Netherland dwarf doe keeps having stillborn kits??

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New Member
Aug 16, 2020
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My Netherland dwarf doe has had two stillborn litters. Both times, she did not made a nest before giving birth. The first time, she had her kits near the door of her shelter where it would not be warm, and this last time, she had one on top of her box. She might be having more right now, but I am giving up hope that she will ever be able to be a mother.

Another thing is that her kits are all stillborn? They show no sign of movement, but look developed and healthy. The kits are definitely not peanuts, so I cannot imagine why they would be born like this when the mother is being fed well with proper shelter.

Can anyone explain why this is happening. Is it inexperience on the mother's part because she is still young? Why are they stillborn, though? Any insight before I take her to the vet would be much appreciated!


Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
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Sep 10, 2012
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Utah, , USA
There are a few possible curable causes of a rabbit having repeated stillborn litters. Primary would be a nutritional issue with the feed that it is getting. Bulk feeds can often have issues with this. Rarely because of mistakes made in the measuring and mixing process causing either an insufficient or toxic vitamin level in the feed. But more often this can occur because of old feed sitting on the shelf too long and the vitamins degrading due to oxidation. Primarily the vitamin E. Which in turn can lead to excess vitamin A levels building up in the liver because of the insufficient vitamin E levels.

I know someone that was having similar issues years ago. Her does weren't getting pregnant or the litters were being aborted/stillborn. She changed feeds. It took a few months on the new feed, but eventually the does were getting pregnant more reliably, then the litters were at least surviving birth but still dying within the first few weeks due to hydrocephalus and MD type issues from the vitamin problems. But eventually the kits were surviving and no longer were born with the genetic abnormalities. This was all due to improper vitamin issues in the previous feed.

The health issue here pointed to a vitamin A toxicity/vitamin E deficiency, but vitamin A deficiency can have similar symptoms. I think the pregnancy issues and kit mortality may have resolved faster for the owner if she had tried supplementing her rabbits with vitamin E/wheat germ oil. In the research article they supplemented with vitamin E to help bring down the toxic vit. A levels in the liver, in the colony that had the vit. A toxicity from their feed.

Contains graphic medical related photos:

Another possibility is rabbit syphilis(treponematosis). Though usually with this you may see outward indicators of bumps or lesions around the genitals, mouth, nose, and/or eyes.

Environmental stressors such as extreme changes of temperature, predators roaming around the does area, or unusual loud noises or excessive activity, could possibly be causes of aborted/stillborn litters as well.


Supporting Member
Jan 8, 2011
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Although I never raised ND’s I’ve known others who did and they typically had a harder time with does and successful litters. Some does also just don’t seem to figure out what to do, even after losing their first litter.
You could check your feed but the well known brands like Purina, MannaPro, etc are complete diet feeds meant for intact rabbits. We sometimes added a little calf manna to the doe’s feed a week or so before kindling to help with calories and milk production.
We try to watch new does closely when they’re close to kindling so we can hopefully avert anything gone wrong. We’ve had to warm up newborns because mom didn’t cover them, or get them off the ‘wire’ because she had them outside the box, etc... if you lose the 2nd litter you can give her one more chance. We followed the 3 strike rule if it was the doe’s fault kits didn’t make it.