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.