Basics Of Rabbit Production

Monday, February 13, 2012
Once the breeder has decided why they want to breed rabbits and chosen the best breed, the next concern is rabbit production. When obtaining does (females) it is best to obtain ones that have produced at least one successful litter. The breeder will get more consistent outcomes with experienced does. Breeding two does at the same time allows the breeder to foster the runts with one mother while keeping the strongest with the other mother. This exchange must be properly recorded. Another option is to remove the runts and humanely euthanize them. The breeder may decide to keep all members of all litters and let the chips fall where they may, but their overall quality of production may suffer.

The doe should always be placed in the buck’s (male) pen for breeding purposes. The territorial nature of rabbits can cause the doe to attack the buck. The buck should be allowed to breed with the doe more than once to ensure that it takes. After the breeding has been successfully performed, the doe should be removed from the buck and placed back in her pen. Leaving the doe in with the buck too long can cause injuries to the rabbits. Sometimes it is suggested to let the buck rest and put the doe back in one hour after the initial contact but that is based on the preference of the breeder.

The breeder should practice the art of palpation or feeling the abdomen of the doe to determine if she is pregnant or not. You can start as soon as 10-11 days, but by 14 days you should have no trouble determining if she is pregnant. Even though the doe’s food intake should increase during and shortly after the pregnancy, most breeders do not allow their rabbits to eat at will. Most commercial does should be limited to 5-6 oz. [140-168 grams] of food per day with supplements during pregnancy.

Approximately 20-28 days after the breeding a nesting box should be provided for the doe, with good ventilation and with enough room to keep her from crushing the litter but not large enough that she will stay and rest. The box should have shavings and hay adjusted according to the time of year and the amount of temperature regulation available.

When the kits arrive, it is important to check them. Bringing the doe a slice of apple or another treat to occupy her will help her accept you while you check for runts. If she cannibalizes her litter, she should not be rebred and her line should be stopped as that is a trait that runs in families. The kits can be weaned at approximately six weeks. The aim of monitoring your rabbit production is to get the best number of healthy kits while maintaining the health of the does and bucks.


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