|Nest box after 1 day with expecting doe.|
It is my policy to give nest boxes to the does 27 days after they've been bred. Some hutches have built-in nesting areas, so they don't have to worry about when to put in a nest box. Once upon a time, I used to put boxes in at 2 weeks. The reason I wait until day 27 anymore is for cost-control and sanitation. Putting the nest in early often means that the doe will consume or waste more of the nesting material. Also, does may often choose to use the nest box as a potty box, instead, if given it too early. Besides that, in my experience, any doe that starts nesting before day 16 is most likely experiencing a false pregnancy. (A false pregnancy is when the pregnancy hormones are all there, so the doe thinks that she's pregnant, when in fact she is not.) But, if you feed hay (I don't do it often, myself), and a doe starts nesting after day 16, go ahead and give her a box to put it all in.
|Doe scattered nesting material over her cage.|
Another nesting option is all-wire nests, which are particularly good for hot-weather litters, since it avoids trapping heat in. The flip side to that is that they don't work very well for winter litters, because of an increased likelihood of draft, and less heat being kept by the kits. Some people like to use wire floors in wooden nest boxes simply because the drainage is the best you can get (no trapped urine), which means less chance of nest box eye. In a pinch, you can use an empty case of soda or beer, but keep in mind that the urine will eventually break the box down.
|Doe collecting straw for her nest.|
You also want to make sure that the nest is deep enough. In particular, the lowest part of the wall (where the doe will be hopping in and out of the nest) should be no lower than 4 inches. Six inches may be better. If the lowest wall is too low, young kits will be more likely to accidentally hop out on their own, and likely catch chill and die. Some nests are made with an extra lip on the entrance wall, the purpose of which is to scrape off any kits that don't detach from the nipple when the doe decides she's done feeding. I've never found it necessary to have the scraper lip, and have only lost a couple kits to being dragged out, in all the years I've raised rabbits.
|Does will sometimes put anything they can lift into the nest.|
|Doe stuffing her nest with straw.|
Pay attention to which corner of the cage the doe uses for her potty. When you put the nest box in, put it in a different corner. If you put the nest box in the same corner she uses for her potty, chances are that the nest box will become a potty box, which puts the kits at risk for nest box eye and other infections, and will mean that you will have to change out the nesting material frequently.
|Tufts of fur added in the first day of having the nest.|