Can I keep pregnant and nursing doe rabbits together?

LilTxFarmer

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Hi BlessedwithPets! I raise California White's and as far as putting 2 does together and one having kits, bad idea! As Grizzyhackle mentioned, you see what can happen. Bonding rabbits isn't easy or sometimes not possible. Sure, you can raise siblings together up to about 3 months, sometimes, but as they mature, they will eventually turn on each other, at least in my experience.
I built 3- 5' x 3' pens that are divided in 2, to make two individual pens 2'6" x 3'. I can raise a mother and her 5-7 kits in that 2'6" x 3' pen for 2 months (8 weeks) then I separate the mother to a smaller pen, and leave the sibling kits in that one pen for another month if I haven't sold them by then.
I read that you keep your bucks in separate 4' x4' pens. That's to big, in my book. Maybe you and your father can make it into 4 smaller 2' x 4' pens.
I also have smaller 2' x 2' smaller cages that I use for individual rabbits, such as my breeding bucks. All my pens are built on 2 1/2' off the ground. I would never let my rabbits run wild on the ground as per what GrizzlyHackle and Baymule mentioned.
I usually have a monthly supply of newborn baby kits coming in, but I have the room. I'm not being mean and I'm truly taking your best interest to heart when I say this, 'Stop breeding your momma's and having babies until you have the room for them!
The pens I built, when I first started, were a lil costly, so I couldn't build them all at one time. It takes a lil time to save the money and a lot of patience but in the end, it's worth it! That being said, I've got a cheaper way of doing the pens, now, but that's for another day. ;)
 

Stephine

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Rabbits are more complicated than people think, so you need to proceed carefully. I recommend joining a pet rabbit forum where there are lots of rabbit owners who focus on the wellbeing of their animals, over convenience or profit, just to learn more about rabbit needs and behavior. Bonding rabbit can be tricky and needs to be done right. Never just put a rabbit into another rabbit’s cage. They have to meet on neutral territory, (a newly set up pen unfamiliar to each) and you need to keep a close eye - are these two compatible? Make sure there’s stuff for them to do in there (some greens here and there, stuff to jump on or hide behind, etc. Learn about signs of dominance and submission in rabbits and make sure you are not trying to bond two rabbits who like to be dominant. If there’s no fighting you can proceed. If they completely ignore each other, that’s a good sign for starters. If they start grooming each other, Bingo! It highly depends on the individual bunnies you put together, and if one doesn’t get along with one rabbit, they might still love another one.
Anyway… I am not sure why rabbits are still getting the short end of the stick in hobby farming. Any other animal people are very concerned about their welfare - chickens, goats, sheep, horses, dogs… people are very aware of their needs, company, space, bedding etc. requirements. Rabbits? not so much. It makes me sad, because if you have ever had a pet rabbit, you’ll realize it’s a lot like having a little hopping dog…
Sorry for rambling! I am thrilled you are looking for ways to improve your rabbit keeping! We had family friends breeding Netherland Dwarfs when I was a kid and they had their rabbits out free in their garden during the day (in Germany). They bred for decades, so what they did must have worked. There are alternatives to tiny cages. I highly recommend joining a few pet rabbit forums. Good luck!
 

Ridgetop

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I usually have a monthly supply of newborn baby kits coming in, but I have the room. I'm not being mean and I'm truly taking your best interest to heart when I say this, 'Stop breeding your momma's and having babies until you have the room for them!
Absolutely, do not continue breeding if you don't have room to house the does separately. You never want to keep 2 breeding females together since they will have territorial disputes and can savage each other's litters. Adult females kept together will fight. When you have a litter be sure to separate the male and female kits by the age of 3 months or you will have them breeding each other.

Wire cages 36"w x 30"d x 18"h are best for breeding cages for meat breed does with a litter. Be sure to have the bottom 6" of the cage with "babysaver wire in case she kindles on the wire instead of in the nest box. Meat breed bucks will do fine in 30" x 30" cages. Meat breeds normally are rabbits that weigh about 9-10 lbs for bucks and 10-12 lbs for does.

For dwarf breeds you can go smaller with 24" x 24" cages. If you want to give your breeding does and litters more room maximum space would be 30"w x 24"d. Bucks in dwarf breeds can be kept in cages as small as 28" x 24" but I like 24" x 24". Dwarf breeds are mainly bred and sold as pets. The small size makes them popular for people to keep in the house or apartment.

