We have learned a lot in the time we have owned this breed, I say we because although this is my 12 year old daughter's venture into the world of entrepreneurship, I am certainly helping guide her along the way. This new litter was born 6/17/16 and thus far, all appear to be perfectly marked Dwarf Hotot standard kits.
Let me start by saying that this breed is HARD to find. My daughter therefore thought it may be a good one to start with because hey, if they are hard to find, they will likely sell well! I hope she's right. In helping her research the breed I have learned so much too, fascinating information, so lets get to the point!
When breeding a female rabbit you take her to the male, not the other way around. (Females are much more territorial and you don't want a black widow kind of outcome)
Once you breed the doe it is customary to wait 12 hours and breed again. STOP THERE. Don't be tempted to continue the breeding because a double pregnancy can actually occur. Yes, someone call Maury Povich because you would have multiple pregnancies at the same time. This is not so good because when the doe is ready to deliver the first litter, she will deliver all of the kits, even ones who are not fully mature enough to be born. Sad outcome.
About 3 days before the due date (so day 25 after you have bred the doe) put your next box in and load it with nesting materials as well as adding plenty of extra to your doe's enclosure. It is TOTALLY normal for a doe to either make and re-make, and re-make her nest....OR... not make the nest or pull hair at all until immediately before delivery. Our doe routinely pulls her fur within the hour she delivers and not a moment sooner.
That leads me to another fact about nesting. Mama rabbits will pull the hair from their dewlap or underbelly to line their nest. If you ever have a litter pass away be sure to keep some of the doe's fur in case you need extra nesting material in the future (this stuff sells for ALOT online if you have to buy it during the winter!)
I am not suggesting trying to play with newborn kits, but within the first 24 hours checking the nest to count kits and be sure you don't need to cull (remove) a dead one is absolutely fine. We rub the mama doe with lots of loving pets to get her smell all over our hands and then simply check out the new little ones. Holding and snuggling for longer periods should wait until at least 1-2 weeks and the bunnies at least have their eyes open.
Also, newborn kits will usually only nurse 2-3 times total in a 24 hour time span, and the nursing sessions can last as short as 5 minutes...see, like I said, its quick!
In the summer be aware that rabbits can overheat, VERY easily. If you see that a mama doe has uncovered her kits in the nest, don't re-cover, leave them be. Also on especially hot days be sure you have plenty of ventilation. Right now our outdoor temps are in the 90's so we make sure to open the barn doors wide to provide plenty of air circulation throughout the day. Another cooling measure, keep old pop or water bottles in your freezer and as the temps rise, put a frozen bottle in the cage or hutch with mama (not near the kits) that way she can cool off and stay comfortable.
The second genetic misfire is the Max Factor gene. This gene is not expressed quite as often as the peanut or double dwarf gene, but is something to be aware of. The Max Factor is a genetic mishap in which the rabbit is born with its eyes open, therefore rendering it blind. The rabbit will also have frog like legs that are splayed out making hopping almost impossible. These rabbits are pretty easy to identify immediately but often will not just pass away and therefore render a breeder with a decision to make.
This is going to be a fun next few weeks!