Rabbit breeding may be something of a cliché when it comes to the wild, but if you are planning to launch a commercial rabbit farming enterprise, then there are a few things you will need to know about how to successfully breed rabbits in captivity. That is because commercial rabbit production needs to be predictable and manageable. Basically, you need to plan.
The first thing you need to know is that rabbits can only be bred once they reach physical and sexual maturity. Depending on the breed, you choose to farm with, that could be anything from four to seven months old. That is why it is sometimes better to invest in an older breeding pair than to buy baby rabbits, and wait for them to mature.
You will also need to consider the type of rabbit breeding you want to be involved in. Farmers who breed for meat purposes don't have to be overly concerned about the appearance of their breeding stock, their lineage or their physical attributes, but those who are breeding for show purposes, or for wool production (as is the case with angora rabbits) will need to consider genetics and more when deciding on their breeding schedule.
The average doe that is being bred to produce a litter for meat production will be bred on a thirty-five day schedule, which allows enough time for recovery after a litter of kits, and ensures that she will be receptive to her mate. It is usually a good idea to check your breeding does for general health before mating them again, as rabbits that are in ill-health will not produce a quality litter.
Bucks that are used for stud purposes are usually mated once a day, although they are able to mate more often than this. It's usually also a good idea to rest a stud buck in between mating, if he will be required to perform more than once a day.
The mating process itself is fairly simple. A doe is selected, and then moved to the buck's cage. This is done because does tend to be territorial, and are less likely to mate in their own cage. Mating should occur almost instantly if the doe is ready to breed, and many farmers allow their breeding pairs to mate twice, to ensure that the mating 'takes.'
Around twenty-eight to thirty-two days after the mating, the doe will produce a litter, which may include as many as a dozen kits, and those kits will mature enough to eat on their own within two weeks of birth.
Even in the wild, a single doe can produce up to eight hundred children, grand children and great grand children in a single breeding season (which in the case of rabbits, is nine months of the year.) It is easy to see, therefore, how a few quality-breeding pairs can stock a commercial rabbitry on their own in less than a year.
The secret to successful, commercially viable rabbit production is usually a good rabbit breeding program, which allows your breeding pairs enough rest in between litters.