While you don't want to keep a large rabbit in a cage designed for a dwarf breed, cages that are too large are not cost effective and don't necessarily contribute to the animals' well being. The reason to keep rabbits in hanging wire cages is that when they are kept on dirt they can develop diseases like coccidiosis, and pick up parasites and fleas, etc. from the dirt. Pathogens cab live in dirt for years and continue to infect animals.

What is your aim for these rabbits? Are they to sell for pets? If so the Mini Rex make a nice small size rabbit for pets. They are cam and have lovely fur is an assortment of colors. Stay with that breed. Don't mix them with New Zealands since you will lose the plush velvety Rex coat and the kits will be larger size rabbits which won't be as popular for pets. Also New Zealands can be skittish. When selling pet rabbits small and calm is better.

If you are breeding to butcher or sell for meat, Mini Rex are not so good since they produce a very small carcass. While any rabbit is tasty with carrots and potatoes, you would do better to buy larger meat size rabbits to breed for table meat. Combining your Mini Rex with New Zealand mixes will give you a small butcher carcass. You need to decide why you are breeding.
 

Stephine

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Absolutely, do not continue breeding if you don't have room to house the does separately. You never want to keep 2 breeding females together since they will have territorial disputes and can savage each other's litters. Adult females kept together will fight. When you have a litter be sure to separate the male and female kits by the age of 3 months or you will have them breeding each other.

Wire cages 36"w x 30"d x 18"h are best for breeding cages for meat breed does with a litter. Be sure to have the bottom 6" of the cage with "babysaver wire in case she kindles on the wire instead of in the nest box. Meat breed bucks will do fine in 30" x 30" cages. Meat breeds normally are rabbits that weigh about 9-10 lbs for bucks and 10-12 lbs for does.

For dwarf breeds you can go smaller with 24" x 24" cages. If you want to give your breeding does and litters more room maximum space would be 30"w x 24"d. Bucks in dwarf breeds can be kept in cages as small as 28" x 24" but I like 24" x 24". Dwarf breeds are mainly bred and sold as pets. The small size makes them popular for people to keep in the house or apartment.

While you don't want to keep a large rabbit in a cage designed for a dwarf breed, cages that are too large are not cost effective and don't necessarily contribute to the animals' well being. The reason to keep rabbits in hanging wire cages is that when they are kept on dirt they can develop diseases like coccidiosis, and pick up parasites and fleas, etc. from the dirt. Pathogens cab live in dirt for years and continue to infect animals.

What is your aim for these rabbits? Are they to sell for pets? If so the Mini Rex make a nice small size rabbit for pets. They are cam and have lovely fur is an assortment of colors. Stay with that breed. Don't mix them with New Zealands since you will lose the plush velvety Rex coat and the kits will be larger size rabbits which won't be as popular for pets. Also New Zealands can be skittish. When selling pet rabbits small and calm is better.

If you are breeding to butcher or sell for meat, Mini Rex are not so good since they produce a very small carcass. While any rabbit is tasty with carrots and potatoes, you would do better to buy larger meat size rabbits to breed for table meat. Combining your Mini Rex with New Zealand mixes will give you a small butcher carcass. You need to decide why you are breeding.
Please help me understand ( - and I mean it; It does bother me that people keep rabbits in tiny wire cages, but I am open to the idea that there is a good reason for it that I just haven’t understood yet), why in rabbits only we think that avoiding pests, illness and parasites is so important that we have to keep them away from the ground and nature in general? With all other farm animals, chickens, sheep, goats, cows, we accept that they can get coccidiosis, we monitor them for it, we administer coccidiostats as needed. Same for fleas, mites, you name it. Why do we have chickens roam while rabbits are locked up? We could keep hens in small wire cages, no? Is it that rabbits are just more robust and can handle the unnatural confinement better? How old do the rabbits get that are kept in tiny cages? Are they really healthier in the long run? A rabbit’s digestive system is similar to a horses - they need a near constant supply of hay or greens and exercise to keep things moving well. They are social animals and most do better with rabbit company. Rabbits that are allowed to run will do binkies (those silly jumps with twists and turns like lambs do) if they are happy. They will flop (throw themselves on their sides suddenly) when relaxed. They need a hiding place to feel safe (roof, walls and two exits).
And what happens when the bunnies bred for pets go to their new homes? Will they have no resistance to anything because they come from parents that have been sheltered from everything?
Sorry if I sound exasperated, I am afraid I am - but I am not angry at you or anyone, just truly puzzled why rabbits get treated so differently from all the others.
 

