I have been breeding rabbits since I was 14, so nearly 10 years now. I have experience with Dwarfs, Lionheads, Angolas, Flemish Giants... and many others breeds.
Flemish Giant Rabbit image source supplied
Breeding rabbits has been a favourite hobby of mine, and at this stage has made it on to my resume. Its always a great talking point in an interview and I love being able to give tips and advice from my own experience.
My own rabbit with her young
I have had ups and downs with it, as I'm sure any breeder can relate but I enjoy the challenge.
Before I purchased my two Flemish Giant rabbits, I tried to do as much research as possible about the breed. All areas of research came back with the same conclusion - Flemish giant does are not the most maternal breed. The breeding process itself is quite easy- we all know the saying "breeding like rabbits"! Writing from my own experience, I've had still births to rabbit cannibalism (twice), maternal abandonment and some kits just not surviving past a few days old.
My last litter of bunnies
Here are some tips that can help to successfully breed and rear Flemish Giant rabbits:
Have a large, secure enclosure for your expectant mum, where she has the option of an indoor and outdoor space. This needs to be large enough for her to stretch out fully lengthways, remember their weight can reach up to 10 kgs! Make sure there is a separate sleeping and daytime area. Place food bowls and water bottles in the daytime area as to not disturb the doe.
When you notice that she has started to build a nest, this is usually done by the doe plucking fur from her own body, this is the time to start reducing the amount of times you disturb the doe. At this stage she knows she has a job to do and will not appreciate being disturbed.
When the kits arrive, NEVER EVER look into the nest or touch the nest. This is a very crucial time where the doe will be super protective and any smell of human on the kits or nest may lead to the doe abandoning the kits. They also need to have their first intake of colostrum which is the first milk produced by the doe which contains all the healthy nutrients crucial for a good start in life. I've had this happen because of a nosy neighbour and I can tell you trying to syringe feed 7 newborn babies is not as fun as you would expect!! And most kits will not live past a couple of days if they have not had the first milk.
Make sure to provide more than enough food for the mum as sometimes if you do not provide enough, she may turn cannibalistic on the young. Not a pretty sight!
Just to be safe I will usually not handle the baby bunnies until they are about 4 weeks old. Then I can be sure that they have started taking their first nibbles of food, they have started to venture from the nest and the mum at this stage will not be so inclined to kill the young or abandon them.
The bunnies can be separated from the doe from about 6 weeks old. At this stage they will be eating and drinking on there own and well on their way to finding their fur-ever home!