Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Monday, February 29, 2016

Deciding Which Rabbits To Take to Shows

So tonight is the deadline for entering the California State Rabbit Convention in Turlock that is being held March 5-7, 2016.

We have limited space (and limited funds!), so we need to consider carefully which rabbits should be entered.

There are fifteen French angoras here, as of today.  But to be sure, all fifteen are not going.

The four remaining junior bucks from Sage's litter all still have pretty short coats, so they will be staying home for sure.

Coal and Phantom need to earn legs still, but they do not have good show coats right now.  And Phantom needs to go on a diet.  Hopefully both will be in condition for the West Coast Classic next month.

Snowball already has three legs for a Grand Champion certificate, but apparently we never got her registered.  So she has to go before she gets bred, which will hopefully be soon.  Once she is bred, she probably won't be in good show condition for another six months or more, so she has to go now.

Maybelline and Fudge each need one more leg towards their Grand Champion certificates, and they are in pretty good condition right now, so they both go.

Phantom's remaining kits, a junior buck and two junior does are looking pretty nice, and they are for sale, so they all go.   

Muddy Buddy and Ninja are already Grand Champions, so they stay home.  However, if we need a filler bunny (so that we have five bucks so that a buck can earn a leg), then one of them can go.

That leaves Sage, who is already a Grand Champion with six legs to her credit.  There is no point in entering her in a youth competition--she would just reduce the opportunities for other rabbits to earn legs.  If she were in prime condition, then she might be entered in open competition.  But while she looks really good, she doesn't look like she could win in an open show, so she stays home this time as well.

That takes us down to six rabbits, and that will be enough to keep the girls hopping.

Friday, February 26, 2016

"Nobody Makes Money in Rabbits"

Last night's 4-H meeting was fairly brief, at least the official portion of the meeting was.  The mostly new officers were running the show.  Lydia was the only holdover from last year, continuing to serve as secretary.  Without a show to plan for, there wasn't much to discuss.  And since the president forgot about asking members to report on how their rabbits had fared at shows over the past month, the meeting was closed pretty quickly.

The unofficial portion consisted of the youth practicing showmanship and clerking while parents visited.  I stopped our leader, Karen, as I needed to get some additional 4-H membership forms for Charlotte and Lydia to join the sheep 4-H group.

Karen expressed surprise at the news that Charlotte and Lydia are expanding into sheep.  I smiled and told her that the girls had made enough money that they wanted to expand their operation.  Kared laughed, and then she realized I was being completely truthful.

"Are you serious?  Nobody makes money in rabbits!"  She was absolutely floored when I told her Lydia had made over $700 on her last litter (true, it took her six months to sell the last doe, but all the others were sold by about four months of age).

No one should ever start breeding any rabbits with the sole purpose of making money.  It could turn out to be a huge disappointment.  French angoras in particular take some time and some extra effort (not much more, but some), and all bunnies just want to be loved.  But I feel it is important as well for youth to learn that earning money involves some work.  After all, we can't all be government workers (notice I did not say, "work for the government").  And why not get involved with animals/livestock/pets that have a practical purpose--actually many practical purposes?  In addition, unlike many of the other market livestock raised for 4-H where the buyers pay inflated prices for the butchered animal, no one is over-paying here.  This is the real business world.  And they are running it, for better or for worse.

Now if I could only get them to blog a little more about it.

UPDATE:  My husband and the girls' dad would like it noted that the girls did not pay for the bunny barn and that they do not pay the power bill to run the swamp cooler in the bunny barn in the summer.  However, I have heard him say all our married life that the cost of running the swamp cooler 24x7 for the entire house was minimal, so I don't think that running it in the bunny barn is all that much.  And since we already had the carport that was converted into the bunny barn and only had to buy the hardware and the siding, I don't think that cost all that much, either.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Blog Look

I've spent the past week redoing the layout of the blog.  My goal was to organize the information to make it easier to find answers our readers seek.  I hope to have succeeded somewhat.  I still have not figured out how to make the blog archives easier to read without having to click on each month.  And I still want to get more pictures up, but I haven't quite figured out how to that either. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Plymouth Show Report

The Plymouth show was held this past Saturday, February 13, 2016, at the Amador County Fairgrounds.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we were really glad to set up in a shady spot. 

