I hate to share bad news. I wish every post could be happy with cute pictures of fuzzy animals and smiling farm kids. But that’s not real life and it certainly isn’t farm life. We always have good things and bad things happening simultaneously throughout life, like rails running parallel on a train track. We desire to keep it real here and record both our successes and failures.
The good news is our first rabbit breeding went really well. Both our does made a soft, warm nest lined with their own fur and delivered a perfect number of kits without any problems. Stormy had 8 kits and Snowball had 7. 8 kits is average, so we were pleased with the numbers, especially for the first breeding which is typically small.
Now the bad news: within a day or two all the kits died. 😦 I was totally clueless as to what could be the cause of this. Based on the nests it appeared they were following their motherly instincts and I had high hopes for this to be a successful experience. I talked to a couple other people for some guidance and the word around the rabbitry is that a loss is common for does kindling their first litter. Oh, such disappointment! My visions of adorable, furry baby bunnies hopping on spring grass and cuddling with the kids have burst like a bubble.
So what do we do next? We will wait a couple weeks and try one more breeding with these does, though now my excitement for babies has turned to apprehension. I truly hope our rabbits can turn things around. We thoroughly enjoy our livestock but they must be good mothers, productive and hardy or we can’t afford to keep investing in them. If the next litters also fail we will need to begin again with new does. Not every doe loses her first litter. When the time comes for new stock, whether that is in a few weeks or a few years, I plan to seek does who either raised a successful first litter or come from a doe who has, rather than keep replacement stock from these two. That way I can attempt to breed that trait into my rabbit program instead of continuing to experience a ruined first litter from each new doe I keep.
Even before this happened, we prepared the kids for the occasional loss on our farm. For the most part, the kids have taken the failed litters very well. Hannah got a little teary for a minute but I was expecting more emotion from the kids overall. Most of them simply wanted to know why our two does didn’t take care of their babies. That’s a tough one for me to answer since the same question remains floating through my mind.