Our rabbits are dying!

sawfish99

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Over the past week, we have had 3 kits and 2 does (both with litters) die. Neither of the does that died have had any kits die. Of the 3 kits that died, all 3 were 11-12 weeks old, from 2 different litters. Only 2 of the 5 that have died so far have been from the same cage. The only things in common between the rabbits are they eat the same food and get water from the same source. None of the rabbits showed any sign of distress prior to being found dead.
Based on the loss so far, I decided to go ahead and slaughter the 2 litters that were 12 weeks old. 1.5 weeks ago, I weighed 3 rabbits from those 2 litters and they averaged 4.4 lbs, which historically would have resulted in a 2.2lb packaged rabbit. However, I only had 2 that were 2.0lbs packaged, and none higher. Which makes me think, they were losing weight.

When I slaughtered the 11 kits, I did note 1 litter showed signs of wet poop. Additionally, every rabbit from that litter had a sloshy gut - a lot more liquid in the digestive tract, including intestines, than I normally see.

Our immediate assumption is coccidia outbreak. However, I am confused about how it is transferring between the cages. We have sanitized all the waters in from every cage. We are adding meds to all the water to try and stop the coccidia, if that is the source.

There was one other odd thing I noticed in a single kit when slaughtering. While most didn't have very much urine in the bladder, 1 did have a full bladder. And that bladder was cloudy, like "mother" in an organic drink. I have never noticed that in the over 100 rabbits I have slaughtered.

12 weeks ago, we switched our entire rabbitry to Countryside Organic rabbit feed. Since we have never had an outbreak like this, and nothing else changed in our husbandry practices, I am wondering if there a possible link to the feed change, and in particular, if the rabbits might be dying from something other than coccidia.

Any thoughts?
 

alsea1

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I think I would transition back to the old feed.
I too have fought the cocci demon. Very frustrating.
I would check into seeing if they have a different parasite issue.
All you can do is sanitize cages and what not and hope it stops.
If you can afford it maybe get a necropsy done.
Good luck
 

Four Winds Ranch

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My guess is probably the feed as well!!
But, ya never know and the only way to find out for sure is 'trial and error', and crossing off everything you find out it is not for sure!!!
Good luck! Sometimes rabbits are soooo good at hideing what is wrong!!
 

sawfish99

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Necropsy in our area is $125 and the last farm I know that had one done didn't have results for almost 3 weeks. At that point, it will either be fixed or the last 40 will be dead.

So for the feed votes, what about the feed would cause this?
 

Southern by choice

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First I don't have rabbits so I cannot offer any help but I did want to say I am so sorry. :(

I would call the feed in and tell them. They will look at their feed and see. We had a bag of chicken feed that came in that looked odd, we called it in ... we returned the bag to the store the feed rep picked it up and they ran testing on it and found for some reason there was an extreme amount of protein. From that lot number eventually they were able to determine the milling machine had gotten backed up and wasn't mixing the food properly.
It may not be the feed but if others are having the same issue and call it in there is at least a chance that if it is the food they can find and fix the problem.

Very sorry you are going through this. :hugs
 

alsea1

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Without lab results it's totally stabbing in the dark.
Rabbits can be hard to work with. Look at em funny and they fall over.
I think I would just do supportive therapy on whole herd.
Cocci generally presents with rabbit not eating or drinking then within hours to a day tip over.
 

CritterMom68

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Saw your post and had some thoughts. We had similar losses a couple summers ago, and since then I have observed some things.

That summer was extraordinarily hot. We had a pallet of feed stored in the barn. We started losing things, but 1 here or there, nothing side by side or in litters together. After several failed attempts with necropsy and the vet, he mentioned that aflotoxins and mycotoxins in the feed had been an issue for many species that summer.
 

sawfish99

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So, we lost 2 more does today. Talking with a friend who used to be licensed as a vet, found out he did necropsies professionally for many years. This evening we did 2 necropsies. Unlicensed verdict: liver disease, most likely due to toxins in the feed.
I did speak with the feed company, and we are the only reported case (of course). I am investigating sending out 1 of the livers from today and a sample of feed for toxicology.
 

OneFineAcre

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So, we lost 2 more does today. Talking with a friend who used to be licensed as a vet, found out he did necropsies professionally for many years. This evening we did 2 necropsies. Unlicensed verdict: liver disease, most likely due to toxins in the feed.
I did speak with the feed company, and we are the only reported case (of course). I am investigating sending out 1 of the livers from today and a sample of feed for toxicology.

Awful what you are going through. But, you should follow up with sampling the feed. It could very well be aflotoxins like crittermom said. Often caused by moldy ingredients.

Father in law lost 12 heifers several years ago to nitrogen poisoning from a batch of hay. He had the hay analyzed and the farm he bought the hay from replaced his stock.

Hang in there.
 

Hens and Roos

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We were told by the people we picked up our replacement buck from to watch out for Cotton Seed meal in the feed- they experienced problems with young rabbits dying and had figured out the feed company changed the formula to include cotton seed meal.

Hope you figure out what is causing the issue.:hugs
 

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