Various Questions

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Tsaraph, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. Tsaraph

    Tsaraph New Member

    Dec 20, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    Hello all,
    I'm pretty new to raising meat rabbits. I bought my first New Zealand Whites back in January of this year, and have already learned a lot. Right now I have two does, one buck, and lots of questions all the time. I hope some of you more experienced rabbit people can help me.
    Since the rabbits don't live in a heated barn, I only breed them in the warmer months. My does have produced well, with the average litter size being around ten kits. However, a couple of the kits always die. Is this normal since the litters are larger? Is there something I can do so as not to loose any kits? Is it just that some are stronger than others and get all the feeding time?
    I have a doe who is not pregnant right now, and there is a big pile of fur underneath her cage. Is this something that does will do just because? Does she think she's pregnant? Why is she doing this?
    For how long can a doe be bred? How old should she be before she is culled? What about the buck? How long is he useful? Though my rabbits were young when I bought them, I'm really not sure how old they are. What's a good age to replace them?
    When I replace my rabbits, is it okay to inbreed for one or two generations, or should I look for some new blood? We have had some accidental inbreeding with our pet rabbits, and they didn't seem the worse for it.
    Thanks in advance for any and all advice I receive. It will be greatly appreciated.
  2. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2002
    There is a lot of info in the archives so read through the list. You will learn a lot. I will try to answer some of your questions:

    Rabbits do not need a heated barn to keep producing. They need light. Keep your lights on 14-16 hours a day and you can keep them bred. Rabbits have a harder time with heat then cold. I am in NW PA and it gets cold here. Yes, probably loose a few litters if temps are real bad but those are the breaks. By not keeping those does bred you are setting them up to get to fat and then come breeding time will have a harder time getting them bred.

    For commercial production if a doe is raising at least 8 per litter she is a keeper. If you breed more then 1 doe to kindle at the same time you can foster a couple kits from the larger litter to a smaller litter.

    As far as a pile a fur. Is she molting? Are you sure she is not bred? Could be false pregnancy. Need more info to help.

    Normally breeding mother to son or father to daughter is okay but you should not breed brother to sister.

    Culling depends on production records. Once production decreases you cull. KEEP GOOD RECORDS.[/quote]

  3. Guest

    Thanks for the reply. I would keep breeding through the winter, but I live in western Canada, and temps here get to minus 30 celcius (sorry, I don't know what that is in F.) When it's that cold, I'm not sure I would even trust the heat lamp with newborn kits in an unheated barn. Though this year we have built an insulated shed, so perhaps I will keep trying until it gets that cold. But who wants to butcher when it's minus 20 C out :D Not me. Anyway, thanks again, I will look through the archives.
  4. AndreaR

    AndreaR Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2003
    Alberta, Canada
    Tsaraph, I also live in western Canada and you are right about the temps going down to -30 C. I do have an insulated barn that we are trying to heat.I have NZ commercial whites, 4 does and 2 bucks, that I have had for a couple of months now. One doe produced a lovely 10 kits all still alive and another had 7 and killed them all :( I am waiting for the other two does to have litters in 3 weeks. I hope I have better luck this time.
    Adding a portable heater near your young ones would help, or an electric pad on low heat under the kits nest would help too (make sure the pad stays dry under a sheet of plastic or cardboard). I make sure the lights are kept on 16 hours. At nighttime when the temperatures drop as they do in Alberta, I keep some infrared bulbs on to generate some heat for the rabbits.
    As for your doe with the fur under her cage, she may be in heat as I found out with my first doe...she bred well. Hope some of this helps. Andrea