When can I breed my rabbits?
So you are ready to breed your rabbits! There are several factors that go into determining if they are old enough to breed. The first is based on their breed and development. Generally, smaller breeds up to 8 pounds can be bred at 5 to 6 months old. These would include but not limited to Dutch, Netherland Dwarfs, Dwarf Hotots, etc. Examples of medium size breeds would be New Zealands, Californians, etc and can be bred around 6.5 to 7 months old. Your large breeds like Flemish Giants, Giant Chinchillas, etc should be bred around 8 to 9 months old. Please remember this is a general rule and you must learn your bred; example – English Lops don’t need to be bred until 10 lbs and 10 months old. Growth is more important than age, you can stunt a doe’s growth if bred to early.
You always want to take the doe to the buck’s cage unless table breeding. Does can get cage aggressive and injury your buck.
If doe refuses to bred then try again the next day. There are also some great tips here. Once you see the buck fall off ( I will work on video to help explain this), this means a successful mating. The buck will mount the doe and if he ejaculates into her then he will fall to the side. All matings will vary – some will scream, some will grunt, and some just get stiff looking.
You will hear all kinds of methods, tips, and tricks. Keep great records so that you know what works best for you. Some say to only allow the buck to breed same doe twice. Some will tell you to breed buck to a couple does at a time. I will say that every time the buck breeds then it decreases size of litters. Also remember that bucks do go sterile in excessive heat especially in the summer , this is nature’s birth control. If you want babies during the heat then make sure you have a cool barn.
Once you have your doe bred, then on day 18 try test breeding or palpate her. If she refuses buck, starts whining and attempts to escape then that is a good indication that she is bred. Palpating is an art that takes lots of practice and basically means that you are feeling for babies. They will feel like small marbles.
You need to put in a nest box on about day 25 after the doe has been bred. Kits are normally born between 28 to 32 days. Some does will go longer than others. This is another reason to keep great records. Nest boxes are generally made of wood or metal but breeders have been known to use other items including cardboard boxes. You want to make sure you provide some sort of filler. I personally use hay, some use wool, shavings, shredded newspaper, etc – don’t use cedar shavings (it is too strong for them).
Once the kits are born then check the nest and remove all the dead ones. The general rule is don’t expect the doe’s first litter to make it. I am NOT saying that first time litter won’t live, I am just saying that don’t be devastated if it happens. She is a first timer. Check the nest daily and pull out any dead ones that may be in there. You don’t want them making a mess of the box.
Handling the kits from birth will not cause doe to abandoned them. You probably won’t see her nurse the babies. Babies nurse about twice a day. As long as the baby is plump, clean, and sleek then it is being fed.To make sure that the doe is producing adequate milk you can help by giving full feed, oats, and calf manna.
Getting ready for a show It seems like it is always a huge undertaking getting ready for a show. You are always worrying that you will forget something and you probably will but you will learn what works best for you. I highly suggest making a list and keeping it close so you can add to it.
First off, you want to make sure that your rabbit is free of DQs. *Check teeth and make sure they are not messed up. *Nails need clipped, double check the nail color and make sure they have all nails. *Check coat for molting and discoloration or spots. *Double check and make sure the sex fairy didn’t visit and change them on you – Trust me it happens more times then I care for it. You also want to make sure that the bucks don’t have pimples or split penis. *Check ears and make sure that the tattoo can be seen clearly and rabbit is free of mites. *Make sure to weigh them and that they make the correct weight for their class.
Once you have the list of rabbits then you need to send in your entries for show. Double check everything when it goes in, again when they send confirmation and again at the show. One mistake will cost you an entry fee. It is your responsibility to make sure that EVERYTHING is correct. Ok – now on to the list of what to take. *You will want to take a chair. We usually take a barstool too since some of the classes are so long, the barstool allows us to sit near judging table without taking up any more space then we would standing there. My daughter also takes a pillow and blanket with her. I make sure I take tennis shoes and not my boots – a lot of standing * A grooming table/stand, if you don’t have one then you can lay a piece of carpet over the cages and use it as one. *We also always take nail clippers and tattoo pen because you just never know. *You will also want pen and paper so you can keep up with rabbit placement, judge comments, etc. *Labeling pens whether they are nice cage tags like in our store or just a piece of duct tape with black marker on it: it will make it so much easier at show time instead of digging through and checking ear numbers. *Since we take kids to the show with us we always have simple snacks and an ice chest of drinks. Most shows will have a concession stand. *Water and feed bowls for the rabbits and we also bring our own water because it is what they are used too. *Carriers must have a leak proof tray in order to be allowed into showroom. You can put puppy pads, shavings, etc in the bottom to help hold down the smell.
NOTE**** PLEASE CLEANUP AFTER YOURSELF AT THE SHOWS – THEY ARE RUN BY VOLUNTEERS AND VENUES ARE ALSO HARD TO COME BY AND WE NEVER WANT TO LEAVE A MESS. Thanks!
A few other things that we take are sale rabbits, our sign, our pedigree book, and something for the donation table that they have set up at the shows. We also make sure that we purchase tickets for raffles. This is what helps the shows continue to thrive. I would rather help a local show then only be able to drive to a couple a year because they are hours away.
If it is your first show then don’t stress, there are ALWAYS some very helpful people that will be more than happy to guide you around and help you out.
Once at show, you will need to check rabbits in. This is where you DOUBLE check your entries and make sure that everything is correct. Once you have taken care of that then you find a place to set up and then you wait for the FUN to begin!
I imagine that I left a few things and it seems like every time we go we think of something else or we see an awesome idea at the show that will work for us. Most shows also have vendor there so you can pick up items you need for home and show while there. If you have any tips please feel free to leave in the comment section.