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FEEDING ORPHANED KITS

Rabbits nurse only ONE TIME a day, so if you think that she is not caring for them based only on the fact you don’t see them feed…think again. But if you are sure she is neglecting them, if they are dehydrated, cold, obviously ignored, of course, something must be done!. I usally breed two or more does the same day so they will all have their litters at the same time. Should any problems or extremely lager litters occur i can foster some kits to other does. A well-fed baby will have a very distended tummy. If the babies have not been fed, they will have sunken tummies, their skin will be wrinkled and they will be dehydrated. If your worries begin on the day of the birth, wait a day before attempting to do anything. Some mother rabbits do not feed their babies until the evening of the first day or early on the second day. If the mother rabbit has died, cannot or is not feeding the babies, you can attempt to hand feeding them. Bottle-feeding infant rabbits usually results in the babies’ death within a few days to weeks. Hand feeding is terribly unsuccessful because there is no milk replacement formula that is 100% adapted for infant rabbits. The milk of rabbits is the richest of all domestic animals. It contains from 13 to 15 per cent of protein, to to 12 percent of fat, 2 per cent of sugar, and 2 to 3 per cent of minerals. An important point is that the doe’s milk output increases with litter size but the baby rabbits get less milk each than they would in a smaller litter. Depending on genetics, milk production will not increase above 8 to 12 baby rabbits. The most likely potential disease to cause infant/weanling death is mucoid enteritis. Although it does occur occasionally in weanlings who have been fed by their mothers, it is seen much more often in hand-fed babies. It shows up as severe diarrhea, or refusal to eat. It also causes bloating and gas. Mucoid enteritis is caused by a bacterial overgrowth, usually of Clostridium spiroforme, in the hindgut (cecum) of the baby, as the normal microflora are attempting to establish. These normal microflora help the baby achieve adult digestive capabilities. As babies wean off of milk onto adult solid foods, the gut pH gradually changes by getting a lot of help from the mother’s changing milk ingredients. By day 10 of age, the babies eyes will have opened, and they will begin eating their mother’s cecotropes, (also called “night feces” or “cecal droppings”). Cecotropes help provide the babies with essential nutrients and later, inoculate the hindgut with the essential flora that is needed to metabolize a diet that is changing from milk to solid foods. Cecotropes are clustered, soft gel-like “bunches” of fecal matter, which are covered with a light mucous film and resemble a raspberry in shape and size. They are manufactured in the adult cecum through “hindgut fermentation,” and contain high concentrations of proteins, B and K vitamins, fiber, ash (nitrogen-free extract) and unidentified “energy” elements, as well as the hindgut microbes. Cecotropes are an important part of a healthy rabbit diet and are usually eaten directly from the anus as they are produced. In hand-raised babies, it is essential to provide adult cecotropes to the babies after their eyes are open. Usually, the babies will eat the cecotropes immediately, because it the natural thing for them to do. However, if the babies do not eat the cecotropes on their own, add two to three of the individual pellets in the cluster to the formula at one feeding per day for three to four days. As the babies begin to explore adult foods, it is important to monitor their fecal output. At the first sign of “mushy” stool, re-introduce cecotropes to them, in formula if necessary. No substitute milk formula supplies immunity from disease nor are most rich enough to supply the energy needs of the rapidly developing babies and without overfeeding them. For these reasons the prognosis is not good for the babies. Infants lose the suckling instinct quickly, so if hand feeding is to be attempted, it must be started within 48 hours. Nothing is as good as a mother rabbit for a baby bunny, but it is possible to hand-feed orphans. There are many milk replacers for dogs and cats that do not contain the right ingredients that the rabbits need.I have herd that you can use these with cream or goat milk added but have no experience with this. I got this formula a long time ago from a breeder. His wife used it many time and she told me she had great luck with this mix. They had a small rabbitry and only had two does that they breed at different times and one doe would have 12+ kits in a litter they would take 2 or three out of the litter. She would keep them in her apron pocket and feed them until they were 4 + weeks old. You will need baby dolls bottles to feed them, an eyedropper or a syringe with no needle. the eyedropper or the bottle are the easiest to use(she used an eyedropper) if you use the syringe do not force the liquid out or go to fast with the feeding you can suffocate the kit by doing this.

FORMULA-
1 pint 2% milk
2 eggs yolks
2 tablespoon powdered milk
2 tablespoons kayro syrup light or dark either will work
1 teaspoon bone meal

Mix good and keep refrigerated until needed. Just warm up as much as needed. Warm to 90 degrees(just like babies milk test on your wrist to see if it is warm enough). Then feed the kits what they will readily consume. You will know they are full when they do not want anymore. Feed them what they will eat twice a day at about 12 hour intervals. Their body functions do not start functioning properly until they are about three weeks old. After each feeding it is important to make the bunny defecate and urinate to keep the intestinal tract and urinary system running smoothly. Use a soft cloth or a cotton ball moistened with warm water and gently stroke from between the bunny’s front legs all the way down over the anal area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine, and keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are replicating the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom (as well as to keep the nest clean). The stool will be soft and may be varying shades of green and yellow. Be sure to clean baby’s mouth with a damp cloth or paper towel, so that no milk dries in the hair. You should be able to raise the kits successfully using this formula. I have seen this work and the kits survived and some were really good rabbits!

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BREEDING RABBITS BY THE MOON

Full moon view at the rabbitry

Full moon view at the rabbitry

How did breeding rabbits or other farm animals get tied in with the phases of the moon?

