Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

California State Convention

The California State Rabbit Convention will be held in Turlock, California, February 28 and March 1.  Both my sisters and I will be participating in the youth shows.  We are pretty bummed because we will not be participating in showmanship.  Showmanship will be held on Sunday, so we will not be participating.  We believe that Sundays are for God and family.  Fortunately, we do not have to stay at a hotel for this show, because my grandparents live very close.  We will be able to stay with them.  We are hoping to meet some of our French angora youth friends at this show and see our adult French angora friends as well.  They help us learn so much.  We don't go to shows for just the fun and prizes.  We always come home knowing more than when we left. 

I will be taking three junior does and one senior buck and one junior buck.  But I am not entering the junior buck because he is already sold.  And he is so beautiful and has such a good body and good wool that he would take beat out all my other bucks for a leg.  Had I known how beautiful he was going to be, I would have kept him for a while longer and let him earn more legs.  And then I could have sold him for a lot more money.

I am entering all the other rabbits.  One of the junior does is already sold as well, but we need her to make a fifth rabbit so that one of our junior does, hopefully Sage, can will a leg. 

Lydia will be entering three REWs and one colored.  Her two junior REW bucks will hopefully sell at the show. 

Becky will be taking all her junior rabbits--four bucks and a doe--and only three of them will be entered.  Two of the blue bucks and the REW doe are already sold. 

We'll report on the rabbits did next week.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How To Choose a Good French Angora Rabbit

When you decide to buy a French angora rabbit, there are several factors to keep in mind to help you choose the best rabbit for you.

First, when you go to buy your rabbit, you always want to make sure the rabbitry is clean.  You want to make sure the rabbits are well-groomed and that their cages are clean.  Also, you want to make sure that their shelter--barn, garage, or shed--is clean.  (Cleanliness helps prevent disease.)

If you are looking to buy a show-quality rabbit, these are some of the things you may want to do.  After you have gone to the rabbitry and seen that everything is clean, you will want to judge the rabbit for yourself.  (4-H is good for learning how to judge rabbits.)  Ask the breeder if the rabbit has been shown and whether it has won any legs.  You may also ask whether the parents have been shown and whether they have won any legs.  For a show quality rabbit, you need a rabbit with a good body.  Wool is supposed to be 55% of the points for French angoras, but French angoras have been bred so much for their wool, that some bodies just aren't good.  So judges tend to consider the body more than the wool.  But wool is important, too.  Good wool has good density, crimp, texture, uniform length, and an appropriate amount of guard hair.  Finally, you will want your rabbit to have at least a four-generation pedigree chart.

Now, if you want a wool quality rabbit, you don't need to consider the body type.  Indeed, a wool quality rabbit probably won't have a good show body-it will be long in the shoulders or have poor hindquarters.  It may have a disqualification (DQ), such as a splay leg, split penis, discolored nails, broken ears, etc.  Many wool-quality rabbits have excellent bodies, but have some other DQ like an unshowable color that you can't fool the judge with, like charlies or ermines.  (Not that you or we would even try fooling the judge.)

A pet quality rabbit would most likely have a bad body or poor wool.  But you always want to make sure that the bunny is a nice bunny and used to being handled. 

If you have any questions about choosing a bunny, please post a comment or send us an email!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The First Plucking of Junior French Angoras

The first plucking of a junior French angora should occur at around 4.5 to 5 months.  (So hang on there, Emmie!)  There are some breeders who plan in advance to breed their rabbits so that their juniors will be in prime condition, about 4.5 months of age, for the big shows.  This seems like a really good idea to me, and I will be using it in the future.  If the breeders are showing them at their best at 4.5 months, this suggests that the prime time for the first plucking is 4.5 to 5 months.

I plucked my first rabbits much earlier than I should have.  Knowing when to pluck is, I think, of great importance, so that the rabbits won't get wool block and so that I can have them in good condition for show.  Also, don't become so afraid of wool block that you are plucking your rabbits too early.  Just make sure that they get their papaya pills or cubes and plenty of hay and fresh water. 

A blower, though a bit pricey, is an invaluable investment.  This is because your angoras will be able to keep their wool in longer, and it will keep the coat from webbing and matting.  And blowers do not remove as much wool as a comb, so your rabbit has a much denser coat for show.  A blower should be used once a week for just a few minutes, and definitely right before going to the show table. 

Placerville Show Sadness

The deadline for entering the Placerville show was last night.  For the past few weeks we have been contemplating whether it was too close to the state convention and the travel might stress the junior rabbits too much.  It turned out, as the deadline loomed closer, that I caught the flu.  Not knowing how long I would have it (I started with it early yesterday morning), it was a gamble whether or not we would be able to go.  We didn't if or when Lydia and my mom would get sick.  We really wanted to, because it sounded like they would have great showmanship prizes.  We went back and forth, and ultimately decided not to. 

It turned out that Lydia got sick this morning. 

