Breeding english angora rabbits

We thought this might be helpful to anyone considering breeding rabbits.

Breeding Info on English Angora Rabbits

This is some information that we thought might be helpful for anyone learning or starting to breed English Angoras.  Some of the these things we were taught, some by experience, and some of the lessons we unfortunately had to learn the hard way.

We hope it helps someone else out so they have a nice and healthy litter of bunnies!  If you think we are missing something that would be helpful, please let us know because we are just starting to add educational info and can't remember everything! This is to help anyone interested in learning.

Find the perfect breeding pair. What seems perfect to you, may be far from perfect to another person. If you want to breed to the standard (SOP, standard of perfection), you need to follow the ARBA guidelines. Certain colors should not be bred to certain colors and patterns.  Also, to show an English Angora, there are many colors and patterns not acceptable. Do your research and check with your choice of group you want to show with (4H or ARBA, etc...)  We are not covering colors on this page.

  • Look for color information on our English Angora Colors page real soon.  It is incomplete at the moment.

Do not put the buck in the does cage.  Always bring the doe to the buck.  She will not be so territorial and does are more prone to fight when breeding. You can choose the bucks cage he lives in or you can use a playpen/x-pen (pictured below) where you can get in and assist if needed.

We will skip the search for the perfect breeding pair and start with the actual breeding of rabbits. One thing you want to do is watch to be sure your male has a "fall-off".  We were told about this but had no clue what it meant.  So we turned to YouTube and of course found several videos showing what a fall-off of a buck was.  It makes it simple to know if the buck actually bred the doe.

Below is one of our bucks breeding a doe.  He did have a fall off and she had a successful pregnancy. Excuse the messy floor, this video was taken in the wash room of the old barn.

Some does are difficult to breed.  They may not accept a male and they may drop their rear end.  We have experienced many of these problems, including grunting and fighting.  We have fortunately, been able to come up with solutions for all of these issues. One photo above is actually a holland lop (we no longer raise this breed). You can see how the doe is trying to escape the buck. This happens when the doe does not want to breed as well.

  • grunting and fighting: never leave them alone together. Try caging the animals next to each other so they start to get acquainted. Put the doe in the bucks cage, not the other way around.  Try this once a day or more (whatever you have time for), until they start to get friendly with each other.  Normally it is the doe who is mean. If she has daily interaction with the buck, she will grow to like him or at least accept him. Never leave them together unsupervised if you notice any fighting.  A doe will kill a buck!
  • unsucessful breeding: add a small amount (teaspoon) of ACV (apple cider vinegar) to the water. This may or may not work.  We have been told by many that it will bring on fertility and willingness to breed.
  • female not ovulating: check the vent of the doe. If it is light pink to whitish in color, she is not ready.  Rabbits tend to ovulate on demand so this should not be a problem for more than a couple of days. If the vent is pink to red (not irritated or infected), the doe is ready to breed.  Try to breed a few times a day for a few days and you should get a successful breeding.
  • failed breeding: if you see a fall off and the doe does not get pregnant, there are a few different reasons for an unsuccessful pregnancy. One, she may have absorbed the pregnancy, aborted without you knowing it, or she just didn't take the first time.  We breed for three fall-offs.  If you do this and still do not have a litter, try breeding three times a day for three days in a row.  We started implementing this into our difficult to breed does and finally had success! Warning, you may have larger litters doing this, so be prepared to help!
  • doe drops rear end:  some does will do this to prevent breeding or because they are scared. You can hold her still and lift her end so the buck can get to her for breeding.
  • doe runs from buck: I use playpens and I will get in or lean over to hold the doe and the buck does not have to chase her.  Breeding happens very quickly this way. Cages are best for breeding if you have this problem.
  • buck wears himself out: Prepare your set up so the buck does not have to chase a doe to breed.  If she drops her end, hold her up.  Make the situation quick and easy or you will have to give the buck a resting period before trying again.
  • doe rolls: I have a few does that do not want to breed and the bucks are very good at getting them.  The doe will flop on her side so the buck misses.  Sounds funny but it is best to try again the next day to save you from the aggravation of fighting with that particular doe.

