Rabbits are famous for their ability to reproduce in large numbers. In the wild state, the does have been known to produce as many as four or five litters a year. The number of litters born in a year depends upon the rabbit’s environment. The survival of the young is also largely dependent on the amount of food available during their first year.
Young rabbits fall prey to foxes, weasels, birds and other animals; therefore, the numbers born must be in excess of those required to maintain the rabbit population. The rabbit fancier does not have to confront these problems. He restricts his does in the numbers of litters they will be allowed to rear in one year.
The domestic rabbit doe may be reluctant to breed satisfactorily, which can cause problems for the newcomer to rabbit raising. Rabbits will not breed unless they are in tip-top condition. Does that are mated in poor condition will rarely carry their litters full term; if they do, the young will probably be weak and undeveloped.
A common misconception about breeding is the idea that all that is necessary is to put the buck and doe together and, presto, they will mate. If it were really that easy, the rabbit fancier would have no problems at all.
The buck must be in perfect condition if the best results are to be obtained. As a general rule, the doe should always be placed into the buck’s hutch. Some does will not tolerate the presence of another rabbit in their hutch. Even though the doe is willing to mate, she may attack a buck who invades her privacy.
The very sight of a doe will excite a buck, and he will jump around his hutch in anticipation. Once the doe has been placed into his hutch, she will usually cower in a corner because she is unsure of herself in strange territory.