Rabbits won't breed

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Simmonsfunnyfrm, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Simmonsfunnyfrm

    Simmonsfunnyfrm Songster

    Jun 11, 2012
    Pope County, Arkansas
    So...my husband and I have been trying to start up a meat rabbitry since February. We were so excited to breed them when they came of age the first of September. Our buck is a honey color Palomino, very sweet and personable. We have tried to breed him to 5 different does, and nobody likes him! He is always ready to do his job, but none of these girls, 4 of them proven breeders, want anything to do with him. The first 2 girls were satins. One perished in the heat, the other just quit eating and drinking one day and a few days later she died. The other three are a New Zealand red, a New Zealand white, and a satin/california cross. All of them have had 2 litters, the white has had 3. I just got these three yesterday and tried to breed them today. Are you supposed to wait longer for them to adjust before breeding? What factors could be keeping them from wanting to breed? I just thought it would be easy, since they're rabbits, and you know what they say...I would appreciate any input! Oh also these three girls were bred with the same old buck and I did not purchase him. Are they just used to him and don't want my buck?

  2. mickey328

    mickey328 Songster

    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    I'm subscribing to this one. Can't offer any advice, because we're just at the very beginning of our meat rabbitry...still planning out the hutch, actually. Offhand and inexperienced, the only thing I can think of is to give them a week or so to settle in and get used to their new surroundings. We're hoping to get our breeding stock in February and breed in March for April litters, so I'll be watching this thread for advice.

    Have you checked out backyardherds.com? There are a lot of experienced rabbit folk there as well.
  3. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    I guess you know why I say, "people who believe in the saying 'breed like rabbits' have never tried it!"[​IMG]

    I prefer to quarantine a new rabbit for at least 2 weeks before trying to breed them. That gives them time to adjust to all the changes of their new environment, gives me a chance to get to know them, and provides some time for any disease/parasite problems to show themselves.

    Rabbit does don't do obvious heat cycles, but they do experience hormonal fluctuations. Like most animals, the cycle they do is about 28 days. Rabbits are what are called "induced ovulators". That means that they ripen eggs in their ovaries, but don't release them until the act of mating triggers the release. Since an egg only remains viable for a short time after it is released, this greatly increases the window for becoming pregnant on a given cycle. When you want to breed a doe, flip her over, and check the color of the lining to her vulva. Gently pull her tail toward her spine, and press just in front of the vulva. That should cause a little of the lining to be exposed. If the color of the lining is pale pink, the doe is at a low spot in her cycle, and she most likely won't breed. The optimum color is a bright, cherry red, that signals the peak of her cycle. A doe that shows red will most likely breed readily, and will probably kindle a nice litter. If the color is purplish, she is past her peak, and may not breed. Even if she does, her eggs are aging, so she may or may not get pregnant.

    Rabbits are somewhat responsive to day length. Some rabbits will breed in the dead of winter, others are more reluctant. You may need to extend their "day" with artificial light to get them "in the mood". A doe that is overweight won't be experiencing the deeper fluctuations that inspire them to breed, so it is important to limit the amount of feed a non-pregnant doe gets to just what is necessary to keep her in good weight. Some does show overt behaviors like digging in a corner, chinning objects in the cage, grunting, and fur pulling when they are near the peak of their cycle (digging and fur pulling also are signs that kindling is about to take place, so be sure you know that the doe isn't pregnant when you see that!). Some does will raise their hindquarters when you pet them - that's a sure sign that a doe wants to be bred! If a doe just doesn't seem to like the buck, sometimes putting her in a cage next to his for a while will get her past that.

    Good luck!

    (oh, btw, on the one that quit eating? look up "GI stasis")[​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  4. Simmonsfunnyfrm

    Simmonsfunnyfrm Songster

    Jun 11, 2012
    Pope County, Arkansas
    Very helpful Bunnylady!!! Thank you thank you from a newbie [​IMG] I will give them a week or two to adjust and make sure they are at the proper weight before trying again. I ended up checking them all over again and I actually think they are slightly underweight, so I'll try to get some more weight on them. I checked their vulvas and only the NZW looks ready, but that will likely change in a couple weeks. Again, I really appreciate your input.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012

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