Please help! Baby bunny not thriving. New mom isnt producing enough milk

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Lionlove

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My lionhead had 3 babies 5 days ago. 2 where stillborn and one TINY baby survived. It was her first litter, so I waited two days for her milk to come in. When it didn't and he looked more like a rain then a bun, I got some goats milk and added a bit of honey. That got him active. I flipped her since she wouldn't let me hold her over him. She's used to that from grooming. Her milk came in! I was elated. He drank and seemed more active. I've kept him separated from her because she kept trying to bury him and walk over him. (I have bred other does, she's definitely more aggressive)
So I've been flipping her for feedings, but his tummy never looks full. He goes from nipple to nipple. It seems like she's not producing enough milk. I supplemented with goats milk again twice yesterday.
How much is too much? He's going poo and pee with my help, so he's getting something. I've been feeding him every few hours. Originally with mom, but I think I'll try to keep her to 3x a day and use goat milk in between. Obviously I'm ridiculously attached to this little bean. He only settles when I hold him, for hours lol. He's got a little nest box with fur and a blanket, heating pad on low on one side.
Mom's in good condition and fed pellets, alfalfa, apples, carrots, and greens. Sorry for the long post, I just REALLY want him to make it.
The lower picture of him is two days ago, the top is yesterday.
 

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Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
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Are the mom's pellets an alfalfa based pellet, and are you feeding very much of the pellets and alfalfa hay? I'm just wondering if she's not producing enough milk because she's maybe not eating enough calories.

For how much to give in hand feeding, you basically want to stop when the kit is no longer suckling greedily. By then you should be able to see a slightly rounded white milk belly. However if the kit isn't ever suckling greedily, then I would go off of the belly looking rounded, but never getting to the point of overly distended. And always being very slow and cautious syringe feeding, to minimize the chances of aspiration occurring, which would be fatal.

Some suggestions on the formula. If you're continuing to add honey or other sweetener, I would discontinue that. Baby rabbits can't efficiently digest sugars, and too much sugars can cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.

Part of the problem you're seeing with failure to thrive, might be due to plain goats milk being too dilute in protein, fat, and other nutrients for rabbit kits. Rabbit milk is higher in protein, fat, and nutrients than other milk like cow or goat milk, so adding some plain heavy cream(not whipped, not sweetened) is one way to boost the fat content when hand feeding. Which I would suggest doing if you aren't already.

If you're using a powdered goats milk, I would also suggest making a more concentrated mix to increase the protein and nutrient levels. Or powdered kmr is sometimes used, as it's the most readily available in stores. There are also some better more expensive powdered milk mixtures available for rabbits. 3 parts powdered milk supplement, 3-4 parts sterile water, and 1 part heavy cream is the mixture I would go with.

So all of this is covered in this link below, about hand raising baby cottontail rabbits. Even though it's about cottontails, the milk feeding part will also apply to domestic baby rabbits. Just skip all of the cottontail specific info and read the milk feeding parts.

 

Lionlove

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Thank you for the advice. I tried adjusting the formula, but it gave him tummy troubles. I thought I would lose him that day. I switched to water and then very diluted goats milk. He perked back up and seemed to be doing well. Just not growing at all. Also never getting that fat tummy.
I've hand raised so many other babies, from opossums to sparrows. I just couldn't get him to thrive. Mom stopped producing milk all together. The only time he was calm was when I held him. After 8 days he hadn't grown at all. Still a little raisin.
He held on for so long, but ultimately lost the battle. I was holding him when he passed. But it was peaceful. He just fell asleep. For me, not so much. I don't think I have it in me to be a breeder. I appreciate the advice though.
 

SirLawrence

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I'm so sorry to hear this. You tried your best, but it wasn't meant to be. You gave him what so many never get: a chance. I like to think that the time he did have he felt the love you gave him. ❤

I couldn't be a breeder for the very same reason.

Rest easy, little one! 😢
 

Lionlove

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Thank you SirLawrance, I was hoping to better the lionhead breed in Southern California. I've been involved in rescue all my life, so I planned on taking any buns back if things didn't work out.
But losing a little one is too much. I'll continue to rescue and rehome. There's plenty of buns in need of homes. Maybe this was a sign I should focus on rescues.
 

SirLawrence

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@Lionlove I love it! I got Lawrence (who happens to be a lionhead) by accident, and i care for him TOO much. I've told myself I'll never get this invested in another rabbit, but I will foster! ☺ ☺ ☺
 

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