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2010-2011 Winter Issue - the American Dwarf Hotot Rabbit Club

2010-2011 Winter Issue - the American Dwarf Hotot Rabbit Club

Take precautions with

Take precautions with the doe’s water supply. I prefer using water bottles while the litter is young to prevent kits from drowning. I usually cannot do this in winter unless I know the bottle is heated enough to prevent the metal tube and ball from freezing. Once the kits are actively getting in and out of the nest box, however, it is very important to make sure all babies have learned how to drink from the bottle. Check for dehydration. Around three weeks old, I can usually start using a water dish. If I cannot use a water bottle, I will give a dish big enough to supply the doe’s water needs but small enough to allow a kit to easily get out. A heat lamp above the water will help prevent freezing. Be sure of having a continuous water supply. When kits venture out of the box, the wire cage floor needs to be covered with a disposable layer to protect them from cold and drafts. Kits can and will leave unexpectedly while still nursing as the doe jumps away, causing the kit to freeze. It is important to plan ahead to prevent that. With the nest box warm and cozy, I usually don’t see the kits venture out into the colder cage area until about three weeks old. The winter breeding cycle can be repeated as long as the doe is not overtaxed physically. My baby rule in wintertime is to rebreed when the Dwarf Hotot babies are no less than 8 weeks upon weaning to help them have a strong start to finish the winter (I continue to keep a heat lamp over them). When you see a doe start to breed her young (I hate that!), it is important to get the doe bred immediately to prevent a pseudopregnancy. Also, if the doe’s vulva becomes anything beyond pale pink (remember, it’s winter), get the doe bred. Unfortunately, if these things happen too early, skip another three weeks before rebreeding so the babies are old enough. Other tricks to stimulate receptiveness include swapping cages between the buck and the doe (but always breed in the buck’s cage after they return to their own) or attending a winter show loaded with rabbit scents. I wish you well during your 2011 breeding program! Winter Weather and Breeding By Jennifer Milburn California does not have the severe cold that many other states have, so I do not have a heated nursery. To keep my does receptive in the winter time, I have lights on at least 12hrs a day whether it be sun or artificial. Another winter time practice is that I make sure I rebreed does 30-60 minutes after the first breeding. This is helpful in both summer and winter months. My nest boxes in the winter are wood and I use pine shavings on the bottom, (about 2-3" of them) and a grass hay, (either timothy or orchard grass) for the filler. I always keep extra fur from summer litters ready as well. If you do not have extra fur there is a product called Kapok that is a synthetic insulation that works well in the boxes. The last tip from me is that I always make sure I breed several does together so I can foster if need be; I like there to be at least 3- 4 babies per litter in the box, so I will move babies as needed. Winter 2011 Dwarf Hotot News Page 41

WINTER BREEDING By Patty Percy Winter in general is an unnatural time for rabbits to breed, but if you want Juniors for the spring shows, it’s worth a try. Some breeders will leave the lights on in their rabbitry for 12 to 14 hours per day to extend the daylight required to ‘trick’ the rabbits into breeding. Sometimes the younger does will fall for this trick, but many of the experienced does aren’t receptive to the bucks no matter what you try. I will introduce the doe to several bucks to see if she ‘likes’ any of them, or you can switch the doe into the buck’s pen for a day to see if that makes her come around. Taking the doe for a ride to a show will often stimulate her instincts. Now you have that month to wait and see if she will actually kindle a litter, or if you want to be on top of things, you can check her at 2 weeks and breed her again if she is open. Some will be able to palpate a doe at this time or you can put her in with a buck to see what she does. If she runs around grunting and squeaking, she is most likely bred. They can still re-absorb the kits and not have their litter, so you can palpate again at 3 weeks. Sometimes it is a good idea to just put the nest box in anyway, unless you are sure she has no babies in her. Once the doe has kindled, I keep a close watch on the litter to make sure she is doing a good job. If she needs a little extra fur to keep the kits warm, I always have a bunch clean fur saved from other litters to place on them. Cotton balls will also work, or even dryer lint. If the doe is doing a good job of keeping them well fed, they should be fine during even the coldest weather. Some people will use heat lamps or heat pads, but most does will do a good job if they have the instinct. Some breeders will even bring the nest boxes in the house and just take them out once a day for the doe to nurse, but I have never had much luck with doing that. It is a good idea to breed more than one doe at a time so there will be a litter you can foster a lone kit into if need be. I have had success fostering my Dwarf Hotots into both Rex and Mini-lop litters too. If I need to foster to another Hotot litter, I put a mark in their ear with a pen which has to be redone often or I will use the single tattoo pen and make a mark in their left ear which can be part of their tattoo later. As the litter matures, I like to put handfuls of soft grass hay in the box to keep them from trying to jump out too early. It is very disappointing to see a 2 week old baby bunny that jumped out of the box and froze on the wire. At times they will be pulled out of the box if they are nursing when the mom hops out, so you have to keep a close watch when the temps drop. The main thing to remember is that if you are diligent, you should have some Juniors for the spring shows. It can be disappointing to find the litter that was not successful, but the ones you get to the show table can be very rewarding. Good Luck! Winter 2011 Dwarf Hotot News Page 42

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