn't producing enough milk to support nursing. Other possibilities are other pregnancy conditions like uterine infection, low blood calcium, pregnancy toxemia, or she could have rabbit syphilis even. If you can't figure out what's going on with her right away and give her the necessary treatment to correct the condition, I would recommend getting her checked by a knowledgeable rabbit vet for a proper evaluation right away, or you could be at risk of losing her as well.

(WARNING: LINKS CONTAIN GRAPHIC NECROPSY PHOTOS)
Medirabbit: mastitis in nursing does
Medirabbit: uterine infection
Medirabbit: rabbit syphilis


 
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One possible reason you were finding the kits away from the nestbox, especially if they were mobile, was because they weren’t getting enough milk from Mom and were still hungry. I would say she dried up and you’ll need to keep hand feeding them. Keep hay around for them to munch on, and because they weren’t able to nurse from Mom you’ll have to go slow transitioning them to pellets when you wean them.
 

dogwoodblossoms

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I would recommend a calfmanna, black oil sunflower seed (BOSS), and old fashion oat even mixture for the does weight gain.

I give all my does calfmanna for three to four days after birth to help with milk production, so it may be helpful to have on hand in the future 😊

Calfmanna has something like 25% protein so you have to give it sparingly. I’m giving my underweight doe about a tbsp of it a day. Once I pick up BOSS, I will be giving her the calfmanna/BOSS/oats mixture.
 

Bee's Beautiful Bunnies

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One possible reason you were finding the kits away from the nestbox, especially if they were mobile, was because they weren’t getting enough milk from Mom and were still hungry. I would say she dried up and you’ll need to keep hand feeding them. Keep hay around for them to munch on, and because they weren’t able to nurse from Mom you’ll have to go slow transitioning them to pellets when you wean them.
Thank you!
 

Bee's Beautiful Bunnies

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I would recommend a calfmanna, black oil sunflower seed (BOSS), and old fashion oat even mixture for the does weight gain.

I give all my does calfmanna for three to four days after birth to help with milk production, so it may be helpful to have on hand in the future 😊

Calfmanna has something like 25% protein so you have to give it sparingly. I’m giving my underweight doe about a tbsp of it a day. Once I pick up BOSS, I will be giving her the calfmanna/BOSS/oats mixture.
Thanks! I'll try to get some!!
 

Bee's Beautiful Bunnies

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I would recommend a calfmanna, black oil sunflower seed (BOSS), and old fashion oat even mixture for the does weight gain.

I give all my does calfmanna for three to four days after birth to help with milk production, so it may be helpful to have on hand in the future 😊

Calfmanna has something like 25% protein so you have to give it sparingly. I’m giving my underweight doe about a tbsp of it a day. Once I pick up BOSS, I will be giving her the calfmanna/BOSS/oats mixture.
One possible reason you were finding the kits away from the nestbox, especially if they were mobile, was because they weren’t getting enough milk from Mom and were still hungry. I would say she dried up and you’ll need to keep hand feeding them. Keep hay around for them to munch on, and because they weren’t able to nurse from Mom you’ll have to go slow transitioning them to pellets when you wean them.
The babies are likely outside the nest, as they get pulled out when latched onto mom when she hops out. It could be happening because they aren't getting enough milk as she's not producing enough, so they aren't letting go when she hops out. With how poorly the mother sounds like she's doing, even though it's a risk to hand feed, and since you're doing it already, I would be inclined to just hand feed them and not bring them to mom to nurse anymore. It sounds like she has something going on and nursing will just deplete her further, until you can sort out what health problem is happening with her.

For the babies that you're hand feeding, they'll need more than one feeding a day, as goat's milk has less fat, protein, and nutrients than the mother rabbits milk. So they need more feedings to make up for the less nutrient dense milk that they are getting.. To boost the fat levels, sometimes unsweetened plain heavy whipping cream can be added, and also some dried goats milk or kmr powder to boost the nutrient levels.


