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TOPIC: Care of pregnant farm animals

CONTENTS:

  • Introduction
  • Care of a pregnant rabbit
  • Care of a pregnant cane rat (grasscutter)
  • Care of a pregnant heifer
  • Care of a pregnant mare

Sub-topic: 1

Care of pregnant farm animals

The only way for animals to multiply is through reproduction which is a process involving sexual maturity, oestrous, ovulation, mating, fertilization, pregnancy, (gestation period) and parturition.

Period of pregnancy is delicate and pregnant animals should be well taken care of. Pregnancy involves the development of the foetus and preparation for parturition. Therefore, extra care on health, good environment, feeding, nutrition, and handling are of utmost importance to pregnant animals.

Care of pregnant rabbits.

A rabbit reaches puberty between 5-6 months. Gestation period is 31 days. Weaning is carried out between 5-7 weeks. Production period is usually between 6months to three (3) years. Pregnancy (gestation) is the period of time from conception to birth and it’s about 31 days.

During mating, the doe (female) is taken to the buck’s (male) hutch for mating and not the other way round. A pregnant rabbit must adjust to the development of the embryo without much intervention. Pregnancy should be confirmed by palpating the doe 14- 18 days after mating. A fairly reliable way to check if female rabbit is pregnant is she would reject advances from the buck. At about 21 days after mating, palpation of the womb for the presence of marble shaped fetuses can be carried out to determine pregnancy.

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Pregnant does should be kept in spacious individual cages. During this time, they can be a little bit irritable, thus, great caution is needed when handling them. The doe should be supplied balanced ration and clean water regularly. Sufficient forage should be provided. At 28-29 days into gestation, the doe will start pulling out its fur to make nest in preparation for kindling. It is important to provide a nest box on the 28 day or as she starts pulling her fur. The nest box should be place in the corner of the cage for the privacy of the doe. About 2-3 days before parturition, the doe will reduce her feed intake but more fibrous feed should be given at this stage. The doe takes about 10 minutes to kindle at any time of the day but usually at night. The litter size may be 2-13 kits. The dam will cover the kits/kids with the fur and climb out.

Care of pregnant cane rat (Grass cutter)

The female give birth to 2 young per litter, and 2 litter per year, that is, 4 offspring per year. The female grass cutter reaches puberty at four months but should not be used for breeding until she attains six months at 1.5 kg body weight. The males may be used for breeding from eight months at 2kg body weight.

Breeding may be in group of one male to 5-7 females. Gestation period is about 152 days. The pregnant female should not be rough handled but with care, especially while being checked for pregnancy to avoid abortion or death of the dam.

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Diagnosis of pregnancy in in grass cutter

Visual assessment is possible after 120 days of pregnancy. There may be distension of the uterus/stomach.

Inspection of vulva:

At about 30 days after fertilization, the crust closing the vagina becomes red. The vagina mucus also becomes red due to bleeding in the uterine horn. This then turns black between 40th and the 45th day and later turns light brown after 45 days. The vulva closes completely at two months by a vaginal membrane, thus protecting the fetuses.

Abdominal palpation:

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