Problems When Your Rabbits Don’t Want to Breed
Bunnies in the wild may “breed like rabbits,” but it is not always the case in the rabbitry. Placing a buck and a doe in the same location does not guarantee mating (unless it is accidental and you don’t want a breeding to take place, of course). There are several factors that can operate to prevent a complete mating.
I call the first “shy bucks.” Some bucks are not aggressive breeders. Perhaps the buck had some unsatisfactory experiences early on from being bred before he was mature enough. If he didn’t get the reinforcement of a completed breeding, he may have lost interest or confidence, as one breeder put it to me. If I have one of these shy bucks, I try to build up their positive experiences by only breeding them with very ready and willing does. After a few of these breedings, the shy buck is often ready to try a more reticent doe.
Some bucks tucker out too quickly. They just run out of energy before they can complete all of the running around and mis-mounts that may occur in natural breeding. Use table or at least assisted breeding for these low-energy bucks.
Another problem that a buck might encounter is vent disease. If breeding is uncomfortable for him, he is likely to not pursue it. Since you are conducting a pre-breeding check, you may find the vent disease at that time. If the penis is red, swollen or blistered, do not breed at that time. Treat for vent disease and then retry the breeding. Consult your vet before treating for vent disease. I would use Combi-Pen (Pen B), given subcutaneously at a dose of 1/10 cc per pound, once a week for three injections. Because vent disease can be symptomless except for infertility, you may not be able to catch all cases by examination.
I find that both bucks and does are reluctant to breed in the high heat of summer. And who can blame them? You may get better results breeding first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening, in the really hot weather.
Some does take to being bred right from the start. I had a first-timer this week breed like she’d been bred 100 times before. But normally, virgin does are much more difficult to breed. They may take a lot more interest in the buck’s cage or become very frightened to be in contact with another rabbit. Sometimes they can try to defend themselves. I don’t like to give a virgin doe too much latitude in the buck’s cage because I fear she will hurt herself or the buck. I also do not wish to traumatize her, so I will make breeding sessions short until she is bred or becomes more comfortable with the process.
An ARBA judge recently recommended one capful of cider vinegar in each bottle of water for a week for my doe who is refusing to be bred. I’m going to try this to see if it works in my situation. A friend of mine, a long-time breeder, breeds stubborn does just before and during the full moon.