When show season is over – it is time to set up new matings! As with every livestock enterprise a percentage of the young crop must be kept for replacement breeding stock. This should vary from 10-20% depending upon the management ability of the owner. The very best few males and the top 10-20% of the young females must be kept for herd replacement.
Matings should be made such that the qualities complement each other: that is – do not put 2 major weaknesses together.
It is well to use a new or cleaned cage. Many successful breeders prefer not to start a new or young male with more than 4 or 5 females. This is done for several reasons. Young inexperienced males may get frustrated if given too many females to begin with and fights could occur. Also, it is of no use wasting a lot of good females on a slow starting male as some males are aggressive and breed everything right away while other males are much slower to begin with. Another factor, besides quantity, is to test him with a few to see the quality he produces. Then the male can then be given additional females once he has proven himself.
The male should be initially given a cage of his own. Our experience has been that due to the fact that young breeders are moved into a different cage and surroundings, a new male should be kept in his own cage for at least a week. In other words, since the cage is totally new to the male, the weeks time will prevent the male from going into the runway and getting lost and pouting and/or forgetting to come home to his cage for feed and water.
After a week open the jumphole and let the male run in the runway for at least 10 days to 2 weeks to get acquainted with his females through the runway. Jumpholes are then opened one at a time at a day or two intervals until all are opened. Always start with the seemingly most compatible female…you will see the male sleeping over her cage or spending time there. It is a good practice to be in the unit when jumpholes are opened and it is preferred to open them in the morning when the animals are less active. Some ranchers prefer to leave a dust pan in the cage for the first couple days as a common get acquainted tool. Once compatibility, quantity and quality of babies are proven the male no longer needs his own cage and more females may be added, starting with his old cage opening.
New matings should be observed a little more closely than the others; Such as, new females sometimes fight the collar. They can get their front feet caught in it or get it caught in their mouth (due to collar not fitting as tightly on smaller or younger females). Always start a female with the collar in the smallest position, and then be sure to adjust the collar to the larger positions as she continues to grow. A collar that is too tight will never choke a female to death, but could grow into the back of the neck causing an infection. Remove the collar if this should occur and treat with Neosporin until it heals. Make a practice of checking your female collars - especially those that are fast growers - let out as needed.
Occasionally a female will litter with one or two large normal healthy babies and also have one that is smaller. It may appear only slightly smaller all the way to very much smaller – occasionally even to the point of eyes still closed and underdeveloped fur growth. These are premature babies.
Many ranchers experiencing this for the first time may feel that there is some deficiency in the diet or in their method of care. This is not the case.
A female Chinchilla has two active uterine horns. In most all other animals one horn shrivels and becomes inactive. This is not the case with Chinchilla. It is possible after a breeding for a female Chinchilla to come in heat and breed in the other uterine horn – sometimes 2-4 weeks after the first pregnancy.
Full term delivery of the first pregnancy will induce labor of the second pregnancy causing it to be born at the same time. These babies usually appear fully developed and active except for being much smaller. Some are far enough developed to live while others not being fully developed inside will only live a few days. If they live past the third day…they will usually make it.
This is not a situation for ranchers to be overly concerned about as this is just a normal occurrence and if the smaller babies survive, they are a nice bonus.
Many ranchers experience some problems with extremely large litters such as triplets, quads or larger in that mothers do not produce sufficient milk or at least sufficient milk early enough to get them all off to a good start. In such causes adopting babies out to foster mothers has proven practically 100% successful.
Our first approach to large litters would be to leave the babies with the mother and supplement the babies with Goat’s milk by hand feeding them with an eyedropper until the mother’s milk comes in.
You can purchase Goat’s milk in the dairy case at your local grocery. It is very digestible and higher in fat and babies thrive on it. Giving the mother some also can help her milk come in. As it comes in a quart, we shake it very well and freeze the extra in a shallow pan. Once it is frozen, just break into pieces and put into a plastic bag. Then when you need a little to help a baby out…just take a piece out and let it thaw at room temperature.
When hand feeding babies, once they learn to drink from the eyedropper, you can then just hold the eyedropper at the cage and they will come right up and drink. As they get a little older, put on a small bottle of milk on the cage and they will run up and drink it. We change the bottle daily with fresh milk. Goat’s milk does not seem to spoil as readily as regular milk and can be left on the cage for most of the day.
Here is a method that proves quite successful in adopting babies to another mother.
Find another mother with a single baby (preferably) who is 3-4 weeks old. Wean it early – they are eating dry feed quite readily at this time and have had all the milk up to this time. Take the new baby (only 1) and rub the new baby and the older baby together quite vigorously so that they smell the same.
You may also rub the new baby into the foster mother’s fur or rub the baby with a few wet shavings from the foster mother’s cage. Put the new baby in with the mother and wean the older baby to a separate cage.
In the past ranchers have suggested using Vick's on the nose or perfume…we do not recommend this as it is not natural and may stress the mother.
You may also wean the older baby 12 hours earlier and she will be more lonesome and have more milk and eager to accept another baby.
In such cases one would normally leave the better animal in the litter with its mother and foster out the lesser quality one if possible.
When leaving a female open to a male for a breed-back, use a pint glass water bottle for a refuge for her babies. In cases of large litters (3-4) you may want to put two bottles in. Don’t be surprised though to see as may as 4 in one bottle. This bottle keeps the babies safe and warm and is easy to see into to make your daily check. After three days when you close the jump hole you may remove the bottle.
Another topic of concern is a ‘hair ring’ on a male Chinchilla. For the benefit of many of the newer ranchers this is a ring of fur that can accumulate on the penis of a male. Many times it will be so intertwined that it is strong as a rope. If this is not observed early and removed it can result in the death of a good breeding male.
Most males and especially older males will have learned to keep themselves clean. However, a young or inexperienced male sometimes will get a ring of fur around the penis that he does not or can not remove. Irritation can start developing into swelling and an eventual bad infection and death if not discovered in time. Sometimes the hair ring will be very slight and cause no disturbance to the male except that under these conditions some males simply will not breed until it is removed – even if it is very slight.
Therefore, all breeding males should be observed closely and preferably examined on a regular basis. If you should see a male with his penis dragging down or picking at himself…just get him out and check him. If needed, a little Neosporin will help the situation after you have removed the hair.
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