How to Breed your Rabbits

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.

Whether you use them for compost or fiber, keeping your rabbit herd going strong will require you to breed  your rabbits. Here's some tips on how to get the best chance of success. The Homesteading Hippy

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. Give her another week before trying again.

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. Around day 10, 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!

Have you ever bred rabbits? What was your experience? Be sure to pin this for later


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21 thoughts on “How to Breed your Rabbits”

  1. Been thinking for a while now about raising meat rabbits. We can’t have chickens here but we can have all the rabbits we want. So I am going to need this information …. pinning for next spring. Thanks!

  2. I found your post through the Homesteaders Hop! Great information on breeding rabbits. Thank you so much. I did not know the tip about moving her to his pen. I am getting rabbits this coming year (hopefully), so I am poring over any articles I can find on the topic. Thank you for the great read!

  3. PLEASE reconsider breeding rabbits and talk to a local animal shelter first. 🙁 I work for one and people who breed rabbits to make money or buy from breeders without educating themselves enough are the main reason why rescue shelters are too full and many rabbits are left abandoned. There are too many older animals already out there who need a loving home, bringing even more into the world does only one thing: line the breeder’s pocket. And that’s not what loving animals is about, is it?

    1. I understand what you are saying, but we breed ours for the fiber. We don’t sell them, except to people we KNOW will use them for that purpose…or for meat. (we don’t eat them, but others do)
      Our rabbits serve a working purpose on our homestead 😉 They are not just “pets” like others may be. Nor will they ever be abandoned to a shelter.

      1. Heather, what kinds of rabbits do you have? I want to get rabbits in the spring. I am looking at French Angoras for dual purpose. We have a homestead, and also do fiber arts….spinning, weaving, crochet, etc. I would like to get my rabbits from a reputable person.

        Thank you,
        Deb Casey
        Edgewood, NM

        1. We have French Angoras. I love them! I would suggest checking out your local county 4H clubs to see if they have some good recommendations for breeders.

  4. I bred my rabbits for the first time last month. Did not go well! It was her first batch and she did not take to mothering at all. She ate 2 of them (i’m assuming she ate them because they disappeared) and the other three died after 3 days. Will be trying again soon.

    1. oh no! First time mommies can sometimes eat their young. It isn’t on purpose, they just aren’t sure what they are doing. I hope it goes better this next round!

  5. I’ve tried breeding them, but the doe won’t expose her haunches. I’ve tried several times leaving in for a few hours and nothing. The buck is aggressive but humps her back instead of where he needs to go. The other buck I have isn’t aggressive at all, but eventually understands what to do. The doe is terrified and puts her head in a corner and tucks in her haunches both times. Any suggestions? I have other does but this doe keeps a clean cage. The other does consistently mess on everything including themselves.

    1. Our buck did that, too…he had to “learn how to be a buck”. We did that by putting the doe in a couple times a day for about 2 weeks for him to learn.

  6. My father use to raise and breed rabbits for many years. Not sure how many does he had at the time but I recall he had 1300 baby at one time. He built his own hutches with the nest box in the back with an opening 2 inches above the floor. That kept the new born from getting out before it was time. Rule #1, 6 does to 1 buck, #2, use the same buck with the same doe only ever 4 months. #3, never cross breed, like father with daughter or mother with son or brother with sister or mother with son. #4, never build hutches on top of each other, if the young gets pee on from one on top, the doe will kill the kit. He would sex them and put the females in one ground cage and the mail into another. He pick out the one’s he wanted to breed of the females and sold the rest of the females and bucks. Just some of the simple rules he taught me. Yes, that’s was a lot of paper work, but he enjoyed it.

  7. I am 9, almost 10, and love rabbits! I am going to start breeding in a few weeks so I want to know everything before breeding. I don’t want any little precious lives to end, so I want to do it right. I hope I’ve come to the right place.

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