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I recently saw a question about when to retire a rabbit from breeding. I thought it was a fascinating question. I did some research and found that although there were a couple of websites with a specific age, there was really no logic to the information. These were more of an arbitrary age that someone had come up with.
My first thought is that doe and bucks would probably not have the same retirement age. After all, when it comes to breeding, the bucks have the easy part. The doe must carry the kits, deliver the kits, and then nurse the kits. Thats a big load on her body. The bucks, well lets just say, its all fun and games for them.
So lets start with the bucks first. I’m not sure that setting an exact age is what you would want to do for the bucks. If a buck is interested in being bred, and successfully brings about litters, then why retire him? His body will tell him when its time to quit. We have had older bucks that have gotten to that point. Breeding become almost a chore rather than an instinct. At that point we retire them from our breeding program and pet them out. That usually doesn’t happen until around age five. Which according to our rabbit years to human years calculator would make him about 45 years old in human years. That seems to make sense. I certainly wouldn’t stop at that age though if he was interested in continuing to breed.
The does on the other hand are a little more complex. I saw a website that recommended that you stop breeding the doe at 2 years old. If you used the rabbit as part of your show team, and you only showed her for a year, she would only be available for breeding for nine months. That would mean only 2 or 3 litters from that doe. I don’t think I would find myself to satisfied with that outcome.
Again, I go back to my thoughts earlier that a rabbits body is probably go to tell it when to stop. In fact, she’ll show no interest in the buck, and just won’t breed. So I went back to my rabbit years to human years chart, and looked up at what age a women would normally stop having babies, and that would be by age 40. Now I’m speaking from a medical stand point here and not necessarily from a desire standpoint. Many women stop having babies long before that out of choice rather than necessity. In rabbit years that would be about 4 years old. That tends to be about the age that our does begin to lose interest. If she continues to produce though, I wouldn’t stop there.
So the simple answer would be to retire your bucks at 5 years old, and 4 years old for a doe. That is taking into account our experiences, the estimated age of the rabbit in human years, and just a little bit of logic. Let this be an indicator to you of when they will begin to decline in their breeding, rather than the exact age where you must cease using them in your breeding program.