Mom with 9 kits, what can I feed her?

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Damtsik

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Aloha,

I'm fostering a Mom and 9 kits from our local Humane Society. My first time with kits, but I've fostered and owned rabbits for years.

Kits are 10 days today. Mom is doing a fantastic job but she feels bone-y and underweight. I feed her all the pellets and Timothy Hay, water she can eat, which is a lot. I also feed her ti leaves, a Hawaiian plant, apples, and carrots ... as much as she wants.

Pic was from 5 days ago, she's much thinner now.
Any advice on what else I can feed her to help her out?


Mahalohazelnut.jpg
 

Augustus&HazelGrace

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What kind of pellets? I have had certain kinds and I just can not get any weight on them so I have had to switch.
 

JBun

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If you are feeding her a low protein pellet like a grass based one, I would get her switched to an alfalfa based pellet that is at least 16% protein. If you are already free feeding an alfalfa based pellet, then I would try feeding her alfalfa hay and less timothy hay. It will provide more protein than timothy hay, and extra calcium as well which she needs because she's nursing, to also help prevent low blood calcium from occurring because she's nursing so many. Signs of low blood calcium is also something you'll want to keep a close watch for. You're looking for loss of appetite, weakness, staggering, not getting up. If you suspect it might be happening, get her to the vet immediately. http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/00dis/Miscellaneous/Hypocalcaemic_Tetany.htm

Some black oil sunflower seeds could also be helpful in helping her maintain her weight, but the alfalfa hay will be the best because of the additional protein and calcium it provides. I know some like to use the calf manna. I just don't like it because of the corn that it contains. I would much rather use a low carb/high protein/high calcium natural food like alfalfa hay.
 
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Augustus&HazelGrace

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Also to help her produce more milk you can give her some old fashioned oats I would give her about 2 tablespoons per day one depending on when she feeds. If she feeds early in the morning feed them to her at night, If at night then give them to her in the morning.
 

Damtsik

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Forti diet with the probiotic nibbles. Its the highest Timothy Hay content I can find around here for the price.
I'm also finding that she likes to eat cat food!!!!!
 

JBun

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Very cute! Baby buns are so cute and fun! Now their eyes are open get ready for really busy bunnies, and enjoy the experience. I spent loads of time with my babies out on a blanket letting them play and just watching. It's such a fun experience! You'll want to make sure mom has a place she can go to get away from them so they aren't always pestering her to nurse. One other thing you'll want to make sure to do is keep the nestbox clean to minimize the risk of nest box eye occurring. This link has good tips for caring for new/unexpected litters.
https://flashsplace.webs.com/accidentallitters.htm

Yeah, a timothy based pellet definitely won't be providing enough protein. If you can get the Oxbow young rabbit pellets, those are alfalfa based and good quality. It's only 15% but it's high quality and should do fine if you are also feeding alfalfa hay. Though they are a more expensive brand, but the larger bag you buy, the cheaper it ends up being. Otherwise just try and find a high quality alfalfa based pellet with 16% protein and alfalfa as the first ingredient on the bag, not wheat middlings or other such grains as the first ingredient as that is an indication of a lower quality pellet. I would also avoid pellets that have corn/corn by product as an ingredient.

I would get her switched asap so she doesn't continue to lose weight. The only thing is that usually it's best to do a gradual pellet change to minimize digestive upset occurring, but you don't really have that luxury now as she needs to be on the higher protein pellet immediately. If you do a sudden switch to the alfalfa pellets, just make sure to keep a close eye on her poop and any signs of mushy poop or digestive upset(lack of appetite, belly pressing, lethargy, staying hunched up, teeth grinding). A way to do a more gradual switch of pellets would be to get her on alfalfa hay first so she's getting the protein and calcium she needs, then gradually switch the pellets over a couple weeks.

Also, you don't want to overdo the black oil sunflower seeds. I would start with maybe a couple twice a day. Then if that doesn't cause any digestive upset, gradually increase to maybe a 1/2-1 tsp twice a day. Though really the alfalfa is the most important thing to be adding to her diet. The BOSS aren't that essential. One important thing is that I always checked over the seeds to make sure none were spoiled, as I found that there were always a few in there that weren't good.
 
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majorv

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You have to be careful when giving calf manna to rabbits. We would give a small sprinkle of it on top of their regular pellets as soon as the doe kindled and stopped once the kits started nibbling on mom’s pellets. It’s like crack and rabbits love it so much they will eat it to the exclusion of everything else, which you don’t want.
 

