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Reproduction of rabbits: from mating to gestation. All information and advice on breeding rabbits.
We still talk aboutrabbit breeding addressing the issue ofrabbit matingand its reproduction. This guide is useful for any type of rabbit breeding, from the amateur one with a small number of rabbits to rabbit breeding on farms where breeding aims to obtain a good number of bunnies for fattening. The reproduction of rabbits starts with mating.
Mating of rabbits
L'couplingoccurs by introducing the female into thecageof the male. Do not move the male to the female's cage because, for reproduction, the male prefers his environment (not for a matter offamiliaritybut because it is rich in odors and pheromones that make it more effective incoupling).
The mating itself (mounts it) can last from a few seconds (when the female is moreready and receptive) to several minutes (when the female is more reluctant). When you are sure that thecouplinghas happened, move the female again by transferring her to her cage.
Gestation of rabbits
The gestation phase lasts on average 29 - 31 days. During this period, the female should not be stressed or moved from the cage ... leave her alone to experience pregnancy.
After thecoupling, the female should be placed in a cage of adequate size to be able to set up the nest and give life to the bunnies. According toMinistry of Health, the minimum area to be allocated to the pregnant rabbit is about 75 × 60 cm. Please note, these are measures to ensure spaceminimum neededto the mare and her young.
An experienced breeder can understand if the female is pregnant already 10 - 14 days aftercoupling.
During pregnancy, feed the female with pelleted feed and good quality hay. Warning! As the rabbit's pregnancy progresses, it will feed less and less, so try to feed it with good quality, high protein feed. Even when breastfeeding, the feed must be high in protein.
During pregnancy it is recommended to feed with 15% protein. For breastfeeding, protein is increased to 18%.
Reproduction of rabbits, the nest
Those in the sector are well aware that cages are generally equipped with a removable nest or an integrated nest, an area well separated from the rest of the cage. Also in this case the Ministry of Health has indicated some minimum measures (24 × 38 cm of base and 25 cm of height) to be respected. The most careful producers build the nest on a lower level than the rest of the cage, this to give the mare a greater sense of protection, as happens in nature that rabbits nest in underground burrows.
During pregnancy, the nest must be closed: the mare can only enter the nest during the last 3 days of pregnancy! This is why it is important to keep track ofcoupling.
Therabbit nestit must contain plenty of straw or hay in the bottom. In view of the birth, therabbitit will begin to "lose hair" (in reality, it does not lose hair but if it tears it off to make the nest softer and take care of the little bunnies with a warmer environment). Rabbits are born hairless (naked) and they cannot protect themselves from the cold or heat with fur the way adult rabbits do, that's why therabbitit tears its fur.
Reproduction of rabbits, childbirth
Thechildbirthlasts on average 30 - 40 minutes. One rabbit can produce up to 12 - 14 bunnies. At this stage, the breeder will have to perform a heavy task: he will have to remove any dead unborn babies from the nest. After giving birth, the excessively wet or dirty bedding material (hay, straw or fur) must be replaced.
To carry out these checkspostpartum, wait for the rabbit to spontaneously come out of the nest. When a rabbit gives birth to more than 8 bunnies, an operation known asequalizationof broods. A rabbit has 8 udders, so if more rabbits have given birth, you can distribute the babies as evenly as possible. Equalization is possible only when therabbitsYescoupleand they give birth more or less on the same day.
Reproduction of rabbits, weaning
Theweaning of rabbitsnewborns will have to take place 30 - 35 days after delivery. With theweaningthe little rabbits must be separated from the mother. In this period, the diet includes weaning feed even though many breeders (successfully) administer the feed of the auditors directly.
For other information such as thereproductive period, the care to be given to the mare and more, we refer you to the two articles:
- Reproduction of the rabbit, the period
- Reproduction of the meat rabbit