Is this hillbilly folklore or fact? And where did this concept of breeding by moon phases actually come from? These are some of the questions I will try to answer.

The moon has played a huge role in Witchcraft, Greek mythology, Native American stories and Roman mythology throughout history. Both the Greek goddess Selene and the Roman goddess Luna had the moon under their control and human fertility in their power. Today many couples struggling with fertility will try to conceive by the various phases of the moon.

Hunters will hunt deer based on phases of the moon. Fishermen fish at different times of the moons cycle. Even worms breed by the phases of the moon (I see this all the time in my worm beds and the night crawlers in the pasture).

Gardening is often done on moon phases (something else I practice). Considering the mythological role the moon has played in history it is no surprise that rabbits can be bred by phases of the moon. The moon phases do make sense when you think about it…rabbits are nocturnal to begin with and the moon phases have a lot to do with fish and bird migrations, tides, and other wildlife events.

At the local hospitals they swear that the full moon brings out more “weird” cases also talking to the local police and fire/EMT people they say the same thing .

Back about twenty years ago I started to get nothing but bucks out of a few of some really good does. Wanting to save some does out of their litters for replacement breeders, I tried different ideas, different feed, Apple Cider Vinegar treatment (which I now do all the time), and nothing worked I still got bucks.

So I talked to a few old timers and they told me to try to breed on the new moon for more does. They bred horses this way and they swore by it, so I gave it a shot. Low and behold 6 does and 2 bucks in both litters and ever since I have tried to breed by new or full moon with great results. Not 100% successful but you will see that’s there is a definite result! Hillbilly folklore I think not!

I have herd of bad results of breeders that bred on a lunar eclipse on a full moon resulting in unusual amounts of kits born small. Some does that were proven good mothers scattered litters on the cage floor for the first time ever. Some does had difficult deliveries (again proven does) and entire litters were born dead.

I did some research myself and in over 300 individual litters showed that rabbits bred during a full moon phase or waxing had MORE kits, than rabbits bred during a new moon or waning stage. During that research I did not keep track of the sexes (wish I had- kicking my self in the behind) just the litter size. I have been recently keeping track and have had some good results, a lot of breeders think I am crazy to believe this system, but it work for me! So keep track and tell me how you make out!

A way to identify a Waxing or Waning Moon is to look at which side is “incomplete”. When the Moon is illuminated in such a way that the side facing West is “incomplete” the Moon is Waning (getting smaller) newer. If the side to the East is “incomplete” the Moon is Waxing (getting bigger) fuller

How it Works- Two things come into play when breeding by the phases of the moon. The first is whether there is a new moon or a full moon. Breeding during a new moon increases the number of does in a litter. Breeding by a full moon increases the number of bucks in a litter.(This I have recently kept track of and have had good results!)

The second thing that comes into play is the zodiac signs. The various signs either produce good, poor or best quality of the bucks or does. For example does bred during Aries, Gemini and Sagittarius have a tendency to produce poor quality bucks according to the theory. When you combine the moon phases with the zodiac signs you then can breed for specific results. So if a New Moon occurs during a zodiac time that produces the best does that when you should breed for does. Like if a New Moon occurred on July 17, which is during the zodiac sign Cancer that would be a great time to breed for does, because the New Moon produces the most does and Cancer produces the best does.

Some breeders also claim that breeding a hard-to-breed doe on a full moon will always be a successful one. Adding to that their are breeder who claim that there are particular moon phases during the year that will result in the best quality of animals, or also to increase hardiness.

I hope this post sparks some interest for people to keep track and let me know your results good or bad. Join The Rabbit Revolution! and subscribe to this blog page to keep updated when we have new posts.

RABBITS FOR SELF- SUFFICIENCY

Rabbits are quiet, grow fast, have large litters and can be fed on produce from the garden, or by foraging safe weeds and other safe food sources, or just good quality hay (They will grow faster on pellets or a balanced natural diet)

Rabbits a great high protein, low-fat, white meat, that is great tasting, easy to slaughter and no freezing needed. Just keep them in the cages until ready to put on the plate.

Rabbits have awesome pelts to make blankets, or clothing, or a great barter item.

Rabbits also produce one of the best manures for the organic garden.

During the growing season from half to three-quarters or maybe even more of a rabbits diet could be grown by the homesteader(depending on how much work you want to do). Also by feeding garden wastes, weeds, leaves, berries etc, you could provide all the food needed for a small-scale homestead meat supply.

Composting takes from 6 to 12 weeks to make your garden waste usable as a soil amendment, Rabbits and Worms can do a far better job and making a better product in ten days or less! So garden waste becomes rabbit food, which them becomes an equal weight of worm food in a day or two, which then becomes worms and their castings in over 90 days. The worms increase to become a source of highly nutritional poultry, waterfowl, and fish food in about 3 months. Leaving behind a mass of plant food (worm castings) that becomes more plants, more saleable product, and more rabbit food. All in the same time it takes a compost pile to become a lower quality of soil amendment without the added poultry, and fish food benefits. Now that’s Self Sufficiency!

I will be writing about all this information in future posts! This is the basis of my book that I have been working on for some time. This website I plan to load with all the information need to grow, breed, and butcher rabbits on your self sufficient homestead!

If you have any questions or ideas please let me know email me or add in the comment section
RAISING MEAT RABBITS TO SAVE THE WORLD!

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