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Care for the Pregnant Doe and her litter

Care Before Kindling (Giving Birth)

You should feed the doe as much pellets as she wants before she has birth. Make sure she does not get over weight though because it will make it difficult to kindle. Make sure she always has access to the freshest water possible.

On the 24th day you should give the doe a kindle box or nest box. This box should be either metal or plastic (some people use shoe boxes but they have to be replaced!). Metal is best and should have either a peg board flooring or a removable floor like SMALL HOLE wire or metal. Cover the floor in winter with shavings. Give the doe straw or hay and she should make a nest in the center with the hay. She will also pull out hair from her chest area and cover the nest with this. If she does not make a nest it is possible she is not pregnant or she needs help (especially if it is her first litter). You can make the nest for her by just making a hole in the hay, shavings, and fur. If she doesn't pull fur, brush her and collect the excess fur. On the 34th day is she has not had her babies intervention is needed. To make a rabbit go into labor there are many herbs you can give her... Dandelion leaves and dandelion tea are said to make a rabbit go into labor. Lavender leaves also help.

Placing the doe with the buck a few times a day raises her stress levels which can also make her kindle. If you place the doe with the buck to speed kindling watch carefully. Do NOT let the buck mount the doe. Also if the doe looks like she entered labor remove her or the buck immediately. You do not want her attacking the kits or buck once she has had them.

Caring for the litter and mother

The babies are born! First take care of the mother. Make sure she is in good health and eating. Reduce her feed slowly in till she is back to her normal amount. She should also clean up the "mess" around the cage and nest box. If she does not carefully remove box and any blood you see. Move babies and fur out of box, remove soiled shavings, and replace babies and fur. 

Then check the babies. The babies should all be healthy and not sick or scraggily. The babies will eat only about 5 minutes a day either very early in the morning and very late at night.

There are things called Peanuts which show up in litters with the dwarf gene (usually minis and dwarf breeds). Peanuts are babies that have more of the dwarf gene than normal rabbits. They often can not eat with the rest of the litters. They will also have health problems like underdeveloped lungs, heart, and hindquarters. They often have a very large head and small body. They will usually die off within a week, but some can make it and some have lived for months before death. Some breeders choose to kill them off themselves or leave them.

You should hold the babies daily as long as you are not stressing the mother. Holding the babies will allow them to become socialized and will let them become used to being held, carried, and played with. You don’t want aggressive rabbits later on. If it stresses the mother when you hold the babies allow the mother some exercise time and remove her from the cage. Either let her run around or restrain her to another area. You can also remove the babies if need be.

If you don’t notice the babies having large bellies in the early morning or late night (that look like they swallowed a golf ball) then you should remove the babies. You can take the mother out twice a day and let her feed the babies while you hold her. That way you know they got fed. If the mother still refuses to feed the babies they will need to be bottle fed. But you will have to keep the babies warm *either with heater pads or in a warm area*.

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