Normally we set up near the other angora people, but at this show the youth and open shows were being held in separate buildings.  So we were set up with Evan and Jennifer near the entrance to the youth exhibitors' building.  Unfortunately, the only power for the blowers was outside the open exhibitors' building, a little bit of a walk.

Lydia entered the showmanship with one of Charlotte's junior does.  It was her first time as a junior, and she didn't do as well as she wanted.  That's ok.  We all have down days.
Evan also participated in showmanship.
Judge Kendal assesses the French angoras while Evan looks on.

Judge Kendal assesses one of Charlotte's black juniors.

  Judge Kendal awarded best of breed to one of Evan's junior bucks and best opposite to Maybelline.

Charlotte and Lydia look on while Judge Ray assesses their rabbits.  He awarded Maybelline best of breed and another one of Evan's junior bucks for best opposite.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Evans Software Review

OK, I've had this blogpost planned for a while, but I just haven't gotten around to doing it.  It's not a very exciting topic.

So you have a lot of choices out there for managing your rabbitry.  And the girls do a pretty fine job of caring for their rabbits.  They don't have a lot of bunnies, so they can keep the pertinent information in their heads.  But I got really tired of trying to download the free pedigree programs or to fill in using the online templates.  It was a major hassle.

I bought the deluxe version of Evans Software's ( because it also includes a genetics processing feature.  The other deluxe features include a taskmaster list (what chores to do that day) and something for judges to track their records.  The genetics processing feature was the only deluxe feature we were interested in.

I cannot compare the Evans Rabbit Register with any other programs because I haven't used any.  I can say that I have been very happy with it and that it has been worth the expense.

The pedigree charts were the most important feature for us--no more entering every detail for every rabbit every time.  The information is entered once, and then you are done.  There are several options in making the charts--size, color, number of generations, various information to include or exclude on the chart, pictures, GC and legs, etc. 

Everything is really easy to edit.

You can track your buyers easily.  This way you have all their information available within a few clicks and you can quickly update them with changes in the registration or Grand Champion status of your rabbits. 

A big selling point for me was the genetics analysis.  You can select two rabbits, and potential offspring colors will be presented.  No more Punnett squares for five different alleles.  You can add one user-defined gene, and you can exclude an genes you don't have in your rabbitry to produce a more accurate analysis that actually reflects your rabbitry.  For example, we excluded the chinchilla dark and Himalayan genes, so those options don't appear in the analysis.  Also included is a booklet on rabbit color genetics with some of the best information I have seen, and all very well organized. 

I would not get this program if I weren't breeding rabbits, and I wouldn't get it if I had only one litter per year.  But once you start having three or more litters, this becomes a very handy tool.  You can use it on as many of your own computers as you wish--you are not limited to loading on one. 

Updates are issued about once per month. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Submitting Paperwork for Grand Champions

I decided to finally crack down and make myself do the paperwork for getting the rabbits registered as grand champions.  The process really isn't that difficult.  I'm just one of those people who hates doing paperwork.

So here's the process for getting a rabbit registered as a Grand Champion.

The details for registering a rabbit can be found here:

In a nutshell, the rabbit must be at least six months old and must have a complete pedigree chart showing the rabbit to be registered plus three additional generations.  Rabbits get registered at ARBA shows.  What does the registration show and why should one consider registering a rabbit?  Well, the registration shows that the registrar says that the rabbit meets the standards for that breed and that it has a purebred pedigree.  A rabbit must be registered before you can apply for the Grand Champion certificate.  As I was putting everything together Saturday night, I realized that while we have three legs for Snowball, for some reason she hasn't been registered yet, so I have to wait until that happens at the next show to then apply for her Grand Champion certificate. 

Also, the rabbit must have earned at least three legs, and at least one of those has to be as a senior.  Charlotte's Sage had earned five legs as a junior, but she had to wait until she had a senior leg to submit papers for a Grand Champion certificate.  A Grand Champion certificate shows that at least three judges have judged this rabbit to be the best in a group of at least five rabbits.  

Having rabbits that are both registered and that are Grand Champions shows prospective buyers that you probably have good stock and you can command a higher price for your rabbits. 

The legs need to have the additional information required filled in, and then they need to be mailed to the ARBA office.   We make photocopies of everything before we submit it, just in case anything gets lost in the mail. 

Edited to add:  Don't forget to enclose the check ($4 per certificate), or the nice lady at the ARBA office will call you.  Don't ask how we know that.

In about a month, the certificates should arrive.