Rabbits are easy and cheap to raise, as well as produce very tasty and quality meat. You may hear the phrase “Breed like rabbits” because of their proliferation, but how many litters can a rabbit have in a year? Have you ever wondered about this question? Are they real productive animals and how many litters per year are recommended for rabbits?
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“Breeding like rabbits”
The age of 4-9 months is popularly the moment when a doe reaches its sexual maturity. Depending on the breed, the puberty period may come earlier or later.
Specifically, smaller breeds like the Polish are mature at 4 months old; medium weight breeds such as New Zealand, Chinchillas, or Californians may reach its maturity at the age of 6-7 months, while heavy breeds like the Flemish are ready to mate later at 9-12 months.
Also, a doe and a buck are sexually mature at different ages. Generally, does will be ready later than bucks.
Some people say that the ideal period for rabbit breeding is from March to September, but it is all about the temperature, the feeding, and the sunlight hours of a day. Those factors will determine when the rabbits mate.
Typically, the breeding season of rabbits is not really clear because does do not come into heat as other animals. They will accept mating at any time of the year. After the babies are born, a doe can mate again and become pregnant the next day.
That’s why people always say “breeding like rabbits”. For example, after a doe gives birth to her babies, the young will reach their sexual maturity at average 6 months, so at the same time, those new mature rabbits can have their babies in the same year.
The gestation period of a rabbit varies from 27 to 32 days (around 1 month) depending on the breed. A doe usually has a litter of between 1 to 12 babies (kits), but the average number is around 6. Some might not manage to survive their birth because of their bad health and development.
Fun fact about rabbit mounting
When a buck receives the agreement from a doe on mating, he starts to moves around her, shows his tail, and perhaps urinates on the doe, which is considered their foreplay. This process stimulates does to produce eggs as they are induced ovulators. After the act of 20-40 seconds, the egg will appear for fertilization.
How many litters can a rabbit have in a year?
In an ideal condition, a rabbit can have 11-12 litter per year if it maintains the pace of consecutive mating. In case all the babies can survive, and there are 12 kits per litter, one pair of rabbits can produce 132-144 babies in a year.
However, following this breeding plan is not a wise choice as it is too exhausting for the mothers. Normally, a doe will maintain the milk feeding to her babies until the weaning period – when kits reach 6-8 weeks old.
So, if a doe gets pregnant when her youngs are still milk-fed, she has to spend her nutrients and energy for the current litter and the upcoming one. This will weaken the does, and at the same time reduce the quality of the kits.
Therefore, a doe is once recommended to have some rest after her littering for accumulating energy. Some people might suggest that when kits are 4 weeks old, a doe can get pregnant again, which means the next litter will be born when the current litter is 8 weeks old.
Following this formula, a farmer can have 6 litters per year with around 72 kits (if all can survive).
However, professional rabbit farmers claim that having 3-4 litters a year will be best for a doe’s health. Following this plan, after giving the first litter, your does should rebreed during the 6th-8th week, and the existing youngs should be weaned at 8-10 weeks old. This means the next litter of bunnies will come when the previous one is at 10-12 weeks old.
You are advised to always observe the does and the bunnies’ health status to determine when your does are ready for the next breeding. If you follow this plan, 36-48 kits per year may be produced.
Did you know: Can Rabbits Eat Strawberry Tops?
Tips on controlling rabbit breeding
Normally, the idea of a happy family is always in people’s minds. Many would like to keep all does and bucks together. However, this would be the reason why you couldn’t get control of the rabbit breeding.
As bucks become sexually mature at a younger age than does, you are advised to separate them since they are babies. Also, bucks may fight when they are together, and you can use 1 buck with every 15 does.
You might be interested to know that fast breeding is a natural surviving characteristic of rabbits. Normally, the average life expectancy of this animal is just around 2-3 years. Many may get killed by predators, or have accidents like a passing vehicle or suffer from dehydration and starvation.
This short lifespan of rabbits encourages them to multiply so fast whenever in ideal conditions, which is to naturally protect this species from extinction.
If you want to breed and sell rabbits?
How many litters a rabbit can have per year varies upon different factors, and is also up to your choice of how to take care of your rabbits. Breeding and selling them would require a lot of effort.
- Gene – You will need to know that brothers and sisters cannot be paired because it will result in some physical defects later on.
- Pedigree – To maintain a pure type of rabbits, you need to understand and make sure the ancestors are correct, so you can also produce the same quality of rabbits.
- Rabbits with defects – Those with issues in their teeth or skull shouldn’t be multiplied because you wouldn’t want to have new bunnies with the same problems.
- Standards – Certain standards are set and should be followed by rabbit breeders. You must know to avoid mistakes when selling a baby rabbit.
Hard work will certainly pay off, so if you would like to make a proper business, especially with a productive animal like rabbits, should equip yourself with enough knowledge and take care of your animals properly. A business that makes a lot of money may require a lot of hard work.
All in all, to decide “how many litters does a wild rabbit have per year?” is not only simply let rabbits do what they want, but also to give them proper care and create their happy living. That would be how you maintain a good business with happy rabbits producing happy bunnies with good quality.