Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Zoning restrictions

from rabbitgeek notes, Sept 2007:
I hope you find homes for your rabbits.

From what I have read on groups and when I snoop different county
zoning regs, there is no limit by Animal Control as usually there is
no regulation.

Zoning is a different matter. Sheep, pigs, cattle and other livestock
are usually excluded from residential areas. Most counties will
include rabbits as livestock, which they are.

California actually has a lot of history in the commercial rabbit
industry. There used to be many large rabbit farms. Many breeds were
developed here. That history carries over into zoning. Usually you
need to be zoned agricultural and/or be on 1/2 acre or more to be
allowed as incidental agricultural use.

Cities often have more restrictive zoning than the unincorporated
county areas.

About websites offering rabbits for sale. In a legal sense, when you
offer anything for sale on a website, you are crossing the line into a
commercial venture and this makes you more highly visible in case of a
zoning question.

I went through this situation a couple of years ago.

We had to seriously reduce our herd and to pay $800 Zoning Inspection
fees. Our county supervisor was sympathetic because our rabbitry was
part of a 4H project, but when they found our website advertising
rabbits for sale, they said that seriously compromised our "hobby"
argument since we were selling rabbits on the internet.

Have a good day!

--- In, "********************"
<*********@...> wrote: 

The really dumb part about this is the there is no limit on the
number of rabbits you can keep in our area, but animal control &
zoning have decided that because we have a web site that we must be a
commercial rabbitry. The zoning law says that you can only keep small
animals for "residential" use and not commercial use. I have tried to
explain that 4H projects, and showing rabbits is a hobby not a
business. They said they only can see any family needing 5 or less
rabbits, anything more (in their opinion) is a commercial business.
Also, they said that since our web site has a for sale page, that
proves we are a commercial rabbitry. THEN... on top of all that, the
zoning enforcement agent said that if we don't just do what he wants
with out putting up a fight, he will start billing my landlord for his
time ($130/ hour). I really feel like he's blackmailing us. I have
spent all day for the past 3 days on the phone trying to find someone
who can help us fight this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Continental-British-German Giant

(Continental Giant buck, Light Steel, photo by David Boggis of Ipswich, England)
There are recurring questions about the Continental-British-German Giant rabbit breeds.

Below are responses from Judge Judy Le Marchant of British Rabbit Council (BRC) that have been posted to the Rarebreedrabbits group on yahoogroups. These messages answer the most common questions about the origins of the names and the breed. I am cross posting here for convenient reference. Judy has given permission to share her messages in the interest of education which is after all why she posted them in the first place! Thank you Judy!

Rare Breed Rabbits on yahoogroups

Feb 1 2009 posted to Rarebreed Rabbits Yahoogroup

Hi from England. I have watched the discussions on Continental Giants and
importing to the USA with increasing anxiety.

First, the "Continental Giant". This is the UK name for the Flemish Giants
that we import from the CONTINENT!! - i.e. mainland Europe. We have a
"Flemish Giant" of our own which was isolated for many years (very strict
quarantine laws), so changed type, coat, colour and size. When we were
allowed to import again (quite recently), we fetched rabbits in from all
over Europe, wherever we had contacts. They do show some national
variations, but are all big rabbits with good bone, tight flesh and hard
coats. Rather than have standards for Belgian Giants, Dutch Giants, French
Giants, German Giants, Swiss Giants, etc etc etc - our Breed Standards
Committee imposed one standard for all the Giant imports, based on the
Europa standard used at European international shows. So our "Continental
Giant" is an import, kept in small numbers only. That is why we in the UK
charge so much for it - we have only just gone through all that trouble and
expense ourselves, so if someone in the USA wants to buy from us, what a
great opportunity to claw back some of the costs. I hate to spoil the fun
for my fellow UK breeders, but really - you in the USA should be buying as
we do, direct from the top European breeders.

Then the history of Giant rabbits - they all derive from the original and
best, the Flemish Giant from Flanders (that is what "Flemish" means) which
is part of Belgium. So the Belgian Flemish Giant is the original for all the
European, UK and American Giant rabbits. The Belgians are justly proud of
this and naturally think theirs are still the best for type; In Belgium and
the Netherlands they are bred for the European type, sitting up at the front
with long bones and ears, with a graceful semi arch body. Eastern Europe has
concentrated on size, producing massive rabbits with very heavy bone and
bold round heads - less beautiful in my opinion but the place to go if you
want to add bone. And remember, any outcross will add size to a Giant in the
first generation (I have seen a Belgian Hare cross that was bigger than its
Giant mother); it takes careful selection and time to set a strain that
consistently produces winners.

