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Need a rabbit breeding crash course.

Discussion in 'Breeds and Breeding - Rabbits' started by Carla D, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. Jan 11, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    i made a bit of a shocking discovery tonight. We were pretty sure we had two little does, sisters to be exact, in the same cage together. I discovered my pretty little doe named Heather was actually a well endowed Heath who happened to be hot to trot tonight. We had planned on breeding my 3? does to my nieces buck in a few months when we were prepared. I know Clover was bred tonight. I shockingly witnessed it. I don’t even know where to start with Clover.

    I’m assuming she needs to be separated from Heath in the next couple of days. We had planned on building 100% metal cages so they can be easily washed and sanitized frequently. I thought we would possibly start with nesting boxes for the kits to be born in. Maybe that’s not a good idea. I don’t know. Haven’t had enough time to look into the options. Am I going to need to feed her special food now? What supplies and equipment am I going to need before Clover has babies? What should I expect from a first time mom? Do we need to build something that is either insulated or slightly heated? I know absolutely nothing. Except, never assume you have a little doe if you are having trouble sexing the young bunny. Check again in a week or two.

    Any help, advice, suggestions, tips, or lessons will be so very welcomed.

    Heath is the rabbit in front who has gray spots.
    0AA53CA3-5F47-422B-8C00-7B36DD68D3D1.jpeg

    This is Clover. With black spots.
    9A182DD2-BB52-4DB7-B21F-29649895B8C4.jpeg

    The two of them together.
    EA0CAA40-D33B-40A7-A31A-007990759371.jpeg
    Heath is at least 1.5 times the size of Clover. That should have been my first clue about Heath.
     
    B&B Happy goats likes this.
  2. Jan 12, 2019
    Bunnylady

    Bunnylady True BYH Addict

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    Actually, bucks average slightly smaller than does of the same breed (most breed standards allow the does to be 1/4 to 1/2 lb heavier than bucks), so I don't know what the specific deal is with these two, but the size difference would not be a clue as to gender. :hu

    You say you witnessed a breeding, so mark your calendar - chances are, she is now pregnant, and due in 31 days, plus or minus a day or two. Most does will not accept service once they have settled. If these two seem to be getting along, you may be able to keep them together for a couple more weeks, but they should definitely be separated before the babies are born or anytime you notice that he is becoming a nuisance. People say bucks will kill babies, but in 30+ years with rabbits, I've never seen bucks show any interest in babies at all, either positive or negative. What I have seen is a buck absolutely mad to breed a newly-kindled doe (and she can get pregnant again immediately after kindling!), and a doe running from him and stomping and trampling her own litter in the melee - not good in any way.

    Clover's current diet should be perfectly fine, since most feeds are designed for many stages, including pregnant and lactating (it's only does in heavy production that need high-protein feed). Pregnancy usually isn't all that stressful for the doe's body, so most people don't change or increase the feed significantly until after the babies are born. Being too fat is actually dangerous for the doe, so it is better that she be kept on a limited feeding schedule until after the kits are born.

    Wooden nest boxes are fine, if you can clean them between litters. I don't know what kind of housing you have for your rabbits, but since your doe is going to be kindling in the winter, and I assume your winters are a lot colder than mine, you may need to take extra measures to insulate the litter from the cold (some of our members who live in colder areas can tell you what they do; I haul my litters into the house). Supplemental heat is not usually a good idea; rabbits may chew on any wires and if the nest is too warm, the babies will try to get away from each other and may wind up freezing as a result.

    A lot of first-time rabbit moms make an absolute hash of things, but some get everything right from the get-go. Who will and who won't is hard to predict, but the daughters of good mothers are often good mothers themselves.
     
  3. Jan 12, 2019
    promiseacres

    promiseacres Herd Master

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    I would watch close for nesting behaviors, in case she was bred prior. Definitely have the box ready.
    Btw @Bunnylady what temps do you bring in the bunnies?
     
  4. Jan 12, 2019
    DutchBunny03

    DutchBunny03 Loving the herd life

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    Beautiful rabbits! Adding a nestbox or some form of cold protection to both cages would be a good idea. Wire is great, but cold on the rabbit's feet to be sitting on all winter. Be aware that the doe may not kindle in the nestbox; first time moms sometimes kindle on the wire, or kindle in the box but toss the kits out. Putting a layer of cardboard covered with bedding (straw, hay) on the cage floor would reduce the chances of having frozen kits. If it gets really cold where you live (like, regularly below 25 F) it would be a good idea to bring the doe in a few days before kindling and put her back out once the kits have grown their fur. Gestation period for rabbit is 28-33 days. Does under stress may neglect their kits, so try to keep things peaceful around kindling time.