When you first pick up your rabbit meat pen is when you need to start being aware of any health issues.
A rabbits digestive track is very sensitive and they are babies when you pick them up at 5 weeks old. I like to take
them home and give them coastal or Timothy hay along with fresh water the first day. I also make sure that they are
given feed for the first couple of days that the breeder was feeding where you picked them up. After the third day then
you can begin to gradually change them to a different feed. However, it is best to keep them on the same feed that the
breeder was feeding.
After I the rabbits home for several days, I then put 1 to 2 drops of injectible Ivomec into each ear.
I drop the Ivomec into their ear, I do not inject it into their ears. This will make sure that they do not have ear
canker and also takes care of other parasites.
I am going to include several different pieces of valualbe information from other people now.
I would suggest that you purchase the book Rabbit Production by McNitt, Patton, Lukefehr, and Cheeke. This
book has many valuable ideas in it for rabbit breeders. I would also like to take this time to suggest that
you join the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) because they will send you a lot of valuable information.
If you do join the ARBA please put me down as recommending you. The ARBA will send you a magazine every other month
with great information in it.
This information on Enterotexemia was taken from the book: Rabbit Production.
Enterotoxemia - Diarrhea in Rabbits
"This disease was first described by the Rabbit Research Center at Oregon State University in 1978.
The clinical signs of profuse diarrhea, dehydration, reduced feed intake, and rough hair coat are readily observed in rabbits.
Although enterotoxemia can affect rabbits of any age, it is seen most commonly in fryers four to eight weeks of age.
These sick rabbits die very quickly, usually within 12 to 24 hours.
Several bacteria have been suggested as the cause of this disease, including Clostridium perfringens Type
E, C. spiroform, and Escherichia coli. etc...
It has been shown that enterotoxemia is more common when diets low in fiber and high in energy are fed than
high fiber diets are used. Diets high in stach from grain may cause carbohydrate overload of the hindgut, yielding glucose,
which is necessary for toxin production by C. spirofome. It has been stated by the "old Time" rabbit raisers that when
they feed rabbits alfalfa hay and whole oats, few diarrhea-ralated deaths were seen. Perhaps current methods
of feeding high grain diets to rabbits in order to get maximum weight gain are partly responsible for the increased number
of causes of enterotoxemia."
I suggest that you should be very careful when feeding any supplements to your young fryers. We all
want to push our meat pens with different additives including myself. However, you must be very observant and willing
to take the chance of getting diarrhea in your rabbits.
I came across another great site on the internet by a vet, Anna Meredith
MA VetMB CertLAS MRCVS. I will include a few quotes from her article. This would be a great article to pull up
and print to keep on hand.
"Diet Commercial rabbit diets are often too low in fibre and too high in protein, fat, and
energy." etc... "The best diet for a rabbit is grass and good quality grass hay (eg Timothy) with a small amount
of a good quality high fibre (18 to 24%) commercial diet with protein levels around 15%. ETC..."
"Diarrhoea" - Diarrhoea is a common presenting sign in rabbits, and it can often
be difficult to establisha definite cause. The rabbit's digestive physiology means that any slight change in
gut microflora, pH, or motility will lead to diarrhoea. Stress and dietary causes are common, such as movement and a
sudden change in diet, the feeding of lawnmower clippings, mouldy or frosted food. Overgrowth of clostridial in the
gut (CI. spiriforme) leads to the release of an iota-toxin and an enterotoxaemia. Bacterial enteritis due to enterotoxic
E. Coli and Staph. (rare) does occur in neonatal and young weaner rabbits. etc..."
"Prevention of enterotoxemia depends on maintaining optimal husbandry and minimising stress. Feed
a diet with no less than 18% to 20% fibre from a good quality grass hay. Sudden changes in the diet should be avoided.
Weaning rabbits should have feed, including hay, available from 3 weeks of age and up." etc..
This next information is from my experience. Remember I am not a vet just someone that has bred rabbits
Ear Canker - Ear canker is when ear mites get into the ear canal. There are several
remedies on the market for this problem. You can use medication that is for dogs, camphophenique and baby oit, or my
favorite injectible Ivomec in the brown box. Ivomec is dropped into each ear at 2 drops per ear every 3 to 4 months.
Follow the directions on the bottle for ear mites for dogs. Campho is either put on a Q-tip and wiped in the rabbits
ear or several drops are put in the rabbits ear. Please take care if you are going to do this within 3 weeks of your
show because the rabbit will shake his head and get this oil on it's coat and it does not look pretty.