Some basic facts about grasscutter with regards to reproduction are as follows:
- Sexual maturity: Male grasscutters mature in 8 months or 32 weeks and they have a minimum body weight of 2.5kg while the female grasscutters mature in 6.5 months or 26 weeks having a minimum body weight of 1.8kg.
- Sex ratio: 1 male can service 4 to 10 females.
- Ovulation: Just like female rabbits (does), female cane-rats start ovulating on sighting a male
- Gestation period: 152 days
- Numbers of litters per year: 2 litters
- Number of young per litter: 3-11 young
- Suckling period: 40 days before weaning
Selection for Breeding
In grasscutter production, random selection should be avoided. You should procure the best animals from the nearest breeding center or another grasscutter breeder. Additionally, when making your selection, it should be based on body weight. All the females within a family should be having almost the same body weight and the male grasscutter should be 0.5-1kg heavier than the females. Don’t buy or breed closely related mating pairs; that is, a male closely related to the females.
Mating in grasscutters
A male grasscutter is capable of mating with many females grasscutters in a single period. The male should be placed in the mating pen and the female grasscutter is moved from her own pen to the male’s pen. Leave both in the pen for 24 hours.
Note: Don’t move the male to the female pen because it may result to fight and mating may not occur. Also, avoid mating a male that is lighter than the female in weight.
There are two mating options in grasscutter farming:
- Permanent mating: Here, the male and female grasscutters are allowed to mate together in the same pen but the young are moved to another pen after they have been weaned.
- Temporary mating: Here, the female is placed together with the male until she is pregnant and she is moved to another pen.
Both permanent and temporary matings have their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of permanent mating
- Increased breeding cycle
Disadvantage of permanent mating
- Difficult to identify the mother of each offspring
- Less control over reproduction
- Risk of cannibalism
- Risk of exhausting reproductive females
- Under-exploitation of the male
Advantages of temporary mating
- Clear identification of mother and offspring
- Excellent management of breeding process
- Reduced risk of adult male killing offspring
Disadvantages of temporary mating
- Increased investment (several pens needed)
- Need for larger space to house females
- Reduced number of litters per female and per year
The gestation period for grasscutters or cane-rats is 152 days. After your male and female grasscutters must have mated with each other, it is necessary to check if the female is pregnant.
4-8 weeks after mating, carefully insert a cotton bud into the genital of the female. If it changes color to red, then that grasscutter is pregnant. If there is no discolouration, then the female is not pregnant.
Newborn grasscutters resemble adult ones. Within a few hours, they can move around. After the female has delivered, she must be provided with enough feeds and water for adequate milk production.
You should wean your newborn grasscutters 40 days after they are born. This is necessary because any extension will make the mother to grow weak due to prolonged breastfeeding. When weaning, separate the males from the females. You can identify a male grasscutter by distancing the genitals and anus, which is twice as large as those in the young females.