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My rabbits won't conceive

Discussion in 'Breeds and Breeding - Rabbits' started by Alcor, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. Jun 11, 2019
    Alcor

    Alcor Just born

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    I am running out of ideas here. I just cannot, whatsoever, get my rabbits pregnant. I don't understand. I'm trying to breed Silver Fox rabbits.

    I've tried several females and males over time. It's been about a year now. We take the does individually to the buck's cage. The buck does his grunt-and-flip routine after he mounts and goes at it for a while, and we try to get him several successes with each female. We do this for about a week, then we let the females chill in their hutches. They have plenty of water, all the hay they can eat, and we give them greens from the garden as well as vegetable scraps. And yet, month after month, no babies. After each gestation window has fully passed, we try to breed them again.

    It's summer now. There are no excuses due to long nights or cold weather. The rabbits aren't obese. We have painstakingly charted how they were maintained each day, and when we mated them. The does seem receptive enough, though some days they just don't bother, but we've had plenty of successful matings. The rabbits are all of appropriate age.

    What the heck is going on? I feel like after a year, we should have seen something. This last round, two of the does repeatedly made nests near the end of their gestation window and then tore them down, then never gave birth at all. The third, we were told was proven from the breeder when we got her, but she has never acted pregnant. I'm about ready to give up entirely.

    We culled one of our 4 females because she would refuse to have sex whatsoever, like she wouldn't let the buck mount ever, and we had to force breed her. That was a pain, so into the pot she went. While butchering, we noticed a two-pronged organ with lots of little "marbles" along it -- presumably the uterus? -- and so maybe she was pregnant then? But we have never managed any births.

    Please, go ahead and ask questions. I have no idea what to do anymore. You'd think rabbits would actually want to create more of themselves.
     
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  2. Jun 12, 2019 at 6:08 AM
    promiseacres

    promiseacres Herd Master

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    Very hard to say.... we have had a rough breeding season.... we have 3 breeds. The Velveteen lop does refused most of Spring... finally had a litter about 2 weeks ago. The Polish buck and does did just fine, a couple misses but both does had litters and they survived past weaning. The mini rex I decided the misses were all a new buck....so decided he is infertile...tried with 10 breedings, with 4 different does. The does that did breed with other bucks lost their litters 1 crushed hers, 2 due to cold, and 1 lost hers due to illness/fading at 2 to 4 weeks. :( in any case we have 4 does (1VL, 3 MR) nesting as of yesterday :bunny
    Some say keep your does bred on a regular basis. I have definitely seen this. As most my does I only want 2 litters from annually. They also can be seasonal. Are you feeding a good quality pellet along with the hay and greens? They may not be able to maintain a pregnancy if they are not on a balanced diet. FYI the only rabbits I know that breed "like rabbits" are only when you don't want them too.... :rolleyes:
    @Bunnylady Any thoughts?
     
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  3. Jun 12, 2019 at 3:13 PM
    AmberLops

    AmberLops Loving the herd life

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    It's so strange!!
    It's been a strange breeding season for me but not that bad...

    I would get rid of all the rabbits you have, start over completely and don't get them from the breeder you got these guys from...find someone else or multiple people. Go to a breeder and if you see a doe with kits, ask to buy them all.
    That way you have babies, you have a doe that can produce and all you need is a buck to start with.
    As for other ideas...
    You can try adding Apple cider vinegar to their water. I do that for mine and it seems to help a little.
    You can try driving them somewhere...even just to the store and back...and try breeding them afterward. New things can get them going.
    Are they in the dark? Or outside?
    Sometimes being in the dark can make it impossible to breed them.
     
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  4. Jun 16, 2019 at 5:02 PM
    Alcor

    Alcor Just born

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    Wild rabbits don't eat pellets -- we figured they'd be able to breed without them. Do we have to introduce those? We were hoping to keep costs down. We do feed them some alfalfa cubes when we hope they're actively pregnant, because I hear the calcium helps?

    We've tried several breeders. Our three females are all from different ones. And we've gotten rabbits that were actively pregnant when we bought them before. Nothing has worked. They seem to be willing to mate, they just don't conceive.

    I'm wondering if they're underweight? They're not like, skinny, but they're not plump either. Could we need to clean the cage every day or some such? I've seen plenty of farms where the hutches are very "lived in."

    They live outside and have plenty of sun-basking time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019 at 5:50 PM
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  5. Jun 16, 2019 at 5:26 PM
    promiseacres

    promiseacres Herd Master

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    Wild rabbits do not eat pellets.. you're correct but consider how many years rabbits have been domesticated. Domesticated rabbits have adapted to being raised in cages and fed pellets, many are 100% pellets fed. They are almost a whole separate species than wild rabbits. I would take a couple weeks and introduce a pelleted feed. I would talk to some of the breeders whom you bought yours from, see how they fed them.
    Clean cages definitely doesn't hurt, their feces are high in ammonia and can cause respiratory problems.
     
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  6. Jun 16, 2019 at 6:05 PM
    B&B Happy goats

    B&B Happy goats Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Pellets, hay, clean water and clean housing, .....then try breeding,.... (knock on wood.) We have not lost a kit, breedings are successful :thumbsup
     
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  7. Jun 16, 2019 at 6:28 PM
    JHP Homestead

    JHP Homestead Ridin' The Range

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    Without seeing a picture, I can’t be positive, but what you described in the doe you butchered sounds like rabbit fetuses based on what I’ve seen in a couple of our does that accidentally got pregnant before we butchered them.

    In that case, it may be more an issue of them being unable to sustain a pregnancy rather than get pregnant. I’m not sure what would cause abortions in rabbits...

    Is there any chance you could be having babies born that are getting snatched by predators or something? It seems extremely unlikely, but I’ve heard stories of rats stealing babies before without bothering the adults.

    You should read up on palpating, it takes a little practice, but if you palpate your does, you might be able to get a sense of if they’re pregnant but not having live kits, versus not getting pregnant at all.
     
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  8. Jun 16, 2019 at 7:12 PM
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Herd Master

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    I think they need nutrients they are not getting now. Spend the money & buy a bag, feed them for a couple weeks before breeding again. KEEP feeding them & see if you don't get a litter or two.

    Feed the buck, also. Improved sperm.

    I don't raise rabbits but, with all the animals I have raised over the years, I can assure you that they must be decently fed to reproduce. TRY what we are telling and see if it doesn't help you. It may be the best $$ you've spent.
     
  9. Jun 16, 2019 at 7:23 PM
    Alcor

    Alcor Just born

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    I'll give pellets a go. I'm sure I can find somewhere to source the bags in bulk.

    I've tried palpating and never had success, but I imagine I'm just not doing it right, since I couldn't even feel something on the definitely-pregnant ones I bought.

    We check for babies pretty religiously, so I very doubt it's pests killing the babies. We never see any trace of them.

    Speaking of cage maintenance, is there any way to keep rabbits from dragging hay out of the hopper and then peeing on it? We waste so much hay.
     
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  10. Jun 16, 2019 at 7:52 PM
    B&B Happy goats

    B&B Happy goats Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    TS Sells 50 lb. Bags of rabbit pellets around $15 here in florida, feeds two Flemish giants and 9 kits, two NZ rabbits and lasts about 5 weeks.....NZ has 8 kits just born yesterday ... because of rainy season we have a box in each hutch that the adult can get on top of ...that is where I put her hay, when waste drops, then it gets used for beding...no wasting here....chickens go under the 4' high hutchs and clean things up...hay becomes compost.....
    When i sell the NZ at 6 to 8 weeks @$10 each. And the Flemish giants, it more than pays for their feed.....:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019 at 7:59 PM
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