Rabbit Reproduction: Pregnancy, Kindling, Sexing, and Weaning

The following are the rabbit reproduction processes in the following stages of pregnancy, kindling, sexing, and weaning;

1. Rabbit Pregnancy

Pregnant does will often accept the buck during pregnancy, so refusal to mate cannot be used to confirm pregnancy. The first real confirmation of pregnancy can be obtained about 14 days after mating.

The doe should be relaxed and sit naturally. If fingers are then gently run along the abdomen, between the back legs small bead-like lumps can be felt if the doe is pregnant as shown in the image below, these are developing fetuses.

Inexperienced keepers should practice detecting pregnancy in does that are 20 days pregnant, at5 which stage the fetuses are easy to identify.

Rabbit Reproduction: Pregnancy, Kindling, Sexing, and Weaning
Image: Testing for pregnancy by palpation

By around 28 days the mammary gland will have developed significantly and this can be regarded as the final confirmation of pregnancy. At around 29 days the doe will begin to remove fur from her abdomen to make a nest.

Pregnancy or gestation is the time from fertilization to the time of kindling or parturition which take 31 or 32 days. On average, the pregnancy period last 30 days in the common commercial breed. During this period the doe should be well fed and protected from stresses such as dogs and general noise.

Gestation period- this is the time from fertilization to the time of kindling or parturition which take 31 or 32 days. On average, the pregnancy period last 30 days in the common commercial breed.

About 4-5 days before kindling a nesting box should be brought in with some wood shaving of fine straw placed on the floor of the box. It will soon be found that the doe begins to remove hair from her abdomen and sides and place them in the box to prepare a warm cushion for the young ones soon to be born.

The young ones of rabbits are born naked and blind. Their mother uses the hairs in the box to cover them to keep them warm.

Read Also: Rabbit Health and Diseases and How to Minimize Major Stresses

2. Rabbit Kindling

The doe usually kindles or gives birth, at night. Once kindling has finished the doe will pluck more fur from her abdomen and cover the young rabbits. It is best to leave her undisturbed for 2-3 days after kindling unless there are obvious problems.

It is a good practice to have some cotton wool ready to cover the litter if the doe has not done this properly herself.

3. Rabbit Sexing

Sexing of rabbits can be done at any time from the moment of weaning. Close to the anal opening is another orifice (opening) which is the sexual aperture. In both sexes, there is no difference in the external look of this opening, but when the opening is pressed open with the aid of the thumb and forefinger, the difference becomes quite vivid.

In the female, a longitudinal slit will be seen, while in the male a round opening is observed and the penis can be seen protruding out of this opening. If sexing is delayed longer, the testes of the male would have developed fully and could be seen protruding out clearly from the body between the two hind legs.

This makes the identification of the male easy. Any rabbit not having these testes protruding out is female.

Rabbit Reproduction: Pregnancy, Kindling, Sexing, and Weaning

Another method of identifying fully grown rabbits is the size of the animal. The doe is usually smaller than the buck within the same breed and she is a lot more docile than her opposite sex.

Image (a): Lift from the scruff of the neck and support underneath, press gently where indicated.

Rabbit Reproduction: Pregnancy, Kindling, Sexing, and Weaning

Image (b): Showing the male and female reproductive organs of the young rabbit.

Read Also: Rabbit’s Reproductive System (Male and Female)

4. Rabbit Weaning

Weaning is the separation of the doe and the young. It should be done around 6-8 weeks after kindling. The best method of weaning is to take the doe away from the litter. To do it the other way around will put too much stress on the litter.

The period after weaning is another critical time for the young rabbits and it is a time for feeding some concentrates if available. Small amounts of concentrate at this time will have a big effect on the growth rate.

As the rabbit grow they may be gradually taken off concentrates but their growth rate will slow as a result. The litter will soon require extra hutch space.

After weaning, the doe should be allowed time to recover her body condition before re-mating. Weekly weighing is the only sure method of checking that she is regaining her body reserves. Does can usually continue breeding until they are 3 to 4 years old.

In conclusion, reproduction is a complex process controlled by substances called hormones. Breeding stock should be selected from does who are good mothers and who have good body size and shape to ensure healthy offspring.

Reproduction is a complex process controlled by substances called hormones which are produced in endocrine glands in the boy, and in other parts of the body like the ovaries. Hormones are transported to the organ they controlled (target organ) by the blood circulation system.

The female reproductive system consists of the ovaries (2); oviducts or fallopian tubes (2); uteri (2); cervix; vagina; vulva ad Mammary glands- (8-10). While the male reproductive system consists of the testicles (2); vas deferens (2); Penis and associated glands.

Breeding stock should be selected from does who are good mothers and who have good body size and shape. The ratio of does to bucks should not exceed 10:1.

The first real confirmation of pregnancy can be obtained about 14 days after mating. The doe should be relaxed and sit naturally. If fingers are then gently run along the abdomen, between the back legs small bead-like lumps can be felt if the doe is pregnant, these are developing fetuses.

The doe usually kindles or gives birth, at night. Sexing of rabbits can be done at any time from the moment of weaning. Weaning is the separation of the doe and the young. It should be done around 6-8 weeks after kindling.

Read Also: Selection for Rabbit Breeding Process and Rabbit Mating

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer (With over 12 years of professional experience in the agricultural industry) - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: Agric4profits.com - It's All About Agriculture, The Way Forward! Agric4profit.com - The Most Reliable Global Agricultural Forum! Agric4profit.com.ng - The Most Reliable Nigeria's Agricultural Job Board! TheAgriPedia.com - For Everything Premium Agriculture! WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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