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Your Breeding Questions Answered . . .

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Doe fouling nest box?

We have a four year old mini lop which lives outside and she has had two litters. After her second litter had been weaned she started to foul her nesting box. Is there a reason for this and is there anything that can be done to make her go to the toilet outside the nesting box where she used to go (in the corner of the cage). We have tried cleaning the nesting box several times but this does not seem to work, any ideas would be helpful . Thank you Kathy

Answer: I'm predicting your doe decided the nest box makes a pretty good toilet - thank you very much! To persuade her otherwise would be to remove it from her hutch. If this is not possible (i.e. it's an enclosed 'sleeping' compartment) you'll need to block her access to it. I cannot predict how long to do this for (since they're all individuals and what may be effective for one doesn't necessarily work for another) though can suggest for at least a couple of weeks. Once she's established another routine we'd hope she doesn't revert back to her old ways.

Breed older doe? 

Question: I have a 3 year old female Rex and a 6 month old male Dwarf Lop and was wondering would I be able to breed them? Have you ever bread them together? Would this be okay? Would it work? Thank you, I really need some advice. Siobhan 

Answer: Well, I suppose the mating would be physically doable, though one factor to take into account is the age of the doe, which could cause birthing difficulties. If she has never given birth before and to give an example in human terms, it would be like a woman getting pregnant in her forties instead of at a younger, much more suitable age.
 Another factor is to ask yourself why breed her now and what is the purpose of the mating?

I've never had a reason to put those two breeds together though others are working on producing Plush Lops (Dwarf Lops with Rex coats).
Also, consider the issue of finding the kits good homes, some Rex does are renowned to have large litters however at her age she may not be as productive.

Since I am unable to predict the outcome of these two, (they're all individuals and I'm not a fortune teller . . .J ) it’s up to you to weigh up various pros and cons before making such an important decision. 

Uncooperative breeding does?

I am not having any luck breeding my rabbits. One doe immediately attacks the buck as soon as she sees him and another doe makes loud grunting noises while doing her utmost in avoiding him getting near her.

Answer: The vocal sound of grunting is her way of trying to tell him that he is annoying her. If she makes a whingeing noise as well, this relays to him that she thinks she is pregnant and consequently will not have a bar of him.

Phantom pregnancies are tricky, as they can be brought upon by unsuccessful mating attempts. It would be best to wait until she is completely over it and preferably try again when she is definitely in the mood. My does let me know when they are interested by their behaviour – for example, being extra friendly and smoochy when I open their hutch door. It's as if they think I am a buck and treat me according to whatever state of mind they are in at the time.

Anyways if he's dumb enough to ignore her body language and verbal communications he is liable to receive a beating. Then there are does (like yours) that will attack for seemingly no particular reason. There are other explanations however and some of these could be that they just can't stand him being in the same room with her. They find his macho smell and the possibility of what he might do as highly offensive and by attacking him they are relaying this, loud and clear. His very presence makes her see red and unless the buck is able to escape he becomes a victim of physical injuries and mental stress. With some bucks it can put them off their natural willingness to mate while other bucks just keep on trying regardless . . . 

Heat affecting buck's fertility?

How long could a buck remain sterile after the summer heat?

Answer: Unfortunately I don't know of any scientific studies to help us predict when bucks become fertile again. It is generally accepted however that heat affected infertility can last from several weeks to several months. You would assume much would depend on whether temperatures fall to acceptable levels over a period of time, as this is surely a factor, which influences the duration of infertility. It's a tricky situation – not knowing if it's the buck or doe's fault (or both of them at the same time!) and according to most breeders such unpredictable fertility problems can occur all year round.

It would be great if we knew more, as these kinds of bits of info could help us with more reliable breeding outcomes. Unless you are able to extract a semen sample and look under the microscope to see if he at fault or if he is back into production, a lot of our breeding attempts/pairings can be a hit and miss affair. And in some cases it appears as if there are more misses that hits!

Basically it's up to you to decide how important it is to try again with the suspect buck (and risk another wasted month) or try another buck who could be a better prospect. Or then again maybe he's in the same boat as the temporarily sterile one! You can't always categorically blame bucks either. Some does are mated at the wrong time and don't release eggs, are too fat, unwilling to be mothers or reabsorb embryos, and the list goes on. At any rate we can only but try!

Able to sex newborn kits?

Question: I was just looking at your website (it has been ever so helpful!!) and I saw the week by week growth chart of a kitten. I was wondering if it is possible to sex rabbits when they are newborn? If not, then what age can I tell? Thank you very much and hope to hear from you soon, Matthew

Answer: Some people recon they can tell the sex of newborn kits by evaluating the difference of width between genital and anus. Take for example a doe would have less of a gap than a buck. I've tried this method occasionally, though didn't make a concerted effort to record every guess. You need to have pretty good eyesight (or use a magnifying glass) and since siblings can be different sizes, this could influence your decisions. Of course it is wiser to wait until they make it obvious to sex them, especially if say for instance when a 'couple of sisters?' go to pet owners.

When to breed doe after death of her litter?

Question: Hello there! I am so rapt to have found your site for my almost 7 year old, Mahalia (the owner of our two rabbits and our 9 year old, Jacob who shares the responsibility too!) Poor Snowy yesterday delivered five little kittens, but did not deliver them into her nest. The pluggy thing was in the nest – and before school the kids found the bunnies, dead. Oh it was the most heartbreaking thing to have discovered . . . but I believe a life situation for them to deal with.

How soon do I put Snowy back in with the buck again? Is it too soon now? I may need to look at your book . . . this is serious business! Thanks, Tania

Answer: Yes, it's always sad to find deceased newborns, though fortunately mother rabbits don't seem to be all that perturbed about it. Most breeders would first check if the doe is in a fit and healthy condition before re mating – by giving her a thorough once over, such as seeing if they can feel her backbone etc.

Some does that are in tip top condition are willing and able to mate a few days later while others could take weeks or more – depending on each individual's situation. You'll definitely find plenty of helpful breeding information in my book, as over the years I've certainly learnt a lot about them! 

   (When I have spare time I'll add some more of your questions)


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