It’s breeding time at Soaring Goose and there is nothing quite like having rabbit virgins. Most everyone is familiar with the term ‘breed like rabbits’ but let me tell you, youngsters have very little clue.
One of my senior bucks, Valentino, is a very laid back soul of a rabbit (think Filmore from Disney’s ‘Cars’) but when he found virginal Cinderella in his cage this morning, he didn’t give her a chance to be demure and shy. He showed her the way of a proven buck within seconds and has been very kind—and persistant—in breeding her all afternoon.
My conundrum came with Coppertop and Mossflower. He’s not quite worth what I paid for him but he does have some grandparents that Mossflower shares genes with. Mossy is the daughter of Valentino (mentioned above) and she has done quite well in the shows. Coppertop is not the greatest conformation but he has a nice butt, really coppery red fur, and a nice big head. I don’t plan on keeping Coppertop long but thought I’d see what the meeting of genes could produce. Could be big meaty rabbits or long lean meaty rabbits, but either way, they’re meaty.
So here I am with two virgins who have no idea how to make babies. The drive is there but honestly, that really is the wrong end for Coppertop to be concerned with. She’s reluctant, he’s clueless (despite assistance from me), so what to do?
Domestic rabbits are social animals, and always are happier when they can see another of their kind (just don’t let them invade their space—then the fight is on). I recalled reading about a farmer that when he bred his heifers to his bull, he would put young bullocks in the next corral. He was asked why he did that and replied, “How else do you think those young ones will learn? By watching. That way when they are old enough, they’ll know what to do.” That makes sense if you think about wild herd animals such as buffalo or horses. Youngsters are not shielded from viewing mating activities their entire time with the herd, so having watched the dominant stallion or bull, there isn’t the issue of humping the female’s head. Which is what Coppertop was doing ardently.
In the cage row next to Coppertop is Hammer, another senior proven buck. I grabbed up Rosebud and put her in the cage with him. Hammer is a get-down-to-business buck, and if Rose wants to play hard to get, he pulls out the dominant buck moves, puts her in her place as second in his cage, and does the deed. Efficiently and repeatedly. He grooms her afterward and is nice to her but when she gets up to wander about his cage, he’s back at the business end of life. He’s like this with all does.
So Coppertop and Mossy got to watch brown-chicken-brown-cow moves from a professional with all the added social graces a considerate buck uses on his intended. After watching Hammer take Rose in hand, Coppertop was much more efficient with Mossy.
It’s my preference to leave a buck and doe together as long as possible during the day. Many breeders say that you only need one fall-off to get kits (which is true) but it’s the sexual stimulation that releases eggs in a doe. The more stimulation, the more likely for a decent sized litter. Take Rose for example; she went from having 2-4 kits in her 15 minute visits with Hammer to having 10 kits after spending the day with him. If it’s safe to leave them together, let them, IMO. They get to be social, groom each other, have a quickie, and the bucks get to be with another rabbit like they haven’t since they were in a litter.
The does are always cranky after spending the day getting their tails chased, but they LOVE being mothers, and truely care for their kits. I see putting Mossy back in with Coppertop tomorrow to assure myself of the next generation. and I can almost guarentee Coppertop will not be shy, coy, or hesitant tomorrow. He’ll have had all night to consider what he’s seen and done, and will waste no time with begetting kits.