Cheiri & Gomez’ babies at Day TwoCheiri & Gomez’s babies are nicely plump and not wrinkly anymore so they’ve been fed. Yay Cheiri! At this stage, if baby bunnies aren’t fed by the mom they’ve got a very little chance of survival. Even if they do manage to survive, without the mother’s first milk, they don’t do well as adults. Had there been more than one litter, baby bunnies can easily be fostered to a different mum, however Cheiri is the only one who made a litter. Fortunately, they are being fed so that’s a huge relief.
As you can see, the little pink one is less pink today and has a tiny bit of white starting to show. The blacks also are a little blacker, but it’s harder to notice. The pink to white is a much more noticeable change. I should have weighed them yesterday, although it’s hard to tell the black ones apart. I could weigh the REW each day since that one is easy to tell apart.
Cheiri started with the little Ruby Eyed White one (the pink one) yesterday around 9 am. The REW (pronounced ‘roo’) was followed by a black one about forty five minutes later. Then when I checked several hours later (mom buns prefer that you not hover around while they’re doing this sort of thing) three more black ones were there. So the whole litter size is five baby bunnies! Yay! That’s about an average litter size for an English angora. Four to eight is a usual size, the biggest litter we’ve ever had here has been twelve.
This would indicate that the new diet is helping, perhaps, although they were only on it for the last half of their pregnancy. I’d thought the Nutrena 18% Performance Rabbit pellets would be a good thing for pregnant mums, but perhaps not if the alfalfa had been sprayed before being harvested. Nutrena said in reply to an email that they relied on the farmer’s to meet USDA and food safety standards and such. Basically, they don’t know if the alfalfa had been sprayed or not. The before harvest spray was made legal in 2011, so there’s been time for the practice to become widespread. In any case, Cheiri had been bred two days after the others on April 6th so she had two extra days while pregnant on the organic diet. The bunnies got the organic alfalfa pellets augmented with calf manna and black oil sunflower seeds starting on April 18th. Cheiri had two more days of organic pellets than the other prospective mums and she had a litter. This isn’t conclusive evidence, but it’s giving me hope that maybe the lack of babies problem has been solved.
As noted, this isn’t definitive by any means, but we will continue to observe litter frequency and size on the new diet. As a further sort of test, two does were bred yesterday. Gayle, who has been part of the general herd still eating the last of the Nutrena 18% pellets, has been bred with Sydney, who has been eating the organic diet since April 18th. Sirocco, who has been on the organic diet since April 18th, has been bred with Gomez, who has never been eating the Nutrena pellets.
Of course, this doesn’t take into account where the alfalfa for the other feed that Gomez is eating has come from. It’s a Purina feed, but wouldn’t Nutrena and Purina source their alfalfa from whatever the farmers bring them? Is it also tainted with the before harvest spray? Or do they have their own fields that they harvest? Maybe some of each? I don’t know enough about how the feed mills make feed, to even have much of a guess, but if they start making babies on the organic feed, well, then it looks like they will all be getting organic feed.
After we get the baby bunnies appearing again as they should, then perhaps I can look into how feed affects the fiber they produce. Flamingos are fed special feed so they turn pink, maybe there’s something bunnies can be fed to help them have denser colors to their wool or perhaps more shine or softer fiber?