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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this as I've just acquired a trio of breeding rabbits a month ago. From what I've read it's natural for the rabbits to "lie fallow" for the winter months. When is reasonable to expect them to be receptive to breeding again? I realize it has to do with photoperiod and with temperature. I live at the same latitude as Vancouver or northern North Dakota, so the days are pretty short now, but it's much warmer here (winter temps rarely fall much below -5 C). The rabbits are outside and so receive only natural light. I'd just like to get a general idea of this because I'd like to start trying to breed when the buck has a reasonable chance of a warm reception, since he's young and I don't want him to get discouraged.
Thanks for any input. I've been reading this forum for awhile and it's extremely informative.
 

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Crazy Dog Lady
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I breed all year long... I put up lights in my rabbit area during the winter to create an artificial day of 14 hours and they happily breed. If that is not possible, you could probably wait for spring when the days start getting longer in your area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
How much light is necessary? Are low-wattage florescent (sp.?) bulbs enough, or do you need something brighter? I'd like to set this up, but this spring I'll have to make do with my current setup so a rough idea of when breeding picks up again under natural light would also be helpful. The wild rabbits can't be waiting until they have 14 hours of light; they wouldn't be breeding again until July! Thanks for the help.
 

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I use floresent bulbs and they work fine. Generally if you turn on the light and you think it is bright enough then it is fine, if you think it is to dimb, then its to dark.

Winter breeding programs are not very hard at all as long as you use light and give them LOTS of nesting material. I have lost half of my litter to the wire in the past few days...
 

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aka avdpas77
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I'm new to this as I've just acquired a trio of breeding rabbits a month ago. From what I've read it's natural for the rabbits to "lie fallow" for the winter months. When is reasonable to expect them to be receptive to breeding again? I realize it has to do with photoperiod and with temperature. I live at the same latitude as Vancouver or northern North Dakota, so the days are pretty short now, but it's much warmer here (winter temps rarely fall much below -5 C). The rabbits are outside and so receive only natural light. I'd just like to get a general idea of this because I'd like to start trying to breed when the buck has a reasonable chance of a warm reception, since he's young and I don't want him to get discouraged.
Thanks for any input. I've been reading this forum for awhile and it's extremely informative.
I

The only time that my rabbits normaly wanted a bit of a break was in the hot summer months. My does, though (Lops mostly), made terrific nests. If they kindled on a particularly frigid day, I would put a lamp under the nest,

I know this might sound dangerous, but i would take a large coffee can, take a pop (beer) can opener (these may be hard to find now) turn the can upside down, and punch 5 or 6 holes around the side of the rim, I would cut a square piece of board the would just wedge in the bottom (formerly the top) of the can, mount a ceramic light socket on it and wire it with a lamp cord. This may sound sort of complicated, but it is actually very simple. (wish they would let us directly post pictures on here). My cages were suspended, and in a shed. I would just set the contaption on the manure under the cage so the can would be about a foot (30 cm) below the box. the can would allow the heat to warm the underside of the nest box, and urine etc. would not get into the lamp assembly (which would be dangerous).
As an added precaution, I always unpluged the thing before I moved it. I nevr lost a kit to freezing (except maybe one or two that held on to a nipple and got carried out on the wire) This idea wouldn't be safe on outside hutches. I am hoping to change to "outside colony raising" when I start with rabbits again, and I think kits in a burrow would be fine. I only used the thing if the rabbits were less than a week old and the temperature got below 10-15 F (~ -10 C)

PS they make heated panels one can put in the bottom of the nest box, they have a thermostat, and are sort of pricey, but if I lived in a cold climate and wanted to raise rabbits in January of February, I guess they might be a necessity.
 

