Weaning Time and Thoughts on Grief

My little angora bunnies are a little over 4 weeks old now. They eat pellets, hay, and clover and drink water on their own. They are SO precious, but I’m trying not to get too attached yet…

Another one passed away yesterday.

I’m not 100% sure what happened. It had diarrhea a few days ago, but it seemed to have recovered and was eating well, but when I went out in the morning to check on them, it was dead. It looked like it had more diarrhea, so I’m guessing that’s what it was. It’s been really hard when one dies because I can’t pinpoint what exactly it was that did them in. In my grieving, I ask myself questions over and over like, “Why did this one die, but not the others? Why now? Did I do something wrong? Did I kill them?”

This is me feeding one of the bunnies… She died in my arms later that day.

I try to push out those negative thoughts because, as much as I love these little bunnies, they aren’t my first priority.

My family comes first. So maybe those bunnies needed more from me, but I can honestly say that I did the best I could. I tried my hardest to keep them alive, but even my best efforts are nowhere close to what their mother would have done for them. But alas, they were doomed when their mother died… So I’m trying to focus on the fact that I’ve been able to save at least some of them.

The remaining four rabbits are healthy and active, and I’m debating whether or not I should continue bottle feeding them. We’ve started weaning, and they are down to one feeding per day. They eat their pellets and hay like little piggies! Since the last one that died seemed to have tummy issues, I’ve been feeding them small amounts of chamomile to help with digestion. I really enjoy bottle feeding them because the remaining 4 are the most eager eaters who sprawl out in my hand, and I can feel their little bellies fill up while they drink. In reality though, they probably don’t need it anymore. I’m still deciding, but I might just put a little dish with formula in there to encourage them to drink more on their own.

New Zealand Update: Rosie’s babies are fully weaned, and growing out in the tractor!

I LOVE when I get to put a litter in the grow-out tractor. They get to graze on fresh grass all day, lounge in the sun, and frolic adorably with their siblings. It makes me happy to know they are living a full and happy life before their day comes. Processing day is always hard, but not as hard as losing those little angoras. Rosie’s litter was bred to be meat. The angoras are intended to be a no-kill livestock that I raise for wool, so losing them is a bit more devastating.

Losing the second angora was the first time I’ve actually seen death happen up close (in my arms), and it’s been hard to process. Ryan does all the butchering of the meat rabbits, so I talked to him about it and that helped a little bit. I didn’t intend to spend this whole post writing about death, but I guess it’s been weighing on me… The feelings of grief are surprisingly similar to when I had my miscarriage. I never got to bury that baby, so in a way, I think burying these little bunnies has helped provide some closure.

It’s been really sad, but I’ve learned some really valuable lessons.

I hope I never have to try to save baby bunnies again, but if I do, I won’t be completely clueless. I’ve done a lot of research, and I actually have some experience now so I’ll know where to start and what to expect. I’ve got the tools I’d need on hand, so I won’t have to scramble to different stores looking for tiny nipples, syringes, and formula. I know a few things that worked and a few things that didn’t, so I’ll know what to try next time. And if these four little guys do manage to survive, I will have an incredible and rare bond with them. I look forward to that with hope.

#meatrabbits #Grief #AngoraRabbits #BabyBunnies #Loss

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