Photo: Herman's Sylvia & her litter - Standard Chinchillas

Rabbit Breeding Tips

We breed rabbits on weekends. Sunday is usually an ďat homeĒ kind of day for us. Itís a good day to take our time and put rabbits together.

We choose the rabbits based on their strengths and weaknesses. A buck with strong shoulders would be matched with a doe with weak shoulders but good size. We try to offset any weaknesses with strengths. We try not to put two weak features together since that will only fix the weak feature in the blood line.

We also try to breed at least two does on the same day, hopefully from different breeds or colors. This way we can move babies from litters around if we need to foster any kits. Having different breeds or different colors in the nest box makes it easier to see who came from which litter.

Before we take the doe to the buck, we check the doeís vulva. We are hoping for a pinkish red color to indicate she is receptive. A pale white color is not very promising.

We take the doe to the buckís cage. Rabbits are territorial. A doe will fight a buck to defend her territory. She can seriously injure the buck in a situation like that. When you take the doe to the buck, she in on his territory and will not be as likely to fight.

I stand and watch the pair to see if the doe accepts the buck. If the doe accepts the buck, Iíll leave them together to see if the buck will breed her again. I stand around and watch them because I need to know when the doe accepts the buck.

If the doe runs around in a circle, this is not so bad. Iíll let her run a few laps then Iíll put my hand in the cage and stop her for the buck to breed her. Most of the time the doe will accept the buck.

If the doe sits down or tries to climb the sides of the cage, Iíll wait for 5 minutes. If she wonít stand still and accept the buck, Iíll take the doe out and try her again in 8 hours or the next day (Monday). And the next day if necessary (Tuesday). If she doesnít accept the buck, I will wait for the next weekend to try her again.

After the doe accepts the buck, I mark it on the calendar. Which doe bred to which buck. Then Iíll count four weeks (28 days) and mark that day on the calendar to put in nestboxes. That would be a Sunday again. Which is a good day to do chores and put in nestboxes, etc. The doe will hopefully throw her litter during the week on day 30 (Tuesday) or day 31 (Wednesday). If she doesnít kindle by day 35 (Sunday) we will breed her again.

I am no good at palpating so I canít use that as an indicator of conception. I do not use test breeding to test for pregnancy. Too many pregnant does will accept a buck a second time during a test breeding. Too many non-pregnant does will fight a buck during a test breeding. It is not reliable enough. And it is one more day to keep track of.

That is why I spend so much time watching the doe and the buck during breeding. That way I can mark the breeding date with certainty. When I view a doe accept a buck, I can expect a litter 9 out of 10 times. If a doe fails to catch three times, we take her out of the herd.

When the litter is born, mark the calendar with the day and how many kits. This is the number you will look for when you make your daily nestbox check. Mark your calendar six weeks ahead as your target date for weaning. This will also give you a reference point on the calendar for re-breeding scheduling. For instance, if you re-breed at six weeks, you can plan on the Sunday before weaning.

This weekend breeding plan works with our work and school schedule. It also works around our rabbit show schedule since most shows are on Saturdays.

I hope this information is helpful.

Have a good day!
Franco Rios
Sacramento, Calif.
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