First time rabbit mom, will she keep her kits alive?
My doe mated with my buck 10 days ago and I don't know how to palpate her but she does dig everywhere. But I am worried about the babies-if there are gonna be any because she is a first time mom.
Can you give me any tips for a first time mom? I read online that most first time moms let their kits die - are there any ways of reducing that?
Ally 14 ***Karen Sez***
Here's hoping you're involved in FFA in school because I sense a good feel for animal welfare and improving animal outcomes.
Unless your doe's digging is brand new, this may not be a sign of pregnancy. The does tend to be the diggers generally, much more so than bucks.
About ways to ensure the kits stay alive: a doe with excellent maternal instincts needs absolutely no help from you, except for the provision of the nesting materials.
But what you can
do is ensure that the doe feels safe. Keep the other family pets away from her space, and protect her space from predators. If she feels safe, she'll take good care of her babies.
One more note about first-time moms: There are a certain percentage of animals with inadequate maternal instincts. The stuff you read on the internet about does letting their babies die (or even killing them)? Some of these rabbits were a) bred too young (they do fine on the second breeding), or b) have too few maternal instincts. You can fix the first; the second is likely fatal, meaning, in the wild, Nature takes care of these animals through predation.
In my barn, I expect ALL does to do a good job of mothering the first time. And they do. Mothering is a heritable trait; does that flub up - drop their kits outside the nest box or refuse to nurse them or other maternal failures - these does of mine get only one more chance to get it right. This is just in case it was not the doe's 'fault' the first time. (Maybe she got startled the night she kindled, or something.)
By weeding out the does that cannot 'mother,' the farmer ends up with a herd of rabbits that are genetically sound, that act like rabbits, and that will give both the farmer and any subsequent pet owners healthy happy animals.
Hope this helps Ally.
Good luck, and let us know how it goes, okay?
KPS for all of us:
Is it cruel to 'weed out' non-functioning rabbits? I can hear the animal rights gang yelling from here - 'every animal deserves life.'
No, every animal does not deserve life at all. Take a stroll through the Serengeti and then talk to me about animals deserving life. Predation ensures the survival of the fittest. In the barnyard, the farmer should be doing the exact same thing - weeding out the non-performing animals, which in the end, in the big picture, leaves a larger, healthier herd than the farmer started with, because now his rabbits are actually keeping their bunnies alive. THAT is totally humane, part of what animal welfare
is all about.