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.
So you want a bunny? That is the first step! Next do your research on breeds, there are 49 breeds that are recognized by ARBA. You can find them here.
You need to decide what you are interested in – they come in all different sizes and several of the breeds require special cages and care.
Maybe you want a small bunny. Examples are Dwarf Hotots, Polish, Netherland Dwarfs or even a Britannia Petite. I wouldn’t recommend Britannia Petite for a beginner or someone wanting a laid back bunny. They are like little rockets ready to go!
Maybe you want a medium size bunny like a sweet laid back Dutch or Himalayan? You have meat breeds and fancy to choose from.
Maybe you want a lop eared bunny? Did you know they come in small and large sizes? The large ones have to have very sturdy bottoms on their cages in order to hold their weights.
Maybe you want a fast moving bunny like a Tan, English spot or even a Belgium Hare – Hares have to have solid bottoms on their cages. Running breeds are also not considered cuddle bunnies and are always on the go.
Maybe you want a large bunny? Great examples of them are Giant Chinchillas, English Lops and Flemish. These are usually very gentle giants but they are too big for young children to place on the tables.
Maybe you want something you can groom daily and even use hair to make things. They also come in small to large – Breed examples are Jersey Woolies and Giant Angoras.
Maybe you want to focus and help preserve a rare breed – the list can be found at https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/conservation-priority-list#Rabbits
If you still don’t have a clue then I suggest visiting a show (shows can be found on arba.net) . Shows will give you a variety of bunnies to look over and most breeders will be more than happy to give you guidance and explain the ins and outs of their breeds. It also gives you an idea how shows are ran.
Once you get an idea on the breed you want then you need to research it! Don’t just look for all the positive things but also the negative side of that breed. That way you know what you are getting yourself into. Example – Dutch very friendly and easy breeders, Downfall is that they have to have correct markings in order to show so you have to have a place for your culls.
Rabbits are not always easy and don’t always breed like they say. Once you figure out your breed then find a breeder and talk to that breeder – ask them questions and get to really understand that breed. You also want to purchase your starter stock from a reputable breeder. If you start out with crap then you are still feeding crap and you will produce crap. Make sure you start out with Quality animals it will save you a lot of heartache in the end.
Good Luck on your rabbit adventures!
I will be happy to help in anyway that I can and help you find some amazing breeders.
Hope to see you at the show!
We locked our barn down several years ago. This was done for our animals and our protection. This explains it.
I have asked if I could repost the following and was granted permission. She says it best! The following was borrowed from https://www.facebook.com/meadowmunchers/
Why animal breeders may not invite you in anymore
You’ve probably read somewhere, maybe even from me, that a breeder that won’t let you see where animals are kept or meet your animals is a big red flag.
That breeders who won’t let you meet the animals or see where they are kept must be hiding something.
Well that’s no longer true
Why you ask?
Because there is a vendetta in the USA right now against breeders, even the really good breeders.
Anti breeder types, be they from HSUS or PETA or other animal rights groups or overzealous animal shelter workers or other similar people are making it their life’s work to get breeders animal seized and stop all breeding.
Many times this involves lying, filing false complaints or worse- setting the breeder up.
Sometimes these people even gain the breeder’s trust or work for them.
No matter how clean your animals are.
No matter how well fed and clean your animals are.
No matter how careful you are to only breed the best and most fully health tested animals
No matter how much time and money you put into them and how much money you lose.
These people are looking to get your dogs seized, to get another “horrible breeder” story in the news, to use you and your animals to get restrictive laws passed.
Breeders now must not only do their absolute best , they now must guard against those that would destroy their life’s work and the animals they love for no reason other than hate.
So the next time an animal breeder grills you with questions, or meets you in their driveway or even at the shopping center in their town, don’t hold it against them – they may just be doing all they can to keep hateful people from destroying all they love.
**Side note — ALWAYS MEET IN PUBLIC PLACE and let someone know who you are meeting. If possible take someone with you.
Contrary to popular belief – Bunnies don’t always breed like we would like them too. Especially if you are anxiously awaiting a litter. It can become very stressful and dishearten when you can’t get rabbits to breed and have babies.
I have learned a few tricks over the years that have helped me.
- Add “mother” Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – 1 Tablespoon per gallon of water. This will help does come on into cycle. We do this with all our bunnies.
- Put buck into doe cage.
- If doe isn’t mean then you can leave buck with her for a few days – I don’t care to do this because it can cause injury and you don’t know 100% if they mated or not.
- Breed on table – position doe and hold while buck mounts.
- Another trick is to swap cage with buck and doe – leave them in each other’s cages for a few days then place doe with buck.
- They say Parsley will help fertility but I have not tested that theory.
- You can also put them in a carrier and drive around town. There is something about traveling that seems to bring them in.
- Add light so that they have longer “daylight” time during those shorter days.
- Feed can also play a major role in breeding and fertility.
- Doe is considered “in” when her vulva is swollen and red. She will normally raise up on back end if you put your hands on her back.
- Does will also get very testy and grumpy when cycling.
- Don’t let virgin bucks get tore up by grumpy doe – it will make him shy and leery of breeding.
- Also make sure that buck has both set of testicles and doesn’t have spit penis.
- Another thing is to make sure that the rabbits are of appropriate age to breed depending on breed they are.
If you have any tips or questions- Please feel free to comment here. Don’t give up!