Occasionally I get emails from readers with questions I don’t have a post about. The other day I got a great one asking if you can breed rabbit siblings together or if that will cause health problems.
Here’s the question:
Hi Kathryn! I researched the internet, on if it’s okay to breed brother and sister bunnies, I found different people saying different things. Mostly that you should not breed brothers and sisters, but many of the reasons why had to do with “pedigree” (selling pure breeds?)… to which we are going towards, but I would also consider using them as meat for our family. biggest concern is the health of the bunnies and our family. Is sickness or mutations a factor with siblings mating? If it doesn’t really matter, I’m not concerned about the pedigree stuff, but if you don’t know for sure could you please connect me to a source that can help confidently explain this further for me?Thanks so much for your help! 🙂A Farming My Backyard Reader
Any time you breed related animals together it intensifies genetic strengths and weaknesses. Siblings are the most genetically alike of any relatives, so any weakness in your rabbits would become more pronounced.
When You Shouldn’t Breed Rabbit Relatives
If you are planning to eat the offspring there would be no issues. If you were then using those offspring for breeding stock in a couple generations you could end up with rabbits that aren’t strong and healthy or good specimens for their breed.
When is It Okay To Breed Rabbit Relatives?
Many times rabbit breeders will breed relatives intentionally when they are trying to magnify a certain trait in their stock. There usually needs to be a specific feature you are trying to magnify in your stock. Also, you should have a good understanding of the breed standards.
Most commonly this is done by line breeding, which is usually mating loosely related stock such as back to a grandparent. Barrow Bunnies has a good chart showing examples of line breeding. If you are careful with your breeding plan you could potentially not need to bring in new stock for several generations.
Hopefully this helps others with a similar question!
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