Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kits, A Couple of Tips For New Breeders

Just after the doe kindles her litter, you will want to check the kits for a few things.  First, you want to ensure the kits were completely cleaned. If any were not, clean them with a warm washcloth or paper towel.  You also need to check the nest for any stillborn kits and remove them.  Finally, if the doe hasn't pulled enough wool you will want to cover them with angora fiber that you have set aside for this purpose. 

After kindling is probably the most critical time, but the time between ten and fourteen days is also very important.  The kits open their eyes around day 10.  If a kit does not open its eyes by day 12, it is probably due to nest box eye, a common ailment that can result in blindness if left untreated.  Nest box eye looks like a few grungies (in this house, "sleep" in other houses) around the eye.  These grungies are sealing the eye shut.  To treat this problem, dip a q-tip in warm water and gently swab around the eye several times a day until the problem resolves and the eyes open.  Nest box eye is generally not a problem in kits that have a clean nest box. 

The weaning process begins when the kits are about one month old.  This can be a difficult transition for the kits.  Indeed, some will not transition well, but you can help your kits.  This is a good time to start weighing the kits daily to make sure they are gaining weight.  If the kits stop gaining weight or are losing weight two days in a row, you might wish to supplement them with formula in a bottle.  Because this can be a difficult transition for their digestive systems, some kits may get messy bottoms.  You need to clean their bottoms to make sure there is no blockage.  That would be fatal.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kits, Day 14

Well, here they are, crawling around and every once in a while there is a little attempt at a hop.

All of them have had their eyes open for two days now, but initially they were just little slits.  Now we can see the full eye.  And why is this important, you ask?  Well, eye color can help to conclusively determine the color of the rabbit.  And it was important in the case of this litter.  The two colors we were unsure of we can now say confidently are tortoiseshells. 

So in this litter there are two chocolates, one chocolate steel, one chocolate tortoiseshell (tort for short), two lilacs, and one lilac tort. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kits, Day 13 (And Then There Were Seven)

So we had a little bit of sadness here this morning.  Charlotte went out to the bunny barn to take care of the morning tasks and check on the kits.  Unfortunately, one of the chocolate kits crawled out of the nest box sometime after the bedtime check last night.  He wasn't stiff yet, but even after half and hour of warming, we couldn't revive him.  While twenty degree temperatures are not too cold for angora rabbits or kits in a nest box, those temperatures are too cold for a kit alone outside the nest. 

Suffice to say, the kits will be sleeping indoors for another ten days or so.

They are definitely plumping up.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kits, Day 12--Eyes Open

Sorry about no pictures for Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday we were at the show all day, and Sunday is the Sabbath.  I took pictures last week to post on Monday, but we were just busy yesterday.  Becky is getting ready to serve a mission in Houston, Texas, for the next 18 months.  She leaves Wednesday morning, and so we have been very busy with that.

Anyway, here are pictures for Day 12.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kits, Day 9

We got back from our road trip pretty late, so we didn't post anything for Day 8.  To make up for this gross omission, we will post our first video ever.  This is Sage nursing some of her kits.

This is not normally how the nursing of kits occurs.  Normally, Sage will hop into the nest box once or twice a day.  However, Charlotte is concerned that Sage could be in the first stages of developing mastitis.  The early treatment for this is putting the kits onto the mother and getting them to nurse as much as possible.  So this is what Charlotte does a few times a day.  She sits on the floor with Sage belly up between her legs and then puts the kits on the most affected areas. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kits, Day 7

Well, we're almost ready to leave on a quick road trip, so here's a quick couple of pics for today.

In the nest box, the kits will burrow deeper if they're cold.  If they're warm they'll spread out and kick the wool off. 

I put the library card in again for perspective.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chow Time (Kits, Day 6)

Charlotte is a worrywart.  That's just all there is to it.

So she has been hovering all day over Sage and her kits, constantly checking to see whether Sage had fed the kits.  It doesn't matter that it is perfectly acceptable and normal for does to feed their kits only once per day.  Charlotte will not be happy unless they are fed twice per day. 

Anyway, Sage finally went in to feed her kits around 7:15 this evening.  Charlotte wasn't sure whether she had fed them.  They were still pretty jumpy.  But they were all wet, so that was a pretty good sign.  However, Charlotte thought Sage wasn't in the nest box long enough, so she wasn't happy about that. 

She brought Sage and the kits inside and we decided to put Sage upside down on Charlotte's lap and put the kits on top of her.  First time we've ever done that.  And Sage didn't seem to have a problem with it.  All of the kits chowed down.  Some finished up pretty quickly while others were insisting that they hadn't been fed in three days. 

It's now half an hour later and Charlotte is still examining Sage to be sure that all is well.  I'm telling her to tell Sage that it's a spa day and she should be grateful for the special treatment.  I think Sage is buying the story. 

Breeding Day

So we waited a few days after Sage kindled her kits, hoping Phantom and Fudge would do the same.


It was a real bummer.

But if at first you don't succeed....

So in between hours of sledding today (we got 12 inches of snow last night), Charlotte and Lydia bred their does again.

Phantom, a self-black, was paired with Coal, another self-black.  We anticipate lots of self-black kits.

Fudge, a self-chocolate, was paired with Ninja, another self-black.  We anticipate a wide variety of colors, mostly selfs and some REWs.

The kits are due December 12.

We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kits, Days 4 and 5

We look at the kits and hold them several times a day.  And while we do see changes in color, I would swear that they are no bigger than they were at birth.

