Baby Bunnies Just Going Away

What are ‘faders’? I can hear you all asking, so now I will try to describe them to you from my own experience. As the name suggests, a rabbit that is a ‘Fader’ will literally perish until it has no energy left and dies. We, along with many other breeders, have tried numerous methods to save these little guys with a small percentage, if any, over three weeks. You’ll first notice a ‘Fader’ when babies leave the nest at around 2 weeks old.

This is the stage when babies begin to gnaw at anything they see their mother eating. The ‘fader’ appears to be crouching as close as possible to the mother or other siblings with their ears flat on their heads and fluffy fur to conserve as much energy as possible. You won’t see them gnawing at anything, running around the energetic cage, or cramming them into a meal with their siblings while their mother feeds them. Also, their eyes seem to open later than usual around day 11, and they usually need to be bathed in warm water to release them, not just once, but for several days in a row.

We have tried numerous strategies ourselves and documented the treatments used. When the next fader arrives, we use parts of the previous treatments that seem to have a positive effect on the ‘Faders’ and liven them up a bit. We have been very lucky to have only six ‘Faders’ since we started raising rabbits for about five years. We have found that the most important things to achieve a positive outcome for the ‘fader’ are warmth and sunlight, keeping them with their families rather than isolating them as it just makes them die faster and additional vitamins in the form of supplements. Added Penta-vite® to their formula. We also noticed that these little ones cannot suckle like their siblings, but can swallow the hot formula when rubbed on their tongues. When Ellie gave us two of these little guys, we were determined to do our best to save them.

As soon as they left the nest and were seen to be ‘Faders’ we started supplementing them with the modified formula, placing heat pads under their beds (we put heated wheat bags under our cooler frames so they wouldn’t be a tasty snack for mom and other siblings) and let them sunbathe for a few hours each day. (Vitamin D) had them placed facing the window in direct sunlight, but kept them waiting. warm and free from drafts. We weighed them before and after their feed using very precise scales and found that they initially consumed 4g of feed per feed and then 12-15g when weaned four weeks later. The little one-dollar Siamese Smoke doll weighed just 82 grams, while her sister, a REW, weighed 94 grams. His siblings, a normal, healthy infant (a sooty fawn) weighed 146 grams, so we used it as a benchmark. It took about two weeks of three feedings per day and continuous monitoring to see a positive change.

By the time they’re four weeks old, these two little guys have started behaving normally and are well and truly recovering. REW is now 142 grams healthy and the little Siamese Smoke now weighs 129 grams. Their sooty fawn brethren weigh 190 grams. When they see me coming, they get excited as if to say, ‘Mom, two legs are coming, alas. Their mom Ellie is still cleaning and caring for them so we don’t have to worry about this side of things and her little ears are starting to swell now. Beware, their sooty fawn brethren also only crop their ears.

Looks like we got a winning treatment for turning these little guys down. How happy are we? As you can imagine, we feel great and it’s great to sit there and watch the little guys running around. We’ll be keeping REW Doe to see how he’s progressing, and we’ll also be doing more work on the track (whether he will spawn regular babies or faders, will his health be affected on the track, etc.) and also keep tabs. little Siamese Smoke to see how it evolves. We hope this information will help rabbit breeders.

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