Squeak, one of our does, had trouble producing enough milk for one of her litters. She hadn’t had any trouble before, and I don’t know why she had trouble that time, but she did. My helpful friends at RabbitTalk advised me to give her some rolled oats (old-fashioned plain oatmeal) lightly coated in blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap contains many nutrients, and can help a doe produce the milk her babies need.
It did indeed help, but she still didn’t produce enough. So I started looking up recipes for baby bunny formula.
I found several. The ones I came across first involved using canned evaporated goat’s milk, and then mixing it with water, syrup, and egg. I found in some forums, however, advice regarding powdered goat’s milk for rabbits — to mix it at double strength. Baby rabbits drink so very little. Their mother’s milk is very rich, to give them all the nutrition they need in a very small amount. There were remarks that the kits raised on the formula with the water grew up looking malnourished, so I figured maybe that was the reason.
Evaporated goat’s milk is already double strength, so I took the formula recipe I had, cut it in half so I wouldn’t have as much waste, and eliminated the water. This is what I ended up with:
1/2 Cup evaporated goat’s milk
1 egg yolk (kinda hard to cut in half, so…)
1/2 Tablespoon corn syrup
Cow’s milk is not as easily digested as goat’s milk, so that’s why most recipes suggest goat’s milk.
I poured a little into a small bowl, and then microwaved it for 5 seconds at a time, stirring it well with a fork each time I stopped the microwave, until it was really warm — a little too warm for the bunnies, because by the time I’ve stirred it the last time, taken it to the table, and filled an eyedropper, it’s cooled to just about the right temperature.
I fed them about two half-droppers before they zonked out. They didn’t look as full as they would with a full feeding from Squeak, but I was only trying to supplement her, not replace her. As they grew, I increased the amount.
Then we discovered that one of Squeak’s ten babies (about 4-5 days old) was missing. After looking as well as we could on the chutes and around in the dark, we called it quits and hoped he had burrowed into a pile of dropped hay we had let grow too large. The next day, we started pulling the hay out slowly, and, sure enough, he was in there, alive and frantic! He was pretty warm, thanks to all the hay and the fact that this litter managed to fur out early. He was hard to hold, he was so desperately searching for food! So we gave him a formula feeding, too.
ILoveBunnies commented that the formula looks like egg nog. I started thinking… double-strength milk, egg yolk, sugar… it basically IS egg nog! Guess I’d better hold the nutmeg, though.
Here’s a video of three of them at three weeks, not long before I stopped supplementing them (it’s at Vimeo, which I’m new to, so hopefully it works). Enjoy — it is pretty funny:
Here’s a link to the video: https://vimeo.com/46203530