Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stanislaus 4H Field Day

Today I went to the SMALL ANIMAL FIELD DAY - 4HRabbit, Cavy (Guinea Pig), Poultry, and Canine (Dog)
At the Stanislaus County Agriculture Center, Modesto, Calif.
(Note: Click pictures to enlarge)

 First room I went to had roosters waiting for the Poultry Workshops. The Dog Workshops were being held outdoors on the grass lawns.

 In another room, American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) Judges Ray Stacy and Melissa Magee conducted a Rabbit Showmanship workshop. This room was stacked four rows deep with chairs. That's a lot of rabbit project people! Also, these judges were in 4H as youth themselves and they continue to give back to the program that got them started in rabbits.

Judge Melissa demonstrates how to flip the bunny on its back to show the underparts. This is a crucial skill to learn since it requires excellent control of the animal.

After the demonstration and discussion, members received a chance to show what they know to the judges. The judges offered encouragement and tips for improvement. (Faces are blurred because I don't have permission to show each of these kids.)

This junior member is using a stuffed rabbit for practice. I just couldn't blur that smile though.

Judge Ray is looking up some info for this youth demonstrating his showmanship skills.

Nicole Menezes gave a Cavy Showmanship Workshop. She asked for no pictures, so I will show you the Cavy Super Models that came to the workshop.

Michaela is a Youth Project Leader and is giving a demonstration of Cavy Showmanship. It was a great demonstration.  I have permission from Michaela's Mom to show her face. Left: Showmanship begins with introduction. Middle: Michaela demonstrates how to flip and hold the cavy safely while showing the underside. Right: Cavy nails are checked and counted.

Also at the workshop: Rabbit Breed ID. Ten cages with ten breeds of rabbits. Can you name them all?

Rabbit Judging Contest. 4 rabbits of same breed. You pick First Place, Second Place, Third Place, Fourth Place. Now, does your choice match the choice of the ARBA Judges?

I had great fun for a few hours and I learned a lot about Showmanship. I was a 4H Rabbit Project Leader and I had 3 sons in 4H. So some people think I would know this stuff, but you can never stop learning.

It was a good day!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Alfalfa Debate

The Alfalfa Debate: Many people ask about feeding alfalfa hay. My response as posted on FB.

Usually the alfalfa is the most expensive hay so we did not normally buy that. Alfalfa is the primary ingredient in most rabbit pellets because it is cheaper in bulk and has a high protein content for use in the formula. So obviously it is not bad for rabbits. Sometimes we were given alfalfa hay or it was all that was available. So we fed alfalfa hay at times. Sometimes it is not necessary to feed such a premium hay to all animals. "That's why we don't feed alfalfa to burros" was a proverb from Mexico. We preferred the oat hay or grass hay for rabbits. We tried to use "horse quality" whenever we purchased any hay since it did not have as much weeds. One more thing, we stopped buying straw for bedding and nest boxes when a friend said "just use hay." One less bale to store at the backyard homestead.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Howto Shear Angora

 How To Shear An Angora, we have permission to share for educational purposes!

Have a good day!


Message 383 of 758  
Date:  Mon Aug 30, 2004  6:05 am
Subject:  Re:How to shear a French Angora

Hi Franco
The first time you clip a bunny it is like breaking a horse. I wear a
jacket or sweatshirt to protect my person from scratches. Never reward the
bunny for struggling. Wait until he is cooperating to put him down again.

I put the rabbit on its back in my lap, with it's head tucked under my
elbow. If you cover their eyes and hold them secure they settle down. The
first task I perform is a blunt cut to the toe nails, be sure not to cut the
quick but do take away the weapons.

I start to clip at the hind legs. Tilt the rabbits hind end to the side
and begin to cut where the wool is naturally parting over the knee. Pick up
the wool in thin layers, that allows you to know where the blade is . Turn
the blade away from the skin and make your cut. This should give you a
quarter inch of fur left on the rabbit and will help to prevent you from
cutting the skin. Once you have your opening started work in thin rows
towards the tail. I hold the tail between my fingers and use them as a
cutting guide to prevent injuring the tail. I then rotate the rabbit onto
its back and gently snip away the wool between its legs and around the
genitals. Put your fingers between the blade and the tender parts to
prevent injuries to the rabbit. That completed, rotate the rabbit's back end
to the opposite side and repeat the process. When the legs are free, lift
the hind quarters toward you, hold the tail toward you and cut in rows as
far down the back as you can get. Then let the rabbit lay flat in your lap
and clip as far up the belly and sides as you can get.

I then flip the rabbit right side up and pull the fleece over its head while
I continue to cut in rows progressing to the neck area. Pull on the skin
slightly, enough to take the wrinkles out while you cut.

To get the front and bib areas I put the rabbit on its back and lay it with
its ears between my knees. If it struggles I drop it lower until it quits
struggling. When it quits struggling I let it back up. The rabbit catches
on quickly if I lay still I get a comfortable position. Still, is necessary
when you get near the throat and eyes. I hold the front legs between my
fingers and snip away the knots. From there just move the front legs as
needed to get access to the areas you need to cut. I will sometimes need to
shift the rabbits lower body between my knees and while I hold its head in
my left hand I can get the cheeks and under the chin.

The first time rabbit takes a while to clip. When I am working with a
cooperative animal it takes 15 minutes to clip.

