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Hey everyone, I have an issue that I'm sure people have run into, but I haven't found a good thread for.

I have a couple of silver fox rabbits, and I'm trying my best to get them to "get on with it" already. There are plenty of "my doe won't lift!" threads, but I haven't seen any for "my doe will NEVER lift." I've had her for months now, and I've been trying and trying, but she refuses to pull her butt off the floor for the buck. He's doing his best, but all he ends up with is humping her back until he realizes it's not working, then hops off, then tries again, until he gets frustrated and quits. He's being a perfect gentleman -- nuzzling, being friendly, grooming her, but no progress.

Things I've ruled out: she's not fat, she's not underfed, he's not fat or underfed, she's definitely old enough, he's definitely old enough, she's actually a female, he's actually a male, breeder said they've both been parents before, she doesn't attack him or drive him off. I've tried holding her in position for him, but he doesn't like to do the deed with a human's hands right there, so he just won't bother unless you let her go.

I've checked her vent and it's always pale, never the red people say it should be for her to be in the mood. It's like she's never horny, ever. Are there rabbit aphrodisiacs? I've heard some people swear by apple cider vinegar, but does it actually work? Or parsley?

Could it be him? Are males supposed to put the females into position? Or does the female just lean into it and lift up when she wants to get bred? Maybe he's too gentle and not willing to really put some effort in. But he definitely tries to hump her a lot, and he'll follow her around if she wanders away, like he's clearly into it.

What do? I'm tempted to just cull both of them for the stew pot and get new ones.
 

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hillbilly farmgirl
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I've been following this thread and scratching my head for a couple of days now. I even did some preliminary research, more to satisfy my curiosity than anything else, and have developed my own theory and solution. I'm kind of a dork about this kind of stuff sometimes, I'm an Animal Science major and the reproductive workings and anomalies especially fascinate me. Please note though, that I have not personally worked with rabbits in a scholarly environment (I kept a pair of meat rabbits for awhile, then lost interest) so my knowledge here is rather limited.

With that said, I think that your doe has some kind of hormonal imbalance. Because rabbits don't have regular heat cycles like most other livestock do, this can be a tricky problem to work around. The act of copulation itself is what induces a doe to ovulate. I think that your doe would be a good candidate for artificial insemination. From my research, AI conception rates are good in rabbits, and the semen is generally used fresh, meaning that you could conceivably use this method in your own operation. I don't know if insemination will help your doe's hormones get back on track or not, but if you wanted to give it a try rather than just culling the pair, the equipment is inexpensive, and the collection method seems pretty straightforward. Amazon sells a collection and insemination kit (looks to be everything you need, except the semen extender) for less than $65.

Next, I am going to look at hormonal administration methods for rabbits, and see if, and to what extent, they can be induced to ovulate. I'm curious.
 

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sadly leaveing a doe barren to long often leads to sterility ; but their is a couple more things to try ,like tradeing cages over night- then return the buck step back and watch , or you could put them together in nutral territory - put them in a pen on the ground step back and keep an eye on them .
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've been following this thread and scratching my head for a couple of days now. I even did some preliminary research, more to satisfy my curiosity than anything else, and have developed my own theory and solution. I'm kind of a dork about this kind of stuff sometimes, I'm an Animal Science major and the reproductive workings and anomalies especially fascinate me. Please note though, that I have not personally worked with rabbits in a scholarly environment (I kept a pair of meat rabbits for awhile, then lost interest) so my knowledge here is rather limited.

With that said, I think that your doe has some kind of hormonal imbalance. Because rabbits don't have regular heat cycles like most other livestock do, this can be a tricky problem to work around. The act of copulation itself is what induces a doe to ovulate. I think that your doe would be a good candidate for artificial insemination. From my research, AI conception rates are good in rabbits, and the semen is generally used fresh, meaning that you could conceivably use this method in your own operation. I don't know if insemination will help your doe's hormones get back on track or not, but if you wanted to give it a try rather than just culling the pair, the equipment is inexpensive, and the collection method seems pretty straightforward. Amazon sells a collection and insemination kit (looks to be everything you need, except the semen extender) for less than $65.

