Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Two new litters of kits with some complications.

The next round of babies have been born! Well, the first half of this round has been born at least. I was planning to talk almost exclusively about the seedling swap this weekend, but first, babies.

This has not been a good year so far for litters in our homestead. The three babies you see Left are the surviving three babies of Dawn's five she gave birth to Sunday night. The other two that were born were deformed, one of them looking almost like it had encephalitis. If this was just Dawn it'd be one thing, but it was Twilight too. Twilight has five survivors out of nine born with three of those that died being half formed or stillborn.
We are concerned about what is stressing the moms out, and aren't sure what is doing so. On the up side, we definitely have 8 kits alive and on the ground. Dawn's surviving babies appear to be doing just fine having gained around of 20% of their weight again over the course of one day. Left is a good photo showing just how easy it is to tell when a baby has had milk recently. See how pear shaped it is? That's a very full baby bunny which is exactly how we want it to be. Below are Dawn's kits today.

While disappointed and concerned about the bad litter she just had, we are glad that at least it looks like these three will do just fine.

I'd mentioned stressing the moms out. Dawn is exhibiting stress in the form of digging which she usually does around giving birth, and a new one for her. Wire chewing. Her daughters are exhibiting the same behaviors as well as sprinting full bore away from where ever I am until they hit the wall and then turn in to the private areas and hide. They've always been a bit skittish compared to their mother despite regular handling, but this is a whole new level of scared. I'd just attribute it to their first pregnancy if they were the only one exhibiting unusual stress behaviors. What about our primadonna Twilight though? Notice anything strange about her Below as we give her the daily we're going to touch your babies bribe?

Let's give you a better look. Can you see it better now? She not only pulled out fur from her dewlap as normal, as you can see Right she denuded around the tops of her front legs. Below shows that it goes far down her armpits. We couldn't get a good photo of how far across the front of her torso it goes because she's not a fan of being in a position that shows it.
Fortunately, Twilights surviving babies are doing just fine as you can see in the two photos Below. The babies are fat, developing fur quickly, and healthy. There is one runt who seems to be catching up just fine. I'm starting to think he's going to be a bit of a frustration for us, you see, he's fond of squealing. This morning we found him pushed out of the nest. Whether he'd just fallen there being greedy for milk, or his siblings pushed him out.

Frankly if they'd pushed him out I wouldn't really be able to blame them. He can make quite a loud and annoying sound and seems to do so at every opportunity.  Hopefully he gets out of that particular habit quickly because I'm not a big fan of high pitched noises.

Our real priority at the moment is finding out what is causing the high stress in our rabbits. We will probably bring down the trail camera from up where it is now not seeing anything, and hopefully figure out what's causing the stress. The Lady of the House and I are a bit suspicious that it's the down hill dog that chased Twilight and her kits coming up and terrorizing them through the hutches. It makes the shelf in the new hutch concept that much more important. It could also just be the change to spring and the owls being more vocal, it could be critters in the woods. The last thing we are seriously considering is that it could be a new formulation of the food we use. The bag color changed about two weeks ago and for all we know it could be a difference that affects the rabbits. Right now we're just guessing wildly and hoping that there aren't any more problems with litters. Halley and Comet should be giving birth today. We hope they do it during daylight because they're less spooky during the day, and we don't trust they know how to make a nest or take care of babies.

Speaking of babies,  Twilight's older litter is doing just fine and have discovered the joys of grass. They LOVE grass. I have trouble getting the grass into the hutch because they crowd around and try to take it from my hand, they don't even want to let it hit the ground. So far it hasn't affected their poop which is obviously a major concern with rabbits, you don't want to end up with too much moisture in their stool. We'll see how this goes, but if it continues to go well I'll be thrilled. Even with just two hand fulls of grass a day their pellet consumption has gone WAY down. That litter is just over 2 months old now, and last weighed they were over three pounds. They may be butchering weight before 12 weeks. Even if they are we won't be butchering them 'till 12 weeks, we don't need the hutch open before then, and more weight when they are still in the efficient stage of growth is good.

So I haven't covered two huge things that have been going on due to focusing so heavily on the babies, so this week will have at least one "bonus" post. In the grand tradition of serials.

Next time: The results of the seedling swap, are there too many plants to control? Will we be overwhelmed by greenery?!

Construction continues on the new hutch. Will it all come together, or have I made a terrible mistake?

And finally, a welcome gift a friend of the family of the Lady of the House. Could this convoluted train of gifting be just the solution to a problem?

Find out tomorrow and Thursday!

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