13 Causes of High Mortality in Young Rabbit Kittens and How to Remedy the Situation
Most rabbit farmers especially the inexperienced ones complain of high mortality in young rabbit kittens dying at an alarming rate.
Rabbits are highly prolific animals, for this reason, most farmers take this advantage for granted instead of utilizing it to their utmost advantage.
The high mortality in young rabbits kittens or baby rabbits, can have a significant impact on the rabbit farm and the entire farm project.
And at the same time the profitability of the entire farming project.
Identifying the problem and proffering a solution to remedy the situation is the key to profitable rabbit farming:
The following are the major causes of death and mortalities in baby rabbits (kittens) with their remedies:
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1. Heat stress may be responsible for high mortality in young rabbit kittens
Heat stress especially in tropical climates is a major problem for rabbits it may be responsible for high mortality in young rabbit kittens. Rabbits do not cope well in temperatures above 32 degrees C and in high humidity.
Rabbits enjoy cooler temperatures for reproduction and survival. During heat periods it is advisable to skip breeding rabbits, especially in hot tropical climates.
Or you provide a means of cooling them with the use of a fan or heat exhaust fan. Heat stress can cause sterility among bucks.
As a result of heat, Does (female rabbit) may not reproduce. Instead, they could miscarry, abort their young, ignore the newborn, or deliver outside the nest box on the wire floor rather than in the next box.
Rabbits can also die from heat stress, which results in high mortality rates. However, heat stress can be prevented through methods that are fairly inexpensive and can be readily implemented.
Building their house under a shade, use an exhaust fan in their house similar to the ones for poultry. Their hutch should not be placed directly under the sun. Avoid mating your rabbits during the heat season or the summer months.
2. Poor management (sanitation) can also lead to high mortality in young rabbit kittens
One of the most often neglected but important measures in attaining near-zero mortality rate in rabbit production, is proper care of the rabbit’s hutch, in terms of Cleanliness and management because curative treatment is less successful in rabbits than in many other livestock classes.
The rabbit’s hutch should be constructed in such a way that the hutch will be able to self-clean itself in a way that the droppings will fall through the wire mesh and the urine of the rabbits can easily be collected through a systematic draining system.
The rabbits should be kept in an enclosed environment with good ventilation, allowing proper inlet and outlet air movement.
3. Poor milk yield especially for young mothers
This problem is usually peculiar to first-time mothers (doe), Young mothers should be observed for some time if the problem persists the doe should be culled to avert high mortality in young rabbit kittens.
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4. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics
Excessive use of certain antibiotics can be a risk or toxic to the rabbits, in addition to that the abuse or misuse of drugs can decrease the ability of the young rabbit to build natural immunity and resistance to some diseases as they grow.
5. Remating immediately is another culprit of high mortality in young rabbit kittens
Keeping the male rabbit buck together with the doe poses danger to both the kittens and the doe their mother, the male can kill or trample the kittens to death, and at the same time, the buck i.e. the male rabbits can easily get the doe pregnant even when she is still kindling her young.
This may create a burden on the doe. That may eventually lead to poor care and feeding of the kittens which can lead to high mortality in young rabbit kittens.
Have a calendar to monitor when the doe is kindling, and weaning her young so that you know when to mate her again, always separate the male buck from the doe, he should be kept in a separate hutch.
6. High litter size
Some rabbits are capable of giving birth to a higher number of kittens than they can handle or properly breastfeed with milk, this may lead to underfeeding of some kittens that may eventually lead to high mortality in young rabbit kittens.
If you keep a lot of rabbits, try to make an arrangement for a foster mother who is also kindling her young. You can pick kittens from the doe with a high number of kittens to the ones with less to help in breastfeeding.
This method can be tricky, you might need to be doing it manually yourself.
7. Undue disturbances to the rabbit during kindling can cause complete loss, and high mortality in young rabbit kittens
Rabbits need a completely quiet and serene environment for kindling their young noisy and unnecessary human presence should be avoided at all costs.
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8. Presence of bacterial and viral diseases
Rabbits are very clean animals, which makes them have fewer diseases, and their environment should be kept clean at all times.
When introducing a new rabbit it should not be done suddenly new rabbits should be kept in a new hutch.
They can be observed for some time to rule out the presence of any bacterial or viral infection before mixing them with the main flock.
9. Poor construction of the nest is another factor that can lead to high mortality in young rabbit kittens
The rabbit nest should be able to provide enough space and the same time should be convenient and comfortable for the rabbit.
The inside should be spacious, sturdy, and a little dark with less penetrative light kept in a hidden corner of the hutch to give the doe a sense of security and safety.
The construction of the nest and the type of bedding in the nest should not hinder the distribution of the young kittens during kindling and suckling.
10. Poor quality feed immediately after weaning
Increasing dietary protein levels in the growing rabbit diet is known to reduce the rate of mortality in young rabbits.
Feeding your rabbit quality green hay that is not affected by molds or exposed to wet conditions will improve both the growth and health of rabbits.
11. Abandonment of litter by the doe
This is most often done by young females or first timers (first litters) whose milk has not let down or has let down too late. A doe that abandons more than two litters should be culled and replaced immediately.
The female’s doe usually eats only those young that are already dead, or when threatened with fear, poor feeding can also result in cannibalism.
The dose should be given adequate care and proper feeding with a good production environment.
13. Exposure to predators
Your rabbit house or hutch should be built with strong and sturdy materials so that cats, rodents, and other bigger predators will not have access to the rabbits and their kittens.
A fence should be provided if possible a good well-tamed guard dog should be purchased by the rabbit owner.