How to Hand Feed Rabbit Kits

Dandelion’s litter is doing just fine this morning. It seems as if she may have fed two of the nine kits early this morning, but the other seven looked hungry. Hopefully this means that her milk is starting to come in!

I know it sounds like I’m being hard on Dandelion, but she really is a lovely rabbit. She has given me a lot of trouble in the last year or so with breeding (or lack there of) and her past litter being weaned too early by herself. She is still a calm and beautiful rabbit and I just wanted you folks to know that despite her general orneriness, she is still loved here at the Frühlingskabine.

Using information obtained from other breeders who have gone through this, I have come up with a method and formula for hand feeding kits. So if you ever have a litter to feed and the doe has died or just isn’t feeding them for one reason or another, this can be a guide for you.

Rabbit Kit Formula
Mix together: 1/2 cup canned evaporated goat milk, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 tbsp. cane syrup
Heat to body temperature by placing a jar of the formula into a bowl of hot water. You will need to change the water every kit or two in order to keep it hot.

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Using an eye dropper or small syringe, feed each kit 1/2 tablespoon daily or as much as they will eat. My newborn kits are only eating about 1/2 teaspoon or 3mL twice daily. I’m sure this will slowly increase as they get older. A drop at a time is about all their little mouths can handle.

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Milkstache! Wrap each kit in a warm towel so that the do not cool while you’re feeding them. If a kit stops eating, try re-warming the milk in the syringe and try again. Kits don’t like cool milk.

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Then it helps to mark the rump of each kit so that you know you have fed them all. A sharpie hardly keeps 12 hours, but it works. By marking the kits I now know that #6 is falling behind and refusing to eat. He may not make it and I need to be sure to try to feed him well this evening.

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20 thoughts on “How to Hand Feed Rabbit Kits

  1. That is the exact same brand of goat’s milk I fed to my orphaned chinchilla kits. Different recipe but same goat’s milk. It’s so hard to feed them when they are refusing it.

    They are adorable. Hopefully her milk comes in soon. Love the milkstache. : )

      • Yep. That is really weird. It was also the only brand I could find. Only Walmart and one local grocery store carried it, and we had fits trying to get it. That smelled so bad…ugh. My grandparents had goats when I was a baby and my mom used to give me their milk. I might have liked it then but not now. I do have one can left over that I considered making the fudge recipe with (the one that’s on the back of the label).

        Much love to goats, they help our little orphaned or hungry ones make it.

  2. We had a surprise litter a couple of years ago and when some of the kits weren’t getting enough milk from mom I would place mom in my lap then cup a kit in my hand and hold it up to one of her fuller tits. I lost two kits trying to syringe feed and this saved the rest. These ended up being the most friendly rabbits!!! Hope this helps:)

    • I flipped the doe a few times to get the kits to feed, but it seemed like here was no milk to be had for the first four days! So I hand fed them myself until the doe’s milk came in. Now everyone is nursing just fine…. Phew! Thanks for your comment and insight!

  3. Okay I was wondering where you guys got you’re goat’s milk at can you get it from Wal-Mart or any grocery store I know you can buy goats milk in a carton but I don’t know if that would be good for the babies. I had to put 1 baby down as it wasn’t getting any milk it was literally skin and bones so I put the baby down :(. the babies are out of the worst days they are eating pellets and able to get out of the nest box’s and bother mother.

    But I was really really interested where you guys got your goats milk. 🙂

    • We purchased our evaporated goats milk at the local grocery store. It was in with the other evaporated milk and next to the condensed milk in the baking aisle. It doesn’t matter which brand you choose as long as it is evaporated goats milk. Evaporated goats milk is much more dense than regular milk and is not sweetened like condensed milk. Goats milk is also easier on little stomachs.

      I would say that kits cannot survive well without milk until they are at least 3-weeks old. And even then, pellets are pretty harsh. Maybe soften them with water and include rolled oats in their diet to help with the transition depending on their age.

  4. Do you have to use cane syrup? Is there another alternative to cane syrup? I can’t find cane syrup in my grocery store. What kind do you use?

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