Another bunch of kits has been born, and among them, the first loss.
Given the temperatures reached -1.3F last night, I’m surprised and pleased that it was only one. Yesterday’s litter is also doing well, very cozy and warm. If anything, they’re a bit too warm, as they’re not huddled up at all.
It was a fraught decision, but after some research, I decided to, well, let nature take its course. If the does had supplemental heat under the nest boxes, they would likely under-prepare the nests. Long term, that is less than ideal, particularly if the goal is to have a meat farm capable of providing enough food for the household and then some. The closer to “zero” the inputs, the better.
I read previously that some commercial rabbitries expect a 10% average loss of kits before weaning, a number which seems exceedingly high to me. I suppose that may include the occasional entire-litter-lost, but that wasn’t the impression I got from the article. Just that they expect to lose a kit out of every litter or so.
I noted, however, that the kit which died never nursed, unlike its siblings, and had crawled (or dragged) quite a bit out of the nesting area. It may have not been terribly viable in the first place. The remaining six kits appear to be healthy and plenty warm, so that is one less concern.
Still, the *watering system* appears to have been a casualty of last night’s below-zero temperatures. A heat gun was insufficient to melt the lines enough to get anything moving again, so I shifted to getting water bottles filled for the rabbits. Also had to melt the chicken nipples, so the hens could get their water. Shattered a bottle while trying to open it; I will have to go get more. But for now, all of the nursing does have water.
No pictures of the new litter … it was far too cold to do more than do a quick head count and check for deaths.