How To Tell If Rabbit Mating Is Successful

How To Tell If Rabbit Mating Is Successful

Rabbits are ready to breed upon reaching maturity. The age of maturity will range from 5 months for the small breeds to 9 to 12 months for the large breeds. One buck to each 10 does is suggested as a maximum with 4 to 5 matings per week for limited use, 2 to 3 matings per week for continuous use.

Breeding difficulties may occur during temperature extremes, particularly hot weather. Houses with good insulation, fan-ventilation and an evaporative-type cooling system will improve breeding during hot weather.

The doe may be bred when the young are 6 weeks old and left with the litter until they are sold or weaned at 8 to 9 weeks of age. It depends basically on the condition of the doe. Proper management can produce five litters per year from each doe. It is best to equalize the number of bunnies between does within the first 2 days, leaving no more than 8 to 9 bunnies with a doe.

The rabbit does not exhibit an estrus cycle like other mammals. Ovulation occurs approximately 10 hours after copulation. Many successful rabbit breeders like to use an 8-hour rebreeding program. The doe is taken to the buck’s pen, never vice versa, for breeding in the evening and again the following morning, then removed as soon as mating occurs.

How To Tell If Rabbit Mating Is Successful

Determining Pregnancy

Two methods are used to determine that conception has occurred. The first is called “test mating.” The doe is returned to the buck’s cage 14 to 18 days after the first mating. If she refuses the male, it is usually assumed that she is pregnant; but this is not a foolproof method. The best method is palpation. If the doe is pregnant, a person may feel with the thumb and fingers a series of nodules or lumps in her lower abdomen. The doe should be handled gently, using only light pressure, so that the young embryos will not be injured.

This technique takes practice and you should start learning the “feel” by first palpating late in the gestation period. Succeeding palpations can be earlier and earlier in the gestation period so that proficiency is developed.

Rebreeding can be done if pregnancy has not occurred.


The average gestation period (time from breeding until birth of young) is 31 to 32 days. Sanitized nest boxes should be placed in the hutch between the 27th and 29th day after breeding.

Since the young rabbits are born without fur, they require adequate provision for warmth within the nest box.

Provide 6 to 8 inches of nesting material such as straw during cold weather; 2 or 3 inches during hot weather. Just prior to kindling, the doe will use her hair to line the nest. It is important to watch the doe to see that she makes her nest in the nest box; particularly a first-litter doe.

Don’t disturb the doe immediately after kindling, but examine the litter within 24 hours and remove any deformed or dead bunnies. Remove the nest box from the hutch when the bunnies are approximately 3 weeks old or when the youngsters are spending all of the time outside the box. Babies can be weaned at 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Click here for a complete guide to raising rabbits…

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