Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Friday, May 22, 2015

How To Register Your Rabbit With ARBA

This is something (we think) we finally understand after nearly two years of raising rabbits.  So we think others might appreciate learning about it as well.

First, your rabbit has to conform to the ARBA standards of perfection for its breed.  It will be checked for health, weight, color, sex, etc.  You must bring your ARBA membership card.  If you forget it, like my sisters did, you can't register the rabbit.  However, I had my card, so we registered their rabbits in my name.  You must also bring the pedigree.  All the information on the pedigree will be copied by the registrar.  This takes a bit of time, probably 10-15 minutes. 

Your rabbit does not need to be a grand champion to become registered.  Any rabbit conforming to the standard of perfection for that breed can be registered.  It doesn't have to have won any legs yet.  It costs $6.00 per rabbit to become registered.  After all the paperwork is done and you have paid the fee, then the registrar will tattoo your rabbit in the right ear to prove its registration.

After it is registered, then you can apply (and send more money!) for the grand champion certificate, assuming it has earned enough legs. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why Do 4-H?

When we started out raising rabbits, we thought we'd go to a few 4-H meetings and learn how to care for them.  Then we'd be done. 

So we attended a few meetings.  We realized that this was something we wanted to be involved in.  Why? 

I liked it because I could learn about my breed of rabbit and make new friends.  I discovered I liked showmanship.  I like competing with other youth and seeking to improve my skills.  When I went to the 4-H meetings, I had opportunities to learn about other breeds and how to perform health checks.  4-H is a great opportunity to learn and grow in the rabbit world.  And it is good for learning about your rabbit.  It also is good for learning how to do showmanship. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Breeding for Color

I received a question from a friend regarding how to use rabbit color genetics to improve your herd.

Instead of just emailing her, I thought this would make a great blog post.

First, color should not be a primary consideration in breeding.  Why is this?  Well, health should always, always, always come first.  If you breed an unhealthy rabbit, you will not produce healthy offspring.  Just as people have health issues that are genetic, rabbits do as well.  For example, it has been Betty Chu's observation that rabbits can have a genetic predisposition to sore hocks.  She also has observed that some rabbits are more susceptible to wool block than others.  She hasn't had wool block in her rabbitry for years.  And she has a LOT of angora rabbits.  So when I go to look at a rabbit, I always perform a health check before purchase.  For example, my mom and I made a trip to buy a rabbit.  There were two junior bucks up for sale.  Because they were juniors, they should have been perfectly healthy.  But one of them had sore hocks.  This should not have been the case, as sore hocks are usually only seen in seniors.  I obviously chose the one without sore hocks.

The second factor I select for is body type.  Of course, it is important to have a good body for show.  But it can also be important to the health of the rabbit, or its descendants.  For does, it is particularly important to have good hindquarters.  Why?  Because if the hindquarters are pinched in a doe, she may have trouble kindling her litters. 

The third factor I select for is wool.  We are spinners.  We want good wool, and lots of it.  Wool is also worth 55 points of the score for showing.

The final factor is color.  It is important to understand color genetics and what colors should not be bred together.  Brokens should not be bred with other brokens or with pearls.  Agoutis should not be bred with any shadeds.  Some people will pay a whole lot for a BEW (blue-eyed white).  I've never seen one in French angoras, but I understand they are beautiful.  But....  They can really mess up your genetics in your rabbits and make a lot of unshowable rabbits. 

With all that being said, I've decided to focus my efforts on raising blacks, seals, and sables with my rabbits.  They are just gorgeous. 

How To Fill Out a Show Entry Form

Our 4-H club is putting on a show at the end of this month.  In order to be able to enter the show, we need to fill out a show entry form.  Regardless of the show, it is all the same information that is required.  Most shows accept snail mail or email entries; we've only had one show that is snail mail only.

When we first started showing, my mom went crazy trying to fill out pdf forms online and then email them to the show secretary.  Then we found out that we can just submit the necessary information by email without having to fill out a form.  It is much easier.

All you have to do is email the show secretary with the following information:

The first bit of info to include is the breed.  In this case, French angora.

Then you note the variety.  With French angora, there are only two varieties--white and colored.  Whites are REWs, BEWs, and points.  Everything else is colored.

Next is the rabbit's ear number (tattoo).  In order to be shown, the rabbit has to be tattooed in the left ear.  If your rabbit is not yet tattooed and you wish to show him, often you can find someone at the show to tattoo him.  He just needs to be tattooed before he's taken to the show table.

Then note the sex.  Your only options are buck or doe.  If you make a mistake here, your rabbit will be DQ'd off the table.  We've seen it happen.

Finally, indicate which class.  For French angoras, the choices are junior or senior.  Juniors must meet minimum weight, which is 3.12 pounds.  (You read this as three pounds, twelve ounces.  No, it does not seem right, but this is the rabbit world and somebody else made up the rules.)  And they must be under six months of age.  Seniors must also meet the minimum weight for senior class, which is 7.8 pounds (seven pounds, eight ounces).  Juniors may be entered as seniors, but seniors may never be entered as juniors. 

The other info you need to include is your name, mailing address, email, and phone number.  And you also need to indicate which shows you are entering, whether open or youth for ARBA shows, and which shows you are showing in--A, B, and/or C. 

