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View Full Version : Weaning Kits at 4 Weeks 'REDUCES Kit Mortality Rate'



Jack's-Jane
03-09-2014, 09:46 PM
http://ojs.upv.es/index.php/wrs/article/view/1029

:?

Tamsin
04-09-2014, 02:22 AM
Scientific studies are really interesting because sometimes they test commonly held beliefs, doing things because that's the way they are always done, doesn't mean it's the most effective way. There are some really interesting things in the paper, for example their is quite a dramatic change just by adding a nesting box, I like that they compare things to wild rabbits too. The triggers for the kits leaving the nest are interesting as well.

However you also have to look at context, for example if they are rearing in a more confined area, where there is reduced enrichment the kits may be nursing more than is healthy for them or their mother. Whilst to us, from a pet owner point of view, the obvious thing is to give them more space, this paper is looking at improving welfare in breeding across a much wider context of breeders and probably countries. It sounds like in some of those situation the welfare of mother and kits is improved by removing the kits at 4 weeks. However, I expect although removed from the mother, they'll still be keep as a group, in similar housing/conditions and the same diet - which would address many of the issues that we'd associate with removing rabbits at that age. It's not quite the same as spiting them up, transporting them to shops, selling them on to a new home - three changes in situation/diet etc.

Jack's-Jane
04-09-2014, 07:30 AM
Scientific studies are really interesting because sometimes they test commonly held beliefs, doing things because that's the way they are always done, doesn't mean it's the most effective way. There are some really interesting things in the paper, for example their is quite a dramatic change just by adding a nesting box, I like that they compare things to wild rabbits too. The triggers for the kits leaving the nest are interesting as well.

However you also have to look at context, for example if they are rearing in a more confined area, where there is reduced enrichment the kits may be nursing more than is healthy for them or their mother. Whilst to us, from a pet owner point of view, the obvious thing is to give them more space, this paper is looking at improving welfare in breeding across a much wider context of breeders and probably countries. It sounds like in some of those situation the welfare of mother and kits is improved by removing the kits at 4 weeks. However, I expect although removed from the mother, they'll still be keep as a group, in similar housing/conditions and the same diet - which would address many of the issues that we'd associate with removing rabbits at that age. It's not quite the same as spiting them up, transporting them to shops, selling them on to a new home - three changes in situation/diet etc.

Yes, I understand that. But I was always of the impression that the development of healthy gut flora could be adversely effected by early weaning, regardless of other external influences. But the study seems to state the opposite :?

It seems that the usual type of Domestic Rabbit Breeding set up is never going to be true to how the situation occurs in the wild.

Tamsin
04-09-2014, 02:03 PM
Yes, I understand that. But I was always of the impression that the development of healthy gut flora could be adversely effected by early weaning, regardless of other external influences. But the study seems to state the opposite :?

That's what I took away too - that in that situation the babies were continuing to nurse to the detriment of eating solid foods and the development of their gut bacteria. It sort of makes sense, in that we know about the 4/5 week mark they go through changes to stomach ph etc. and maybe excess milk past that time causes more issues than it helps. We know that wild rabbits wean naturally about that period too, so I'm not sure it actually is early weaning as such.

Presumably the gut bacteria they need to develop to be healthy adults need to be able to digest adult foods, maybe too much milk/not enough solids means they develop the wrong balance and that's part of the issue. After all milk wouldn't generally be a good idea for an adults digestive system.