A Breeding Thought Experiment

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Troller

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Now before I start I just wanted to write that I have no intentions to Breed rabbits since I have no space, no time, no means, no feasible way to handle extra's and nothing more then a desire.

So a long time ago I read about how in the 1930's they were trying to breed Flemish Rex's. It started out as a Flemish club thing and then the Rex club took over. It worked for a while but fell to the wayside due to unpopularity. Now I know Flemish clubs would never desire such a thing to keep the breed pure so a CoD would never happen so show is out, and they are too big to be appreciated to be pets so even as a wishful thinking project its purely a vanity project.

But to develop a breed, how many holes would you need? Exactly how would you go about establishing a line and how long would it take overall? How many total rabbits estimated before such a project would reach fruition? Would it even possible to keep all the Flemish traits but the fur? And lastly what would the issues be health wise (sore hocks being one from the get go I'm sure).

Thanks for any replies. I just want to live vicariously through the idea.
 

JDWest

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How long it would take? Infinite.
Breeding is always a never ending goal to do better then the last litter

One would have to seek out stock with the desired mutations or genetics. Many happen onto a characterstic and if the stars align or it suits them, decide to take it further.

How many holes depends, some say you need a large number, some breeders seed out stock to other trusted breeders and work in cojunction. If one has a small rabbitry, things will take longer. It takes a lot of litters to prove or disprove a thought or expectation a breeder has for a breed. You may reach results within the first few generations but any faults or achievements may not be fully realised till generations later.
Whatever the size, you want to keep your options open which means for me, having a good many bucks to work with. Alot of breeders put more value in the does and keep a limited number of bucks. I like to keep a good number of bucks. Also it's a good idea to keep foundation stock. If any problems arise you can work backwards and in a way re-set your goal.

With breeds that focus in size, choosing for other traits over this main one will lead to size reduction fairly quickly. But once a trait is set you can work back up to the others.

Yes, health issues can arise due to linbreeding to fix the prefered traits in a breed. But when breeding in an
unforgiving way, bad traits that will harm a breeds future can be identified by the breeder and not be worked with, leaving healthy traits to be solidly set. If out crossing is not an option and a pool to work with is small some bad traits may not be properly delt with, and become periodically hidden in the breed.*

Hope this answers a few questions :)
 
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JDWest

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Forgot to add...
That yes, sore hock would be a contender, as would be low milk production, poor temperment, low immunity, split penis, and low fertility etc.
 

Troller

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The drawbacks you mention, is that inherent to line breeding, crossing or the breeds themselves?
 

JDWest

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Both. Line breeding brings forth the very best and very worst characteristics hidden in an animal to the surface. It's the breeders choices thereafter that will result in which chracterstics will continue in a line. Line breeding can either strengthen a breed or cripple it. Depends on the breeder. Breeding involves more thought in who should NOT be bred, then who should be bred.
 

OakRidgeRabbits

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But to develop a breed, how many holes would you need? Exactly how would you go about establishing a line and how long would it take overall? How many total rabbits estimated before such a project would reach fruition? Would it even possible to keep all the Flemish traits but the fur? And lastly what would the issues be health wise (sore hocks being one from the get go I'm sure).
Developing a new breed takes generations of rabbits and decades of work. I'd say you're easily looking at a rabbitry of 100 rabbits or more.

It takes a long time before a line will breed true. That means, it would take some time before you'd consistently be seeing a rex coat on the offspring, and then longer to get the Flemish characteristics back in. Timing depends a lot on the characteristics you're searching for. Putting a Rex coat on a Flemish body, for example, wouldn't take as long as creating a mane on a dwarf rabbit (in the case of a Lionhead).

All in all, you'd be looking at thousands of rabbits before the breed would reach acceptance.

In theory, there shouldn't be more health issues than the average rabbit. After all, the goal of the project should be to create hardy, healthy animals.
 

BlueGiants

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I'll preface by saying this may be upsetting to read but.... the "Flemish Rex" was developed strictly as a fur rabbit. (The idea being larger pelts meant they could use less rabbits, less seams in a garment.) They were not developed for show. (The National Flemish Club never backed a COD.) Yes, sore hocks were a major issue with the cross. They were crossing in a Breed with very short fur (Rex) and very low felting over the feet with a Breed (Flemish Giant) with excessive size, putting tremendous pressure on large feet that had inadequate covering. The "trick" to raising them successfully was "use" them before they grew "too big". Production was low over the life of a Doe. Most Does would only have 1-2 litters before they had to be culled due to sore hocks or other issues. It was one of the main reasons they fell out of favor with fur producers. High turnover within the herd made them expensive to produce. (The best fur is produced by castrated males, and since Flemish eat more than smaller breeds, they were more expensive to raise to full size as well.) I, for one, am very happy this mix is not being propagated anymore.
 

Troller

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Glad to have someone so knowledgable on the specific history since i was unable to find it myself. Interesting. Not that I could do something like this, but even if I could I wouldn't if in the long run it would be harmful. It is interesting though the reasons breeds are developed or not.
 

Troller

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As I originally began the post though, i'm interested in the mechanics of breeding for something new so specific breed really doesn't matter. Using the Flemish for example, why 7 colors? How did folks figure out that those 7 colors work. Is it the genetic study? (I've looked but the letter codes end up confusing me).

Another thing, are breeds brought about often by mutation? I know breeding a type is often done for desire of certain traits for certain uses (like size for meat, etc.) but how many current breeds began as a mutation that people have been interested in. I've read that the Rex fur was a mutation, as was Lionheads. Lutino's are interesting, is that a mutation or something else? Could Lutino's be possible in Flemish? (I only use Flemish as a reference since I have two and mostly know about them).
 

OakRidgeRabbits

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As I originally began the post though, i'm interested in the mechanics of breeding for something new so specific breed really doesn't matter. Using the Flemish for example, why 7 colors? How did folks figure out that those 7 colors work. Is it the genetic study? (I've looked but the letter codes end up confusing me).
There's no reason for the number of colors accepted in each breed except that those colors were developed and passed through the acceptance process by the original COD holders. New colors are being accepted all the time.

As far as actually introducing a color to a breed, it's as simple as cross-breeding a Flemish (using your example) with a Californian or a Mini Lop, or whatever the goal may be.

If you're just creating a new color and not a new breed, the idea would be to pull from other breeds of similar body types.

Another thing, are breeds brought about often by mutation? I know breeding a type is often done for desire of certain traits for certain uses (like size for meat, etc.) but how many current breeds began as a mutation that people have been interested in. I've read that the Rex fur was a mutation, as was Lionheads. Lutino's are interesting, is that a mutation or something else? Could Lutino's be possible in Flemish? (I only use Flemish as a reference since I have two and mostly know about them).
Some breeds are built that way, others are simply crosses among other breeds and selected for desired traits.
 
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