A Mothers Job
At birth (usually 30 days after
breeding) the mother begins to make her nest in the nestbox you should
provide her at the 28th day. It should be filled with either hay, straw,
or shredded newspaper. I prefere hay.
She should be fixing up the nest with fur from her belly and chest. If she hasn't pulled out fur yet, she probably will when she is having the babies, or right afterwards.
It usually doesn't take long for the babies to be born. Sometimes because of larger babies, it will take longer, depending on how large. If the doe needs help, you should help her. I had a doe one time, who couldn't get back in her nestbox in time to have them. She just couldn't jump into the box, she had had one on the floor, and I had to put her in the box. Since I caught her in the middle of having them, all were born safe and healthy and she allowed me to help her.
If the doe seems to be doing well on her own, leave her be. Once she jumps out of the nest box, and their is fur over the babies, then you may inspect them. I try to give them some food, or a treat to keep them busy while I take the box out and look at the babies. Remove any dead babies, or afterbirth that is in the box. Count them, so you know how many are there and put them back.
Since I live in a noisy neighborhood and all my babies kept getting stepped on because the mothers would jump in and out of the box from stress.. I have been removing the nestboxes and only taking them down once a day to feed. All of my mothers seemed to be greatful for this, and would feed their babies as soon as I put their babies back in with them. This reduced my death rate greatly.
Keep checking the nestbox many times a day to make sure none have died, remove them and put the box back in with the mom. At about 7-10 days the eyes open. You should check each eye to make sure they don't have a case of "nestbox eye." If they do, their eye will be sealed shut and have white pus inside it. If they have this, open the eye with warm water, and clean out the pus. You can apply medicine, which is listed on the page for eyes. This will clear it up faster.
Also keep an eye out that their genitals don't get caked up with feces. This happens more often when they are trying to wean, but to avoid them having pain, I check all the time.
I introduce food and water at about
the age of 3 weeks to them. Of course I'm only able to do this if I have
raised them seperated from their mom, like I explained above. Otherwise
the babies should be coming out of the nestbox in the mothers cage at 2
weeks looking for milk.
I give the babies oatmeal and hay to be gentle on their stomachs. At this age, they just nibble on the rabbit pellets. I am usually able to tell males from females at this age. Sometimes I can tell when they are younger.
At 4 weeks of age, I have them eating rabbit pellets fully, and drinking. In another week, I begin to wean them slowly. I give milk every other day, until they are about 6 weeks old, and I cut them off completly. If there are any runts, I allow them to have the milk longer, or atleast till the mother stops feeding them.
When they are 2 months old I seperate males from females, and decide whom I'm going to keep and sell.