The first thing you need to do, is make sure the buck and doe are both old enough and ready for breeding
. For smaller breeds that's around 5 to 6 months of age. For larger breeds it can sometimes take up to a year before they reach breeding maturity.
Second, make sure both parents are healthy.
check the buck over. Make sure the testicles are dropped and well formed and not withdrawn.
check the doe over. Check her vent, it should be a reddish-purplish color. This indicates that the doe is ready to be bred. If her vent is a pale pinkish color then that means the doe will not breed.
After you have checked over your rabbits to ensure the best health, take the doe to the buck's cage. NEVER take the buck to the doe's cage. Rabbits can be territorial and the doe might attack the buck. Also, a buck would be more interested in marking the does cage as his territory
After Putting the Doe in with the buck, if all goes well, the buck will mount the doe. If a good breed had taken place the buck will let out a grunt or squeal and roll over. Take the doe out of the bucks cage and return her to hers. If you would like to increase your litter size or the chances of conception, then take the doe back for a second breeding 60-90 minutes after the first breeding.
Photos shown from left to right.
#1- Actual mating
#2- The Buck falling back tucking and grunting
#3- The buck rolling back and falling off.
Of course, things can sometimes go wrong and breeding may not take place.
If the buck chases the doe, and the doe is running like crazy, or climbing the sides of the cage, or simply just not cooperating, then take the doe out and try her again in a few days.
If the doe is interested but the buck isn't, try placing him on the doe and see if it helps. Another option is to place the Buck in the Doe's
cage alone for a few minutes. Sometimes the scent of the doe, helps to get the buck interested.
Preparation for the litter:
Once the doe is bred, you should continue to feed her the regular amount of feed that she has been getting. At 2 weeks, you can try to palpate for the litter. The rabbit's uterus is V shaped. So try feeling on either side of the lower abdomen for large "marbles." or "Grapes"
Photo of proper position for palpating
At day 27 or 28, you should put in a nest box. The size of the nest box should be just big enough for her to get in, turn around, and leave. If the nest box is too big, then the doe will use it for a bathroom.
Put in a couple inches of shavings on the bottom and then put in the hay. The doe will do the rest. If the doe does it all right, then when the big day arrives which is usually day 31 she will move the hay around with her mouth and pull her fur from her belly and sides and fill the nest box with it. When she kindles she'll clean them off and give them their first nursing. After its all done, she'll cover them with fur and leave.
After she has finished kindling, then its your job to go in and inspect the litter. Check to make sure they are warm, well fed, and cleaned. Remove any birthing mess and dead kits. Then cover the kits back up and return them to the mother.
The kits development will be quick. At day 1 they are completely hairless, blind, deaf, and helpless. By 1 week they are fully furred. By 2 weeks their eyes will open. By 3 weeks they will come springing out of the nest box. And by week 5 they are
weaned and week 6 ready to go.
Photo of a 4 day old broken blue kit
Miscarriages in Rabbits:
Miscarriages though rare do occur in some rabbits. In most
cases kits never make it past the ball stage and the doe's pass them. These
doe's become "unbreedable" and should not be bred again. Continuing to breed a
doe that has had more then 2-3 miscarriages, only puts more stress on the animal
and will eventually result in hemorrhaging and the loss of the doe. Miscarriages
will appear as tiny mucusy lumps in the bottom of your doe's cage and you may
also notice areas of blood and your doe may have some bleeding. If bleeding in
the doe, does not stop with in a couple of hours or becomes severe, seek vet
attention immediately. In most cases these doe's should be spayed to avoid
© 2009 The Rabbit Info Center and Crystal Publications