How to breed your rabbits isn’t rocket science, right? Well, there’s a few tricks I’ve learned that have helped us when we’ve wanted to breed our rabbits for one reason or another.
First, you have to have a doe and a buck. Duh, right? Well, if you knew how long we thought our buck was a doe, you’d understand…yeah, we were naive in the rabbit world for a while.
Then, when you are ready to breed them, place the doe in with the buck and not vice versa. The reason being is that he may get distracted from the job at hand with all the new smells in her cage. I leave them in there for about 30 minutes, or if I see the buck mount the doe at least 3 times. Since I don’t normally stick around to watch (well, not anymore) I just set a timer.
Remove the doe from the buck’s cage and place her back in her own cage. This is NOT the time to inspect her, trim nails, or play with her. She needs to be calmed down again and “left alone” for a while. Also, make sure you mark the day and time you put them together on the calendar.
After about 2 weeks, you should be able to feel the kits moving around in the doe’s abdomen. It’s kinda cool, really. Just very gently place a few fingers on her abdomen and gently palpitate it to feel them. I have gotten to where I can *almost* tell how many there are. I’m still off by 1 usually, but I’m getting better. If you don’t feel anything yet, wait 2-3 more days and try again. Still nothing? She may not be pregnant. But, don’t rush to put her back in with the buck. Not yet.
After 21 days from breeding, the doe will need a nesting box, filled with some straw or hay. A pregnant doe will then begin to pull her fur from her stomach to make a soft lining for the kits. During this time, she will need a bit extra food, extra hay, and plenty of water. You will also want to clean her cage well by day 21.
Around days 29-31, she will begin to give birth. Ours have given birth any time during those days. I have found it’s usually early in the morning that she gives birth to the kits. They are all pink and hairless and really
ugly cute to look at. You will notice that she won’t go near the kits when you are around. That is instinct to protect and shelter the litter from predators knowing they are there. The doe will clean the kits herself, and sometimes she may get carried away, and even “eat” one of the kits. This isn’t because they don’t like the kits, or are cannibals. We have only had this happen with first time moms and have always chalked it up to inexperience on her part.
You will want to check on the kits 2-3 times a day after the first day. Make sure they have full little bellies, and plenty of water/hay/food for mom. Count the kits, and if any have died, be sure to remove them right away.
After a couple days, their eyes and ears begin to open, and within 2 months, they are hopping around and irritating Mom. They are fun to raise, and so cute at this stage!