Damtsik

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Aloha and thank you soo much for all the advice and support. I bought a really high protein Alfalfa pellet and combined with the oats. I even fed her some sunflower seeds, though not the black kind. Mama and babies are eating all of this and more and everyone seems to be doing great!20190127_174853.jpg 20190127_174853.jpg
 

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JBun

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They're getting big! Such cute little babies! I'm glad to hear they are all doing well, and hope mom is doing well too and is gaining weight.

One thing I noticed in the photo is what look like bits of apple. If so I would just caution feeding too much sugary/starchy foods to rabbits, especially babies, as they have a very sensitive digestive system at that age and sugars can throw off the delicate balance of microflora in their gut, which can make them susceptible to harmful digestive illness. Particularly keep a close watch for signs of mushy poop. So just thought I would mention that. But otherwise they look like they are doing great.
 

Damtsik

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Thanks for the advice. This is my first time with bunny kits. What should I feed them? They have been eating high protein alfalfa based pellets, oatmeal oats (organic), organic apples, carrots, ti leaves, and I gave them fresh spinach tonight. Maybe that's not right? The biggest eater seems a little lethargic today. Lots of urine, and only mom's poops that look really healthy. They also get lots of timothy hay and alfalfa.momkitsjan29.jpg
 

Augustus&HazelGrace

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Only give very small amounts of fresh veggies and fruit and only do one new fruit or veggie per week and if they develop diarrhea then do not feed that veggie, I recommend only letting them have nibbles of what you are giving mom. I'm not sure what ti leaves are so maybe someone else can help you on that one. Carrots, although they are veggies, should be treated as fruit and given in very very small amounts as they are high in sugar like other fruits.The reason why he could be lethargic is all of the new foods at once he has been getting. You should stop giving them fruits and not as many of one veggie for the time being so they don't get any GI problems.
 

Augustus&HazelGrace

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also if you are feeding alfalfa pellets then they only need the timothy hay and not the alfalfa, alfalfa has high calcium content and too much calcium can cause bladder sludge, so one sign of too much calcium is white urine, so if your seeing this COULD mean, not saying always because I'm not a vet, that they have too much calcium.
 

JBun

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@Augustus&HazelGrace this is a nursing doe who needs extra protein and calcium in her diet to have the extra nutrients for feeding her babies, which she has quite a few of to keep supplied with milk. No alfalfa for an adult rabbit applies to most other rabbits, not to does that are nursing. Also the mom was having weight loss, so the alfalfa is needed for her to put weight back on.

@Damtsik Momma surrounded by lots of little fluff balls, how cute is that! Oh I miss raising babies :( My favorite is when they get in a great big bunny pile to sleep, or when one decides to take a nap on mom's back.

I would free feed the alfalfa pellets, timothy hay, and whatever amount of alfalfa hay you've decided is working out well, and any veggies/greens and rabbit safe forage that mom normally gets, provided it's not causing any mushy poop or signs of digestive upset(lack of appetite, subdued behavior, belly pressing, hunched posture, tooth grinding) with mom or the babies. If veggies/greens/forage is causing upset, then you would no longer feed the particular one causing the upset. It's best to stick with the veggies mom and babies are already used to, but if you do introduce a new rabbit safe veggie/green/forage, do only one at a time and start with only a very small amount at first, to make sure it doesn't cause upset. Though I personally would just stick with the ones they are already used to and not introduce any new veggies until older.

The fruit and starchy veg like carrots, should be very limited. Check the first link below for the usual recommendation. However, if there are signs of digestive upset with mom or any of the babies, I would not feed the fruit or carrot at all, including the oats because the carbs can cause the same issues. It's not worth the risk to the babies. If you can pinpoint any cause of digestive upset to one of the veggies/greens, then reintroducing limited fruit might be ok once the mushy poop/digestive upset is completely cleared up, just be very cautious with those babies and their digestion. Personally I just don't like to risk feeding fruit or other high carb foods to any of my rabbits, and mostly stick to veggies, greens, and some rabbit safe tree leaves as treats. I'm not sure about your ti leaves, you would need to research that. I feed mine ribwort plantain, willow, apple, and cottonwood leaves.
https://rabbit.org/suggested-vegetables-and-fruits-for-a-rabbit-diet/
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/GI_diseases/Food/feeding_en.pdf
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/GI_diseases/GI_diseases_main.htm
 
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Damtsik

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Thank you everyone so much for your posts and sharing so your experience, I'm sticking to Alfalfa pellets with a little oatmeal mixed in, Timothy hay, ti leaves ( a staple for my rabbits in Hawaii), a couple of slices of carrots and apples to be shared all per day.

You all helped make this so much easier and less stressful for this foster momma

Mahalo :):)
 
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