6 day old kits are having trouble staying warm
by Mary Grace
(Nova Scotia, Canada)
I have a 2nd time Mother. She is my Grand Champion doe (woohoo!), she is a Californian and she really looks after her litters. The problem is not her... It is the weather. It is VERY cold here. -20 Celsius give or take 5 degrees.
Since today (day 6) I have been having trouble keeping the kits warm!!! They all have turned grey from being chilled, and I had to revive the whole litter once. There are 7 remaining... There used to be 10.
I warmed them up by our fireplace earlier, and that is where they are right now. I am totally comfortable with them staying there... It's just that I am not sure the Mom will feed them if I keep them in the house. I have heard of other breeders managing this, but I have never done it so I am quite anxious. I really want this litter to do well! They are a one-time breeding with a great breeder's buck.
I guess, taking out all the other info, that I am asking how I can make sure (or make it as easy as possible) that she feeds them if I keep them inside when they are not being fed. How can I give them back to her later after they are making their own body heat and staying warm? Is that even a possibility?
Thank you VERY much. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Mary Grace ***** Karen Sez *****
Keeping the kits inside as you are doing is one frequently used method of keeping kits alive when the temps drop significantly below zero, either C or F. I suspect your doe will do fine with you bringing the kits to her once or twice a day, and then returning them to the house in the meantime. Or, take the doe to the kits for their ten minutes at the milk bar.
Have you tried stuffing the doe's cage full of straw? Literally? That might provide enough insulation that you can keep the nestbox in the cage. Did the doe pull enough fur?
The kits can probably stay out with the dam when they are 3 weeks old. At that point their fur will be long enough to keep them warm.