Friday, May 16, 2014

About Breeding Rabbits

Although rabbits are quite easy to breed there are some considerations to keep in mind before breeding your rabbits.

First be sure there is a need for more rabbits in your area.  If you are breeding them for pets make sure the local animal shelter does not already have a population of rabbits looking for homes.  If the animal shelter has several rabbits for adoption it means selling your litter may be harder than you think.

If you are breeding for meat or fur, make sure you have buyers.

Rabbits should not be bred by somebody who does not have space to keep them, while it may be assumed the male can be left with the pregnant female, he really should be removed and kept in an adjacent cage one week before she gives birth.  The female should be in a large hutch indoors so she can be monitored closely.

Rabbits who are not registered/purebreds should not be bred. Although the problem has not reached the level of concern of cats and dogs, there are more rabbits produced yearly than there are homes for. There is no practical reason for producing more common, or mixed breed, rabbits.

Rabbits should not be bred by people who do not have additional funding for emergencies. Although rabbit breeding is often considered easy, there are sometimes problems that may occur.

Note that it is not uncommon for the first litter to die.

A doe who is over the age of a year when she has her first litter will have a very difficult time, and in fact this can be life threatening, so never breed an older doe unless she has had a litter previously.  Usually she would be first bred when she is between 6 and 8 months of age.

Two female rabbits, photo by author.

Reasons for Breeding Rabbits:

There really are only two reasons for breeding; production for meat and fur, or to improve the breed as a whole.

If you are considering breeding your rabbits, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is my rabbit worthy of passing on its genetics?
  • Do I have the time/space to devote to caring for the kits until they are ready to go to their new homes?
  • Do I have homes, or a market, that will take them?
  • Do I have funding for veterinarian care if an emergency situation arises?
  • Why am I doing this? Is it for me, or because I want to improve the breed?
With rabbits being discarded in shelters, or abandoned outdoors, there is no reason to to let your rabbit reproduce just so you can see how cute her kits will be.

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