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Feeding Orphaned Kits

by Cathy Caracciolo

Most of us have had an orphaned rabbit, maybe a single one, sometimes a whole litter. Too young to wean, they should still be nursing on Momma. We try to avoid this by breeding 2 or 3 does at a time so we always have a doe to foster an orphan. But you know what they say about the "best laid plans"..."stuff" happens. Until recently, we have tried to nurse the babies using a commercially available formula called "KMR" (Kitten Milk Replacement made by PetAg), available in powder or liquid. This is what our vet suggested. But they would fight the nipple, dropper, or syringe and refused to swallow it. Even when we could get it into them, we have lost better than 95% of the babies we tried this on. Last month,we lost a Flemish Giant doe with a 15 day old litter of 4. I couldn't foster them on another doe. But I found a different commercially prepared formula that seems to work really well. It's called "Just Born, Advanced Formula Milk Replacer for Kittens - Plus Colostrum", made by Farnam Pet Products. Also available as a liquid or a powder, it was readily accepted by the babies. Rather than use a bottle with a nipple, I used a feeding syringe, just behind the front teeth. I was able to accurately see how much each baby was eating. I fed them twice a day, starting at 15cc each per feeding, gradually increasing the quantity, based on what they seemed to want. At 4 weeks old, I began bringing them their Formula in a bowl for them to lap up. They loved it! Their weight is on par with a litter that has been nursed, and they are switching to pellets and rolled oats. They are all very healthy and doing well. Now at 6 weeks, I have switched them to a Second Step Formula (made by KMR). Normally, we don't wean our Flemish Giants until they are 8 weeks old. unlike smaller breeds that are weaned at 6 weeks. I am very pleased with the results of this different Milk Replacer and wanted to share my success. I would really like to hear from anyone that has tried this or any other product.

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