A few days ago we had a surprise pregnancy here at the farm. No, it wasn't my better half who was expecting. No babies for Mrs. Coffeedrinker (aka @tillysfamilyfarm) -who oddly enough DOESN'T drink any coffee....
Anywhoo. The expectant, and ready to pop, momma to be was one of my youngest does. I posted about her in an Actift update earlier. Well, today we did out usual rabbit chores; feed & water, yadda yadda. When we were all done with the adults we did a check up on Rouge and her new litter. When we opened her cage up I got a little worried about how disorderly and messed up her inner cage accoutrements were. She had the nest box pulled out, fur and loose hay tossed about eeeeeeeevrywhere. And she was a bit... nervous and freaked out it seamed. So while @tillysfamilyfarm got her food and water dishes done, I got to looking at the nest box.
It was bad. All 7 of the kits were cold as ice cubes. 5 confirmed losses. 2 hanging in there but so soooo cold. It's the kind of thing where I know that they are not going to make it without intervention. And even then, it's a long shot. So I removed the nest box, took care of my dead, and set Rouge up in her cage all by herself once more. I took my winter hat off my head, stuffed it with the fur from the nest box, and the 2 kits that were still alive. If more than the 2 had made it, I woulda just put the whole nest back in the cage and let "nature" continue. They really do stand a better chance with their mom than they do with me. But these 2 were pretty much a lost cause. I figured I might get lucky for once. Not likely.. but.. eh... better to try and see than flat out give up.
So we took them inside our house and set up a box for the 2 kits. Then I made a trip to the local town for some Kitten Formula /milk replacer. It's not bunny milk, but it does work. Once I got back home I found an old heating pad. We turned it on and got it set up in the box to help the babies get all cozy. Keep in mind, it's been a few hours since they were last warm and toasty.... so..... although they were finally warming up, it wasn't a clear deal for them just yet.
After an hour or so they were squirming around and started to "popple." That's rabbit speak for asking for food. Kinda like a baby bird opens their mouth to ask for food. Baby rabbits bobble and squirm around and grunt/squeak to que their momma that it's time to eat. I mixed up a small batch of kitten formula and used a soft plastic pipette to bottle feed each kit. I managed to get each one to take about a few drops or so of formula. They were pretty weak from the cold, but at least they got a quick snack to help them recharge.
Another hour later and it wasn't so good. The smaller kit had squirmed it's way into a crevice in the nest and got itself smothered.
6 down. 1 left Well..... dangit.
The last kit was poppling again. So I fed it a few more drops. This time, it suckled the pipette on it's own, and drank as much as it wanted. Yay! go lil one gooooo!
Last meals SUCK!
Another hour later and the lil tyke was gone as well. From what I could make out, the cold had sapped it's lungs too badly. It went peacefully. Warm, cozy, and a full tummy.
But it still sucked to loose them all.
In reality, this litter was in a pretty doomed spot to start with. Crazy cold weather when they were born. First time mamma -and a young mother at that. You usually don't expect a doe's first litter to do very well -if at all. I giver her credit for such a large batch of babies on her first go at it. And all 7 of them were live births, and nice sizes too. No scrawny runts or such. If not for the bad weather, this litter probably would have made it. I will try breeding her in April, with the rest of my stock. She proved that she carries the dilute genes, even tho she is pure black herself. Even though they didn't make it she had:
1 broken blue and white
1 pure black
4 pure blue
1 saddle blue with white underbelly.
For a breeder that is a fan of blue bunnies, this is a promising sign of things to come with this doe. I'm pretty happy to have her on the farm. I look forward to seeing what she can do when the weather it nicer, and she's just a little bit older.