For the first breeding in April 2014, Lydia and I just used some large Rubbermaid clear plastic boxes. They worked well enough, but Tootsie and Snowball both got stressed and wanted a dark place, like a burrow, to have their kits.
So we decided the commercial nesting box might be better. So far, because it is not a Rubbermaid, they have not used them like a litter box, like they did last time. I like that this one is all metal on the sides and top, and wood on the bottom. Lydia bought her nesting box (10"x10"x20") for Snowball from KW Cages at the Stockton show earlier this month. It is all metal, including on the bottom. I think hers will be easier to sanitize. And I also think it will be harder for the kits to escape from the nesting box, something they started doing way too early with the Rubbermaid box. The commercial nesting boxes are darker, which new mothers want when they are going into labor. Because it’s more enclosed it will hold heat in better, especially important in cooler temperatures.
|Tootsie's thus-far unimproved nesting box|
We put shredded newspaper on the bottom of the nesting box to absorb urine. We then stuffed the nesting boxes full of hay and put them in the does' cages. This should be done 2-3 days before the kits are due. (If you put it in too early, the doe will not know why it is there, and she will use it as a litter box.) At this point the doe will arrange everything just the way she wants it.
|Snowball's improved nest|
So far Snowball appears to like her nesting box and has already been working on her nest. She pulled all the hay out and then put it back in her way. She has pulled wool and placed it in the darkest corners of the box. Based on her first experience, we expect that her nest will undergo a few remodels in the next two to three days.