Updated: Feb 7
One could probably start writing about breeding Holland Lops and just never stop, because it seems like there is always a challenge popping up! They are finicky, and extremely challenging. But OH SO CUTE and such a joy to raise.
BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING, GET THE STANDARD OF PERFECTION FROM ARBA.
No, seriously. lol Study your breed over and over so that you know what to look for. Breed to better your breed!
Buy the absolute best breeding stock your budget allows. Make sure if your buck has a weak area, lets say hindquarters, that the does you get have great hindquarters to balance him out. I also recommend you start with torts or self colors. They usually hold the best type and when starting out its best to worry about building your barn before you paint it!!
Hollands are a dwarf breed which means you have some extra genetic stuff to deal with along with the normal breeding animal woes. There are true dwarves which have one copy of the dwarf gene. These usually stay under the 4lb mark, they have tiny ears and compact bodies. Generally speaking they are the show quality Hollands. Then there are false dwarves who get well over 4lbs. They have long limb and long ears. Sometimes they can be shown as juniors but go overweight as seniors. They do however make great brood does as long as they are balanced in type.
My favorite pairings are true dwarf bucks to false dwarf does. They have large litters, does deliver easily, and you avoid peanuts(I'll explain later). You may see these does called BUDS or big ugly does.
True dwarf to true dwarf usually means a small litter. It also means the dreaded peanut. If a baby inherits two dwarf genes instead of one, they will not survive. It's genetically terminal, they usually die in a few days. The will have weird round heads and teeny tiny ears. Unfortunately for the smaller litters, sometimes you may get 3 peanuts and the whole breeding was a waste.
Select a buck and doe that complement each others type. Refer back to your SOP.
You can table breed or bring the doe to the bucks cage, either is ok. If she is receptive you should have a fall off very quickly. I usually allow at least 2 before returning to her cage. Rabbits are induced ovulators so she will ovulate 12 hours after breeding. Write down the date you bred her. In two weeks, palpate her to check for pregnancy. This takes tons of practice and it took me awhile to get it right! I watched videos on you tube!
Most rabbits deliver 29-31 days. I usually give them a nest box and hay at day 26. Some make nests right away and some wait until right before delivery. If she is a first timer I don't expect much. Many does won't make a nest their first time and will often deliver on the wire. Rabbit labor is about 10 minutes start to finish so don't be surprised if you miss it!
After she delivers, get right in there and check the babies. She won't neglect them because of your smell. I remove any placentas left behind as well as any soiled bedding. I also remove any babies that were dead on arrival. Rabbits usually only feed their babies 1-2 times a day so don't be surprised if you don't see her in her nest. Check every morning to make sure everyones bellies are full!
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