Next, I am going to look at hormonal administration methods for rabbits, and see if, and to what extent, they can be induced to ovulate. I'm curious.
OK real talk: can you just like...*buy* rabbit semen? I'm serious. For the cost of taking care of a buck, can you economically just buy semen of the right breed and have it shipped chilled?

Also, what is it specifically about copulation that gets her to ovulate? The presence of sperm? The thrusting? Etc?

I'd be willing to believe she has a hormone issue and the breeder was just a Craigslist asshole who wanted to palm her off onto someone because she was hard to impregnate or whatever.

In general, thanks for replying -- having someone here who is hardcore into animal science is awesome!
 

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hillbilly farmgirl
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OK real talk: can you just like...*buy* rabbit semen? I'm serious. For the cost of taking care of a buck, can you economically just buy semen of the right breed and have it shipped chilled?

Also, what is it specifically about copulation that gets her to ovulate? The presence of sperm? The thrusting? Etc?

I'd be willing to believe she has a hormone issue and the breeder was just a Craigslist asshole who wanted to palm her off onto someone because she was hard to impregnate or whatever.

In general, thanks for replying -- having someone here who is hardcore into animal science is awesome!
First question-- probably not. Frozen semen hasn't been proven to be horribly successful for rabbits. When you consider the cost of chilled shipping and the use extender, along with the time constraints of fresh chilled semen, it may be more cost effective (and more highly successful) to just keep a buck around. If you can find a local rabbitry that practices AI, then this may be a viable option. Looking around, though, I don't really see rabbit semen being sold, as you do bull or pig or goat semen.

Second question: In short, it seems the sexual stimulation itself is what induces ovulation. Hormone administration can work, too!
"Ovulation. Ovulation is normally induced by the stimuli associated with coitus and occurs ten to 12 hours after mating, as outlined in Figure 11.

Given this sort of pattern, ovulation can be induced artificially by various techniques. Mechanical stimulation of the vagina can cause ovulation, but the outcome is quite random. Injections of luteinizing hormones (LH) or LH releasing hormones (LHRH) can produce results, although repeated injections of the LH hormone lead to immunization and loss of effect beyond the fifth or sixth injection. Injections of LHRH repeated at 35 days for two years, however, have involved no loss of effect: 65 to 80 percent of the does became pregnant from this injection followed by artificial insemination." http://www.fao.org/docrep/t1690e/t1690e05.htm

Additional thoughts: the perpetually whitish colored vulva on your doe is what is concerning to me. She doesn't seem even ready to ovulate, and this lack of receptivity is indicative of some other problem. Possibly mild vaginal infection, mummified kit inside of her, too old to breed, there are a ton of factors that can come into play here. Possibly diet, but I'm not thinking that is the case. Age or a retained fetus would be the things I would want to eliminate as problems, if this were my doe. The fact that she is a proven breeder makes this one a little confusing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
First question-- probably not. Frozen semen hasn't been proven to be horribly successful for rabbits. When you consider the cost of chilled shipping and the use extender, along with the time constraints of fresh chilled semen, it may be more cost effective (and more highly successful) to just keep a buck around. If you can find a local rabbitry that practices AI, then this may be a viable option. Looking around, though, I don't really see rabbit semen being sold, as you do bull or pig or goat semen.

Second question: In short, it seems the sexual stimulation itself is what induces ovulation. Hormone administration can work, too!
"Ovulation. Ovulation is normally induced by the stimuli associated with coitus and occurs ten to 12 hours after mating, as outlined in Figure 11.

