Breeding of Rabbit


Stage-wise description
Breeding males required 1 male for 10 females
Age at which first bred Small breeds - 4 months age (Polish, Dutch)
Medium breed - 5 to 6 months (Newzealand White, Chinchilla)
Characteristics of reproduction Polyoestrous. A female rabbit appears to have no definite oestrus cycle although a certain rhythm exists in their sexual receptivity. Cycle lasts for about 12 days of which 4 are infertile.
Signs of heat Congested, purple and moist vulva, restlessness, rubbing the  chin on the sides of the cage, lying in mating posture and lifting the tail
Mating behaviour The doe is always taken to the buck’s cage for mating, and if the doe is in full sexual receptivity it will lift the tail and
within a minute the buck will be mating the doe. Mating is
successful when the buck falls to one side or backwards
after mating
Ovulation Ovulation occurs 10 - 13 hours after copulation – reflex
Pseudo pregnancy/ Pseudopregnancy in rabbit may result from sterile copulation and lasts for 16 to 17 days. At the end of this period she may pull hair from her body and attempt to make nest and shows development of uterus and mammary gland.
Gestation period 28 -34 days (average 31 days)
Pregnancy diagnosis The methods adopted to determine the state of pregnancy
are test mating, weight gain method and the ‘palpation
technique’. The palpation technique is the most reliable
method if done by an experienced person.
Palpation technique A completely relaxed doe should be placed on a table which has been covered in sacking to prevent her from slipping.
The doe should be restrained by gently holding the fold of
skin behind ears and over the shoulders. The left hand is
placed under the body between the hind legs and in front of the pelvis. The uterine horns are felt gently using fingers and thumb. The thumb is placed to right of horns. Embryos can be located and felt like small marble shaped bodies slipping backwards between thumb and fingers when moved gently in a sideways direction. An experienced person can deter-mine pregnancy by 8th to 10th day of mating using this technique. During last week of pregnancy a nest box lined with wood shaving or hay or coir fibre should be placed inside the cage.
Litter size 6-8 kits
Weaning 4-6 weeks
Kindling interval 2 months (it may be as short as one month if bred immediately following kindling)
References Kerala Agricultural University. 2001. Package of Practices- Recommendations: Veterinary and Animal Husbandry, Kerala Agricultural University, Trichur. .