top of page

Dystocia in Holland Lop Rabbits

Stillborns as a result of the doe’s anatomy being too small for the size of the kit with a prolonged or strained labor. In other words, “Obstructive dystocia from fetal macrosomia with or without secondary uterine inertia.“

Doe#4 Stillborn Holland Lop Kit

From the Spring of 2017 to the current date January 19, 2023 we have had 4 Holland Lop does that delivered stillborn kits with consecutive pregnancies. In each case the doe weighed 4 lbs or under. Our first did not ever have live kits. The second had 3 litters of stillborns and then all following litters were live and each with different bucks. Our 3rd doe had one litter of stillborns requiring a trip to the vet to remove a kit by C section that was retained via an attempt to manipulate by hand in assistance but tore the kit in half. The fourth is a doe that we currently have who has had two litters of stillborns when bred to two different bucks.

What have we learned? I do not recommend removing the kits by hand. Let the doe take the matter on all by herself and it may be a two or three day process if she has a large litter. Remember that animals have been procreating since time began and are hardwired to know instinctively what to do. Simply give her time and space. The trip we made to the vet was for a C section was $500 or more for exam, x-rays and surgery. We were fortunate that our vet facilitated a sale of the rabbit for us and we paid the exam fee while the new owner paid the rest. Whew! How often does that happen? …never.

Our current doe #4 lost her first litter at 7 months old and her second litter is now lost at 9 months old. The kits in her two litters were large and underdeveloped. In both litters her labor lasted 2-3 days. It’s not uncommon for a doe of any size or breed to have a first litter that has complications or underdevelopment. We will now wait until Spring before we try breeding #4 again. During the next few months we can build her up with nutrition and deworming. We know she can get pregnant and survive labor. We just need healthy litters with her.

Our rabbitry houses 100 rabbits on average occupancy. Looking at our doe’s in our breeding program we have a variety of Holland Lop sizes. The heaviest Holland Lop doe that we have is 6.3 lbs/oz and the smallest doe that we have breeding is 3.8 lbs/oz. Our smallest doe gives us small litters of 2-4 kits but quality ones so far. We often breed her to her sire so the stereotype is not true in every case and line breeding will produce healthy litters.

As breeders we are aware of standard structure to breed for in the Holland Lop. Doe’s with a large wide pelvis will likely have an easier time at parturition. Choosing does with straight wide set hind legs is an indication of good structure. A normal to large vent when sexing a doe is another pro during evaluation of prospective brood. Rabbits that have toes out with heels inside or that are narrow between are considered pinched hindquarters or having a small pelvis.

Good Wide Holland Lop Hind Leg Structure On Our Buck

It probably goes without saying just how important nutrition and a deworming regime is to our brood doe’s. We have fed a complete pellet only to our doe’s. We have also fed both pellets and Timothy hay. Calcium is important to pregnant nursing doe’s and all i can really say about nutrition is take note of your doe’s habits. Some can get by solely on pellets while others need more. Three days prior to due date of kindle we start our does on a supplement of Calf Manna a.k.a Manna Pro. Our doe’s stay on Manna Pro throughout nursing to stimulate milk production. You can also supplement with house brand oatmeal whole oats (not Quick Oats).

The #4 doe that we have currently who is having problems with healthy litters did not drink a lot of water like our other doe’s do during pregnancy. I also noticed that she was not eating through her pellets fast enough like the others. Going forward with a future breeding in a few months I have her under a watchful eye for her nutritional habits so that when she is pregnant I can compare changes and accommodate her needs.

We deworm all our rabbits and prior to breeding both our buck and doe will have been dewormed with Fenbendazole and Toltrazuril. You can also use Corid for treatment of coccidi.

Thank you for reading all through and I hope you found my thoughts informative, helpful and beneficial for you and your rabbits.

Wade Boelter

Mountain Brook Farm & Rabbitry

Pedigree Holland Lops


Clinical and pathological findings for rabbits with dystocia: 10 cases (1996–2016)

Volume/Issue: Volume 254: Issue 8

Online Publication Date: 15 Apr 2019

  1. Molly D. Gleeson - William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616. Search for other papers by Molly D. Gleeson in Current site, Google Scholar and PubMed.

  2. DVM, David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman - Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616. Search for other papers by David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman in Current site, Google Scholar and PubMed.

  3. LV, MS, and Joanne R. Paul-Murphy - Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616. Search for other papers by Joanne R. Paul-Murphy in Current site, Google Scholar and PubMed.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page