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Rabbits are excellent diggers, and that is the largest reason to keep them in elevated cages... so you can watch where they are going.

To keep them in a dirt floored cage/coop/run you have to dig super far down... what... 3 feet maybe? More? and then bury in very strong wire.

My chickens MIGHT dig down a foot, but always where I can see it, so it is easy to rectify.

With rabbits, they will start to dig a hole, and then you can't see where is it going, how deep it is, etc.

As a result, most pet rabbits that are given access to grass/ground are given that freedom under supervision. So, maybe an afternoon romp while you watch, or a daytime only pen.
 

Ridgetop

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Rabbits are often given as a first pet to a lot of children. They are supposedly low maintenance pets for apartment dwellers. Unfortunately, most pet homes do not receive any training in how to care for their rabbits. Instead, the pet store sells the new owner small "cute" cages and "toys". Many people mistakenly buy nest boxes as "beds" for their rabbits because the pet store tells them to. Then the nest box takes up half the floor space confining the poor rabbit even more. Keeping rabbits in hanging cages of the proper size is kinder than keeping them as pet in substandard pet store cages.

Definitely you can use temporary pen fencing for rabbits to have access to grassy lawn, etc. Just be careful of overhead predators - hawks, cats, etc. that may get them when left in open areas of your yard. And make sure to check the perimeters of your fencing since rabbits can easily escape a fenced yard through a tiny hole or gap.

I would not keep a large breed rabbit in a small cage such as is sold in a pet store. However, keeping rabbits in hanging wire cages that are the appropriate size is not inhumane and keeps the rabbits safe and healthy.

Rabbits on dirt can get a host of diseases. So can other livestock in unhealthy, dirty, or crowded conditions. Keeping our rabbits on wire allowed the feces and urine to fall into the manure pits we build under the cages, instead of matting in their bedding or on the dirt of a cage built on the ground. Raking sawdust or shavings into the pits weekly kept them smelling fresh. Cleaning out the manure pits into our garden and fruit trees kept our garden soil healthy. Keeping my rabbits in hanging wire cages I never had ear mites or cocci in my barn. Keeping rabbits on wire is healthier for the rabbits than keeping them on dirt.

I used to sell pet rabbits and got tired replacing bunnies for the people that left the rabbit in the yard "to have some play time" to be attacked by a hawk, cat, or even their own dog. The money was good, but I finally sold all my dwarf breed bunnies because I couldn't stand selling new bunnies over and over to the same owners who ignored my instructions on hw to care for them. I prefer to breed any animal for meat rather than sell to poor pet homes that after the first excitement of ownership becomes bored and ignores or abuses the pet.

A 36" x 30" cage is the standard size for a NZ or Cal doe and her litter. 30" x 30" is standard for bucks although all the cages in my original barn were 36" x 30" for both does and bucks. I also had We culled all litters with an eye to conformation (DH showed) and most went in the freezer or were sold for meat. Any that met the cut were placed in 24" x 24" grower cages until the age of 4 months when they were looked at again as to quality. At that time they were culled heavily again.

We had 100 cages in our barn and to be honest, it took about 3 hours am and another 3 hours pm to feed and check health of our rabbits, breed does, palpate for pregnancy, make fresh nest boxes for does due to kindle, check nest boxes for feces and replace bedding, etc. Our rabbits were bred for meat, and show. i put 7" x 12" pieces of wallboard in each cage for the rabbits to sit on. I also put 4" x 4" pieces of untreated wood in their cages for them to play with and chew. Does usually were not as interested in toys since they had litters to care for, but each buck cage had a chunk of wood hanging from a screw eye and chain. The bucks used to play with those or toss their wood blocks around their cages. Even though we were breeding for meat and show, we made sure the caged rabbits were healthy and amused. Even in large cages, rabbits kept together would fight, pull out or chew on each other's fur. Keeping rabbits together or a doe with her litter after 8 weeks was not workable for us.

If you want to have a rabbit as a pet in the house, you will still usually be keeping it in a wire cage with a poop tray under the wire. Litter box training is fine, but you should not let a rabbit wander unsupervised around inside because they have been known to chew electric cords and electrocute themselves. And definitely supervise your rabbits when allowed to wander in the yard.
 

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