Second litter is dying...we're sooooo bummed!!

by Karen
(New Hampshire)

We had our first litter of 6 and one by one they all died. some were scrawny some looked healthy and plump, but still by day 3 they were all dead. it was awful.

I decided to put the male back with her right away.

Now, 30 days later, she had her second litter of 4. 2 have died and the 3rd and 4th seem to be withering.

She seems to be feeding them & we didn't touch them this time as we did last time. Both litters were not born in a nest, but were found all over the cage and I made them a nest of paper and straw. the mother does with both litters, shortly before they died, they were 'running in their sleep' that normal or is it a neurological thing?

Me and my family are just dying to raise a litter, but are having no luck at all and don't know what I'm doing wrong.

Also, if I'm going to keep the male away from the female, should i move their cages out of sight from each other? Right now I have the cages separate but next to each other. I feel bad because they love to snuggle together and groom each other, but I think she needs to take a break to gain her strength back.

Thanks for any input or advice.

***** Karen Sez *****
Ugh, what a heartbreaker. Sorry. Death by day 3 is pretty diagnostic for no milk. Either the doe was not producing milk, or she refused to let the kits nurse. I suspect the latter, since apparently at least a few of the kits started out with full tummies.

Sometimes when the little bambinos latch on it hurts, and she quits nurturing.

You can help by flipping the doe over in your lap and putting the kits on her tummy one by one for an additional 5 minutes of nursing. Another technique - pull out the nest box and place the doe in it, holding her there so she'll allow the kits to nurse. If you can do this twice a day, the kits should get enough milk to hang in there till they're old enough to start eating pellets.

The advantage of this 'force feeding' is that it toughens the teats, and soon the doe will readily permit the kits to eat, relieving you of the need for extra feedings.

Let me ask - did you provide a nest box 3 days in advance? And did the doe not use it? I'm concerned about the doe not using the box. Perhaps when God was handing out maternal instincts, the doe missed the curtain call....

It is possible that the doe simply lacks maternal instincts, though I cannot be sure of this from way over here. You may want to give her one more chance before trying again with a doe that will do her job.

You don't have to move the buck and doe any farther than you've done. That part is fine. And everything else seems okay. (Touching the first litter was not a problem.)

Next time around, check out our nest box page, and be ready to give the doe a nest box on day 28. She will kindle on day 31.

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