Confused on breeding time

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by nuby, May 14, 2004.

  1. nuby

    nuby Active Member

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    Apr 16, 2003
    I've read and heard different things. Here is some of the advice I've been given.

    The man who sold us these says that they are a "grade" rabbit, a mix of new zealand and rex, basically meat rabbits. I am told that if I want to go for meat production (which I do) that i should rebreed my doe at 2 weeks post-partem. Is that right? Then she would have 2 weeks to wean these kits which would then be 4 wks old, then 2 weeks more to be pregnant, then more kits and so on.

    The books that I've read say to give her a one to two month break.

    I am also told that I can breed these rabbits when they reach 5 months of age. Does that sound right? I've read ranges from 6 to 12 months. What about the bucks. Can I breed them at an earlier age?

    :confused:
     
  2. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The information you have read is obviously for the pet and show rabbits. Unfortunately, rather than to go by what is actually "normal" for rabbits, many breeders tend to want to attach human attributes to them, instead. Since constant pregnancy is hard on humans, they "assume" that it is likewise hard on rabbits. We need to face the facts, here.

    *Unlike* humans, rabbits are actually able to become pregnant, again, within 24 hours after kindling... and this is a normal way of life for them in the wild. The one thing we need to watch is the fact that the more litters a doe has and she delivers and raises a live litter (and regardless of how soon she is rebred), the sooner she will simply "wear out." Although there are and always will be the exceptions, a rule of thumb to go by is that a doe is generally good for 12 litters (or more).

    Since commercial producers strive to keep their herds at optimum performance, it is not unusual to replace the does after two years of use.... and again, regardless of the breedback schedule and/or how many litters a doe has produced. Most, however, prefer to just keep track of each doe, and when the litter sizes begin decreasing, she is then culled.

    Popular breedback schedules range anywhere from 10 days to 42 days, depending upon the individual breeder and his/her beliefs and management system. Those preferring to market the fryers directly from the doe's cage will naturally choose the 42-day breedback. Others tend to favor the 10 to 14-day breedback. Therefore, it is entirely up to you as to what breedback schedule you choose. There simply isn't any "one way, only" to breeding and raising rabbits.

    Show and pet breeders generally prefer to wait until the rabbit(s) is/are at least 6 months of age before breeding. Again, this is not "normal" for rabbits. Commercial producers usually begin breeding the does around 4-1/2 months of age... *OR* when the doe reaches 7 lbs. in weight. Bucks, however, tend to be a bit slower to mature (again, allowing for exceptions), and most prefer to wait until the buck is 5-1/2 to 6 months of age. A too-young buck can easily become intimidated by an experienced doe, and this can totally destroy his desire to even try to breed.

    I hope this answers your questions. Sadly, most books available on todays market are written by the pet and show authors. I would strongly recommend "Rabbit Production," 8th Edition, by McNitt, Lukefahr, Patton and Cheeke for more correct information.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
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  3. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    Spring through Fall I follow an 11 day breed back and wean at 4 weeks. In the winter months I switch to a 42 day breed back and leave the kits with the doe. We are in a cold area and this 42 day breed back seems to work better during the winter. Works for me.
     
  4. nuby

    nuby Active Member

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    Thank you Pat and Tracy for the great advice! You have cleared this up for me! :) I didn't think about the pet vs meat raising mentality :rolleyes: