I have been breeding Rabbit for some years now, I raise them for meat, for pet and for breeding; Rabbit are lovely creatures and is always a good thing to have them around, but you need to have the knowledge of how to raise them successfully, this is so crucial, otherwise they will be dying.
There is a great Joy when you see your rabbit giving birth and doing well, and the good thing about them is the short gestation period of 1month, it makes it easy to increase and raise plenty rabbit within a short period of time, you can have plenty colony of this cute bunnies all around your backyard, I remember when I just started breeding rabbit, 10 females can give you about 50 to 65 babies at the same time, by the time you raise them, you have a whole lot of rabbit to feed.
It actually interesting to raise them but it is also work loaded, so you have to be sure you love rabbit before you start keeping them, as the number increases, so also the feed consumption, even though rabbit don’t eat much like poultry, but they still consume a considerable amount of feed when they are many.
At 5 to 6month, the matured female is ready to be cross, I always advise you use a male that is older than the female to cross her, because it tells on the quality of semen which translate to the quality of offspring’s you get and the growth rate also.
When you want to cross your rabbit, ensure you take the female to the male and not the other way, male rabbit are territorial in nature, when you bring the female to them, they have the confidence to cross her, much more than if you take the male to the female. You can allow the buck to cross the doe for 3 times or more, depending on how sexually active the buck is, my own buck are sharp shooters, so even if I give them the chance to cross more than 4 times, they will do so, and this is the kind of buck that is good for breeding purpose.
After successful crossing, the male will fall off from the back of the female, and sometimes with a grunting sound, like someone who just survived a fall from the skyscraper, this is a sign of successful mating where the semen is released into the doe, fertilization takes place in rabbit 12hours after crossing, so you can expect her to be pregnant 24hours after a successful crossing.
Rabbit gestation period is 30 to 33days, except once awhile, whereby we have some extending to 35 or even 40days, your mother rabbit should be well fed during pregnancy and given clean water daily to ease the stress of the pregnancy, ensure the housing system is in order and it prevent direct scorching of sun and rain fall.
Make sure you start counting down to 30days, a day after successful crossing, this is very important, so that you can prepare for the mother rabbit baby to come, you will also need to build a nest box for the rabbit inside the cage, this is where she will go and pull her fur prior to delivery of her kits, you can put some dry leave and hay there for nesting material.
At the due date, you mother rabbit should deliver her baby, which is usually coming out naked, with blind eyes, most of time she start breastfeeding them in the midnight or early morning before you get there, but check for dead kits or stillbirth, which is always common during the heat/dry season, ensure you supply the mother with enough food and water, shed for her house region to reduce the tendency of stillbirth, the only way to know the mother is breastfeeding the babies is to observe them, they will have a swallow stomach, not very swallow, but it will be round and the rabbit will start growing new furs on their body as the day go by, this is a sign that they are well fed, also make sure the mother is eating good nutrition, as this will show in the quality of development of the kits.
Also Read: Why your Rabbit refuse to give Birth
Kits will start coming out of their nest box by week 3, between 9 to 12 days, they will open their eyes, by then the whole body will be covered with furs, by week 3 and half to 4 weeks, they start eating hard materials and soft fecal of the mother before they will start eating her feed, both pellet and grasses. By that time, they will suck the mother the more, the will be growing well but the mother will be losing weight, so at this point, you must endeavor to feed the mother very well, so as to recover on time, normally I wean my rabbit at 5weeks, but for new beginners, you can wean them at 6weeks, by then, the growth rate would have been enormous and they won’t need to suck breast anymore.
However, in a situation whereby you have rabbit giving birth to 10 or 13, (I have experienced 15 babies in my farm), you can wean the fast shooters first and wean the remaining later, because when the numbers of babies is much, they won’t grow at the same rate, some will shoot up faster in their growth rate.
At 8 weeks, you can administer Anticoccidiosis drug, I recommend coccimparo or embarzin forte, to prevent coccidiosis which is very common with young rabbit, you must also ensure you do not give them much grass at this stage because they cannot handle it yet.
When they are 10 weeks, their system would have developed better, you can now give them grasses to supplement their feed.
As they are increasing in growth, ensure they are in a room big enough to accommodate them, so that they won’t be choked or suffer insufficient breeze, rabbit needs a cross ventilation system for their housing to reduce heat stress.
At 3month, your rabbit should be between 1.5kg to 2kg +, they are not matured yet, but they are fast growing already, you cannot deworm them by injecting them with ivermectin Injection. Sometimes, rabbit can be battling with infections, yet you may not see any symptoms of it on them, and it will lead to retarded growth or even sudden death, this is what the deworming is meant to take care; I know there are times when rabbit can be raised without any injection, but if you have plenty rabbit on your farm, you will not want to risk your investment, you will need to have their drugs and medication waiting on ground always. This is very important.
By the time your rabbit are getting to 3month and half or 4month, you need to separate them by sex, and I advise you don’t keep males together, as they will fight and kill each other, and their target is always to wound and burst each other’s scrotum, this is how territorial male rabbit can be, so you have to watch out for it.
I hope this article informed and educate you a little more on how to raise your rabbit successfully?