How to Breed your Rabbits

Are you thinking of breeding your rabbits? Breeding rabbits can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to do your research before getting started.

a dwarf rabbit
a dwarf rabbit

This guide will walk you through the basics of breeding rabbits, from preparing for pregnancy to caring for newborns.

So, whether you’re a first-time rabbit breeder or just looking for some refresher tips, read on for everything you need to know about breeding rabbits!

Why Breed Rabbits?

Rabbits are popular pets and livestock animals for many reasons. They’re relatively low-maintenance, they can be litter-trained, and they generally have gentle personalities.

However, rabbits also make great breeding animals. They reproduce quickly and have large litters, which means that commercial breeders can produce a lot of rabbits in a short amount of time.

Rabbits can also be bred for their fur, which is soft and prized by many people. As a result, breeding rabbits can be a lucrative business venture.

However, it’s important to remember that rabbits require care and attention just like any other pet. They need plenty of space to exercise and play, and they should be fed a healthy diet.

If you’re thinking about breeding rabbits, make sure you’re prepared to provide them with the care they need.

How to Breed Rabbits In a Cage System

Know When to Breed Rabbits

Rabbits can be bred any time of the year. The dose will go into heat every 28-33 days and will remain in heat for 8-10 hours.

If you want to breed your rabbits, you should put the doe and buck together for a period of 2-3 days.

This will give them enough time to mate. After they have been together for 2-3 days, you should separate them and put the doe back in her cage.

The kits will be born about 30 days after the doe goes into heat. Most litters will have 4-6 kits, but some litters can have up to 12 kits.

When Can a Male Rabbit Breed?

A male rabbit can begin breeding as early as five months of age, although seven to eight months is the ideal time.

Breeders usually wait until a buck reaches maturity because older rabbits are more likely to produce healthy litters.

However, it is important to note that rabbits reach sexual maturity at different rates.

Some bucks are ready to breed as early as four months old, while others may not be mature enough until they are nine months old.

As a result, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or experienced breeder before breeding any rabbit.

With proper care and nutrition, most rabbits will live healthy lives and be able to breed for several years.

When Can a Female Rabbit Breed?

A female rabbit can begin breeding as early as four months old, but it is generally best to wait until she is six months old or older.

This gives her time to reach full maturity and to become acclimated to her new environment.

This timeline may vary depending on the size of the breed, with larger breeds taking longer than small breeds.

If possible, try to wait until the weather is warm so that the birthing process will be less stressful for her. When choosing a mate for your rabbit, be sure to select one that is healthy and of similar size.

a white-brownish rabbit

How to Breed Rabbits: Step by Step

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.

Sexing Rabbits

Telling the difference between male and female rabbits can be tricky, but there are a few things you can look for.

First, check to see if the rabbit has two wrinkled skin flaps, just below the base of the tail. These are called scrotal sacs, and they are a sure sign that the rabbit is male.

If you don’t see scrotal sacs, look for a pair of bumps just beneath the skin flaps.

These are called testes, and they also indicate that the rabbit is male. If you don’t see either scrotal sacs or testes, the rabbit is probably female.

Another way to tell the difference is to look at the shape of the rabbit’s genitals. Male rabbits have a penis, while female rabbits have a vulva that looks like a small slit.

Finally, you can try gently lifting the tail to get a good look at the rabbit’s anus.

Male rabbits have an anus and a paired testicle located just behind it, while female rabbits have two anal glands located on either side of the anus.

With a little practice, you should be able to tell which sex your rabbit is with ease.

Selecting Two Rabbits

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 naïve in the rabbit world for a while.

When it comes to breeding rabbits, there are a few things to consider. First, you’ll want to make sure you have a healthy buck and doe.

Second, you’ll want to decide what type of rabbit you want to produce. And third, you’ll need to consider the genetic lines of the rabbits.

If you’re not familiar with genetics, it’s best to consult with a breeder or veterinarian before breeding your rabbits.

Once you’ve decided on the type of rabbit you want to produce, it’s important to select a buck and do what will produce healthy offspring.

To do this, you’ll need to take into account the size, weight, coat type, and color of the rabbits.

You’ll also want to make sure the buck and doe come from similar lines – but that they aren’t siblings.

Cousins are sometimes okay, but inbreeding with siblings can cause some genetic issues and abnormalities.

By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can be sure to select the best possible rabbits for breeding.

Let the Rabbits Get to Know Each-Other First

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.

The Rabbit Mating Dance

When rabbits are ready to mate, they engage in a special dance known as the fecundity dance. This dance is used to attract potential mates and to show off the rabbit’s reproductive fitness.