When we breed our does, we allow no more than just a few minutes for the buck to breed.  If he doesn't get the job done quickly, we remove the doe and let him rest.  They know what they are doing and they can get the job done in less than 60 seconds 99% of the time. I rarely leave the doe in with the buck for more than just two minutes.  If it is not working, I remove the doe, go about my chores and try again later.  A lot of the time it works that day or one of the next few days.

The English Angora Rabbit is docile and sociable.

Always document your breeding dates

If you have more than one breeding doe, it is a good idea to breed both at the same time.  If you have any problems with one doe, you can use the other to foster or help raise some from her litter.

Be sure to free-feed your pregnant does. They need extra food during their pregnancy.  Towards the end we give our does a little more treats (calf manna especially).  Calf manna is supposed to help with milk production.  We give this to does more after kindling and while they nurse as well.

Prep for your first litter of kits.  You need to be sure your hutch or cage is baby proof. We learned this the hard way!  Babies are the size of mice and can fall through cage walls if not small enough (example, wire dog crates turned into rabbit hutches).  We have some converted giant dog crates that we converted into hutches with shelves when we first started the rabbitry.  The wire in a dog crate is not close enough together to keep baby bunnies from hoping through and out of the cage.  Kits can hop out of the nest box within the first two weeks of life and right onto the ground.  This happened to us when we first started breeding. We used hardware cloth to cover all sides of hutches to be safe. Newborn kits cannot see and all they have for defense is to hop.

  • They can look like popcorn when they feel threatened.  We call our baby bunnies "little popcorns" until they get their eyes open and know where they are hopping.

Count 31 days from the date of mating for your due date.  This is not set in stone just like any pregnancy.  Your doe could kindle a few days early or a few days late. We had a doe kindle a week early and by the time we found the litter, there were no survivors.  We haven't' had anyone kindle really late but have heard several stories of does having their babies 5+ days after their due dates.  The latest we had a litter was two days past due date and the babies had fur on their bodies!

We have also had a doe build a nest, kindle two kits and then several hours later she kindled 7 more!  We had a new, first time momma doe kindle 5 healthy kits and 24 hours later she kindled one more kit.  We would have just thought we miscounted that litter that morning, but we took the nest box in the house, pulled all babies out for a newborn photo and there were only 5.  The next day, there were 6 babies.  That sixth kit that was born was healthy and survived! The most recent experience we have had was a doe kindled 5 healthy kits and two days later, kindled two additional healthy kits!

Make sure you put a nest box in the hutch for your pregnant doe at least three days before she is due.  Sometimes they will build their next two weeks early and sometimes they build it within minutes before giving birth.  I have had several build nest and not have any babies. I always give them extra hay for their nest building and most of the time they do not pull much hair if they aren't pregnant.  They can have phantom pregnancies just like other animals do. Some of my does pull very little hair before kindling.  

When the doe finally has her litter, you will find lots of pulled hair on top of her litter to cover them up.  Make sure the hair is under an inch long.  We learned this the hard way as well.  The hair will turn into yarn and wrap around (strangle) the babies. When they are born, they have no fur and everything thing sticks to their bodies, especially hair/fur!  We lost a baby due to being strangled by the fiber spinning into yarn, wrapping around the neck.  We then learned to cut the hair in the nest box.  Even if you cut the fur down to small lengths, you still need to check it multiple times a day in the beginning because of the skin sticking to it.  We found it wrapped around a foot AFTER cutting it down one time.  For this reason, we continue daily checks and cutting the hair. Don't think that cutting the hair once is always enough. The most recent episode of this happening was to our Miracle bunny. She got tangled and felted in the wool over night at three days old. It caused permanent damage which you can see photos and read about on our herd doe Krimmling Miracle's page.

After a couple of days we start to pay close attention to the nest bedding.  If it is getting too soiled, we change it out.  We use hay in our nest boxes and we always have momma fur bagged up ready to cut and replace what she pulled.  Every time we groom a doe, we make sure we keep her fur in a bag with her name on it so we have extra for when she has babies. We have found that it doesn't have to be that does hair.  You can use any angora hair for nesting.  Ours don't seem to mind.

