Colony rabbit breeding management

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Cosima

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I what to have a colony of rabbits. I only gust got a doe and a buck a month ago. My first litter when wrong and my doe didn’t feed them. Actually she had no milk at all and unfortunately all the three babies died so I want some advice with that. Also in colonies how do you stop the buck from mating the doe after she gave birth?
 

Mutt-Dad

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Hi Cosima,
Welcome! Sorry your first litter didn't survive. I had a similar experience with my first litter (I do not have a colony setup). In my opinion the point of a colony is to let the rabbits self regulate. Let the buck and doe sort out when to breed. If it were me I would give the doe another chance before culling her, or selling her as a pet.
 

ohiogoatgirl

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In a colony with the buck in it they will in general breed as soon as the doe comes out of the nest from kindling. So you have to be ready for litter every month. They may hold out and not breed back right away but you have to be ready for it to.

I only had a colony for a short time. I like to plan breeding and to different bucks. So I prefer to just take the doe to the buck as needed. Then the does are in the colony.
 

SailorGriz

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We're thinking (pretty seriously) about starting to raise rabbits for our own use. Earlier I posted that we have a 1/3 acre fenced pasture that I thought about using and free ranging the rabbits in it. But we also have a 12x12 foot dog kennel that is divided down the middle. Concrete floor. One side has a large dog house and we have a portable igloo style doghouse we can put in the other side. Here's my thinking . . . keep the buck(s) on one side, does and kits on the other. As soon as the kits can be sex identified, move the young bucks to the buck side. For breeding we'd put a buck and doe in a large portable dog kennel for a day or two then separate them back to their respective living kennel.

Any thoughts or comments about keeping rabbits this way? I figure with the concrete floor it should be easy to keep things clean although it would have to be done pretty often, depending on how many rabbits there are. Anyone think of any reason NOT to try it this way?

Thanks!
 

MnCanary

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I don't think you'll be able to move young bucks in with an older buck. Even if they don't fight immediately, there will eventually be bloodshed. Perhaps keep the herd buck in a traditional rabbit cage.

You'll need to put 1/2" x 1/2" wire over the existing kennel wire, to keep kits in and predators out. Pay special attention to the bottom of the wire, where it meets the concrete; and also the door. Predators can and will find a way to get in.
 

SailorGriz

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Thanks MnCanary! I didn't realize you couldn't but young bucks in with older ones. Which is the sort of information I was looking for. I'll come up with some way to keep them separated. I have a small gap between the wire and the slab that I figured I'd have to cover--same with with the doors. The pen is chain link fencing which should keep out anything bigger than a weasel (which I don't think we have around here--but might). It'll be easy enough to run some chicken wire around the pen to keep the kits in.

Thanks again!
 

eco2pia

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Thanks MnCanary! I didn't realize you couldn't but young bucks in with older ones. Which is the sort of information I was looking for. I'll come up with some way to keep them separated. I have a small gap between the wire and the slab that I figured I'd have to cover--same with with the doors. The pen is chain link fencing which should keep out anything bigger than a weasel (which I don't think we have around here--but might). It'll be easy enough to run some chicken wire around the pen to keep the kits in.

Thanks again!
no weasels maybe, but rats are everywhere. mostly they will just steal food, but worth considering.

Were I you, I would set up half your 12x12 as a large colony space with 2-3 female littermates and then put a buck in a traditional hutch or hanging cage in the same space. He can chill on the ground with the ladies for a while (a week or 2), then take a time out, you can divide the second half of the kennel and separate the male and female weanlings at 4-6 weeks, and put boyo back with the ladies for 2 weeks. By the time your next litters are born your first littler is starting to be the size you want to harvest, and you can harvest across the next month and a half before weaning the second round.

That would be the high production option. For lower production, you could give him his own 1/4 of the kennel permanently, and have him in with the girls less often. sort the males into the second 1/4, and give the girls 1/2.

I just would not reccommend the 1/3 ac fenced pasture AT ALL. I know some people do it, but I don't think it is super wise for those just starting out with rabbits. I think you are likely to end up with a feral colony you are unable to maintain.
 

MaggieJ

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In addition to rats and weasels, raccoons can be a big problem for rabbits. They will reach through the chain link, wiggle their fingers to entice curious rabbits, and then eat what they can grab right through the wire. In addition, they will stress the rabbits a great deal just by their presence. Chicken wire is no deterrent -- they are strong enough to tear through it.

Does your enclosure have a chain link top as well as sides? You'll need a roof of some kind to protect from the weather, but make sure it is critter-proof because raccoons and owls can attack from above.
 

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