Birth Weight Improves Rabbit Doe Performance

Researchers in Hungary looked at the effect of birth weight and litter size on the reproductive performance of does as adults. The does were raised in litters based on their birth weight. Smallest kits raised in litters of 6, medium birth weight kits in litters of 8 and largest doe kits in litters of 10. Birth weight affected the number of inseminations necessary for the first kindling but did not affect later conception rates. Does with heavier birth weights had significantly improved performance. The advantages for heavier does were as follows:

  1. 12.4% larger litter size at birth,
  2. 9.4% larger litter size at 21 days of age,
  3. 4.5% heavier litter weight at 21 days of age.
The smallest does at birth experienced a 21% litter loss in their own young while the largest birth weight does lost only 8.2% of their young. The researchers found the size of the litter the does were raised in (6,8 or 10) did not affect doe reproductive performance. When selecting for replacement does it would seem worthwhile to weigh the kits at birth from your best matings, mark the heaviest doe kits, record the information and keep these kits as replacement does.

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Author: Craig Richardson - Animal Care Specialist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 26 July 2000
Last Reviewed: 28 September 2015