Learn How to Check The Genders on baby bunnies

Sexing baby bunnies

If you plan to try to sex the newborns, you have to do it early!  Images below are to help figure out if they are male or female.

This is only useful for kits under a couple of days old.  This is a screenshot of a forum online where a rabbit breeder was kind enough to show everyone how to tell the difference (we do NOT own these photos).

The next age to check a baby bunnies gender is about three to four weeks. A nice lady who raised bunnies told me that she taught her two young daughters how to sex the bunnies by looking for a taco or a burrito.  Females vents will be shaped like a taco and males vents will look like a burrito and flower out on the end. The older the bunny gets, the easier it is to identify the gender. There are lots of photos on the internet of sexing (telling the gender) bunnies at older ages.

  • WARNING: Do not force the privates to pop out when they are this young.  You can harm them permanently.  I have no proof but once read that you can cause a split penis in a male by forcing or sexing a buck too young.  I imagine it is because it was forced and human error damaged the vent.

What is Shelving baby bunnies?


Shelving can be necessary for a few reasons.  Keep in mind that momma does only feed their litter a couple of times a day typically (sometimes just once).

If it is too cold outside for the baby bunnies, you can bring the nest box inside and it will not disrupt the mother bunny at all.  In shelving, you must take the box back out to the hutch with the mom a couple of times a day so she feeds the babies.  She will hop inside the box when she is ready to feed.  She will stay in the box for anywhere from 5 to about 15 minutes feeding the kits.  You will know if the kits have nursed when their bellies are nice and round.  If they are sunk in or shriveled up, that's a sign of a weak bunny or one that is not going to thrive.  You can hold momma and let the baby try and nurse without the other kits in the way.  There are other options as well.  If you have another doe with kits, you can add the weak bunny to her litter if she has less kits to care for. You can hold her and let the kit nurse then put the kit back with its own litter.

You can also supplement bottle feed kits that need extra milk.  We have pictures posted below, of the supplies we use for bottle feeding. We use powdered goats milk (found in the baking section at Walmart) and it has always worked great for us.  It is easily digestible and has a long shelf life. The amount of milk that a bunny needs will depend on how sunk in their belly is.  We do not measure out an exact amount to feed.  We just feed the bunny whatever it takes to get the belly to look like the rest of the litter mates that are full. Don't over feed and cause the belly to stretch or tear (rare).  More importantly, don't underfeed your kit if it seems healthy and willing to drink.  We help in this way with large litters and have saved litters of 12 and 13 by doing this.

  • You can find these supplies from clicking on the photos.

Do not put the buck in the does cage.  Always bring the doe to the buck.  She will not be so territorial and does are more prone to fight when breeding. You can choose the bucks cage he lives in or you can use a playpen/x-pen (pictured below) where you can get in and assist if needed.

We recently had to order more of this powdered goats milk and noticed they changed the packaging. Click on photo for a link to WalMart.

Below is us bottle feeding or syringing goats milk to a new baby bunny that needed that little extra help getting started.

Below is hubby feeding the runt of the litter who LOVED getting his supplemental feeding!!!!

By the time a litter of bunnies are two weeks old, we let them stay with momma at all times.  They start to open their eyes and want to navigate outside the box.  Once the babies all have their eyes open they will begin showing interest in eating hay.  We turn our nest boxes on its side (see photo).  This prevents a bunny from hopping out and not getting back into the nest.  It also entices bunnies to go out and find the feed and water.  We use water dishes and water bottles both.  The white bunnies in the photo are four weeks old.  You see how quickly they get out and are already jumping on top of the nest box to lounge. That used to be moms get away spot!

Weaning a litter of baby bunnies

Weaning a Litter of English Angora Bunnies

We feed the litter the same as we do the mom.  Whatever is put in for the doe, her kits will eat as well
so there is nothing special about their diet.

When the litter turns 8 weeks old, they are normally ready to go to their new homes. We let mom wean the litter herself now. We used to follow the strict guidelines below because of a horrible experience when we first began raising EA.

Please remove mom from the litter immediately if she is mean to the babies and do not put her back with them.
 This has happened to us once with a litter only 4 weeks old.  We ended up bottle feeding them until they started drinking well on their own.

