What’s the Proper Time to Wean Babies?
It seems like everybody has an opinion on the best time to wean their kits. Many growers will wean their rabbits at different ages. Naturally, this may depend on the breed you are raising and your personal preference.
Here at Crossroads Rabbitry, we only raise New Zealand Whites. I’m sure I may upset some people, but we wean at about 4 weeks if they are doing well and eating a decent amount of pellets. We also watch and make sure that they are jumping in and out of their nest boxes and if the mother has cut them off from milk. If there is a runt or two in the litter, we may leave those for a little longer just to make sure. If we decide to sell just weaned rabbits to the public, we usually wait til they’re about 5 weeks old. This way they’ve had a week on their own. Again, many people may think this is too early but it’s what we practice and, not bragging, but we do have a very high survival rate. Yes, I know there are a lot of people out there who firmly, and I mean FIRMLY insist you leave them with the mother till 6 or 8 weeks. but there are proven studies that show it makes no difference, especially in meat rabbits.
Most growers try to get a doe bred back at 4 or 5 weeks, unless you are pushing your doe for more litters a year. Most let them stay with the doe for 6 to 8 weeks depending on when she got re-bred. Most of the time the doe will wean them on their own at around 4-5 weeks.
We practice a semi-intensive rate of production meaning our does are serviced 10 to 21 days after kindling and the young are weaned at 4 to 5 weeks. There is no contrast between pregnancy and lactation. For 10 to 21 days the doe is newly pregnant while still nursing. Since these does never have a resting period they need a sufficient and well-balanced concentrate feed. This allows for 7 to 8 litters per year. This is the rate of production used at Crossroads Rabbitry.
So in our personal opinion, and it’s just our opinion so don’t get upset, under normal conditions, New Zealand White rabbits can be weaned anytime after they are 4 weeks of age. The main thing is to determine if they are eating and drinking well enough to survive on their own.
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