Breeding Rabbits

The following is paraphased from Rabbitlopaedia by Meg Brown

1) The buck is the most important member of the rabbitry. He must be in good condition and exercised regularly, but kept away from the does. Bucks should not be used until they are 16 – 20 weeks old.

2) The does should never be mated when she is in moult and should be at least 16 weeks old. The does should be put to the buck in his hutch, not the other way round. If the doe does not accept the buck then she is not in season. Repeat this until she comes into season and accepts. Does will have swollen genitals when in season.

3) 3 or 4 litters a year is enough for one doe. If the doe comes back into seasons, then she has reabsorbed the eggs as not enough were fertalised the first time round.

4) Pregnant does- They should have a large hutch. From the day of mating the doe should be well fed and have plenty of water and milk to drink. The gestation period is 28 – 31 days. A nest box should be provided, with the side of the box just high enough to allow the doe access, but to keep the youngsters in. Give the doe plenty of soft bedding (meadow hay). In cooler weather a polystyrene tile can be slipped under the nest box for extra warmth.

5) For five days the youngsters should only be touch in emergencies, such as if the doe has scattered them around the hutch, or if they are not feeding after 24 hours. Rub your hands on the does before touching them.

6) For the first 3 weeks the litter survives purely on the mothers milk. Then they shoudl be weaned at 16 to 21 days, being fed pellets, rabbit mix and hay, but not too much fibre.

7) At this point saperate the mother and the young, and split the sexes (3 hutches plus the buck hutch). Sexing young rabbits can be difficult.


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