It is advised that if you want to breed Mini Lop rabbits successfully, you should leave it to professional breeders. There are a number of reasons for this. Rabbits are born into large litters, so plenty of room is required to look after them unless you have a market for them already. Also young rabbits grow very quickly and are sexually active after eight weeks, so the process continues relentlessly.
However, if you plan to breed them yourself, then choose a doe older than six months and use a slightly younger unrelated buck. Check the bottom of their cages for evidence of diarrhoea and also check genitals for redness and swelling. Select rabbits that have a good breeding productivity history and strong genes and keep strict breeding records for the purpose of showing the animals in the future. One buck to ten does is sufficient for breeding purposes and the buck can be put to stud seven times a week. Only rabbits of the same breed should be bred together and the breed must be pure, going back four generations. Take the doe to the buck. The breeding pair should not be left together after copulation has taken place as the buck may continue to bother the doe afterwards which could lead to fighting and damage to the doe. For a greater likelihood of pregnancy however and greater numbers of kittens, the doe can be put in with the buck again 1-12 hours after initial copulation.
The doe should be checked for pregnancy 10-14 days after initial breeding. This can be done by feeling underneath the doe for growths the size of small marbles. You should place the nesting box next to the doe 29 days after mating. The gestation period is around 31 days. The baby rabbits or kittens are born totally hairless with their eyes closed and the litter usually numbers between 4-10. The kittens should not be touched within the first week as the doe may kill them. From three months old, rabbits should be kept in individual cages as they mature more quickly.
The doe can be rebred at 6 weeks and the kittens should be weaned between 5-7 weeks. Small breeds like the Mini Lop produce around 14 kittens a year. The doe’s reproductive cycle can continue until she is around 4 years old. Conceptions should be reviewed every quarter to determine which animals are breeding up to par and which are not. Many do not conceive from October to December whilst in moult. Lights in the rabbit run will help with this. Also the buck produces less sperm during particularly hot summer months.
The Mini Lop rabbit’s ears are erect when it is born but they will drop over time. There are a variety of different colours in this breed, some examples being: chocolate, blue otter, cinnamon agouti, agouti, black and white butterfly, and fawn and white butterfly.
Strive to maintain a good standard by obtaining the ARBA Standard of Perfection Booklet to know exactly what is expected of the breed.