Tip: Remove mom from litter, not the litter from the cage when weaning!  Hard lesson learned for us and we lost the litter due to stress and bloat when we first started raising rabbits. This is why we started weaning slowing the first couple of years.

If you have a mom who does not wean on her own and her kits are 8 weeks old and still nursing, below is a great guide for weaning without stressing the new little juniors!

  • Day 1: Remove mom early in the morning until late in the evening. She returns to her babies for the night
  • Day 2: Repeat
  • Day 3: Remove mom early in the morning put her back with the litter that late evening but do not leave.  We watch and see if the kits are nursing.  If they aren't and she has been in there for at least 5-15 minutes, we will remove her for the night. If the kits are nursing, we leave them with her for 30 minutes and then remove her for the night. This is the first night the litter does not get mom back.
  • Day 4: Put mom in with her litter for 15 mins in the morning and remove until late evening.  Put her in with the litter for 15 mins late evening then return her to her cage alone.
  • Day 5: Do not put mom in with litter in the morning.  Put her in with litter late that evening for 15 mins then return her to her cage alone.
  • Day 6: Repeat day 5
  • Day 7: Repeat day 5 and 6
  • Day 8: Do not return mom to the litter at all.  They should be fully weaned. Now is a good time to add probiotics to the litter water for a couple of days.

We pick up every bunny in the litter each day to look at their bottoms.  This is the time that they could stress.  I watch for signs of bloat. If you see any wet, soiled bottoms, remove that bunny from litter and clean the cage with an ammonia/water mixture before returning litter.  It is best not to move the litter to a new cage.  Only remove the sick bunny.  Diarrhea is the first sign of bloat, enteritis, or coccidia which can be brought out from stress of weaning. We watch for signs of loose stool for one week. If all bunnies are eating, drinking, peeing and pooping normal after one week of being weaned, we let them go to their new homes.

We free feed our rabbits.  Litters have pellets, hay and fresh water around the clock.

Once mom has weaned her babies, she goes back to life as normal. We rest our does after they wean a litter.  Typically they do not get rebred for several months. However, there are times where we can and do rebreed as soon as the doe is back in condition and doing well. There is nothing wrong with breeding a doe after she weans her last litter as long as she is not skinny, underweight or showing any signs of stress. A healthy rabbit is a happy rabbit. We do NOT recommend breeding a rabbit while it is still nursing another litter. That is not fair to the rabbit and it needs all the nourishment to produce milk to raise its current healthy litter.

We send home a gallon size ziplock baggie of our feed with each rabbit that leaves here.  This is to help with transitioning to a new feed.

Meet Our Bunny Bumpkins Team

Hi! I'm the heart behind every bunny you see on this website. I fell in love with these fluffy babies and had to have them. I socialize them and spend time with them every chance I get. Occasionally I feed and clean but I'm usually caught slacking on that part of the job and excelling at snuggling them 100% of the time.

aHnika - Chief Bunny SNUGgler

I am the chief groomer, cleaner and feeder. I TRY to leave the snuggling to the kids although these sweet fur balls have become a quick obsession of mine. I find myself giving bunny kisses often. I take the blame for the excessive number of bunnies we own lol.

mom –Chief groomer

I'm the errand boy. Anything they need, I go get it. I pick up about 600 lbs of feed and a couple bales of hay every two weeks!  I'm also caught trying to train the baby bunnies to come to me right out of the nest box as soon as their eyes open (every litter). I can't resist these cute little bunnies.

dad – errand boy

I am the brains behind the genetics and planned litters. I take most of the pictures and videos and handle all the finances of the biz. My kids are infatuated with every single bunny and enjoy getting to hold the bunnies when allowed. Sometimes they even get to help water the bunnies.

Kelsi & kids – Biz & Fun

at country bumpkin bunnies we adore our bunnies

'Rabbits have a subtle repertoire of body language to communicate so they don't draw attention to themselves. They use these signals to bond with their hutch mates, and the humans in their lives to say 'I love you'.
- Rosie Bescoby, animal behaviourist

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