Treasure Trove of Expert Information on how to Breed Rabbits
Breeding rabbits is an emotional experience, and rightly so, for it’s taking on a lot of responsibility to bring new lives into the world. Also, part of dealing with new life is dealing with death. A significant percentage of baby rabbits do not survive past weaning age.
The mother is also at risk of death. First-time rabbit mom’s also have a track record of losing their entire litter. They usually do fine the next time, but most breeders count on about 50% of first litters dying entirely. Here’s an article tracking some exact stats on this topic.
A rabbit breeder must be equipped with a few vital tools:
- A stated purpose for breeding rabbits. A clear objective will help you make good judgements in selecting breeding pairs and solving problems. Examples include meat production, improving a breed, and increasing the vitality and health of your herd.
- A reliable demand for the bunnies you produce. Let me tell you, the market for pets is shaky at best.The world just does not need more pet rabbits produced.
- Ample equipment to keep multiple animals. Three cages is not enough. Remember, there is usually no guarantee that you will sell any of the babies, and you need to be prepared to keep them all. Male and female baby rabbits must be separated from each other by about 10 weeks of age, and rabbits thrive the best if they are given their own private cage by 3 or 4 months. Overcrowding of young rabbits leads to fights, injury, and poor condition.
- Ample budget. Rabbits are relatively low-cost animals. Compared to horses or dogs, breeding rabbits is very inexpensive. But you just might be amazed at that feed bill.
- Sufficient knowledge. The adage, “read before you breed” is 100% good advice. Learn as much as you can about rabbit husbandry before you mate your first pair. This website is a great place to start! If you are new to rabbit ownership, I definitely recommend keeping them for several months to learn their habits before you breed them. A relationship with an experienced breeder is invaluable, because you will almost certainly run into questions!
- Flexible schedule. Bunny mothers may give birth any time during the day or night. In case she has difficulty in labor, or kindles on the wire, you need to be on hand to check her regularly. Once the babies are born, they must remain in the nest box to keep warm. Wandering kits under 10 days of age can easily die of exposure if not caught soon enough. Plus, you must have enough time to maintain good sanitation in your rabbitry. Growing kits can make a mess of their house as fast as growing kids!
If you a you are prepared for smiles, tears, joyous laughter, and even the occasional shock, read on. Raising rabbits is a lot of work, but brings a rich reward.
- Glossary of Breeding Terms
- Choosing Your Buck and Doe
- Line breeding vs. Outcrossing
- Finding the Due Date
- Pre-mating Health Exam
- Cage and Table Methods
- Determine if Rabbit is Pregnant
- Providing a Nest Box
- Doe Nesting and Pulling Fur
- Newborn Baby Bunny Care!
- Fostering Kits to another Doe
- Treatment for Sticky Eyes
- Removing the Nest Box
- Re-breeding Your Doe
- Weaning Babies
- Problems: Rabbits Won’t Mate
- Problems: Conception & More
- Problems: When Babies Die
Detailed Articles on Rabbit Mating & Husbandry
- Tips for Fostering Rabbit Kits to Another Nest – Six good reasons you might want to foster and tips for doing it right.
- Wandering Babies – The importance of keeping young rabbits safe and secure in the nest box.
- Breeding the Tough Girls – One of Laurie’s favorite articles, “Breeding the Tough Girls” covers some tricks for getting your does to breed when they’re not diggin’ it.
- Sanitation – It’s worth it – A story that reminds us of the importance of keeping the babies’ environment very clean.
- First-time Moms – New rabbit mothers often have trouble raising their first litter. Laurie added up the stats in her breeding program and this is what she found.
- Mean Pregnant Rabbits – When does are bred — or really want to be — they often exhibit aggressive behavior such as biting, lunging, and growling. Should it be tolerated?
- Stuck and Retained Babies – When a doe goes long over her due date, or when kits are stuck in the birth canal during labor, what should you do? Here’s some advice.
- Losing Kits and Fader Babies – There are numerous threats to young bunnies including weanling enteritis and just wandering off.
- Belle’s Story – Use of Oxytocin to induce labor.
- May’s Kindling Story – The tale of a doe with a large kit retained several days after delivering others.