Finally - how to meet those European breeders? Well you have the perfect
opportunity this year. Bob Whitman has mentioned Europashow; this is the
all-Europe small livestock show, held every 3 years in a different country.
This is a Europa year; the show will be held 20-22 November in Nitra,
Slovakia. You will see the very best adult stock from all over Europe and be
able to pick the right "Continental Giant" to improve your home grown
Flemish Giants. Take a look
Judy Le Marchant

 Nov 25 2008
msg # 14547

I think you may have misread the weight. I have in front of me the Giant
rabbit breed standards of Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium
(who created the breed), the Nordic countries, and France. In every country,
the maximum points for weight are given to anything over 7 kg (15 and 1/2
pounds). Not every exhibit makes that so the average weight may be less, say
14 pounds.

And the type is much the same as the US Flemish; it is the pose that
differs. As I showed in an article in Domestic Rabbits a few years ago, the
best giants can look splendid in any of the 3 poses, up at the front
(mainland Europe), up at the rump (America) and a low mound (UK). What does
differ is the weaknesses hidden by the pose, that show up in lesser examples
of the breed. If you buy a giant from Germany you will get a big chest and
huge ears, but you may also get narrow hindquarters and a chopped rump, not
to mention a rubbish coat if you buy from someone who was breeding them for
weight alone. Sadly there are no free lunches, even in the rabbit world.
Judy Le Marchant
(PS 9kg is 20 pounds, not 23)

Feb 10 2006

OK, listen up folks.

There are several giant breeds in Europe and the UK, all more or less related. Each country has its own standards and may recognise its own home grown breeds or ones brought in from another country. ALSO (and this is important) there is a Europa standard, used for international shows where rabbits from several countries compete - this, of course, is a compromise.

In mainland Europe most countries have one Flemish Giant type breed. Belgium, The Netherlands and France have the Vlaamse Reus or Géant des Flandres (Flemish Giant), Germany has the Deutches Reisen (German Giant), the Swiss have the Swiss Giant etc etc. The Europa standard is for the "Giant" rabbit and does not distinguish between national variants - anyone showing at an international show, or at a show outside their own country, selects those of their stock that best meet the standard being used at the show (which is not necessarily what would win at home).

When giant rabbits were imported into the UK they came in 2 waves. The first wave became isolated when we started quarantine for animal imports. As a result they separated from the rest of Europe and became a flat backed rabbit with a very thick coat. This then separated (breeders' squabble) into two breeds, the Flemish Giant (UK style) which is dark steel only and no longer so big, and the British Giant which is multi-coloured and larger, but still flat backed and with that heavy coat.

Many years later, the import controls were lifted and we rushed to Europe to buy more giants - but we bought them from all over Europe. So the British Breed Standards Committee (in order to be fair to everyone) applied the Europa standard, and called the new imports the Continental Giant to distinguish them from our existing and long established breeds. So we are in the strange position in the UK of having 3 breeds based on the Flemish Giant, with the one called Continental being nearest to your American Flemish. (The term "foundation" on that site refers to that breeder's stock, not to a breed.)

And you should ignore our press. We have a breeder who managed to persuade the Guinness Book of Records to record one of her fat old does as "the biggest rabbit in the world". Of course, every village idiot is now trying to beat the record. Guinness are so alarmed at the health implications of rabbits fattened like prize porkers that they have decided not to list individual animals on size any more.
Judy Le Marchant

Nov 23 2005


British Giants are our version of the Flemish Giant, developed by a
famous breeder many years ago. They are heavily muscled but with a very
flat body type, almost like a massive Himalayan, and an extremely think
coarse coat. The national breed club will tell you that they should not
be as big as the American Flemish if they are "pure", because in our
small island they have become very inbred. Some breeders have crossed
them with the Continental Giant (the Flemish Giant in mainland Europe)
and produced some very big rabbits - look on this home page at "Dancer"
and the steel BRC Supreme Champion "Milton's Drury's Dread" for the
typical pose and type, but NOT the typical size!!

The Perlfee (Parelfeh in its home country) is an opal with a lot of
blond ticking and, when in coat, a wonderful thick roll back coat. They
are very solid rabbits with a smooth topline to show off the sleek coat.
The type, colour and coat are all distinctive in a good specimen,
although I daresay a crossbred opal might look similar to someone who
has never seen the real thing. Look here under
kleindier-fotos/konijnen/midden rassen for the typical colour and
ticking, type and pose:

And if you want to wind up more conventional US breeders, take them on
the same site to papillon driekleur (tri-colour English) to see what I
am playing with just now.