When you enter by email, you pay your fees at the show.  When you enter by snail mail, you need to enclose a check with your entry. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Broken Gene

The broken gene is represented as En in the genotype.  The broken gene is dominant and is always expressed and visible, except with a REW.  Non-broken rabbits are shown as enen in the genotype.  Never breed a broken rabbit with another broken rabbit.  Doing so would result in charlies, which are unshowable, and every judge will recognize a charlie.

Brokens are one of our favorite colors of rabbits.  For those who don't know, brokens have a spotted pattern.  The background color is always white.  The spots can be any showable color except pearls.  Ideally, the color covers 40-70% of the rabbit.

This chocolate broken has the genotype aabbCCDdEEEnen.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Be There

I have friends and buyers whose does will be kindling litters soon, and I want them and their rabbits to have a smooth experience.

So, why do you want to be there when (or soon after) the kits are born?

The most important reason to be checking for the arrival of kits frequently is so that you can save kits born outside the nest box.  In fact, being born outside the nesting box is the most common cause of death for kits who were born alive. 

It is quite common to have one or more stillborn kits in the litter.  (As a precaution, do not pick up your doe in the last week before kits are due.)  The stillborn kits need to be removed immediately.

Next, you must make sure that the doe has cleaned her kits.  So far, we have not seen any problems with the doe cleaning her kits.  But if you happen to encounter this, try cleaning the kit with a warm, damp washcloth. If one or two kits have not been cleaned, and it looks like the doe isn't returning to them, it is possible that she thinks they are too weak to survive. 

Then you want to make sure she has pulled enough wool to keep the kits warm.  Some does, like Snowball, pull their wool far in advance.  Some, like Tootsie, don't pull until they are kindling.

Finally, if it is cold, the kits have a better chance of survival if you bring them inside and only take them out to the doe for feeding. And make sure she feeds them. 

The D Gene

D stands for dense.  Dilute is represented by d.  As with all genes, the capital letter indicates the dominant gene; the lowercase letter stands for the recessive gene. 

A rabbit that is DD or Dd has dense color, as in black or chocolate.  A rabbit that is dd has a dilute base color, as in blue or lilac. 

If you breed two rabbits that have dilute base colors, they will never produce offspring that are black- or chocolate-based.  If you breed two rabbits, at least one of which is DD, those two will never produce blue or lilac offspring. 

So far, we have covered the A, B, and D genes.  Three more to go.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Plucking Day for Phantom

Summer is nearing, and with temperatures rising, I was anxious to pluck Phantom as soon as possible.  We plucked her last week.  She still needs some touch-up plucking, but after shedding 2.5 ounces of wool, she was done. 

We had actually tried plucking her a few weeks earlier, but she apparently is one of those does who is able to keep her wool in longer (unlike her sister, Sage, who was plucked a month ago). 

My mom wanted me to use the poodle comb as much as possible to help keep the wool fibers in alignment.  Very fortunately, Phantom preferred the poodle comb to plucking (pulling wool out by hand). 

Phantom's wool is of a very beautiful color, if I do ay so myself.  It's a little over four inches long.  This is only her baby coat, so its texture is much softer.  She does not have very many guard hairs, which is very common in junior rabbits.  When she grows her senior coat in, she will have deeper color, depending on the number of guard hairs she gains. 

Because her wool reached four inches as a junior, I am hoping that she will have an even longer coat as a senior.  

Update on the Kits

We are still uncertain about some of the colors.  We know we have a self black, an agouti, and two fawns. 

Self-black, doe
Agouti, doe
Fawns, both does
We might have two blue pearls.  I hope we have two blue pearls.  Because otherwise, we have two blue ermines.  And ermines are unshowable.  

Blue pearls?, does
 And we might have two squirrels.  

Squirrels, one buck and one doe

We're not sure what this one is, either.  He looks like a blue pearl, but his wool is cream-colored, not white.
Blue pearl?, buck
And so far, we have one that is for sure an ermine.  Unless it colors up.  So far, it is pure white.  As an ermine, it is unshowable.  And the judges will know that for sure.  However, the wool is pure white, just like a REW.  Without the red eyes.  So if you really want white wool, don't like red eyes, and aren't going to show, this is a rare opportunity for you!

Ermine, doe

The kits are all growing rapidly.  The black weighs almost a full pound.  The smallest weighs in at 8.8 ounces.  Everyone else is in between these two.  We weigh them daily to make sure that they are all growing well.  The runt is still being supplemented with a bottle. 

Charlotte has sexed all of them a few times.  If they don't change teams, there are eight does and two bucks.  That might be a little much to hope for.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Stockton Show Report

We headed out early to go to the Stockton show, so that we could stay at our grandparents' house and visit them.  We got up early to go to the Stockton show, but there was a lot of road work, so we had to take a different route, and on that route there were a lot of bumps.  Finally, we got there, and again, some kind of event was going on.  Fortunately, there were not a bunch of motorcycles racing next to our rabbits.  We got our rabbits set up right next to the angora ladies and saw that one of the girls that we had sold a rabbit to was there.  We set up and went to go see where the angora judging was.  Show A came for the French angoras and we got our rabbits up to the table.  PB got best of breed and Fudge got best opposite.  So now PB has two legs.  For show B, we did the same thing, except Fudge got best of breed for her first leg and PB got best opposite.

Then came the angora specialty show.  Fudge and PB were entered in it.  Unfortunately, my mom can't count, and she entered Fudge as a senior.  My mom realized when we got home that Fudge was still a junior.  We could have entered her as a junior, where she would have done very well.  So Fudge and PB did not win.

It was getting hotter, and I decided to skip best in show for show B.  So we just went home.