Breeding Rabbits

Treasure Trove of Expert Information on how to Breed Rabbits

litter of cute baby lop rabbits

Breeding rabbits is an emotional experience, and rightly so, for it’s taking on a lot of responsibility to bring new lives into the world.  Also, part of dealing with new life is dealing with death.  A significant percentage of baby rabbits do not survive past weaning age.  The mother is also at risk of death.  First-time rabbit mom’s also have a track record of losing their entire litter.  They usually do fine the next time, but most breeders count on about 50% of first litters dying entirely.  Here’s an article tracking some exact stats on this topic.

A rabbit breeder must be equipped with a few vital tools:

 1. A stated purpose for breeding rabbits.  A clear objective will help you make good judgements in selecting breeding pairs and solving problems.  Examples include meat production, improving a breed, and increasing the vitality and health of your herd.

2. A reliable demand for the bunnies you produce.  Let me tell you, the market for pets is shaky at best.  The world just does not need more pet rabbits produced. 

3. Ample equipment to keep multiple animals.  Three cages is not enough.  Remember, there is usually no guarantee that you will sell any of the babies, and you need to be prepared to keep them all.  Male and female baby rabbits must be separated from each other by about 10 weeks of age, and rabbits thrive the best if they are given their own private cage by 3 or 4 months.  Overcrowding of young rabbits leads to fights, injury, and poor condition.

4. Ample budget.  Rabbits are relatively low-cost animals.  Compared to horses or dogs, breeding rabbits is very inexpensive.  But you just might be amazed at that feed bill.

5.  Sufficient knowledge.  The adage, “read before you breed” is 100% good advice.  Learn as much as you can about rabbit husbandry before you mate your first pair.  This website is a great place to start!  If you are new to rabbit ownership, I definitely recommend keeping them for several months to learn their habits before you breed them.  A relationship with an experienced breeder is invaluable, because you will almost certainly run into questions!

6. Flexible schedule.  Bunny mothers may give birth any time during the day or night.  In case she has difficulty in labor, or kindles on the wire, you need to be on hand to check her regularly.  Once the babies are born, they must remain in the nest box to keep warm.  Wandering kits under 10 days of age can easily die of exposure if not caught soon enough.  Plus, you must have enough time to maintain good sanitation in your rabbitry.  Growing kits can make a mess of their house as fast as growing kids!

If you a you are prepared for smiles, tears, joyous laughter, and even the occasional shock, read on.  Raising rabbits is a lot of work, but brings a rich reward.

 Step-by-Step Guidelines for Successful Rabbit Breeding

 

 1. Glossary of Breeding Terms

 10. Newborn Baby Bunny Care!  
   2. Choosing Your Buck and Doe  11. Fostering Kits to another Doe  
   3. Line breeding vs. Outcrossing  12. Treatment for Sticky Eyes  
   4. Finding the Due Date  13. Removing the Nest Box  
   5. Pre-mating Health Exam  14. Re-breeding Your Doe  
   6. Cage and Table Methods  15. Weaning Babies  
   7. Determine if Rabbit is Pregnant  16. Problems: Rabbits Won’t Mate  
   8. Providing a Nest Box  17. Problems: Conception & More  
   9. Doe Nesting and Pulling Fur  18. Problems: When Babies Die  

 

 

watch baby rabbits grow up photos

Click for stories and photos of baby rabbits growing up!

 

Related, more in-depth articles on rabbit mating and husbandry

 

 

  • Wandering Babies- The importance of keeping young rabbits safe and secure in the nest box.

 

  • Breeding the Tough Girls -  One of Laurie’s favorite articles, “Breeding the Tough Girls” covers some tricks for getting your does to breed when they’re not diggin’ it.

 

 

  • First-time Moms – New rabbit mothers often have trouble raising their first litter.  Laurie added up the stats in her breeding program and this is what she found.

 

  • Mean Pregnant Rabbits - When does are bred — or really want to be — they often exhibit aggressive behavior such as biting, lunging, and growling.  Should it be tolerated?

 

  • Stuck and Retained Babies – When a doe goes long over her due date, or when kits are stuck in the birth canal during labor, what should you do?  Here’s some advice.

 

 

 

 

 If you don’t find the answers about breeding rabbits you are looking for here, feel free to contact us.  We don’t know everything about rabbits for sure, but can try to help.

 

young lop rabbits aren't they cute

Young Holland Lop babies eating hay

 



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Site last updated November 4, 2013.

Or rather, this "updated last" notice was last updated on that date. The site is updated frequently. :)