Tips for Breeding Rabbits

So you've decided you want to start breeding rabbits. Before you introduce the lucky couple, ask yourself why you want to breed them. If you are hoping to get some show quality kits from the litter or add to your own herd, great. If you raise rabbits to put meat in the freezer, fine.

Breeding them to sell to a pet store or to make a few dollars probably isn't the best reason. While pet stores may sell the rabbits for $30 or $40 dollars apiece, they certainly won't be paying you anything near that, and you'll be lucky if what you get pays for the food they ate.

Neatherland Dwarf Buck

Really think about your reasons before putting those rabbits together. You can get anywhere from two to ten babies in the average litter. Do you have enough space to house them all separately by the time they hit puberty?

Now that you've clarified the reason why you want to raise a litter, you want to make sure both the buck and doe are in good health. Are they a good match for each other? You want to choose rabbits that have as few faults as possible and complement the faults the other has.

Never house your buck and doe together on a permanent basis. This creates a stressful situation for them both. An intact buck will constantly want to breed. He may or may not kill a litter when they are born. The doe is ready to breed again as soon as the babies are born. This would give you another litter in four weeks' time and run down the health of your doe, who would be sustaining another pregnancy while nursing a litter.

Always take the doe to the buck, don't take the buck to the doe. Does are very territorial, and putting a buck into her space may cause her to attack. Stay and watch. You need to be able to remove the doe if things get aggressive.

The buck and doe may circle for awhile, and the buck sometimes mounts the wrong end of the doe. If the doe is eager, she may even mount him instead. Eventually they get it all sorted out. When the buck has finished, he will fall off. To ensure a good breeding, let him accomplish his task a few times before you remove the doe.

Make note of the breeding on your calendar and count forward 28 days. This is the day you want to put a nest box in with the doe. A rabbit's gestation is around 31 days, give or take a day or two.

As she gets close to birthing, provide the doe with a nest box and some hay. She will make a nice cozy nest. She'll pull fur either before or after the kits are born. Unless the doe is aggressive towards the babies, you can leave the nest box with her at all times. The doe will feed the babies once or twice a day. They don't sit with their young like dogs and cats do.

In two weeks, the babies' eyes will open and they'll start climbing out of the nest. Weaning usually takes place between six and eight weeks of age. Remove them gradually to help the milk dry up gradually and prevent mastitis.

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