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The Basics Of Breeding Rabbits

BREEDING METHODS – Health and good condition of the stock at breeding time is very important at the age when a doe should be bred for the first time. For many years does were bred at approximately 8 months of age, and bucks were used at 6 months of age, however, with the advent of selective breeding for size and rapid growth at an early age, especially in the medium and giant breeds, does especially at times attain their ideal weight at 6 months of age. Under such circumstances there is an advantage of breeding at that age because of the time saving element and earlier production of young than if bred at 8 months of age.

When breeding a does to the buck’s hutch. If she is receptive she will accept service. Some breeders allow a doe to remain with the buck for a second service. If a doe will not accept service she should be taken back to her hutch, and again tried the following day, and do so until she does. Should a doe continue to refuse, then forced breeding is the alternative. However, by proper examination of the doe’s sexual organ, and when noticing a slight swelling, and the color is purple, it is in indication that the doe is ready to accept service and, as a rule, she will accept. Once a doe is bred, she should be taken back to the buck in about 4 days which is known as a “test breeding.”

FREQUENCY OF BREEDING – In breeding for quality stock that will give a good account of themselves in the show room as well as in the hutches of breeders who are inclined to raise only the very best to be sold for breeding purposes, a schedule of breeding does at the interval of every 3 months, (4 times a year) is desirable. On the other hand, where the main objective is fryer production, 6 litters a year should be the aim and maintained. At this point it seems rather important that mention is made to the effect that, once a doe is in production there should be no delay or waiting periods between breedings, otherwise does can put on increased or excessive weight which makes it difficult for such does to again produce young.

NURSE DOES – When a doe has more than 8 young, she is not likely to raise them all to make the required standard weights. In such cases, provision should be made to care for the extra young. This can be done to some extent by breeding half a dozen or more does at the same time, so that in case some does have large litters some of the young can be switched from one doe to others having small litters – thus the surplus litters are readily taken care of and maximum production of young maintained.

DOES LOSING LITTER – Although it seldom occurs, a doe at times may lose her litter. When this occurs investigate and see if the cause can be located. It could be that a doe was handled too close to the time she was due to have her young. This can cause premature birth and the young born dead. Or, it may be by a sudden noise caused by dogs or a sudden storm, etc. Should this occur, a doe can be re-bred safely in from 6 to 8 days, depending on her condition.

PREPARING FOR THE YOUNG – This is an important period in rabbit raising which should receive close attention. Upon your observance and diligence will depend whether you get a successful litter of young or not. This is the preparation period. Your doe is to have her young, so make ready. Provide a nest box of such construction (as already explained) and put in enough bedding for a good nest; fine prairie hay is best, although straw or excelsior may be used. In cold weather it is a good plan to save the hair from the nests of the does that have had young and put in nest of does ready to have their young. This is a precaution to take for does having their first litter. Usually, a doe will make her nest without assistance; she will have her young and care for them.

AGE OF WEANING – This depends to some extent to what breeds are raised. As a general rule the weaning age is when the youngsters are between 6 and 8 weeks old. It is a very good idea to wean at 7 to 8 weeks, unless there is reason to do otherwise. Some of the smaller breeds where minimum weights are desirable, weaning at 6 weeks is best. On the medium, large and the giant breeds, 8 weeks is best.

HOW TO DETERMINE SEX – This may be a little difficult at first. The sex should be checked first at weaning time which is done in the following manner. With the thumb and forefinger of both hands pressed down on the genital organ – where there is a pointed protrusion coming out of the foreskin, it is a buck, but should the position remain flat even after pressing on the organ, and there is an opening almost “V” shaped, then it is a doe. With a little practice you will be able to determine sex when the young are about one month old.

by Edward Stahl
From Rabbits For Profit and Pleasure

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