The dance consists of the rabbit leaping into the air and then spinning around in circles. The rabbit will also make loud screeching noises and jump up and down on its hind legs.

If a potential mate is impressed by the display, they will allow the rabbit to approach them and mate.

Otherwise, the rabbit will continue its search for a mate. The fecundity dance is an important part of the mating process for rabbits, and it helps to ensure that only the fittest rabbits are able to reproduce.

How Can You Tell That Breeding Has Taken Place?

The first sign that breeding has taken place is behavioral. Observe the behavior of the rabbits.

If they seem agitated or nervous, it’s likely that they haven’t mated successfully. Mated pairs of rabbits will usually be calm and relaxed around each other.

Another good sign and definitely fun to watch, is that the male rabbits often fall after mating with a female.

You’ll also begin to notice signs of pregnancy later on, usually when the doe (female rabbit) pulls fur from her chest and lines her nest box with it.

She will also start to eat more, and her abdomen will begin to swell as her litter of kits (baby rabbits) develops.

If you’re unsure whether or not your rabbits have mated successfully, it’s always best to consult with a vet or experienced breeder. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

What to Do if the Doe Won’t Let the Buck Breed Her

One of the most frustrating things that can happen when trying to breed rabbits is when the doe won’t let the buck breed her.

This can be particularly frustrating if the doe is in heat, and you know that she is ready to mate.

There are a few things that you can do if this happens.

First, try to separate the two rabbits so that they have some time apart.

Sometimes, the doe just needs a break and she will be more receptive to the buck after some time apart. If this doesn’t work, you can try slowly introducing them to each other again.

Start by putting them in the same room for short periods of time and gradually increasing the amount of time that they are together.

If this still doesn’t work, you may need to consult with a vet or experienced breeder to see if there is anything else that you can do.

There are a few reasons why a doe won’t allow a buck to breed her (or why a buck might not be interested in breeding).

Obesity

Obesity is a major problem in the rabbit-breeding community. Not only does it make it difficult for rabbits to conceive, but it can also lead to complications during pregnancy and delivery.

In addition, obese rabbits are more likely to suffer from health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

As a result, you should look for ways to prevent obesity in your rabbits.

One approach is to provide rabbits with a diet that is high in fiber and low in sugar. Another approach is to encourage exercise by providing toys and play areas.

First Time Doe

While most dogs are ready to breed by the time they are six months old, a first-time doe is less likely to be fertile than an older rabbit.

As a result, it is often advisable to wait until a doe is at least eight months old before breeding her.

Another factor to keep in mind is the size of the litter. A doe can safely have up to eight kits, but larger litters can put a strain on her health.

A Pet

Pet rabbits often have a harder time producing offspring than their wild counterparts. This can be tough to prevent or address, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

Too Long Between Litters

Waiting too long between litters can make a female rabbit reluctant to be bred.

Rabbits have a short reproductive cycle and if they go too long without having offspring, they can become “unreceptive” to the idea of breeding.

This is because their bodies are designed to produce litters of young rabbits frequently, and when they don’t, the hormones that trigger their reproductive cycle can start to dwindle.

As a result, if you wait too long between litters, your female rabbit may not be as interested in breeding when you finally do put her with a mate.

In order to avoid this problem, it’s best to breed your rabbits every few months.

This will help keep their hormones balanced and ensure that they remain receptive to the idea of breeding.

What to Do After Breeding

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.

rabbits inside and outside their cage

Signs of Pregnancy in a Rabbit

After about 2 weeks, you should be able to feel the kits moving around in the doe’s abdomen.

It’s kind of 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.

Caring for a Pregnant Doe

Caring for a pregnant rabbit is not difficult, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, make sure the rabbit has plenty of hay to eat during her gestation period. Hay is an essential part of a rabbit’s diet, and it helps to keep the mother’s digestive system working properly.

Second, provide the rabbit with fresh water at all times. This is especially important during hot weather, when the rabbit may be at risk of dehydration.

Give the rabbit plenty of space to move around. These mammals need plenty of exercise, so make sure the cage is large enough for the rabbit to stretch out and move around freely. Finally, be prepared for the birth.

Keep their cage clean and free from any sharp objects or edges that could injure them. Make sure they have plenty of soft bedding to nest in.

Pregnant rabbits should also have access to a quiet place where they can relax and feel safe.

Be careful handling a pregnant rabbit as they are delicate and can easily miscarry if they are stressed.

Once the babies are born, they will need lots of TLC to grow up healthy and strong.

