We’ve all heard the saying “breed like rabbits”, but it can actually be quite difficult to do. Hopefully this article will teach you how to breed rabbits the correct way.
The first thing you should do is buy a notebook or create a binder to use as your breeding journal. This is to keep track of bloodlines, productivity, dates of breeding, and who was bred to who. Also keep a calendar in your rabbit barn/shed or somewhere near your rabbits to keep track of dates. I like to use Global Pedigree. It is all online and even emails me when it’s time to insert nest boxes, expect a litter, or wean a litter.
Unlike most animals, rabbits do not need to be “in heat” to breed. Rabbits are induced ovulators, meaning they do not release eggs until they are exposed to a buck. You can check the color of their vent to see if they are more willing to breed. The darker red/purple their vent is, the more likely they are to lift for the buck.
Typical meat rabbit does should be at least 6 months old before they are bred for the first time. This is due to their larger size. Smaller breeds can usually breed at a younger age without problems. The buck should be 6-7 months old. You can use a buck for breeding 6-7 times a week, but if you don’t want to wear him out, 2-3 times a week is suggested.
Always keep your bucks separate from the does unless they are being bred. I would suggest not even keeping them in adjoined cages, as they may breed between the wire and bucks can spray urine. When you are ready to breed a doe, always introduce her to the buck, putting her in his cage. Never put the buck in the does cage, he will be so interested in checking out his new surroundings, he will completely ignore the doe. Does are also very territorial and can do quite a bit of damage to the buck if he is placed in her cage.
How To Breed Rabbits
Sometimes it can take a few minutes before the buck tries to breed the doe. Sometimes the doe will chase him around, and even mount him. This is perfectly normal and unless the doe is hurting him, just let them do their thing. When the buck does finally mount her, you will know he was successful when he “falls off” the doe. Most bucks will curl up and fall sideways or backwards. It almost appears like he is having a seizure. Some bucks will even scream when they do it, so don’t be alarmed if yours does. I usually try to get 2-3 fall offs before putting the doe back in her cage.
You can leave the doe with the buck overnight if she isn’t aggressive toward him, but it is best to only leave her in there to breed and then return her to her own cage. I prefer to watch the entire time so I can count how many times he does the deed. This makes it easier to keep track of if and when she was bred. Roughly 6-12 hours after they have mated, you can return the doe to the buck for another mating, to ensure the doe is impregnated and to possibly increase the number of offspring.
When breeding rabbits, even if it is just for meat, it is very important to keep a journal and keep track of dates on a calendar. Does can be tested for pregnancy about 10-14 days after being bred. To do this, reach between her hind legs and feel her lower abdomen with your thumb and forefinger for marble-sized nodules. Even if you don’t feel anything and think the doe is not pregnant, do not try to breed her again. There is a chance that she could be pregnant and breeding her again can cause problems.
On the 28th day after breeding, the doe should either be placed in a breeder cage (a larger cage equipped with a next box), or place a next box in the does cage if it is large enough. The doe should give birth around 31 days after breeding. Some does have them earlier, and some later. Give your doe until day 40 before removing the nest box and/or rebreeding. Make sure she has plenty of hay in the next box to make a suitable nest for her litter.