Breeding your doe(s) birthing and raising kits to weaning and butcher age Requires good record keeping. Even if you have only 1 doe, You may think you will remember all the dates in the cycle of breeding, birthing and weaning kits, but, most likely you will not.
Definitions and terms you need to know when raising rabbits.
A female rabbit is called a doe.
A male rabbit is called a buck.
When referring to the parents of a rabbit, the mother is called the dam, and the father is called the sire.
When you mate two rabbits together, this is called breeding.
When you check to see if the doe is pregnant or when you breed her again before she is due to give birth, this is called testing.
When you put a box in the hutch that is lined with hay, this is called nesting.
When the doe gives birth, this is called kindling.
The period of time between breeding and kindling is the gestation period.
When she gives birth to a bunch of bunnies they are called kits. This bunch of bunnies is called a litter.
When you take the young rabbits away from the mother, this is called weaning.
Small breed doe is normally ready to mate when she is 5 months old, and a small breed buck is ready at 6 months.
Medium size doe is ready to breed when she is 6 months old and the buck at 7 months.
The heavy breed doe’s are ready at 8 months and the buck is ready at 9 months.
It’s usually a good idea to select rabbits to breed whose ancestry has evidence of good productivity and good genetics. That’s where productivity records come in handy. Keep productivity records of your herd just for this purpose.
You may keep a ratio of one buck to 10 does if you wish. The buck may be bred up to 7 times a week effectively. Sometimes, you can use the buck twice in one day. I recommend limiting using your buck 2 or 3 times a week.
Keep the following in mind when you want to breed your doe’s.
Only mate rabbits of the same breed. Exceptions to this include breeding for meat, pets or genetic experimentation. You cannot sell a pedigree rabbit that has mixed blood in its background.
Do not keep more than one rabbit in each cage when the rabbit is 3 months or older. Rabbits mature faster when alone, do not fight, and do not breed, thus eliminating unexpected results.
Before breeding, check the bottom of the cage of both the doe and buck for evidence of diarrhea or loose stools. Do not breed the rabbit having this condition until it has been adequately treated. Also check the genitals of both rabbits for any signs of disease or infection (for example, extreme redness, discharge, sores or scabbiness).
When ready to breed the doe, take it to the buck’s cage. Never bring the buck to the doe’s cage. The reason for this is that the buck has less tendency to breed in the doe’s cage. He’s too busy sniffing around the cage. Sometimes a doe will refuse to breed and occasionally will kill a buck in her cage defending her territory.
Some people leave the doe with the buck overnight. Others put the doe in, watch it, and when they have mated, remove the doe. (I recommend the wait and watch approach). If you do the latter, put the doe back in with the buck 1 to 8 hours after the initial breeding. This will increase the likelihood of pregnancy and may increase the number of offspring.
Keep a calendar and accurate records of the day you breed the doe. You should test her for pregnancy between the 10th and 14th day after the initial breeding. There are two ways to do this testing. The overall preferred method is to palpate the lower abdomen of the doe with your thumb and forefinger checking for nodules about the size of a marble. The other method is not only more risky but also more inaccurate.
This method is to mate the doe with the buck again. This can cause problems because the doe has two uterine horns, each of which can carry babies. It is possible for one horn to be fertilized on the first mating and the second to be fertilized on the second mating. This will create a hormonal imbalance and cause the babies in both uteri to not form correctly, causing her to pass blobs instead of babies at the date of kindling. There is also a chance these “mummified” blobs could cause internal complications leading to the death of the doe.
* Put her nest box in her cage on the 29th day after breeding. Gestation period is thirty one(31) days after breeding, she should kindle her litter.
Never breed brothers to sisters. Other combinations are fine, father-to-daughter, mother-to-son, cousins, etc. Until you gain some knowledge as to how genetics works with inbreeding, I recommend not breeding closely related pairs. It is usually best to mate rabbits having the same color to start off with until you know more about how the colors interact.
Strive to meet the perfect standard for the breed you are mating.
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