Judging a Doe's Readiness and Breeding Tips

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Well-known member
Nov 3, 2011
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Before attempting to breed your rabbits, it is important to check the overall condition of both the doe and the buck.

They should be of good weight. An easy way to check this is to feel the spinal column- the vertebrae should feel like gently rounded bumps. If they feel "spiky", the animal is underweight, and if they cannot be felt at all, the animal is overweight.

Underweight does may have trouble carrying a healthy litter to term and may be unable to produce enough milk. Overweight does may have trouble conceiving due to fat deposits around the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Overweight bucks will be lazy and not eager to breed.

The buck's penis should be a healthy pink color, free of lesions. The doe's vulva should be dark pink or purple, and will be engorged by extra blood.

This is a picture of a young doe who is not ready to be bred. Notice that her vulva is a pale whitish-pink color and is quite slim:


This doe is likely to be receptive. Notice the engorgement of the vulva, and the dark pink color:


This doe is at or near the height of her cycle. Notice the very dark purple coloration:


Here is another doe that is likely to be receptive...


Does are very territorial and protective of their space, and may attack a buck if he invades her territory. Always bring the doe to the buck's cage for breeding, or take them to a neutral area, placing the buck in the area first so he may claim it as his own.

The doe may run around the cage for a time, and may also grunt or growl. Tail wagging indicates that she is probably ready, but is "playing hard to get". If the doe is receptive, she will "lift" for him by standing on her rear toes.


After a successful breeding, the buck will fall off the doe, usually quite dramatically.

I customarily have the buck cover the doe two or three times in succession. Rabbits are induced ovulators, which means the eggs are released after coitus occurs, about 8-10 hours after the initial copulation. For this reason, many people breed again 8 hours after the initial breeding. Knowing that sperm live for 72 hours or more, I consider that practice to be a waste of my time.

If you have a successful breeding resulting in no litter, or an unwilling pair, the buck and/or doe may be lacking sufficient levels of Vitamin A and E. Good sources of Vitamin A include Dandelion, Turnip greens, Mustard greens, Romaine lettuce, spinach, winter squash, sweet potato, and carrots. Vitamin E can be found in Sunflower seeds, dried apricots, basil, oregano, and spinach.

Apple Cider Vinegar is often added to the water to promote good condition in both does and bucks. Some people have found that giving the doe Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger Tea will bring her into season. Others believe that taking her for a drive in a car will do the trick. Another option is to put the doe in the buck's cage and the buck in the doe's cage overnight.

If possible, it is always a good idea to breed two or more does at the same time. If any of the does experience problems or have a very large litter you have the option to foster kits to another doe.

I hope that this information will be helpful to those just starting out breeding rabbits, and look forward to any input and tips that others have found to be useful!
Thank you all, and you are welcome! I would also like to thank the models involved, who have asked to remain anonymous. :)

Credit for the first three pictures goes to Queenpup, my Head Assistant in the BunnyBarn. The last was taken by me.
yes I would like to thank you to becouse i'am also new at this.I enjoy my rabbits alot and love the quit and comness of it all :D
Thanks, Sky. I couldn't go with white as per your suggestion for the not-ready doe. Pale green is the closest I had!
How often does this 'state of readiness' occur? I have been regularly introducing my couples but have only had one successful litter/kit...
Thanks so much! This is very helpful. I've read about the different colors, but I'm the type of person that pictures go a long way to help (much to my Mom's dismay when she is trying to explain to me how something should look).
brucesquatch":12s887zy said:
How often does this 'state of readiness' occur? I have been regularly introducing my couples but have only had one successful litter/kit...
I'd like to know too... do they have seasons? or is it just after smelling a buck? What if they live next to a buck year round?
I bred both of my does a week ago. It usually looks like a game of two bunny tag is going on in the buck's cage. After reading this post, I have been checking for color every day, but then it dawned on me, would a successful breeding affect color changes and readiness?
Yes Thank you very much I've had some great litters with this one doe 2 good litters with 10 kits each then this last one she didn't have any. Then I re-breed her and it looked like that she didn't raise her but for him at all but hope he did get her though. put my nest in for one of my good does and looks like she is making a nest so think she is going to produce a litter.

starting my starting to breed 6 new does and new buck and I'll be watching them.

Like someone asked earlier how often are they ready??

Thanks again lot of good info
Lightnin1960":10ik38z1 said:
Like someone asked earlier how often are they ready??

I think the reason no-one has answered this is because when they are ready, we breed them! :lol:

I would hazard a guess that a doe is dark pink or purple at least once a week, with a span of 3-4 days of receptivity. It is possible that exposure to a buck can help to speed things along if she is not yet ready.
Wow I thought it was alot but wow I didn't even think it was that much... so wonder they breed like rabbits.. LOL

I do want to say thanks again
Thanks for the pictures. I've been successful breeding my rabbits together once and have always heard the color of their parts helped to tell when they were ready but without the pics I never was able to be certain and just took my chances. Thanks again.
That onlooker bunny in that last pic looks very interested in what was happening. :popcorn: