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Rabbits Online > Pet Rabbit Discussion > The Rabbitry and Show Room > Avoiding "barn blindness" : What do you need to improve in your herd?



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Old 04-29-2011, 09:42 AM   #1
TinysMom
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As a new breeder (and even now sometimes) - I found I had "favorite" bunnies that I loved to breed because they were good moms or because I loved their personality or because I loved their color.

To me - their babies were always "cute" and "cuddly" and I was in love with them all. Sometimes I wanted to keep them all (not that I did).

But I hadn't learned to look at my rabbits through the eyes of another breeder or through the eyes of a judge. I was looking at them through the eyes of a "mama".

What I do now - is to try to evaluate my rabbits every three months or so and list their strengths and weaknesses and then ask myself "What does my herd need?"

I especially do this before considering bringing in new rabbits. For instance - I just contacted Juan Perez in Mass. (remember - I'm in Texas) about getting some more rabbits from him this fall. When I wrote to him - I told him that my biggest needs with my flemish giants were to have bigger heads and bigger bodies (but well balanced). Right now my flemish are topping out at around 17 pounds...and I'd like to see them a pound or two heavier I think. (I'm not a big fan of HUGE flemish as I feel like its harder on their hearts and mine are as much pets as they are breeding rabbits to me).

So here comes my challenge - or the purpose of this thread....especially for our newer breeders:

If you look at the standard for your breed(s) - and then look at your rabbits - what one or two things do you need to do in the next year or two to improve your herd?

It will help if you include breed type:

Here's mine.

BREED: Flemish Giant
I have good ear length and fairly decent balance. I need a wider face and more mass (that is balanced).

BREED: Holland Lop
I am not 100% sure what I need here right now. I think I need to bring in a very nice typey buck to breed my girls to. However, both of Cindy's daughter's have her body type and sit very nicely. I hope to show them all this fall and get comments and then get a high quality buck for them.

Those are the only two breeds I'm working on at this time.




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Old 04-29-2011, 01:21 PM   #2
GorbyJobRabbits
 
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I already know what I want with my harlequins. I got back into rabbits last July or so. I went cheap. I got a lot of rabbits off of two newer breeders and right after I regretted it. They were too small.

SO I sold them. My main goal from then on was buying large stock had to be atleast 8 pounds and over. I succeeded and did VERY well.

My kits when they are born, I know who to focus on. And who not to get attached to. I'm successful with that. Looking at my harlies and nearly everyone elses the color bands have gone down the drain. The markings are not clear as they should be. And all the Japanese are turning peachy. There are a few old breeders out there, one being Gatewood farms who is close by that I am in LOVE with their Japanese. They are the very distinct deep orange with clear markings. I have been on their waiting list for quite some time for a Japanese buck from them. They've very strong genetics and thats what I feel needs to be worked on with my Japanese. I've got a few great does, and 2 I will get a litter from and I'm in debates of selling them. They're size and body will be great for my herd, but I am not happy with the color, nor do I have a desire to work with lilac or chocolate, or anything other then Black in my Japs.

My magpies I would like a little more size on. My one doe is Huge. We'll see what happens after a few more grow out.


With both types of lops, I just want some litters out of them.



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Old 04-29-2011, 06:13 PM   #3
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With my Mini Rex and Rex, I know that it's mainly the shoulders that I'm having problems with in my herd...It's difficult to find Mini Rex/Rex with nice shoulders. I have gotten some outcrosses from breedings that produced nice shoulders, but it's still something that I need to work on.

I'm already improving midsection by breeding in smaller rabbits (Mini Rex wise)...it helps that my new herd buck is a TINY boy. He has decent shoulders, but they could be better.

Density & texture are up there with the shoulders, but it's easier to breed in and I've done a good job at improving that so far.

With my Netherlands, I'm just starting out and have some decent animals in my herd. I'd like to get fuller HQ's, and shorter bodies, as well as better ear placement. It'll take a while with the Nethies because I haven't learned which lines carry what - and heck I'm still learning this with my Mini Rex, since the majority of them were all related and I've yet to get a litter from my new lines that I've brought in. It's difficult when you're working with the least popularvariety (REW) though.

Emily

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Old 04-29-2011, 07:43 PM   #4
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Red Mini Rex... Hmm well we have the color and fur, but not the type. Talk about backwards .

we don't have much of a line to actually pin point one problem. Our best doe is Out of castors..so she has the type(except for her HQ's). One of the best mothers I have come across. She's a nice addition if you have a lighter buck to clean up the color. We get Belle(Black River Lines) next week. Hopefully she will help our red herd.

Our Plan it to outcross to castor and tort to get type. It's just a question of who to pair who with to keep the color in check.

For me..it's kind of hard not to have favorites. I'm amazed at the intelligence and affection our rabbits have. They really are great animals.

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Old 04-29-2011, 10:57 PM   #5
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Tan- Black, Blue, Chocolate variety
Ha well first off I need more rabbits than just two bucks and one doe that are apart of my breeding stock lmao

But I am looking to get a chocolate doe to pair with my fabulous chocolate buck. I want to find a nicely rounded doe(she can be a little choppy because it seems my buck fixes that in a litter) with some intensity in color. She also needs to have extension of limbs for the buck is lacking in that department. I am also looking for a blue doe so i can bring some dilutes into the mix. She definitely needs to have nicely rounded hindquarters and no chop because my buck definitely throws that. I would like to find another nice black doe in the future.

Britannia Petites
I just want some babies to live. . .
A nicer doe is what i'll be looking for in the near future.

