Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Breeding Rabbits 101

We took the plunge and bought our Silver Fox Breeding trio. We thought we'd have to wait till after fair this year to try to breed either of our does.  However, a little research and some conversations with other 'rabbit experts', resulted in the determination we could still breed the older doe this month to try to get kits for fair in late July.

We calculated the timing.  

We had to 'hold off' a bit longer than some normally would simply because we wanted to give Trixiebelle a little time between breedings.  Her first and only litter so far, was just a couple weeks before we bought her.  That litter had unfortunately not survived as her mothering instincts kicked in a couple days too late.  Ultimately, I think this means our kits may be on the smaller side compared to other kits of similar sized meat rabbits.  Makes sense, they will be 7-8 weeks old rather than close to 10 weeks old.  But... at least we'll have babies.

Looking at the calendar. Determining the latest we could breed and still allowing the kits to be over 6 weeks old, we concluded breeding needed to be done sometime the last full week of May.  The earlier that week the better.  

Since the kids had rabbit project on Monday the 25th, meaning the rabbits went for a car ride, we decided to put Trixiebelle into Short Stops cage upon arriving back home.  We'd been told that car rides help to put a doe in heat - making her amicable to the whole breeding idea.

According to the big kids - Short Stop took no time at all getting the job done.  We left Trixiebelle in with him for 2 days, removing her the morning of the 27th.  

(For future breedings we will probably take her out and place her 
back in a couple times over a 24 hour period.  
The breeder we bought the trio from, 
said she just put the does in with the bucks and leaves them,
 but seems that's not the 'best practice'.  
Live and learn.)

All seemed well.

10-13 days after their encounter, Bethany palpated Trixiebelle's abdomen to attempt to see if the breeding 'took'.  Testing to see if we could feel any kits developing inside her.  Not sure she knew or if any of us would know what we were actually feeling, but she gave it a shot.  She THOUGHT she felt some 'little ball like things' in her belly.

Positive signs anyway.

In 28 days, we'll place the nesting box inside her cage in preparation for her to deliver her babies.  This should give her time to pull fur and prepare a nice warm bed for those little baby bunnies.  (Something we didn't do for our other rabbits when we had no idea they were bred.)

Then, we'll wait.  

Wait to see IF she delivers on or around day 30-31 post breeding.  How many she delivers.  How well she cares for her young.  How many survive.

My prayer is her mama instincts will be more forthcoming since she's done this once before.  

Hopefully she'll have a good sized litter so the girls have plenty to choose from to take as their meat pens or fryer pens for 4H fair.  

Decisions will need to be made as to whether or not to cull any of the babies to try to foster better growth and survival rate of the larger, stronger kits.  Whoa, that's gonna be a hard one.

Selah is hoping we'll get to keep a kit or two for her to have her very own rabbit as well.  So far, all the rabbits have sort of been 'claimed' by her older sisters for 4H projects.  She's itching to have her very own bunny.

At this rate, we will have an infinite number of rabbits as we move forward.  LOL!

Oh the adventures we are having on our Mini-Mountain-Menagerie.

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