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When to replace breeding does

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When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Rainey » Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:07 pm


I've asked before but always along with other questions and this one didn't get answered. How long would you expect to keep breeding a doe? Is age more important or the number of litters. If breed matters, I'm raising meat mutts that started with NZW and SF. The 2 does I have now are 2 years old and had 3 litters each last year and 3 again this year. We also bred a couple young does this spring and they had successful litters but not as good as their mother so we sold them to someone else just starting and have kept out 3 does from this year's litters to breed next year.
From what I've read here on RT some people seem to change does often to get different colors or because the younger ones are an improvement. On the other hand you never know what a doe will do until you try her and the one junior that we tried and she lost all of her first litter and 7 of 11 from the second. I would rather not go through that experience again. And I don't want to breed more rabbits than we have cage and freezer space for. So keeping the successful does makes sense to me. But I don't know how long I can expect them to produce and feed litters and need to have replacements ready when they slow down. What should I watch for and how abrupt will the end of their productivity be?

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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:30 pm


I seldom replaced does until it became obvious that they were no longer as productive. Your breeding regimen is very moderate, so you should be able to keep your best older does for at least another couple of years. Keep your best proven does and make space in your rabbitry to try the most promising of their female offspring. After a couple of litters you will be able to judge how good they are.

Excellent health and disposition, great mothering skills, size of litters, consistency and growth rate of their kits were all important to me. I preferred a doe who consistently produced 6-9 kits that grew out well over a doe that produced a dozen but had some runts and a very uneven growth rate in the litters.

Hope this is helpful, Rainey. It is important to realize that I am just mentioning things that were important to me. I think each rabbit breeder, over time, develops his or her own criteria -- and that's as it should be.
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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Rainey » Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:18 pm


I know we're going to have to replace them eventually and probably would ideally have 3 does we're breeding to get the number of kits we want to grow out to freezer camp weight. The awkward part is that when you try out a doe and she has a litter of 8 or so but you don't think she's one you'd want to keep as a breeder you have a cage full of her kits until they reach weight and for us that's about 12 weeks. It was easier at first because we knew we had to replace both our original does so we tried several juniors and kept the 2 best ones. Now we only really want to add one but have to try more to find out which does best. I wish I knew how long we could count on Casco and Berwick to produce good sized litters that have decent grow out and no health problems because I'd like to have at least one other reliable proven doe when that happens. But I don't see any reason to replace them until I need to. The rest of rabbit raising has been not too hard to figure out, but choosing who to keep for breeding and how many and what is good enough to keep after the first litter is harder. Guess it will take a few years of trial and error to have any confidence about it.

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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:06 pm


Sounds like you need an extra cage or two for grow-outs or a doe you want to try out.

Your quarantine cages (if you have them) are pretty safe to use for grow-outs that are headed for freezer camp. Also, a young doeling can share mom's cage while you assess.
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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#5  Unread postby SoDak Thriver » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:33 pm


Good thread. This was a question I was about to ask myself, so thanks, Rainey.

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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Marinea » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:00 pm


*waves to SDT*
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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Rainey » Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:26 pm


MaggieJ wrote:Sounds like you need an extra cage or two for grow-outs or a doe you want to try out.

Your quarantine cages (if you have them) are pretty safe to use for grow-outs that are headed for freezer camp. Also, a young doeling can share mom's cage while you assess.


I don't have any quarantine cages because we haven't brought in any new rabbits since we started--have just worked with what we have. I have a pretty good idea now of how many rabbits we want to eat in a year (and how many fit in the freezer along with other things) and at this point I'm pretty confident of the litters I'll get whenever I breed the proven does. But I'd like to have one more in the line-up and I want to be ready with replacements when the current does are no longer productive. And I'm trying to figure out how to plan for that without producing lots of excess rabbits.

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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Marinea » Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:07 pm


I face this with one of my does- or think I will. She will be 4 in the spring. She is currently bred, and I plan on two more litters from her between now and next May. I will be looking at her production, and if I see decline, I plan to keep a doe from her last litter. It's a guess, I know, but I love her past production and believe I have a better chance keeping one of her kits than taking a chance on an unknown rabbit.
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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Rainey » Wed Sep 14, 2016 5:42 am


Marinea wrote:I face this with one of my does- or think I will. She will be 4 in the spring. She is currently bred, and I plan on two more litters from her between now and next May. I will be looking at her production, and if I see decline, I plan to keep a doe from her last litter. It's a guess, I know, but I love her past production and believe I have a better chance keeping one of her kits than taking a chance on an unknown rabbit.


Is it just that she'll be four or are you seeing some indication in her or her litters that makes you think you need to replace her soon? My does just turned 2 this summer but being a beginner I don't know how long to expect a doe to keep producing healthy litters.

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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Marinea » Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:03 am


I haven't seen any changes in my older doe yet. I suppose these next breedings will let me know if she still has the right stuff. I suppose I am just thinking ahead and may be surprised. She has been a great breeder for me.
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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#11  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:36 pm


Marinea wrote:I face this with one of my does- or think I will. She will be 4 in the spring. She is currently bred, and I plan on two more litters from her between now and next May. I will be looking at her production, and if I see decline, I plan to keep a doe from her last litter. It's a guess, I know, but I love her past production and believe I have a better chance keeping one of her kits than taking a chance on an unknown rabbit.


You look like you are on the right track..... Being a beginner Rabbiteer (is that a word... it should be) I have the plan to keep a doe from a litter if I see characteristics I like at cull.... I try and have a cage or two for that purpose..... if the "new" doe doesn't perform (growth, breeding, mothering) my existing primary does are likely going to be still producing as expected.

My rabbitry started last year with 1 primary doe, who doesn't have the best mothering instincts and her daughter that did.
I have since purchased a few and am growing out a few to keep as replacements. My goal being 4 breeding does, two bucks. (I have a buck problem, currently holding 4 .....I love bucks. They are cuddle bugs and I see all sorts of pelt colour options...lol.. I think I can get down to 3 bucks for the winter... :) :D :lol: )
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Re: When to replace breeding does

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Marinea » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:01 pm


I totally get what you're saying, Tricia. I solved my problem with "just one more" by totally filling the rabbits area with cages :) I have two breeding trios, a pet Lionhead, and two grow out cages. The end. No more. Makes me a bit more picky on keepers.
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