February 24, 2013

Inexperienced does

The first time a doe kindles (gives birth) I worry.  I worry a lot.  Will her instincts take over?  Will she have the kits in the nesting box where they can stay warm? Will she have them on the wire in the hutch?  Will she make a good nest? Will she pull enough fur to keep her kits warm?  Will she feed them?

This past September, we purchased a dozen young does. Some we bred early and the rest we waited to breed for various, boring reasons.  The younger does did a marvelous job as first time mothers.  They all made good nests.  They all pulled enough fur to keep their kits warm.  They all remembered to feed their babies twice a day.

The older does, however, have been giving us fits.  They are constantly having their kits on the wire, not pulling enough fur and then not feeding their kits.  We've lost a lot of litters this year due to these inexperienced does.

When the does kindles on the wire, right next to the nesting box, we put the kits and fur into the nesting box. Inevitably, the does don't feed their kits and they starve.  With these last few litters that were kindled on the wire, we tried something new.  After putting the kits into the nesting box, I pick up the doe and hold her over the kits in the nesting box so the babies can nurse.  I tried this for the first time yesterday.

I was very nervous about checking the nesting boxes this morning. I was expecting more dead litters.

Instead, I was treated to healthy, wriggly kits with full bellies. It worked!  I feel like we have overcome a huge hurdle.  When these does have their next litters, hopefully they'll remember the box where they fed their kits and will build nests there instead of on the wire.

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