Again, there’s no easy answer. Factors that influence breeding include age, weight, temperature, light and the frequency of breeding.
The biological time clock affects bunnies just like humans. Females typically can be bred for the first time at five months. Males usually reach sexual maturity by six months of age. However, these times vary. Larger breeds are slower to reach sexual maturity.
Purina Mills’ research has shown the most common cause of breeding problems occur because does and bucks are under or over weight for their breed specific “target” weight. Underweight rabbits may be physically incapable of breeding successfully. Overweight rabbits may not show any interest in mating and can have a hard time becoming pregnant if mating does occur. Establish a “target” weight prior to breeding according to the specific breed standards of your rabbit for greatest success. Adjust the feed intake of your rabbit to maintain an ideal weight.
Environmental temperatures can affect reproductive performance in bucks. Temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit can cause heat induced sterility. Keep bucks in a cool area when used for breeding purposes.
How much is too much? The active breeding life of a rabbit can range from 4-6 years. Females on a more intensive breeding program (more than five litters per year) will be productive for fewer years than those bred less frequently. Frequency of breeding can also affect the performance of males. When used in an intensive breeding program, keep one buck per 10-20 does. In cool weather, fewer bucks can be used more often. Does that are infrequently bred may become overweight which may lead to breeding difficulties.
Keep the amount of light constant for 14 hours each day to maintain constant breeding throughout the year.
Be sure your rabbits have reached sexual maturity and are the proper weight and condition for their breed prior to mating. Monitor the amount of food your rabbit eats to prevent overeating and excess weight gain.
Gradually increase the feed of underweight rabbits to get them in the ideal condition for breeding. Purina Rabbit Chow Complete Blend and Purina Show Formula contain all the essential nutrients for reproduction and are formulated to support up to 40 bunnies per doe per year (5 litters a year).
If a more intensive breeding schedule is desired, Purina Professional Formula is recommended. Formulated with extra protein and nutrition it enables does to produce up to 64 bunnies per year (8 litters per year).
Keep bucks cool and maintain light exposure at a constant 14 hours per day to achieve the best breeding performance of your rabbits.