Are you free feeding the mom a good quality alfalfa based pellet? What about supplementing her with alfalfa hay? Is she eating her food really well, or is there any reduced appetite? How do her poops look, are they small, dark, and hard or are they large, golden, and crumble easily? Have you checked over her nipples for any signs of mastitis? After the babies nurse, do they have big round tummies or do they stay wrinkly and dehydrated looking?

It's possible the mom has mastitis and that's why the kits are dying. If she's not eating well, she could have a dental condition affecting her ability to eat, and so isn't producing enough milk to support nursing. Other possibilities are other pregnancy conditions like uterine infection, low blood calcium, pregnancy toxemia, or she could have rabbit syphilis even. If you can't figure out what's going on with her right away and give her the necessary treatment to correct the condition, I would recommend getting her checked by a knowledgeable rabbit vet for a proper evaluation right away, or you could be at risk of losing her as well.

(WARNING: LINKS CONTAIN GRAPHIC NECROPSY PHOTOS)
Medirabbit: mastitis in nursing does
Medirabbit: uterine infection
Medirabbit: rabbit syphilis



UPDATE:
I put the mother back with the baby and she suddenly started nursing! The baby had a full tummy afterward and I'm confused why she suddenly has milk. She was outside all day today and she's been getting lots of food. I'm keeping baby and mom in the same area now but I'm not sure if I should continue feeding to supplement or if the mother is going to continue nursing.
 

JBun

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If she's nursing, I would suggest bringing the kits twice a day(morning, evening) for her to nurse. It's safer and healthier for them to not have to be hand fed formula if they can get milk from their mom. And not leaving the kits with her all the time, but bringing them to her twice a day, ensures you'll be able to check them after they nurse, and that they have a full round belly at least one of the times nursing(some does only nurse once a day).

I personally wouldn't recommend calf manna as it's corn based and very high in carbs, which can lead to digestive upset for some rabbits. Even oats can be too many carbs for some rabbits, leading to mushy poop. If you want to boost protein, a healthier and safer alternative is feeding alfalfa hay, which is also high in calcium to help with milk production.
 

Preitler

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If she's thin and looks malnourished it's not all about protein, she needs a lot of calories too. I to use plain oatmeal for that, not huge amounts, maybe one or two tablespoon per day, mixed with the pellets and a little sunflower seed oil on it (can't get BOSS easily here).

I too would not supplement feeding the kit if the doe is nursing, it's so easy to upset those little tummies, I consider handfeeding as a real last resort.
 

Bee's Beautiful Bunnies

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If she's nursing, I would suggest bringing the kits twice a day(morning, evening) for her to nurse. It's safer and healthier for them to not have to be hand fed formula if they can get milk from their mom. And not leaving the kits with her all the time, but bringing them to her twice a day, ensures you'll be able to check them after they nurse, and that they have a full round belly at least one of the times nursing(some does only nurse once a day).

I personally wouldn't recommend calf manna as it's corn based and very high in carbs, which can lead to digestive upset for some rabbits. Even oats can be too many carbs for some rabbits, leading to mushy poop. If you want to boost protein, a healthier and safer alternative is feeding alfalfa hay, which is also high in calcium to help with milk production.
If she's thin and looks malnourished it's not all about protein, she needs a lot of calories too. I to use plain oatmeal for that, not huge amounts, maybe one or two tablespoon per day, mixed with the pellets and a little sunflower seed oil on it (can't get BOSS easily here).

I too would not supplement feeding the kit if the doe is nursing, it's so easy to upset those little tummies, I consider handfeeding as a real last resort.
Thanks for all the advice! Mom bun is still feeding and baby looks healthier too!
 
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I would recommend a calfmanna, black oil sunflower seed (BOSS), and old fashion oat even mixture for the does weight gain.

I give all my does calfmanna for three to four days after birth to help with milk production, so it may be helpful to have on hand in the future 😊

Calfmanna has something like 25% protein so you have to give it sparingly. I’m giving my underweight doe about a tbsp of it a day. Once I pick up BOSS, I will be giving her the calfmanna/BOSS/oats mixture.
Definitely seconded on calf manna. We give it to all our rabbits in moderation and a bit more when they are growing/nursing.
 

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