The colors are becoming a little more differentiated from one another.  Best guess right now is three chocolates, two lilacs, one chocolate sable, one lilac sable, and one chocolate steel.  Again, they're still guesses.

Day 4.  The camera was misbehaving; this is the best picture we got.

Day 5

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kits, Day 3

I should have waited until after the kits received their evening feeding to take pictures, but that isn't for two more hours.  And I am really tired after a day of working in the garden cleaning up all the dead tomato plants.  (I would have cleaned them up last week before the storm had the weather service been a little more accurate.  The weather service forecasted a high of 46 degrees and 1/2 inch of rain.  What we got was a high of 33 degrees and five inches of snow.)

Jennifer asked us to post a picture  showing the kits next to a familiar object for perspective. 

The library card they are next to is the full size card (credit card size), not the keychain card.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Kits, Day 2

I thought maybe I'd post pics of the kits every day, at least for the first two weeks, so that you can see the changes and growth.  Unfortunately, it may be a little difficult for the changes to be visible through the camera and the 'net. 

The big change we noticed today is that three of the "chocolates" are not chocolate.  They are probably lilacs of some sort. 

The lilacs are the two lying horizontally on the top and the one on the bottom right.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Box of Chocolates

Well, it's a nest box of chocolates.  Not that you can see any in there, because they are all down deep in the hay and wool snuggled up with one another. 

Two hours old

Sage had eight beautiful, healthy kits at around 9:00 this morning.  All appear to be of a chocolatey color.  However, there are two with white bellies and chocolate bodies.  Maybe they are chocolate tortoiseshell, but we think those are supposed to have orange-y looking wool.  We're not quite sure--we've never had any tortoiseshells here before.  The rest of the chocolates should be either self-chocolate like their dad or chocolate steel like their mom. 

Nest Building

When we first started breeding our rabbits, Lydia and I would put the nesting boxes in seven to ten days before the does were due to kindle.  (We then learned that if a nesting box is put into the cage too early, the doe will use it as a litter box.)  I read in a book that if a rabbit builds her nest on the 18th day, that she is not pregnant--that it is a false pregnancy.  So I was sad when Snowball started building her nest on the 18th day.  We debated whether to just breed her again, but in the end we decided against it.

We were very glad that we had not tried to re-breed her when we found eleven kits in her nesting box.

We have found that Snowball will start building her nest as soon as the nesting box is put into her cage.  She is our over-achiever.

On the other hand, Tootsie and her daughter Sage were/are our multi-taskers.  (My mom wrote that they were/are slackers.  That was not nice.  At all.)  They basically build their nests while kindling their litters.  Seems a little amazing. (My mom said reckless.  That wasn't very nice, either.)


That's what it has been, waiting for new litters of kits to appear. 

We begin to wonder if there will even be any this time.  Maybe it got too warm for the bucks at one point (while angoras need something to cool them down when the temperatures rise above 85 degrees, bucks can become temporarily sterile when temperatures rise above 80 degrees), or maybe one of the bucks was too young (Winchester was just over four months at the time), or maybe they just didn't do it right. 

The girls don't palpate to check the doe for developing kits as that increases the risk for stillbirths.  So they have to rely on their observations of changes in the does' behavior. 

Phantom made a beautiful nest.  Sage did nothing out of the ordinary.  Fudge removed all the wool that Lydia had placed in her nest box. 

So far, only one of the three has kindled a litter.  (More on that in another post.)  I thought I would relax and be grateful that there was at least one litter.  Nope.  Still stressed.  And they aren't even my bunnies.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Breeding Pairs

Once we sold enough of our rabbits we were able to breed our does. 

Sage was paired with Muddy Buddy.  Both are grand champions (or will be as soon as we receive the paperwork back).  Sage has six legs; Muddy has four.  Sage is a chocolate steel and Muddy is a self-chocolate.  They should produce lots of chocolate babies.

Phantom was paired with Coal.  They have one leg each; furthermore, Coal's leg was a best of breed among sixteen rabbits in open competition.  So that is significant.  Both rabbits are self-blacks; however, we anticipate a wide range of colors.

And for the final couple, Fudge was paired with Winchester.  Each of them have one leg as well.  Fudge is a self-chocolate and Winchester is a self-blue.  And again, there should be quite the range of colors.

All three does and two of the bucks are first-timers.  We don't anticipate that all the does will kindle litters this time, but we are keeping a very close eye on them.  We've been checking hourly all day today.  Phantom built a nice nest.  Sage appears clueless.  And it looks like Fudge has a smaller nest in back.  Maybe she just wants a little more privacy. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Winter Preparations

Winter's cold temperatures don't bother French angoras; in fact, they enjoy the cooler weather.  However, if temperatures drop below freezing, your rabbits' water bottles or crocks may freeze, leaving them without water.  (Heated water bottles are available but I have never tried them, so I cannot comment on them.)  Depending on how low the temperatures dip, we may fill bottles morning, noon, and night with warm water to ensure their supply is always available.

In addition, it is important to have a good supply of feed at all times, but especially in winter.  We live on the eastern side of Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevadas, and frequently semi trucks can't make it over the pass.  We were sweating bullets a few times last year when trucks didn't make their scheduled deliveries.  This year, Lydia and I each bought enough feed to last through February.  Having a good supply of hay is also an important consideration. 

Here's hoping we have lots of snow this winter!