They are sweet, fluffy and very popular as pets in Germany: rabbits. These animals belonging to the genus of rabbits have always enjoyed great popularity and more and more people would like to breed them themselves. The following guide will tell you all you need to know about rabbit breeding.
Comprehensive hints for rabbit breeding
Who would like to breed rabbits professionally, must consider some. As a breeder, you need comprehensive knowledge to raise healthy kittens that do not have any genetic deficits or diseases. Therefore, it is not advisable for an inexperienced hobby breeder to assemble two animals at will. Alternatively, it is up to you to find a breeder who will select two rabbits for you and check whether they are healthy and genetically compatible. With such expert advice you are on the safe side.
In addition, you should know that the offspring of rabbits usually comes unexpectedly. If you breed rabbits, you should be prepared for the fact that offspring can come very quickly. Be prepared for this and take appropriate measures. In order to prevent unwanted reproduction, you should separate the male from the female early enough.
Prerequisite for breeding is that both parents are healthy and strong. Thus the risk of passing on diseases is reduced. The rabbits should not show any damage to their teeth and should be free of parasites. Also pay attention to the previous generations of the family: If there are more diseases within the family, the rabbit is not suitable for breeding. Inbreeding should be avoided.
Keeping and care
Ensure sufficient space for the offspring already in the preparation phase. The hare and the young need an enclosure of at least 4.5 m². A small house of sufficient size is also necessary. The whelping box should be at least 40 x 40 cm and have a removable lid. So you can control in an emergency without disturbing considerably.
The enclosure must be structured in such a way that the female hare can create space for herself when the young have grown older. Otherwise there is the danger of behavioural disturbances, which are passed on to the young animals. The young also need sufficient space for exercise to strengthen their muscles. Due to the increased protein, vitamin and mineral requirements, you must offer the female a balanced diet with plenty of green fodder. Dried vegetables are also important for the carbohydrate requirement.
Care of young animals
If the mother is probably up after birth, you as the keeper do not have to worry about feeding and feeding the young animals. These are suckled by the mother and receive all the vitamins you need from the nutrient-rich mother’s milk. Just make sure that the enclosure is large enough and that the little rabbits have enough space to run around. To ensure this, you can also build your own rabbit hutch. In this guide you will learn how to do this and receive instructions.
Beside the correct and sufficiently large accommodation also the cleaning of this plays a large role. Make sure that the stable is free of excrement and the like and that the bedding is changed regularly. In this way you prevent bacteria from developing and the young animals or the mother from becoming ill.
Mating, pregnancy & childbirth
Females are ready for breeding from the eighth month, bucks from the sixth month. The female should not be older than two years when fertilized for the first time, as the tank becomes inelastic after a certain age. After successful socialization, mating will occur sooner or later, independent of periods of heat.
Determining pregnancy can be very difficult for laypersons; it is often only detected shortly before birth. Signs are an increasing weight and that the female eats more than usual and builds a nest. Also the nature of the rabbit can change strongly. The gestation period is approx. 28 to 33 days. Stress should be avoided during pregnancy. Depending on the breed, between one and ten boys are born.
The birth usually takes place in the night or in the morning. Check the nest a few hours later and remove any stillbirths and afterbirths that have not been consumed. The female is decrepit shortly after birth, at the latest a few days later. It is therefore advisable to separate the buck from the female before birth.
Make sure that the mother fulfils her duties, especially at first. It is important that she has built a nest and that the boys are not lying free somewhere. In the morning the bellies of the boys should be thickly filled, because they are suckled at this time of day. The fact that the mother leaves the nest during the day is no cause for concern. After about ten to twelve days, the young open their eyes. Then also the fur-dress should be trained.
Starting from the fourth week, they will leave the nest and explore the surroundings. They then begin to eat solid food. From the sixth to eighth week, the young are independent and are no longer suckled. However, they should not be given away until the tenth week at the earliest, because they learn social behaviour from their mother during this time. In order to avoid problems with later socializations, also the last weeks are crucial.
In cases where the dam does not accept the offspring or dies due to complications during birth, you as the keeper must take over the care. As the small rabbits do not receive milk from their mother, you have to find an alternative. For this a nutrient-rich cat rearing milk, which is available with the veterinary surgeon, is suitable. With this you should feed the rabbit babies 4 to 6 times a day. However, the milk should not be given pure, but diluted with fennel or chamomile tea – best in the ratio 1:2. Also make sure that the milk has the right temperature – about 37 degrees are optimal. If the milk is colder, you risk that the small rabbits get digestive problems. The best way to feed the rabbit is with a small disposable syringe. It is important to remember that your hands are always freshly washed to prevent the transmission of bacteria or infections.
If you now want to breed rabbits yourself, there are a few things to consider. First of all, you should make sure that the rabbit family has no diseases or deficits. This will ensure that the kittens are healthy. Make sure that the stable offers enough space for the mother and the young animals. As a rule, the mother takes care of the young rabbits after they have been born. If this is not the case, you as the breeder have to take care of the rabbits. Warm cat breeding milk mixed with chamomile or fennel tea is suitable for feeding.
We hope that this guide has helped you and wish you a lot of fun and joy in rabbit rearing.