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Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Discussions and questions about how best to keep your breeding program running smoothly.
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Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#1  Unread postby alforddm » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:05 am


I guess the title mostly answers my question. I want my rabbits get it right the first time. If a doe messes up twice she is gone. I also haven't kept back any does from momas that mess up the first time and I've lost remarkably few litters to first timers even though I tend to replace does frequently.

Now I'm wondering, are does out of does that mess up the first time, really more likely to mess up the first time themselves?

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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Rainey » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:40 am


I haven't kept does from ones that 'messed up' if that refers to mothering skills so all/most kits survive. But when we started with 2 does, one we didn't keep or keep offspring because her second litter she had 2 doa, and one of the remaining 6 had a splayed leg. The other doe was a good mother but a vicious biter so we kept 3 does from her to breed the next year. One was an awful mother--lost her whole first litter and only 4 of 11 of the next litter lived beyond the first week. She just didn't seem to make much milk. Both of the other does did well. One of those we're still breeding (just had her 10th litter) and the other had 6 litters but didn't take when we bred her last year and found lots of internal fat though she didn't seem overweight when we checked along spines. We had one doe other doe last year that lost her whole first litter--just didn't feed them. But her sister had 3 successful litters last year and one this year.
So hoping if we only keep does from good mothers that eventually we'll weed out ones that don't have milk. I really hate having a litter just fail to thrive and tried hand feeding but not with any success.

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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#3  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:36 pm


guess for me it would be a question of-- "is this the best I have- to choose the replacements from?" I always save from the does, and doe/ buck combinations with best average 8 week litter weights, so -- one that lost a litter would be way behind compared to a doe who always weaned 10. I do think mothering ability is a genetic trait-- and weeding out bad mothering ability will be a blessing for many years to come.
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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#4  Unread postby akane » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:26 am


I haven't had too many that were really bad and the few incidences did not really repeat with offspring. I had a doe that attacked her own kits when they left the box until she realized they do that. She didn't do it again with the next litter and no daughters did. I had a few not get milk in early enough to save all or most of the litter but they usually did the next litter and the daughters did not have that problem with any increased frequency over the offspring of does that had plenty of milk every litter. Same for nest builders. I had a few that would put nests anywhere but the box for multiple litters but then did not have it show up at all in their daughters. It seemed more an issue with adjusting to a new environment and not being raised in my cages with my boxes than genetic. The only ones I've had it be a genetic issue were obvious culls. The ones that had temperament issues, mothering issues, and health issues rolled together I only bred to see what traits did persist and I was using many of my rabbits as raw whole prey for dogs and cats anyway so it didn't matter if I made a litter of nutso rabbits that only I had to deal with. My rabbits mostly raised kits fine it was the temperament issues I ran into with a line of very hormonal mini rex and a few rabbitries that seem to put out nothing but vicious biters for netherland dwarf. Probably 99% of what I culled for certain rather than just didn't quite make the cut and I didn't need more keepers were temperament issues. I wasn't breeding very close to show standards though. My tendency to make unrecognized colors and inability to get to any shows meant I had little reason to cull for type or color beyond my own preferences.
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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#5  Unread postby alforddm » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:51 am


Most of the ones I've had mess up on the first litter, just seemed like delayed instincts. Two started in the cage but moved to the box to finished and then didn't pull fur but ended up pulling fur after the kits were dead. One split in them in box and some had no fur but I managed to catch that one and moved the uncovered kits. Only two does have had them scatted around the cage. One of those two also missed when I bred her back and is now a pelt in my freezer and one is the doe in question which kindled yesterday. I "think" those are the only litters I have lost due to fault of the doe. Considering how many litters I have out of new does I guess that is really good.

The doe in question now is a harlequin that given the coloring of her litter that was scattered on the wire, I think carries chin (I'm working toward magpies). I'd "possibly" consider keeping back a doe from her if she milks well. She's out of my best doe and her sister (chocolate chin) who kindled a few days prior and did everything perfect, does not seem to milk as well as her dam. Were as her dam successfully raised 10 in her first litter to (almost) 2 weeks (lost them through no fault of her own). The chocolate chin has 8 and has already lost one. Of course, it just dawned on me, while I was writing, that when her dam kindled her first litter it was May and I was feeding evening primrose and lambsquarter, which aren't as far along this year as last. Dang it I wish I had recalled that earlier. Bleh, it's hard to make good comparisons when your variables aren't all the same.

Any way, I do realize that mothering abilities are genetic but I feel like there are probably some other components as well. I bred these does at 5 months so they are young still, but I do that routinely so don't think that is related.

I'm done rambling now.

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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Dood » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:55 am


I'm convinced mothering skills are hereditary and culled out bad moms right from the beginning of my herd in 2012

I occasionally get a clueless first timer and will keep back a daughter to replace her, more often than not that daughter does well with her first litter so in my experience it can skip a generation. If that daughter does have issues then I cull her too and don't keep any offspring

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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#7  Unread postby alforddm » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:58 am


Dood wrote:I occasionally get a clueless first timer and will keep back a daughter to replace her, more often than not that daughter does well with her first litter so in my experience it can skip a generation. If that daughter does have issues then I cull her too and don't keep any offspring


Awesome, this was what I was wondering about. I had already put this doe on my cull list but I'll go ahead and give her one more go and see how she does.

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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Ghost » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:05 pm


When you include the modern understanding of genetics to the statement that "mothering skills are hereditary" also means that the buck also carries those "good mothering genes" even those genes are not expressed in the male.

A practical way of thinking about it is, if a buck comes from a mother that does not have good mothering genes and then sires a daughter. Then it is possible that the daughter could have picked up some of the "bad mothering genes" from her paternal grandmother via the buck.

It should be known that no one suggest a single gene for mothering. Milk production most likely has many associated genes, same as true for for mothering instinct.
You have to do the most good for the most. You most remember that a few will won't make it. Don't be ashamed to shed a tear for the ones lost along the way, we will not hold it against you. Just remember "the herd goes on".

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Re: Keeping back breeders from does that mess up

Post Number:#9  Unread postby alforddm » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:44 pm


Yes, I've been thinking about this as well. The bucks mom is a great mom and always milks great although she does have smaller litters than i'd prefer (around 6) and he's sired by my lilac buck who also seemed to produce good moms. My lilac buck's daughters almost always had large litters as well. I'll have to watch and see how this buck's does produce. I've gotten litters out of two of them one great and then this failure and bred his other daughter yesterday.

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