I believe we really would have enjoyed the Placerville show.  I had a few concerns that it would be hard on the rabbits.  The state convention only a week later is a lot of travel for them, and they would be staying in small cages for two days and two nights.  This way, by staying home, they will be all fresh and ready for the state convention. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Favorite Things about Having Rabbit Kits

It's a miracle that they can be so tiny and helpless and that I can hold them in my hands.

When they get older, they are so cute.  I like seeing how curious and excited they are to be able to see and hear. 

I like how just a short time ago they were inside their moms, and now they are out and growing more.

It's exciting to see how many different colors are in the litter.

I like to see how their little personalities develop.

Day 13--Ears Up

Today the kits are 13 days old.  They opened their eyes 2-3 days ago.  Their ears started popping up yesterday.  They look so cute!

Doe, color as yet undetermined

The kits are getting very lively.  Just this morning, we found three kits outside the nesting box!  That's not supposed to happen for another 11 days.  Now, we have to check the kits frequently to see if they have escaped the nesting box again.  They are crazy!

Blue doe.  I think I am going to take this one.

As you know, Charlotte sexed them when they were born.  She thinks all the coloreds are does and the one REW is a buck. 
Doe, color as yet undetermined.  She has been named Mossflower.
REW buck.  He has been named Martin the Warrior.

Black doe


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Supplemental Feeding of Rabbit Kits

School has just begun again for Becky, and so she does not have as much time to care for this unplanned litter of kits.   I have assumed the responsibility of weighing and feeding the young kits. 

Most litters have at least one runt. This kit may need special care.  At this rabbitry, all runts get special care whether they need it or not.  ;)

Runts receive supplemental feeding and their weights are carefully recorded daily.  There are numerous recipes online for supplemental formula.  However, we have not tried any of them yet.  Maybe on the next litter we will see if the kits like it. 

We have used two different commercial formulas.  The first was KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer).  It cost $15 (for maybe 8 ounces) at the feed store.  It is mixed up jut like baby formula. The rabbit kits sucked it down when it was freshly opened.  We kept it in the freezer, but when we tried to feed it to the second batch of kits five months later, they wouldn't touch it.  We assume that it spoiled. 

So we needed more formula.  So my mom went back to the feed store.  They no longer carried KMR, but had something new.  This was Ultra Start Multi colostrum supplement for newborn animals.  The packaging says it's great for "calves, foals, lambs, goat kids, baby pigs, fawns, elk calves, llama crias, puppies, and kittens." No mention of rabbits.  (I'm just finding this out now as I write this blog.  I can't believe my mother withheld this information from me.)  It was $15 for a 16 ounce bag. 

The runt in this litter will suck plenty of it down if it is warm, but she refuses it if it is cold. 

There is one thing you need to watch for when supplementing.  You do not want to feed them just before the doe nurses them.  You don't want the runt to be filled up on formula so that she is full when her mother comes and can't drink the perfect milk her body needs.  You want to try to feed kits about six hours after the mother has nursed them. 

Though we can't tell if the supplement helps, we do know that none of our runts have died after we started supplementing them with formula.  And they have been very healthy and good-sized.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day 10--Eyes Open

Becky should be writing this post, because this is her doe's litter.  But I am writing it because my buck broke in to Blue's cage and I think Becky won't get around to doing this.  Besides, I get pick of the litter and I need to be able to sell the doe I select. 

Last month, Blue kindled a healthy litter of five kits.  When they were born, we thought we know all the colors.  We thought there were one each of blue, chocolate, black, chinchilla, and REW.  We still have a blue, a black, and a REW.  We do not know what the "chocolate" or the "chinchilla" are now.  The chocolate may be an agouti. 

Charlotte believes that the REW is a buck and the rest are does.

Three of the kits have just opened their eyes.  All of them are very lively.  The kits are gaining weight very well.  Just last night Charlotte was weighing them.  She has been weighing them for a week.  From last night to this morning, some of them gained a full ounce.  It is kind of annoying to Charlotte and me, because Blue doesn't have a set time when she nurses them, so we don't know when to give a bottle to the runt. 

They are adorable!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What We Learned at the Gridley Show This Time

Judges don't always know their colors.  The reason why the "chestnut agouti" and "chocolate agouti" have "poor ring definition" is that they are steels, not agoutis.

Some judges have a certain thing they fixate on.  This time, it was ears.  Last time, it was sexing.  Like really intense.

One judge admitted that this was, in essence, a beauty pageant for rabbits.  And "snipey" heads are not good.  "Snippy" heads aren't good either, but they are not as bad as snipey heads.  FYI, that apparently means the face/nose is too pointy.

Sanctions.  I think I learned what they are, but I'm not entirely sure, and so I definitely am not going to try to explain.

If you are doing showmanship in California, you had better judge your rabbit at then end of your presentation.  Say what is good and bad, the faults, etc.  And never use the word "nice." 

If there are separate open and youth shows, and if the rules say that a youth can't enter the same rabbit in both, and if there are two different registrars, no one will know if you do enter the same rabbit in both.  Not that we would ever break the rules.

French angoras are increasing in popularity.

We already knew this, but the French angora ladies are very nice and helpful.  Apparently, this is not the case with other breeds, and some are insanely competitive.  We are very glad this is not the case with us. 

