FAQ: Breeding Rabbits

James Glover
by James Glover
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Before breeding any pet, you should research how to best care for the animal during and after pregnancy and how to assist raising her young. Here are some frequently asked questions about breeding rabbits.

What should I look for when choosing rabbits for breeding?
Most people choose to keep either a single buck (male), or a pair of does (females). However, if homes can be found for the plentiful offspring of their rabbits, owners are likely to be successful in breeding them. The most important thing is a record of good health for both potential parents. It is also preferable if their parents lived long and healthy lives. Look for good eyes and coat, quick alert movements and a healthy appetite.

How old should a breeding pair be?
Small breeds may reach sexual maturity by the age of 4 months, large breeds may take six months or so, but it is advisable to delay breeding until around the ages of six or ten months respectively. Females should usually be retired from breeding at the age of about 2 or 3 years.

What sort of cage is best?
One feature of a professional breeding hutch that can be incorporated into a pet doe's hutch at breeding time is a shelf. When the young are born this simple feature will allow the doe to get away from her babies for some much needed respite.

Mini Lop Rabbit

When will the female be ready?
The remarkable proliferation of rabbits is partly due to the fact that the female does not have a true estrous cycle. She is able to conceive at any time, even almost immediately after giving birth. This is why the buck should be separated immediately after mating, since it would be unfair to expect her to produce a continual stream of offspring. Certain factors such as molting, lactation, underfeeding, and the seasons may limit her potential to be on heat for long periods.

How will I be able to help?
Do not handle the doe too much before birth. If you need to lift her, make sure you support her very well. The doe's diet must be adjusted for her pregnancy: Gradually increase the volume of food given to her until she is being fed approximately double the quantity as before at the time of giving birth. Continue to feed her as she requires, and she may need up to three times her regular amount by the time the young are 3 weeks old.

Should the father be present?
The buck should be removed immediately after mating to allow the doe to maintain her strength and provide peace and quiet. This is also to avoid subsequent matings.

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