Given this sort of pattern, ovulation can be induced artificially by various techniques. Mechanical stimulation of the vagina can cause ovulation, but the outcome is quite random. Injections of luteinizing hormones (LH) or LH releasing hormones (LHRH) can produce results, although repeated injections of the LH hormone lead to immunization and loss of effect beyond the fifth or sixth injection. Injections of LHRH repeated at 35 days for two years, however, have involved no loss of effect: 65 to 80 percent of the does became pregnant from this injection followed by artificial insemination." http://www.fao.org/docrep/t1690e/t1690e05.htm

Additional thoughts: the perpetually whitish colored vulva on your doe is what is concerning to me. She doesn't seem even ready to ovulate, and this lack of receptivity is indicative of some other problem. Possibly mild vaginal infection, mummified kit inside of her, too old to breed, there are a ton of factors that can come into play here. Possibly diet, but I'm not thinking that is the case. Age or a retained fetus would be the things I would want to eliminate as problems, if this were my doe. The fact that she is a proven breeder makes this one a little confusing.
I don't necessarily trust that she was a proven breeder. I think that's the most questionable part of this. The owner is someone I didn't really know and who might have just wanted to get rid of her.

As for diet, I'm trying to feed her a mix of pellets, some treats, lots of hay, and whatever greens are safe around the area.
 

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How old is she? Many does are not fertile after they turn 3 or 4 years old. If she is younger than 3, separate them but keep them close. Make sure your building is lit up about 10 hours a day or wait until spring when it's typically the best time to breed.
 

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Huh. I've been out of rabbits for quite awhile, but when I had them there were about 80 does in the barn, mainly New Zealands, but I had several other breeds, as well, mainly for the fun of having different ones around. The ONLY rabbits I ever had that would not breed was a trio of Silver Foxes. The does would never breed, had absolutely no interest in it. The buck was always interested. I tried the does with different bucks, just to get anything out of them at all, but nope. I tried for at least a year with those two does. Finally got rid of them. It's a shame, because it's a breed I really wanted to raise, and it was Frustration City with them!
 

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There are doe that will not breed. As one person suggested? perhaps a manual stimulation to create a false pregnancy? mite get her system in sync? and after the fourteen day false pregnancy! timing may not be exact? watch her. Then you should have a five day window where breeding might be accepted? if not then? I believe I'd cull, and find a more receptive Doe? if you want that specific color? shop around, I'm sure it will come your way! best wishes, ray, then again? i have seen does reject buck after buck? yet when the right buck is presented? voila! bred doe! So? hehe life is not so simple! sometimes we just don,t have the right buck for the job? sometimes it wouldn,t matter? which buck you used? good luck!! just be sure you enjoy the rabbits! not fret over them!
 

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As a prior SF breeder, the 'does will NOT breed' problem is COMMON. I don't understand why, either. Some of the nicest show/meat does would either never decide to breed even as young animals, or just refuse to breed back after a litter or two. My SF bucks could be lazy too. Usually they'd put in the effort, but with less energy and unable to mount successfully more than once or twice a day. My NZ bucks were quite a bit more... energetic. And the does rarely refused it seemed, though it happened sometimes.

I have no advice other than I force bred several and others were culled if they were chronically open or refused. Many have a 'three tries you're out' policy. Pretty is as pretty does if it won't reproduce.
 

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Have you tried holding her?

big rockpile
 

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Have you tried a different buck? And it may help to separate them (even visually) for a while and try again.
 

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OK, so it's not just my does. I have 3 Silver Fox Rabbits in my mixed hutch and those does just can't be bothered unless everything is JUST RIGHT. I got one good looking junior doe out of each of them that will be put on the breeding table first thing this Spring and if they behave even a little bit better than their moms then both of the older does are going in the roaster. I've had it up to here with their attitudes. I love my SF buck though- always eager and throws fast growing well built kits on the other does.
 

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Maybe it's the living together set up that gets them cold, I would separate them couple days/week and put the doe in the buck's cage and see. Then again you're not 24/7 watching them does might be pregnant, if the deed is done some does want to be left alone ?
 
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