I was having entire litters getting it, to one or two kits in a litter getting to having occasional litters not having it. Most litters having at least one or two kits with it.
My policy with nestbox eye. If clears up within five days, all is good. If goes beyond five days kit is culled. I do not medicate, I will use the teabag treatment if the eye seems bad. Any kit with a white pussy eye gets culled immediately and the rest of the litter will be sold as pets regardless of their quality.
The research I did said that it was caused by bacteria in the nestbox and that to get rid of it one merely needed to keep the nestbox very clean. So I stepped up my cleaning regime. It reduced the incidence, but not significantly.
Incidence went down to occasional litters not having it and rare litters with everyone having a problem, but still with plenty of issues. Way more than what I thought was okay. I disliked it intensely.
Since I care for all my rabbits the same this didn’t explain why some does didn’t get nestbox eye in their kits and others invariably did. So I thought, okay, let’s do an experiment. Let’s transfer kits from one doe to another…one “nestbox eye” prone litter for a litter not prone to get nestbox eye. I found it absolutely fascinating to learn that the prone to nestbox eye litter still got nestbox eye while the other did not irregardless of which doe was providing the care for them.
This led me to wonder if there was a genetic component.
Ergo, I do not keep as breeders any kit that gets nestbox eye. This dropped the number of kits getting it dramatically. BUT didn’t eradicate nestbox eye in my herd. Most litters being clean, with a few litters getting at least one, but in my poorer does, generally about half the litter can be involved depending on the time of year. I would like to reduce this even further.
So this got me thinking over this past year that I wonder if there is a seasonal component with this.
So I went back through my records and discovered hmm… whenever I have seasonal changes I get problems with nestbox eye…granted… more frequently with certain lines, as some does never seem to have an issue, whereas others are more apt to have at least one with a problem (though not always).
Most predominately in the spring, less frequently in the fall, never in the summer and very occasionally in the cold of winter. I find that quite intriguing.
I suppose this means that it will take me a few more years to winnow down the culprits.
Makes me wonder what else I need to consider and what else I need to do.
I LIKE that 90% of my litters have kits with clean eyes, but would like to get that up to 95% by the end of the year if possible.
If there is bacterial component…
- does it show up in the spring because in the winter it’s harder to properly clean out the nestboxes?
- does the warm/cold cycle of spring/fall changes encourage bacterial growth? I would think the warmth of summer would be more of an issue in this regard.
If there is a genetic component…
- do I need to look at completely get rid of does that throw kits with even one nestbox eye kit?
- should I continue to only keep those kits back that have no incidence of nestbox eye OR am I wasting my time doing that IF there are others in the litter who suffered the ailment?
- should I treat it like I do significant genetic issues… cull mom and dad and start new lines?
What other factors do I need to consider?
- How much weight do I put on the fact that I use tarp housing? I know that it does not breathe as well… and I note that when I lose does to going off feed, is the same time of year that I have more incidences of nestbox eye (predominately spring seasonal changes)
- is there anything else I need to consider?
some sources of information
This Word File.
The nature trail.
plus information on various rabbit boards that I belong to.
I originally published this in the spring of 2012. Since then I have had about 8 out of a whole lot of litters with kits with nestbox eye and of those kits 2 were severe enough to warrant being culled. A huge improvement over the past years. I'm pleased with the progress that I have made. Have I eradicated it? No. do I wish I could? yes. But I am delighted with where I am right now. I am firmly convinced that the genetic component plays a huge factor as does seasonal timing. Cleanliness of the nestbox I find irrelevant. Granted, once the kits eyes open I tip the box or provide a 3/4 box for the kits to huddle in. Once the nestbox is gone, the kits health (if weaker) improved tremendously...but best guess is due to better airflow and the kits are much more active.
Here's to the continued battle for overall good health in my rabbits! :)