Oh tinysmom if you have heard of Kathy Hillery and Aj Foster they have some nice flemish. Theyre always competing with Larry? They just had a butt load of litters too every color

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Old 04-30-2011, 04:29 AM   #6
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My Breed is Netherland Dwarfs. After spending 3-4 years buying whatever I could find in the silver marten color, breeding, and then selling all of the offspring because they didn't look good at 8 weeks, I am finally much more aware of what to look for, I can see type much more easily, and I actually have acquired some quality stock. Now, my "favorites" are the ones with the best type, and my opinion of "cute" means the baby that shows the most promise. I critique objectively and probably a little harshly at times because I want so badly to be improving the breed.

The first and one of the biggest challenges by far, though, was getting rid of all of the "extras", the rabbits that people had given to me because they couldn't take care of them anymore, or that I had "rescued" from craigslist ads and because I thought I could make something of them and focus on more than one thing at once. I soon found that to be impossible. I do still have one extra rabbit that will be going next weekend at a show. Then and only then will I say to myself, "Finally, I am a one-breed, one-focus rabbitry," even though I am sure there will be many more unwanted bunnies that will come through my rabbitry as a leeway to their new forever homes and I will be happy to help them.

The first structural challenge that I set out to overcome was pinched hindquarters. I had to start with a serious evaluation of my herd. I found that many of my animals had pinched hindquarters and because of it I got rid of some of them. I found that one of my bucks had excellent large hips and very straight feet, and so did one of my does. I bred my buck to all (3 at the time) of my does, and now I have four of his daughters and they all have great hindquarters. One of them who got some other very good genes as well as HQ was the recent Best of Breed and 2nd Runner Up in Show winner at the TRBA State Show. I think that is excellent confirmation that I am breeding better if I do say so myself.

The next thing I am probably going to have to worry about is length of midsection. That buck with the great HQ also has a very big midsection. Fortunately, my other herd buck is the perfect equalizer of this. He is a very tiny barely 2 lb. rabbit and is very short-bodied. I am looking forward to the next generation of Natty Dwarfs as these daughters get bred to my little buck and start to produce for themselves.

After that, I am probably going to have to start worrying about a couple of other things. There is a very wide range of ear shape and substance in my rabbitry, but I am not as worried about it right now because the body structure is more important. In addition, I will now actually be starting a line of rabbits. My recent winner was out of a pairing of two completely unrelated rabbits, but now I know that there are certainly good genetics in there to be pulled out. Her sister is a BUD and I am hoping those good genetics she carries will come out in her babies. The last thing I need to work on, that is going to become increasingly important as my rabbits keep improving in quality, is my presentation of my rabbits. They need to be worked with more often and for longer periods of time so that they will behave and impress judges with how typey and also how poised they are, and so that they will look as good in their pictures as I can see that they do in real life.


Apologies for being so wordy, but being thorough and transparent is something of great value to me when I answer questions. Thanks so much for this discussion topic Peg! I will be posting this to my rabbitry's blog as well.

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Old 04-30-2011, 08:26 AM   #7
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woahlookitsme wrote:
Quote:
Oh tinysmom if you have heard of Kathy Hillery and Aj Foster they have some nice flemish. Theyre always competing with Larry? They just had a butt load of litters too every color
If you have their rabbitry names or contact information or anything else - can you send it to me in a message?

My rabbits are out of Jack Langley and Juan Perez. Jack is here in Texas - Juan is in Mass. and I love his rabbits. I just got on his waiting list for a buck from him.

I need to reweigh my flemish. My girls seem to be topping out around 16 or 17 pounds but I haven't checked my bucks.

I would prefer to stick with the rabbits from Jack and Juan (I think) to try and build my own lines (they were highly recommended to me when I was starting out) - but that doesn't mean I'm not willing to consider bringing in rabbits from someone else if they will improve my herd.

I've had some breeders tell me to get more size....that my rabbits are too small and others tell me that 17 pounds is ok IF it is a well-balanced 17 pound rabbit that conforms to type.


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Old 05-05-2011, 03:35 AM   #8
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I've got the Woolies! =D

I've got massive heads on bucks and does as well as ears that are between 2 1/4 and 1 1/2 inches. Shoulders are very short and wide, midsections are strong, topline on most is short and nicely rounded(though I do have a few out there with slipped HQ that I'm working on improving). My first brood doe put about 4 more inches on the coats, and I've got some lovely texture too!!

I know I need to improve ear shape since mine tend to fold at the tips(but that's a very minor fault). And I just brought in 2 new does to improve the fullness in the lower HQ. Plus, I got a new buck that should help with the ear shape, the HQ, and he'll make my coats even denser!

I'm very excited to see how this year's litters are going to turn out!! =D And I'll be adding 23 more holes to my 14-hole rabbitry so I can grow more out! =D

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:12 AM   #9
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Flemish and Elops here, but will only talk about Flemish since that's the only thing I've yet to breed and show.

What I've learned so far is from other breeders, friends and ones online, and judges at shows. And I'm already working to improve w/ what I have.

Bodies first, color last.... A little nicer rise, more bone/more stocky build and then darken up the color. Head and ears are great. Already have a buck in mind to do that for the next litter planned for next year. No reason not to use the does I already have since they can be improved upon. In the future I'd love to be able to have show and brood stock in one bun... double duty. Until then, I'm good w/ what I have and have produced. Very happy w/ my first attempt at this.

It's still fun and will be for years to come I'm afraid. I'm not a quitter!

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Old 05-07-2011, 03:37 AM   #10
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I have Elops mainly. My major problem is I really dont know what to look for when they are babies as to who to keep and not to keep. Can someone give me some advise on this. Whats the major things to look for that would make someone show/brood?
I know with my elops right now they need bigger heads as well as NO crown and Im seeing a problem with both those issues. I like the massive looking elops.



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