New Zealand buck breeding/behaviour issues

Ridgetop

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If the buck is next to the does and can see them, he will spray them with urine the way male cats spray. Most rabbit breeders (particularly those who either show or handle their rabbits frequently put "privacy panels" between their bucks to avoid the urine spray problem.

Rabbits are solitary animals. They do not hang out in herds or flocks. They get together for breeding. Wild does abandon their kits at 4 weeks by which time they are pregnant and ready to produce another litter. Being next to a doe will not cause him to change his behavior. Frequent breeding will since he will learn the right way.


Always take the doe to the buck. When you release her in his cage he may chase her around the cage. This is normal mating behavior for most does and bucks. Some experienced does just lay still until the buck mounts, they lift, and the buck breeds and falls off. This is also normal behavior.

Inexperienced bucks are excited - think sailors on leave or convicts just released from prison. :gig If your buck in inexperienced, when you put the doe into his cage, let them chase each other a bit. Then place the doe for him to be able to mount her and hold her there by her scruff. You may have to guide him into position if he tries to mount your hand! LOL Once he has bred a number of does, he will learn the process and be more competent at mounting the doe. They never get graceful when they fall off though, always a comic moment worth waiting for! Some bucks also like a little afterglow by nuzzling the doe's ears.

Since your does are as inexperienced as your buck, you can probably compare their fumbling attempts to teenagers in the back seat of a car. We have all seen plenty of those comic scenes in shows. The buck will not attack your doe. She will only attack him unless she is already pregnant. If a doe ever attacks a buck aggressively without being pregnant, get rid of the doe! Does can be aggressive which is why I always recommend that people wanting pets get a buck. Bucks remain gentle. Does often will become aggressive if is not bred by 1 year old.

Don't worry about your buck hurting your doe.
 

Rex79

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Thanks. I think I'll leave the buck where he is. I'm fairly sure my doe is pregnant, if so she is due around the 2nd November - This could explain why she attacked him when we put them together for a second time.

If my doe does give birth at the beginning of November, how long should I give it before rebreeding? By then my buck will be 8 months and my doe 7 months. I was thinking of at least 8 weeks to give them both a bit of time to mature.

If she isn't pregnant is it worth trying again with the buck at 8 months and the doe at 7 months, or is it best to wait?
 

Ridgetop

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If the doe doesn't produce kits by November 20 (the 30 day gestation can vary from year to year and rabbit to rabbit) go head and breed her back.

If she produces kits, then waiting to breed her to the buck for a second litter is easily accomplished when the kits are 8 weeks old. Remember, in the wild, the doe will breed back almost immediately. In fact she is most fertile about 3 days after giving birth. The rapidity with which rabbits produce is not just a joke, there is a reason why they are at the bottom of the food chain. In the wild their importance as prey is significant. The lack of predators to contain them is documented in Australia's ongoing war on rabbits that were introduced to that country and immediately took over with the absence of midsize predators. The rabbit problem almost destroyed Australia's farming economy and decimated many native species.

When I ran my semi commercial rabbitry, I used an "intensive breeding program". I would breed my does back when the kits were 6 weeks old. I palpated the does at 0 days to make sure they were pregnant. Then I removed the doe from the kits at 8 weeks and placed her in the cage next to them so she had 2 weeks between litters. By placing her nest to the kits' cage they continued t eat and gain weight. Eventually, I decreased breeding interim to 4 weeks after kindling, palpated at 10 days, and removed the doe at 6 weeks again placing her in a cage next to the litter. This timeline worked very well. I used a higher protein % feed on the nursing does, to give them the necessary nutrition they needed. I also rotated my breeding does out of the program around 2 1/2 years old, when their litter size started to decrease or they started missing conceptions.

This program is not for everybody. It requires extra cage space, close attention to paperwork and timing. I did it to try it out after reading about it being used commercially. It worked very well for me since we were selling a lot of meat, as well as show stock and breeders. We had abut 120 "holes" in our rabbitry. I had different size cages. Al my breeding bucks and does were in 36" x 30" hanging cages. The other cages were 24" x 24" that I used for "grower cages" for those bunnies that DH sorted out as potential show quality. The rest were sold immediately for slaughter. We kept only the best for replacement breeders and show. Since the show standard is based on the placement of the meat of the carcass, by doing this we kept the best quality rabbits for breeding and selling as breeding stock.

