How to increase rabbit litter size

by Rapheal

How can I make my doe give birth to at least 12 kits? She gives birth to 2 or 4.

***** Karen Sez *****

This is a very important question for a meat rabbit farmer, thanks for asking, Rapheal.

Your does have to build those babies out of the 'supplies' of their own bodies. Therefore, getting enough protein, vegetable fat, and other nutrients in the diet becomes very very important to the does' ability to grow the kits inside her belly.

She may conceive 12 kits, but if her body cannot give them enough nutrition to continue growing, at least some of those kits will die inside her, and her body will break them down into their basic nutrients and re-absorb all the nutrients back into her blood stream, little kit-bones and all.

Therefore, my first question to you is:
What are you feeding your does?

Do you have access to animal feeds? As to local forages, early spring forages are much higher in nutrients than are summer and autumn forages. Expect the biggest litters in the spring. Choose the bright green growing portions of plants, and grasses before they flower. Once they have flowered, the nutrients are significantly drained. We don't know the nutrient levels in the forages that grow in your area - that would be a good thing to research.

The goal should be at minimum 15% protein and 4-8% fats, if possible. (But not to neglect fiber levels, which we assume will be available in large measure if using native forages.)

In order to complete this discussion, a second question would be:

Do your rabbits come from other does that produce 12 instead of 2 offspring?

The ability to kindle very large litters is moderately heritable - it can be genetically passed to the next generation. Therefore if you need your rabbits to kindle and raise large litters, start with, or select replacement animals from, those rabbits that consistently perform as you need them to perform.

In a matter of a few generations of selecting the right replacements, you could build a herd that will make the best use of the forages you provide them and successfully conceive and kindle a greater number of offspring.

How much mating time do you allow the doe and buck?

The act of the buck riding the back of the doe is what causes the doe to ovulate, to release the eggs which will be fertilized by the buck's sperm. Our theory is that a lot of mating activity may result in more eggs released, though we're not positive there's a correlation. (Many breeders DO think that multiple breedings increase litter size at least a little bit, and some do a repeat breeding approximately 5-6 hours after the first breeding session.)

Therefore, try allowing the buck and the doe to remain together for 15-30 minutes in order to mate and re-mate at will.

We hope this info will help you get the results you're looking for!

Good luck, and God bless you...

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