Some vendors charge a lot more for the exact same product than others do.  So it pays to shop around at the shows.

Vallejo is totally bankrupt.  Well, we knew this, but I didn't understand the extent of the bankruptcy.  Apparently, there are only two squad cars on patrol, and they are only on patrol at night.  Everybody in Vallejo knows this, so they don't necessarily feel the need to observe speed limits or stop at stop signs or traffic lights.  And you never, ever pull off the road there for any reason.  So it has been decided that we will never go to a show there.

Gridley puts on a well-organized show.  We will definitely go there again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Charlotte's Gridley Show Report

For a week or two I have been preparing my rabbits for the Gridley show, both open and youth.  Though I was going to participate in showmanship, because of Puck's (the Siamese sable doe I sold at that show) personality I felt I did not need to practice much with her.  She is one of the most docile bunnies.  As usual, I was rather nervous, but maintained a confident appearance. 

Charlotte and Puck in the intermediate showmanship competition
Puck was perfect throughout all of showmanship, and her did her part to earn us first place in intermediate showmanship. 

The only fault the judge found with my presentation was that I used the word "nice" when judging my rabbit.  If I had used "excellent," "good," or "fair," or any other synonym for "nice," I could have gotten a perfect score.  At least it wasn't anything huge, and being from out of state, I hadn't had that score sheet before to study from.

Before showmanship, I had participated in three of the shows, two of which were open class.  My chocolate steel, Sage, took second and third out of the five junior does in the two open shows.  Sadly, our junior does weren't even three months old.  Their competitors were two months older, and they had much longer wool and better flesh condition.  Sage was praised for having a good head and ears against the others.  In her third open show, she got second again out of her group.  We were very happy that we entered three does in the open, instead of the two that we had planned, because one of the does wasn't a doe at all.  So at least somebody was still able to get three legs. 
Youth show A contest
Sage competed much better in the youth shows, and she ended up with two legs.  Phantom (a self-black doe) got second and third place among junior does.  Her wool was shorter than Sage's.  Sweetie (a steel doe) got fourth and fifth places.  She had barely one inch of wool in some places, but enough wool was two inches long to be able to compete in the show.  Puck was DQ'd for an "abscess," which was actually the little bump remaining from her vaccination for snuffles.  Out of the eight juniors we brought to show, she was only one judges noticed the bump on.  It should be gone within a couple of weeks.  (Fudge, Lydia's doe, placed second and third.)

Jean-Luc, who is going to his new home at the Turlock show, hopped away with a leg for best opposite of breed in a field of five bucks in show B.   Muddy Buddy also hopped away with a leg for best opposite in show A.

And I didn't do too badly myself in breed ID. 

Gridley Show, Lydia's Point of View

We woke up at 5AM to leave for the show.  We packed all our snacks, put the bunnies in their cages, and drove off.  Most of the drive, I slept.  When we arrived at the Butte County Fairgrounds, my mom talked to the angora ladies and they said that the open angora show A would be up soon.  So we unloaded the show box and all the bunnies quickly.  We had to groom the three that were in the open shows quickly.  Then it was announced that the open was up.  Unfortunately, there was not enough room for the French angora junior does, so we took them back and finished grooming them until the other French angoras had been judged. 

Then we took our rabbits back up for judging.  Unfortunately, Fudge did not do very well, but at least some other rabbit could get a leg.  In the open show B, Fudge again did not do as well, sadly.  In the youth show A, Fudge did better.  She got second place out of the junior does.  Snowball did very well.  She got best of variety and best of breed, so she got a leg.  Snowball now has two legs.  Unfortunately, I never got her comment card, so I never got the ribbons she earned.  But my sister let me use her best of breed card so that I could get my picture taken with her.  The people at the Gridley show then printed the picture and put it on a keychain.  Unfortunately, Snowball was not behaving and I had to lift her legs to keep her from digging. 

Awesome keychain awards for youth  BOB and BOSB at Gridley 
Then it was time for open show C.  Fudge again did not do well, but my sister's rabbits did very well.  After that, I did showmanship with Fudge.  Unfortunately, I did not know that for California-style, I was supposed to judge my rabbit at the end.  If I had done that, I might have gotten first place.  My sister did get first in showmanship and I am happy for her.  She has gotten first place in intermediate showmanship every time.  I think she should move on to senior. 

Junior showmanship at Gridley
Then came breed ID, and I did horrible.  My sister and I think it is always very odd.  Charlotte's level is higher than mine.  Her judges are always nicer.  They always give her the answers when they correct her papers or judge royalty, but for me, they never do. 

We had to wait a long time for youth show B.  Unfortunately, the judge was the same one who gave her her leg at the Truckee Meadows show.  He loved her then.  At this show, he didn't like her at all.  He also thought that Sweetie, my sister's steel junior doe, was a chestnut agouti with very poor ring definition.  And he thought that Sage, who got best of breed in that show, was a chocolate agouti.  She's actually a chocolate steel. 

Judging for youth show A
Then we packed up and left.  And I slept most of the way.  I was pretty happy.