Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Supplemental Feeding of Rabbit Kits

School has just begun again for Becky, and so she does not have as much time to care for this unplanned litter of kits.   I have assumed the responsibility of weighing and feeding the young kits. 

Most litters have at least one runt. This kit may need special care.  At this rabbitry, all runts get special care whether they need it or not.  ;)

Runts receive supplemental feeding and their weights are carefully recorded daily.  There are numerous recipes online for supplemental formula.  However, we have not tried any of them yet.  Maybe on the next litter we will see if the kits like it. 

We have used two different commercial formulas.  The first was KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer).  It cost $15 (for maybe 8 ounces) at the feed store.  It is mixed up jut like baby formula. The rabbit kits sucked it down when it was freshly opened.  We kept it in the freezer, but when we tried to feed it to the second batch of kits five months later, they wouldn't touch it.  We assume that it spoiled. 

So we needed more formula.  So my mom went back to the feed store.  They no longer carried KMR, but had something new.  This was Ultra Start Multi colostrum supplement for newborn animals.  The packaging says it's great for "calves, foals, lambs, goat kids, baby pigs, fawns, elk calves, llama crias, puppies, and kittens." No mention of rabbits.  (I'm just finding this out now as I write this blog.  I can't believe my mother withheld this information from me.)  It was $15 for a 16 ounce bag. 

The runt in this litter will suck plenty of it down if it is warm, but she refuses it if it is cold. 

There is one thing you need to watch for when supplementing.  You do not want to feed them just before the doe nurses them.  You don't want the runt to be filled up on formula so that she is full when her mother comes and can't drink the perfect milk her body needs.  You want to try to feed kits about six hours after the mother has nursed them. 

Though we can't tell if the supplement helps, we do know that none of our runts have died after we started supplementing them with formula.  And they have been very healthy and good-sized.

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