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I also breed all year long. I also use lights to give my rabbits 14 hours of light. They seem to be more willing to breed in the winter months then they do in the hot summer months. My doe tend to go sterile in the summer so that is usually when I let my rabbits take a break. When the temps start to cool they are ready to go and will breed thru the winter. I have one that just kindled and another due any day and five that are due next month. I just make sure to give them a good nest box and if the temps are going to drop low I fix a light under the bottom of the cage point up to the bottom of the nestbox to give a little extra warmth to the babies. I make sure that the light can't be pee'ed on or their water spilled on the bulb and the babies seem to like the extra warmth. :happy:
 

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the babies seem to like the extra warmth. :happy:
Yes they do!! One of my litters started out a little rough, i kept bringing out HOT water bottles rapped in a sock and set it in the side of the nest box, just to heat the nest and not to burn the kits. I found it lasted several hours although you dont want it getting to cold or freezing as it might end up freezing the kits...you dont want that!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the good suggestions. I hope to be able to put some into practice soon. A related question: for those of you breeders out there who take the winter off; do you do this primarily because: A) you want to avoid the hassles of having babies in the cold weather or B) because the rabbits' fertility or receptiveness drops off? Thanks again for the help!
 

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Thanks for the good suggestions. I hope to be able to put some into practice soon. A related question: for those of you breeders out there who take the winter off; do you do this primarily because: A) you want to avoid the hassles of having babies in the cold weather or B) because the rabbits' fertility or receptiveness drops off? Thanks again for the help!
I do breed in the winter, but most people would probably say A... I lost half a litter not to long ago to the wire...everythings better now. You just need to watch them for the first few days and then they are usually fine.

But if lights are out of the question for people, then there is no way in breeding in the winter other than force breeding....
 

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aka avdpas77
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Thanks for the good suggestions. I hope to be able to put some into practice soon. A related question: for those of you breeders out there who take the winter off; do you do this primarily because: A) you want to avoid the hassles of having babies in the cold weather or B) because the rabbits' fertility or receptiveness drops off? Thanks again for the help!
,

Karen, I don't personaly know anyone over here that takes the winter off.

When it gets very hot in the summer, the heat killls the sperm in the bucks, so we have to take a breeding break then. In my own experience, young rabbits, and the young of most animals seem to grow better and have less medical problems in cool or cold weather. I have only had problems with rabbit in the cold, if they clung on to their mother and got pulled out of their nest and into the cold air after nursing. It often gets less than -12C here, and sometimes as low as -20 C. There seems to be a lot of people on this forum from up in Canada, and maybe they can say more about cold weather raising, but the ones I have heard from seem to breed through the winter also. Is it possible that your breeds in Europe have been bred over the years to take a break during the winter, and aren't receptive when it is cold?
 

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I don't know anyone who takes winters off breeding, but I don't live in cold country, either. Here we take summers off, as o&itw said. Temps for us in the winter rarely get into the single digits, and lows in the upper teens are more common. My angoras make great nests. I've got three due in about ten days, at which time I'll breed more.

I also never have had a problem due to photoperiod or any other issue. I did have a 'dry spell' a while back, but found that was due to them prefering more breeding space. Once I quit breeding in the cages and started moving them into a breeding pen, I've never had a miss.

Meg
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
To the comment by o&itw: That's an interesting point, I'll have to talk to people here about it. Many of the same breeds are in use here as over there (NZ, Californians, etc.) but the breed we're trying out (Viennas) are an old meat breed from this area and they may very well have these issues.
To Meg Z: Maybe we're getting off topic here, but how big is your breeding pen? I have a makeshift 6' by 5' pen, I put the rabbits in there one at time for exercise. Would that work or would the does be territorial about it since they're in there by themselves sometimes? (This is the kind of info that this forum is great for!)
 

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To Meg Z: Maybe we're getting off topic here, but how big is your breeding pen? I have a makeshift 6' by 5' pen, I put the rabbits in there one at time for exercise. Would that work or would the does be territorial about it since they're in there by themselves sometimes? (This is the kind of info that this forum is great for!)
You're the OP...you can go off topic all you want!
I have a 10' x 10' dog kennel I use. It's a playpen for the rabbits too, as is yours, but that hasn't caused territorial issues with the does. I do move the buck there first and then bring the doe, so he's got 'possession' at the time. And then I stay in the corner, just in case a doe violently objects.

Meg
 
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