Make sure you have a clean box lined with soft bedding for the mother and her offspring.

The Birthing Process in Rabbits

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.

How Many Kits Will a Rabbit Have?

A doe can be bred and become pregnant, but she will not start producing young until she comes into estrus again.

This usually happens every 28 to 35 days, but it can vary somewhat depending on the individual rabbit.

Once a doe comes into estrus, she will mate and become pregnant again very quickly.

As a result, it is possible for a doe to give birth to two litters of kits within a few weeks of each other.

So, how many kits will a rabbit have? The answer is that it depends on the individual rabbit and her breeding cycle. However, most rabbits will produce between four and eight offspring per litter.

How to raise and care for newborn baby rabbits

Caring for Rabbit Kits

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!

Why is the Doe Eating Her Babies?

Though somewhat traumatizing to witness, a female rabbit eating her babies is actually quite common.

There are a few possible reasons why your female rabbit might be eating her babies. One possibility is that she is simply not getting enough nutrients and is trying to replenish her supply by eating her young.

Another possibility is that she is feeling stressed or anxious, and eating her young is a way of self-soothing.

It could also be that she is nesting and feels that the babies are in the way. This last reason is extremely common among first-time moms.

Whatever the reason, it is important to seek professional help if your rabbit is displaying this behavior.

A veterinarian will be able to determine the underlying cause of the problem and provide you with guidance on how to best care for your rabbit.

What if the Babies Are Born Outside of the Nesting Box?

If your rabbits are like most, the doe will build a nest a few days before she gives birth.

However, it’s not unheard of for dogs to have their litters outside of the nesting box.

If this happens, don’t panic! Baby rabbits are very resilient, and can survive being born in less than ideal conditions.

The main thing you need to do is make sure that the babies are warm and dry. If they’re too cold, they may develop hypothermia and die.

To prevent this, you can create a makeshift nest out of straw or shredded paper. Just make sure that the nest is located in a safe place where the babies won’t be disturbed or crushed.

Once the babies are born, the doe will usually start moving them into the nest herself. However, if she doesn’t, you may need to help her out.

Gently pick up each baby and place it in the nest. If you handle them too roughly, you could unintentionally injure them.

With a little care and patience, you can ensure that your rabbits have a healthy litter – even if they’re not born in the nesting box!

Miscarriage and Infections

One of the most devastating things that can happen to a rabbit breeder is a doe having a miscarriage.

While there are many possible causes, there are some that are more common than others.

One such cause is simply not being in good enough health. This can be due to malnutrition, dehydration, or even stress.

Another common cause is an infection, either in the doe herself or in the fetus.

Often, this is due to bacteria such as E. coli or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In some cases, though, it can be caused by a virus, such as Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV).

Finally, another possible cause of miscarriage is uterine inertia, which is when the doe’s uterus doesn’t contract correctly.

This can be caused by various factors, including genetics, obesity, or even a retained placenta from a previous litter.

While there is no guarantee that any one will never miscarry, understanding the most common causes can help to give you the best chance for a healthy litter.

Where to Sell Baby Rabbits

If you’re looking to sell your baby rabbits, there are a few options available to you. One is to sell them to a local farmer.

This is a good option if you live in an area where there is demand for rabbits as meat or fiber animals. Another option is to sell them to a pet store.

Pet stores typically buy rabbits from breeders, so this would be a good way to get your rabbits in front of potential buyers.

Finally, you could also sell them online. There are a number of websites that cater to people looking for rabbits, and you’ll likely be able to reach a wider audience by selling online.

You could even sell on Craigslist or another livestock specialty site.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you do your research to ensure that you get the best possible price for your baby rabbits.

How Much Does it Cost to Breed Rabbits?

If you’re thinking about breeding rabbits, there are a number of things you need to take into account.

The first is the initial cost of purchasing a breeding pair of rabbits. These can range in price from $20 to $200, depending on the breed.

You’ll also need to provide them with a clean, spacious cage and plenty of fresh food and water. Beyond the initial purchase and set-up costs, there are also ongoing costs associated with breeding rabbits.

These include the cost of medical care, as well as the cost of food and bedding for the growing litter.

Given all of these costs, it’s important to do your research before deciding to breed rabbits. But if you’re prepared to make the commitment, you can end up with a healthy litter of adorable baby bunnies.

Conclusion

Rabbits are prolific breeders and can produce six to eight litters of babies each year. If you want to keep rabbits as pets, it’s important to understand the basics of breeding them.

By following these simple tips, you can successfully breed your own rabbits and have healthy offspring. Have you ever bred rabbits before? What advice would you add?

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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