Glossary of Rabbit Breeding Terms
Rabbit Farming in South Africa

© Karoline Steenekamp
A row of cages showing hopper position and slanting drop tray under cages with hay and fresh hay on top.

Here is a list of terms used in rabbit farming and an explanation for each of them.

Aggressive trait: An aggressive (wanting to bite and scratch) tendency that is carried from the parents to their young stock

Bedding: Grass, sawdust or shredded paper used to cover the cage floor, or to put in nest boxes

Bloat: A swollen gut caused by incorrect feeding

Breed Standards: A description of how a breed should look. All purebred animals have a breed standard by which they are judged

Bucks: Male rabbits

Catch Tray: A tray placed under a wire floor to catch manure and urine

Castrate: To remove testicles and thereby make the male infertile

Chop: Green feed, lucerne and hay that has been finely cut up

Coccidiosis: A bacterial disease that can kill rabbits. Happens most in rabbit cages that are not properly cleaned

Colony: A large run or cage in which several young rabbits can grow up together

Compost heap: A collection of all manure, bedding and plant material left to decompose and be used on the vegetable garden as a fertiliser

Concentrates: A mix of feeds that are balanced and put through a pellet-making machine. A good, but expensive way to feed rabbits

Consistent: All the same

Conception: The moment when a female falls pregnant

Cover: A term used to describe a mating

Does: Female rabbits

Double Tier: Cages layered on top of each other

Eragrostis: A very good grass that can be dried into hay

Feed containers: Dishes and systems used to supply feed to the cage

Foster: To take surplus babies from one doe and give them to another to raise

Genetics: The science of studying characteristics of a breeding stock

Genitals: Sexual organs

Green feed: Any vegetable or grass fed fresh

Hay: Grasses dried

Hay Ricks: A wire system used to hold hay for feeding

Haunches: The hind legs of a rabbit

Home consumption: Slaughtered to feed the family and not for sale

Hoppers: Automatic feed containers

Hutch: The cage in which a rabbit is kept

Hutch card: A record keeping system fixed to the cage

Immunity: Safe from catching a disease

Import: To bring in from another country or place

Indigenous: Animals that originate in the place where they live

Labour intensive: Requires a lot of labour to get right

Litter: A batch of baby rabbits from one mother

Loins: The muscle running down the spine of the rabbit where the hind legs join the body

Malocclusion: Broken or damaged teeth

Mammary glands: Teats that supply milk to babies

Mastitis: An infection in the mammary glands

Mating: Putting a male and female together to breed

Mentor: A guide or teacher

Myxomatosis: A killer disease that we do not have in South Africa

Nest box: A container in which the doe has her litter

Nipples: Part of the mammary system from which the babies drink

On Heat: Doe ready for mating

Palatable: Tastes good

Partition: A divider in a cage to make two spaces out of one

Pellets: Concentrated feed processed for easy management

Predators: Any animals that would like to kill and eat rabbits such as dogs, cats, snakes, rats

Progeny: Babies from one or a group of animals

Prolific: Can produce lots of babies

Roughage: Hay or green feed that is not in pellet form

Rump: Hindquarters

Sawdust: The dust and shaving from cutting wood

Scruff: Loose skin behind the neck

Sexing of babies: To separate males from females at weaning

Sleek: Strong, shiny and healthy animals

Stock: Your breeding animals

Stockman: A person who tends and understands his stock well

Teff: A grass usually fed as a very high quality hay

Territorial: Protective of its own space

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease: A killer disease not in South Africa

Vulva: Female genitals

Water nipples: Part of an automated water system from which the rabbit drinks

Weaning: Taking a litter of babies away from their mother

By Karoline Steenekamp