Weaning, Moving on and LettingGo
Five of the baby bunnies moved to their new homes today. Two of the new owners wanted to know how I could let them go! They are adorable and very sweet right now, and I am pleased that they are all going to responsible places to become the beautiful adult angoras they are promising to be. Every rabbit has new friends to make and new hearts to warm, and so I am delighted to see their new owners infatuated with them...that is how it should be!
Many bunnies get their start here but I learned a LONG time ago that not all of them can stay. I guess I am always planning for the next group of bunnies.
And so is Liebchen. She really, really loves being a mom. So much so that last week when I moved the bunnies out of her cage, she went into a depression and has remained quiet ever since. I think she would like to be a mom again...soon!
Gretel, on the other hand, had had enough of the bunnies and was starting to become irritated with them the day before I took them out. At 7 weeks, they were more than ready to be on their own, but because of the cold, I had left both litters in with their big-and-warm moms a little longer than I normally do.
So, what is normal and how do you wean a bunny?
Actually they wean themselves with mama's help. I offer fresh and delectable hay and oats at 2 weeks, and keep watch to see what they do with it. Some single bunnies will start eating at that age, although they are still nursing. Many more bunnies will nibble on the grass and oats at 3 weeks, which is usually when they start scampering out of the nest on wobbly legs. You will see them try to nurse at various times during the day while out of the nest, and mom will refuse to cooperate. She feeds them only when she is in the mood, which normally is 2 or 3 times a day. While they are out of the nest, they can nibble on what they can find, and I offer cleanly filled bowls of whole oats for 2 weeks, and then half rabbit food for the next week, and by 5 weeks they are eating what mom eats, although I top each food bowl with oats.
When it is time to separate them from mom at 6-7 weeks, I double up on the hay and oats offered, and keep the rabbit food a controlled portion. This will help with any weaning diarrhea that sometimes happens if one of the bunnies has been nursing a lot. I have been known to leave the smallest bunny in with mom for 8-9 weeks to let him/her get an extra bit of nursing, and to lessen the final weaning impact on mom. Most of the time the bunnies are NOT nursing at 7 weeks, and there are moms who get a little rammy at that time, looking at the bunnies with mating in mind (!), so it is helpful to keep careful watch on the mood of any litter from 6-8 weeks and be prepared to intervene to keep everyone happy.
Before any bunny leaves here, he/she has been eating on his/her own for a full 8 days and shows no sign of diarrhea. When I send bunnies home with their new owners, they get hay from here and a bag of the feed the bunnies have been eating to mix in with what they have ready at home. This helps lessen the stress of the move. Also good to remember....hay and oats have been a rabbit staple for a LONG time, so when you have a stressed rabbit, offer those comfort foods along with fresh water twice a day to give the bunny a break for a couple of days before other foods are introduced.
It WAS a little lonely feeding everyone tonight...
Posted by countrywool
at 6:13 PM EST