DH had an excellent reputation for his stock and buyers came from all over southern California for his breeding stock. He had learned to chose good stock from various judges and was very good at feeling the structure and meat on a young rabbit. We sorted at 8 weeks, sold any "just OK" rabbits for slaughter, tatooed the keepers and put them into individual grower cages. I was ruthless if DH said the rabbit was OK but not great! LOL Then at 3 months we sorted again and the culls from that went into our freezer or were sold privately for meat. The keepers at 3 months would be moved to 36 x 30 breeder cages. The selected bunnies would go to shows at 3 months, be sold as breeders and show stock, or kept for DH's breeding program. Our does went into production no later than 8 months old. Any champion does were usually finished by that time. If not, they still went into the breeding program. After holding a couple does to finish at 11 and 12 months old, we found that they did not breed well by that age. The bucks stayed on the show circuit longer since they could keep condition until almost 18 months old. Rabbits have a short shelf life.

Do not keep your doe back from breeding if she does not kindle November 2. Immediately rebreed her. Your buck will settle down and learn his trade after several successful breedings. A rabbit doe's breeding life is about 2 years. A buck can breed successfully up to 4 or 5 years.
 

Larsen Poultry Ranch

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I had some trouble with my younger buck not being able to find or hit the mark when he first started. I put his cage next to my older buck so they could see each other (I haven't found evidence they spray each other), and after watching the older buck with a few does the younger buck got his act together quickly and did well.

Your buck probably just needs some time to figure out what he's supposed to do.
 

messybun

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I wonder if a 'look but don't touch' system where his cage can see the does when not mating might improve things, but I can only say that as an experimenter and not knowing if it will actually help.

But if his cage can't interact then there's no damage right?
You’ve got to be careful because bucks can easily breeds through wire. I’ve also had a sassy doe grab a lop’s ear through the wire and hold him there for a minute. She didn’t draw blood, and it was because he was trying to attack the other rabbits through the bars, but after that he never tried to bite them again.
 

Nao57

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You’ve got to be careful because bucks can easily breeds through wire. I’ve also had a sassy doe grab a lop’s ear through the wire and hold him there for a minute. She didn’t draw blood, and it was because he was trying to attack the other rabbits through the bars, but after that he never tried to bite them again.
Wow! I never would have known this.
 

Bunnylady

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You’ve got to be careful because bucks can easily breeds through wire. I’ve also had a sassy doe grab a lop’s ear through the wire and hold him there for a minute. She didn’t draw blood, and it was because he was trying to attack the other rabbits through the bars, but after that he never tried to bite them again.

I have to question the word "easily." In over 30 years of rabbit keeping, I have had it happen maybe once. I say 'maybe,' because I had children coming and going in the rabbitry when I wasn't there, and I can't be sure that the doe wasn't put in with a buck without my knowledge. I have bucks and does caged next to each other all the time, but, just to be on the safe side, I make sure that they are the same breed so that, if there are any unexpected offspring, at least they will be purebreds. So far, there's been just that one time.

I have had rabbits lose body parts to a rabbit in the cage next to them. A 5-week-old Mini Rex baby lost a dime-sized chunk of ear to the doe next door. A Jersey Wooly doe lost a toe. That one was really frustrating; she was the only Chinchilla Wooly I'd had that didn't have mismatched claws (a DQ), and missing body parts are also a DQ, so her show career was done before it started! I've had a couple of rabbits lose part or all of their tails, bitten off when they sat down with their tails through the wire.

Rabbits can be brutal, no doubt. A friend of mine had a gorgeous Fuzzy Lop buck . . . ummm . . . Bobbited by a doe that he mounted the wrong end of. My very first Mini Rex buck was incredibly sweet to people, absolutely adored being petted, but I always felt a bit sorry for the does I bred to him. He was a very aggressive breeder; as soon as he was done, he'd be in her face, biting and boxing. Forget '3 fall-offs,' as soon as he started the rough stuff, I removed the doe.
 

Ridgetop

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I never had any rabbits breed through the wires of the cages. What size cage wire are you using? All my cages are individual cages with 1' x 2" wire that I hang touching each other. However, I usually have "privacy panels" in place since the does will sometimes spray like the bucks and there is nothing more aggravating than to remove a rabbit for a show and find drops of sticky yellow urine on them. Bathing rabbits ruins the show coat, so you have to "spot wash" them. Yuck!

Missing body parts are usually attributable to the does pulling a stuck kit out when kindling, or overly aggressive cleaning at birth. Otherwise, dog attacks will result in missing feet which means euthanasia.
 

Niele da Kine

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Bunnies are social critters, he may behave better if he's closer to the other buns so they all feel part of the same warren. Our bucks have separate spaces but they're only separated by a wire wall so they can see each other and sniff between the wire. They can see the girls and sometimes the girls are on the other side of the wire.

If your buck is crazy aggressive, you could try putting him in a different space when introducing the doe to him. He may be defending territory. But don't put him in her territory or she may be aggressive towards him because he's invading her space.

The other thing is that a good part of temperament is genetic. Get a buck with good temperament or you'll end up with a whole herd of crazies.
 
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