The primary reason for rearing rabbits is for multiplication, and this is quite easy and encouraging because rabbits gestation period is just a month (30-35 days). Rabbits are lovely creature that can be kept for both commercial and pet purpose.
On a normal circumstance, when you mate your rabbit you should expect it’s offsprings after a month. When mating, it is advisable to use an older buck of about 7 months to mate the doe to achieve a high quality offspring.
Bigger or older buck have higher fertility, libido, and vigor. Rabbits attain maturity at 5 months and at that stage it is ready for mating.
I’ve been farming rabbits for about 8 years now and I have helped people set up their rabbit farm but I’ve noticed the major constraint especially for beginners is the breeding aspect. I’ve had people ask questions like, I crossed my doe but she has refused to give birth, some will say, the male crossed her successfully 3 times, yet she refused to give birth, i know this can be very frustrating and disappointing, but why do female rabbit refuse to give birth or even get pregnant after success crossing?
There are many factors that could be responsible for this situation, and its important you know them as a farmer, so as to know what to do.
- Your rabbit might not be on heat(sexual desire) at the moment of crossing her. If this is the case, she will not get pregnant. Before crossing your rabbit ensure to confirm if it’s on heat or not and this is easy to detect. The vulva of the Doe will be pinkish and swollen atimes it will be really swollen and expanded as if it wants to give birth whereas she is just getting ready to be mated, the doe might even make attempt to climb the buck. This is the best time to mate her because she is most fertile and any successful crossing will lead to pregnancy.
- Another thing to note is that, the first time crossing in some rabbits does not lead to pregnancy. There is a phenomenon called pseudopregnancy which means false pregnancy. It usually last for about 17 days, the rabbit might have been crossed, or not, she could be close to the buck’s hutch, and by the sensation, she can have pseudo-pregnancy, and even if she is crossed but not fertile, she will camouflage to be pregnant, and by 16 or 17days, she can even pour out her fur, as though she wants to give birth, but she will not give birth to anything, this is pseudo-pregnancy, but after the completion of the 17days, she is most fertile and any crossing by then, will lead to pregnancy. So if you cross your female rabbit of 5month old for the first time and she refuse to give birth, don’t be discouraged, cross her again. Another way to curb the delay, is to palpate your rabbit 13days after successful crossing, the foetus would have develop in her womb and you will be able to feel it with your hands, at the region under her to stomach, close to her hip.
Another way to escape this delay is to take the rabbit back to the buck 10 days after crossing, if she is not yet pregnant she will allow the buck to cross her and this time she will get pregnant. What I have also observed is that if the rabbit doesn’t get pregnant after the first crossing she will get bigger by gaining more body weight. Some people out of frustration leave their buck and doe in the same cage for two weeks, but this is not the best because you will not know when they have successfully crossed, so you won’t know when to prepare nesting box for her delivery. And when you don’t know the day they crossed, how do you know the expected delivery date (EDD)?
The right thing to do is to take the Doe to the Buck hutch and give some minutes for them to get along and they cross immediately in your presence, i do allow 2 to 3 times crossing, and some hyper libido buck can even do 5 to 6 times crossing. Normally, fertilization takes place in female rabbit 12hours after crossing, that is why if you return a doe to the buck, 24hours after a successful crossing, she will make some grunting sound and refuse further crossing, this is a sign of successful crossing and fertilization, which means the rabbit is now confirmed pregnant, another confirmation can be done on the 13th day by palpating the rabbit with your hand.
- Poor nutrition: another factor that can prevent your rabbit from getting pregnant is poor feeding. If your rabbit is not well fed, it might not even allow mating by the buck, to overcome this, get your rabbit good pellet and hay with clean water. I Posted an article here sometimes ago on how to make good feed for rabbits and the necessary ingredients you can use. If your rabbit is not well fed she may not get pregnant after crossing. I am always surprised when people say, they don’t give their rabbit water to drink, and worse of all, some people don’t give the nursing doe water to drink, yet she is losing a lot of water in her body to the breastfeeding tress, by her kits, how do you want her to recover?
I always recommend multivitamin inside your rabbit drinking water trough twice a week, and when you have a rabbit nursing many kits, like 7, 9, 10 and above, always include glucose inside her water to help reduce stress and energy lose. It can be given her three times a week while normal water is given on other days.
How do you know if your rabbit is not well fed?
A very glaring sign is that, the back will be full of bone, by touching the back you can easily feel the ribs, that’s a sign of malnutrition and it won’t allow to be mated. The solution is to feed the rabbit with good quality feed, I am not in support of feeding 80% hay to your breeding stocks, this will not help their reproductive ability and their growth rate either.
You don’t have to fill their feed with fat inducing ingredients, but a good proportion of protein, fibre and other necessary ingredients can help your rabbit grow well and perform best, the easiest way to know a well fed rabbit is it’s shinning fur(the quality of the fur is a proof of it being well fed), a good mascular development and body structure.
- Poor performing buck: if the buck is not fertile enough or performing well, it can affect the fertility of the Doe, the same applies in other mammals. Rabbits varies in terms of libido ability, some are sharp while others are very slow and easily gets tired. To correct this in your rabbit, get the two buck(the sharp one and the weak one) put them in the same cage and introduce a doe to them, while the sharp one is mating the doe, the weaker one will be watching and learning. By the next time you introduce a doe to the weaker one it’ll perform better.
Another way to induce and stimulate libido in your male rabbit is to get ginger, tumeric and garlic, cut them into small pieces at the same proportion, based on the volume you are making, soak them inside water for 3days or better still for 7days, afterwards, remove the residue and keep the water intact, apply little proportion inside the drinking water of the buck, this will enhance his libido and will begin to cross the doe more effectively, you can also give the doe, when she is nursing kits, because it is not just for enhancing libido, it is also an antibiotic and anticocci organic medication.
- Overweight gain: If your rabbit is overweight or too big with excess body fat as a result of the kind of food it is given, it will find it difficult to conceive, this is why I advice beginners not to feed their rabbits with chicken feed, they do not have the same digestive system. Rabbit with over weight gain, will not conceive no matter how many time you cross her, the solution is to place the doe on green and hay for a while so that she can lose the fat and become lighter, that way, she will be able to conceive successfully.
Also note that not crossing your doe for a long time can make getting pregnant complicated, does shouldn’t be left for a long period of time without being crossed , normally, mothers should be allowed time to rest after nursing a number of kits, but when you don’t cross a doe for 3month and above, it might be difficult to get her to have pregnancy.
In conclusion, a rabbit may not allow a buck to cross it or it might not get pregnant because it is infected. There are various type of rabbit infection that can prevent them from reproducing successfully.
How do I know if my rabbit mate is successful?
The sign to note is; The Buck will come on her, insert the penis in her vulva and she will make it easy for the buck by lifting her vulva up and laying her head down, this way, the buck will find it easy to penetrate her and the buck will fall off after releasing into her and most times, scream or make some sound, this process can happen 1, 2 ,3 or even more time, this is the sign of a successful crossing. In order to confirm if the doe is Pregnant, you can take it back to the buck 24 hours after mating, if she is already pregnant she will make some grunting noise and not allow crossing no matter how much the buck tries.
But to be double sure, you can palpate the doe with your hands 13 days after crossing, if she is pregnant you will feel the babies with your hands, but ensure you do it gently.
I wish you the best in your rabbitry endeavors, make sure you drop your questions below