I maintain a dual purpose French Angora herd for meat and showing and have
to keep the population within the 175 holes I have. If I count the litters
with mothers, I have an average herd of 200 to 250. Less than perfect
juniors leave with the meat man at 8 to 10 weeks and are housed in large
weanling pens until I sort out the keepers. I have to shear all the rabbits
I ship to the meat man just before they go. I ship on average 50 rabbits a
month. I can shear 25 a day using the described method. The rabbits I
sell are from my show stock and perform well because I cull aggressively.
The day I decide I wouldn't breed it, it leaves the herd. My culls pay for
the feed bill.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Moderators and Admins

Attention Moderators and Administrators of social networking groups:

Can I offer a suggestion. When things slow down be prepared to carry the conversation all by yourself. Look for things rabbit related to share on your group. Try to join the breed specific groups so you can bring info related from those breeds. Talk about shows you've gone to or are thinking about. Be as positive and enthusiastic as you can about the topics. You are trying to engage people into a conversation.

Most members will just read. Only 10 percent will ever post anything. Maybe 1 or 2 percent are crazy enthusiastic enough to post regularly once they get comfortable. Try to make it as comfortable as you can for them to participate.

Post an occasional welcome message to new people and invite them to introduce themselves and their rabbits. Ask questions about how people are handling the heat or cold. Ask about the rabbit fur qualities. Or the body types. People will talk about their favorite breeds.

I try to ask people questions that I think other people want to hear the answers to. They are just to shy to ask. I sometimes call myself the king of dumb questions. But I'm trying to conduct a dialog with people and I find there is a lot of stuff I don't know. I am learning from other people.

Just some ideas for moderator and admins on social network groups. Your mileage may vary. Have a good day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Natural feed

Rambling from facebook:
I like the concept of natural feed since it frees the breeder from dependence on the feed mills. With that freedom comes the responsibility to plan for storage and to provide a balance of good nutrients. Which is usually more labor than dumping a cup of feed.

From what I've read over the years the breeder can expect a drop in growth rates at first but as they select the fastest growing rabbits from the litters to use as breeding stock the growth rates will improve. Because the breeder is selecting rabbits that do best on natural feed which is different from selecting rabbits that do best on pellet feed.

Within a couple of years a breeder gets better at balancing feed and the rabbits adapt to the natural feed menu. Then the growth rates return. Be patient, be observant, write everything down like menus and ration amounts and weights of rabbits. You'll need that info to make plans for the next level.

Have a good day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Line Drying Your Clothes

*from the rabbitgeek archives
Q&A - Line Drying Your Clothes

Here's a few questions that came to mind when I was hanging up some clothes on
the line - from a guy perspective.

Q: How do you keep clothes from fading in the sun?
A: Try turning the clothes inside out before hanging them. Don't leave them out
any longer than necessary to dry.

Q: My shirts are getting "peaks" on the shoulders. How do I prevent that?
A: Don't hang the shirts by putting clothespins on the shoulders. Hang the
shirts upside down and put clothespins on the bottom hem of the shirts. Or hang
the shirts on clothes hangers, then put up to dry. When dry, take them directly
to the closet. (That's a guy thing)

Q: Why do my underpants look so big on the line?
A: Because the clothes on the line are flat and do not reflect going around the
body. It's a geometry thing. But if it bothers you, hang towels or sheets in
front to hide them.

Q: My towels are stiff and scratchy when I line dry.
A: If you have a clothes dryer, use the "air fluff" cycle which uses no heat but
tumbles the clothes to make them softer and remove lint. Otherwise, you have to
smash and fluff the towels by hand to soften them. Pick lint off the clothes by
*Added for 2009: Occasionally add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to rinse water for
a load of towels. It helps cut through soap residue, leaving softer and more absorbent.

Q: What kind of clothespins should I buy?
A: I prefer wooden clothespins with a metal spring. They last longer than
plastic clothespins. I don't like the big wooden pins with a slot and no spring.
Those are better suited for making dolls as craft projects.
*Additional for 2009: Wooden clothes pins attract paper wasps, so look before you grab!

Q: What other tips would you pass along?
A: Have a chair or small table nearby to put the basket of wet laundry on to
reduce the amount of bending. Don't try to hang clothes with one hand unless you
are a woman. Then you may hang clothes with a baby on one hip, a phone on the
shoulder while running a political campaign and preparing a meal for 14 persons.

Heels are optional.

Additional for 2009: When using an "umbrella" type clothesline, hang clothes on every
other line to maximize air flow and shorten drying time.

Have a good day!
Franco Rios
(orig. post was Aug 11 2008 on different forums but apparently not this one)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Artificial Enhancer

Imagine there is a process where trucks full of material are driven to farms and orchards to increase harvest to a level far greater than would occur without the material. Every year this material is transported via public roads and interstate highways. The increased production this material causes also creates the need for more soil amendments to support the larger harvests. Although the material is not native to America the USA agricultural industry is addicted to it. Shortages of the material are causing anxiety among food producers. The shortages are causing production per acre to fall and prices to go up.

This material is not made by Monsanto or any other chemical manufacturer. Farmers are learning to work around Monsanto's grand schemes. Farmers may not be able to work around their dependence on this material. The material is Honeybees. The process is called Pollination. The shortages of honeybees will persist and agriculture will have to find additional strategies for pollination and probably have to accept smaller harvests. First we must understand this honeybee pollination process is not altogether "natural.". Honeybees do pollinate crops. Honeybees do not normally travel thousands of miles each season to pollinate a wide variety of crops, moving as the seasons change. They do not swarm and migrate across the continent. We put them on trucks. We use honeybees to push production beyond what occurs in the natural order of things. This situation is created by humans. Our dependence is created by us. If we can scale back our production goals to match what is occurring in the field then we can get our land back into sustainable production levels that don't require truck loads of honeybees which also requires trucks and fuel and related logistics activity. There must be a way to localize the pollination process. Increase beekeeping locally and restricting interstate transport of bees. This would reduce dependence on travelling honeybees and minimize the risk to the bees.

I felt the need to share that with people. This is my opinion based on my observations. Your mileage may vary. Void where taxed or prohibited.