Losing lots of rabbits to enteritis

My sister in law and I raise rabbits, but for the last year we've lost a lot of rabbits to enteritis. What can we do ahead of this to stop it from happening before hand. Any information will help.

***** Karen Sez *****
I'll help you brainstorm, but want to direct you to a rabbit-savvy vet up front, because we're not vets ourselves.

Enterotoxemia is frequently caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the hind gut. The most frequent cause of the imbalance is the feed.

--Too many carbs, too little fiber, too little fats.

--Toxic weeds, if fed fresh forages

--Old feed, lacking complete nutrition due to oxidation ('rust,' like on cut apples) of nutrients

--Moldy feed

--Old or moldy hay

Other causes are infectious. This page - http://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-diarrhea.html - runs through the most common causes of rabbit diarrhea, including the sporadic but devastating Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy (ERE) (http://www.raising-rabbits.com/epizootic-rabbit-enteropathy.html).

If you're having a lot of enteritis and dead rabbits in your barn:

--Withhold all pellets from all rabbits during an outbreak and give lots of fresh grass hay for at least 48 hours, longer if necessary.

--Ensure the rabbits get grass hay every day.

--Evaluate the feed and hay for freshness, and discard anything that is older than 60 days. Feed that is 61 days old is not necessarily bad, but given the problems with sick animals, one needs to draw the line somewhere.

--Get a feed that is lower in protein and higher in fat. For example, feed a 15 - 16% feed, and top-dress with black oil sunflower seeds or whole oats. This ration WILL support pregnancy and lactation. Adding fresh calf manna is also an option, but still, including some BOSS because of its higher oil content is a good thing.

--See the information at http://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-feed.html, where we review the new Sherwood Forest Feed. Follow the links to their website, and see what you think.

--Deep-clean ALL the cages. Give them a good scrubbing and set them out in the sunshine for a few days. If you can't remove the cages, then scrub them and spray them with a 20% bleach solution from a pump-sprayer (and rinse).

--Take one of the sick (or dead) rabbits to a vet for a diagnosis. He can do a necropsy on a dead rabbit and give you more info than I can. Some university Agriculture programs can do that necropsy for you for a very reasonable fee.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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Oct 07, 2013
How much hay should they get a day?
by: Anonymous

We are having the same problem... so we will try your suggestions! But what I want to know is how much hay do the adult rabbits get? If we get the feed 15-16% (we are feeding 18% now) then what amount of hay should I be giving? I feed them hay in the morning and at night plus the 18% feed. Is this too much? Is this why I am losing so many bunnies between the ages of 4-8 weeks??

***** Karen Sez *****
A good handful both morning and evening should be more than enough hay. Don't forget - toooo much hay can also result in problems, usually in a blockage. If you reduce the protein to 15-16%, plus add a pinch of BOSS per rabbit per day, this should provide an excellent balance.

It'd sure be interesting to know if there's a mold or other problem with your feed. Is it very fresh?

Given a persistent loss of kits between 4-8 weeks, I'd suggest also adding Benebac, plus medicating the whole herd with Albon (sulfadimexothine) for coccidia. Probably most importantly is a vet's opinion for a definitive diagnosis, since a vet I am not (though I speak from abundant experience).

Good luck with everything!

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