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I started a small (mostly NZW) Rabbit operation last Winter. I was having good luck with 5 does and a buck, breeding every two months. And then when we got into summer, it just stopped. I was just leaving the does with the buck overnight, and was not seeing breeding. But a month ago I definitely saw one breeding, and this breeding round I am making sure to watch, and the buck is going strong. All the rabbits appear to be healthy.

I had heard that the heat can case problems with the male's sperm count, but I would not imagine that it would drop his sperm count so much as to account for going from hundreds of babies to absolutely zero even with multiple chances to mate with many rabbits.

My rabbits do not enjoy touching so I really have no way to handle them gently to check for pregnancy, so I just leave them be. But they do not seem to really be nesting at all, so if they get pregnant they do not seem to get particularly far along.

Any idea what could be causing this?

Info:

  • Canada, Ontario
  • It has been quite hot, as it was summer. But in general the weather has been fairly normal
  • Fresh grass and clover, with moderate amounts of grain mix.
  • A salt lick
  • Bedded cages hung off the floor
  • In a barn. No direct sunlight. It is sort of light shade. It is very bright for indoors without artificial lights, but it is indoors
  • Doe ages ranging from just over a year, with like 3-4 births, to 2-3 years and probably around 3 times as many births.
  • The buck is similarly around 2-3 years old, I believe.
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    Try another buck (just lend one from a colleague/friend). He's the common factor. – Jan Doggen Oct 26 '15 at 15:02
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When you got the rabbits last winter, did you get any guarantee of their age. As a general rule, Does stop breeding at about 4 years old while Bucks stop at about 5 or 6. I don't have any literature to back this up as this is just from personal experience but I'm sure you can google this. Since they all stopped breeding at the same time it is likely that the buck is the cause or there is something environmental or their diet is causing this.

If you think it might be the buck, watch him and see how often he mounts. If it is anything less than 3 or 4 times a day, he is probably passed his breeding age. If you suspect it is environmental, check for leakages in their hutch and get a thermometer to monitor their hutch temperature. This should ideally bee in the range of 13 to 27 Celsius (55 to 80 Fahrenheit). If you suspect it might be diet related try and find out what they were being fed before coming to your farm and stick to that.

I'd still lean towards the Buck being above its breeding age as the other two theories would have manifested other symptoms as well.

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