Ray Stacy

Ray Stacy's Breeding By The Seasons

Posted April 25 2007

BREEDING BY THE SEASONS

Fall/Winter

Fall is one of the hardest seasons to get litters. The daylight is getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. Here are a few tricks to help get litters in your barn.

- Use lights and a timer if possible. Rabbits need at least 14 hours of daylight each day. I like to give mine 16 hours by having the lights come on at 4:30am until a short time after the sun is fully up. The have them come back on at about 1 hour before dark and run until 9:00pm. You can adjust the start/stop times to fit your day.
- Breed in the warmest part of the day. This may be difficult with work schedules but the afternoon gets the best results.
- If the buck has not been used recently, rebreed the doe 24 hours later. If a buck set for too long, he can become sterile until used again. Let him service her once or twice the first time and then twice if possible the second day. Young bucks do the best at this time of year. Donít use a buck that is in a heavy moult. You will be wasting your time.
- If the doe is not wanting to breed, try bringing her in the house, take with you when you go visiting or something a long those lines. She needs to get warmed up and upset.
- Some other tricks for getting a doe to breed is leave the lights on in the barn for 24-48 hours straight. This will through them out of their cycle. Another one is to put a nesting box full of straw in with her for a few days. Then take the box away and she should breed.

Spring

- This is the easiest time of the year to get babies. Rabbits still have a lot of their wild habits and having babies in the spring is one of them. Start reducing the amount of time the lights are on, as the days get longer.
- Breed in groups if possible as some of your litters at this time of year can be very large. With a group of does kindling, it is easier to foster kits from a large litter to one or more smaller litters to even all of them out.

Summer

- At this time of year, heat is your enemy for both breeding and littering. You need to breed in the cool of the morning if possible to get the best fertility out of the bucks. As the temperatures rise, buck fertility falls.
- Use a buck less frequently, like once every 3-4 days instead of every 2 days. This will help keep his fertility up.
- Keep you bred does in the coolest part of the barn. Have ice bottles ready in case it get real hot the last week of their pregnancy,
- If the doe gets overboard on pulling hair, take the excess out and but it in a cloth bag (I use an old pillow case). This allows the hair to loose any sent and can be used in the colder months to help a doe that doesnít pull enough.
- On real hot days, remove the kits from the box and put them directly on the wire. Most mothers will not hurt them. Just remember to put them back a night. Big, fat kits are affected more by the heat than thinner ones. The milk inside of them will turn and cause a toxin, killing them.
In our climate here in central California, the heat is very dry. The heat dries out the rabbitís nose and mouth. Be sure to keep the moisture up in the barn. Swamp coolers, misters or wetting the floor helps keep it cool and damp. More than ever, cool, clean water is a must and all they want. Remember, kits drink too, so be ready for them when the pop out of the box.


Ray Stacy
ARBA Judge
Posted with Permission.


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