The birth of babies is an anxious time. Once the doe has given birth, lift her out carefully if she will let you. Remove any dead babies, and return warm stragglers to the nest. Chilled babies found out of the nest can be picked up with hands rubbed in the doe’s litter and warmed carefully. They can be returned to the nest if they survive. If there is not much nest, add wool clipped from the doe, or some you have saved from her from a previous clipping. This should be in short lengths as long pieces of wool can tangle around babies’ necks and limbs, strangling them or cutting off their circulation. Some does will not let you inspect the nest. They become overprotective, rushing to the nest and this can risk trampling the babies. In this case, if all appears well, it may be wise to wait until the next day before a detailed inspection of the nest is done.
When the inspection is finished, return the doe to the hutch with her favourite treat, such as a helping of greens. If all goes to plan the babies should be warm and start to grow. Check daily for signs of warmth and movement from the nest. A nestful of healthy live babies will show a gentle heaving movement under the nest’s wool.
From 10 days onward the babies’ eyes should open. Some individuals will be sooner or later than this. 15 days is not uncommon. Just check if you are worried to see the eyes are not sticky, otherwise be patient.
From 18 days babies will emerge from the nest and start foraging. This does vary and can be earlier or later. If much earlier, this may be because the mother is not feeding them adequately, so check her teats. This, however, is rare. If this is the case you will need to supplement with a little milk, with a syringe if they are not lapping. Beware of aspiration, and do take advice from an experienced breeder. Diluted cow’s milk, goat’s milk or kitten milk (cimicat) from a pet shop can be used. As they get bigger you can add Oxbow fine critical care to the supplementary milk. Once they start to eat greens and solid food you can stop.