Judy Le Marchant

-----Original Message-----
From: "whipstaff_rabbitry" <>
I just love the big bunnies- My Flemish are like big puppies and are so
gentle. I saw some photos of British giants, who are supposed to be
bigger and have a different pose. Anyone here got some info on them?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Optimum Weight to Harvest?

Question on FB: What is the optimum weight to harvest young rabbits?

Answer: I decide based on age, not weight. 8 to 10 weeks for tender fryers, 12 weeks for fryers, up to 16 weeks for roasters, older than that is stewing rabbit. As they get older they get tougher and less tender. The size doesn't matter as much to me. I'll harvest a 2-1/2 lb rabbit at 8 weeks. Some people say its too small but it would be too tough if I waited 4 more months for it to reach 5 lbs. Also the feed conversion ratio is most efficient up to about 8 weeks when rabbits puts on more weight for each pound of feed than any other time of its life. The feed conversion ratio drops after that.

Have a good day!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to shear an Angora

*from the archives*
From:  "GERMAINE P."
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 set 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 scissors 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.
[end] *article used by permission for educational purposes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tray Cleaning 2.0

*from the rabbitgeek notes - update added to the bottom*
The best tip for keeping rabbits in the garage came from Barbi Brown. Usually keeping rabbits in the garage means trays under the floor wire to catch the droppings.

For years we carried trays to the waste can and dumped them there. Barbi suggested we get a bucket and use a dust pan to scoop the poop out of the tray and into the bucket. Then take the bucket to the waste can.

This is so much easier than carrying trays around. Even if you plan to power wash the trays it is easier to move them when they are empty.

We put one or two handfuls of pine shavings in the tray to collect moisture and hold down odor.

If you sell manure you can put plastic bags in the bucket first (8 or 13 gallon trash bags) and tie them off before removing from the bucket. Tied off plastic bags are also good for fly control.

If you use five gallon buckets to move manure for sales, put a plastic bag in it first then tie it off. Will keep the buckets cleaner and reduce the smell. You can put the lids on the buckets and stack them for transport to sale. You sell the bag of manure to the customer, not the pail.

Then when customer takes the bags of manure, you can stack buckets one inside the other for transport home to be filled again.

*New!* Misha Brown from FB says: I use a wheelbarrow, I push it up to the cage, pull out the tray & if it's too heavy I scoop out the front half of the tray before pulling it out all the way or I just let the whole tray drop into the wheelbarrow. When the wheelbarrow is full, if it's too heavy to push I get my hubby out there.

Thanks Misha! One could also stop halfway if the manure is heavy from being moisture soaked due to urine or a leaky water bottle/nipple. So a hand trowel or dust pan dumped into a wheelbarrow or cart with wheels is now added to the list!

Have a good day!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not All Rare Breed Rabbits Should Be Saved

In promoting rare breed rabbits, selling all the rabbits in the litters is not always the best thing. I know this is reverse of what we would think intuitively.

Just because they are rare doesn't mean all of the rabbits have to be sold. Only the best rabbits should be kept or sold for breeding. Very rarely are all the kits suitable for breeding. Litters usually contain differing percentages of strong body, weak body, good color, poor color and so on. Occasionally there is one outstanding kit in the litter. Usually there are kits in a litter that are not as good in type and color as the parents. Those should be culled, preferably by going to the processor for food. Should not be used for breeding.

Breeding selections should be done to improve the breed and bring the overall condition of the breed up to the Standard Of Perfection. This SOP is a goal. Rarely will there be a rabbit with all the traits as outlined. There will be better rabbits and worse rabbits.

Buyers will discover when they put the rabbits on the show table which breeder is selling rabbits that are worse. I know because when I bought my first American Blues they were very narrow, boney, and underweight. They were descended from a trio sold at ARBA Convention in San Diego 2001. When I put then on the show tables most judges were sympathetic saying "That's the state of the Americans right now."

Undeterred, I kept at it. Over the next couple of years I bred them and culled them and saved the best for breeding and selling. I improved what we had and was able to develop a home grown Grand Champion on the show table.

I bought a few more from the breeder as they were getting out of the breed. I was getting the last of their rabbits. When I compared pedigrees I realized this person was not culling anything. They had saved all of them hoping to sell them and promote the breed. Out of about 8 rabbits I bought, I was able to get one to Grand Champion on the show table.

While I was fortunate this breeder had some for sale, it could have gone either way for me. I could have been discouraged and given up on the breed right there. But I decided to work with what I had. When I chose rabbits for sale, my first goal was "NO DQs" or no disqualifications in show. No color errors, no mismatched toenails, no underweight rabbits. NO DQs was the motto for MFO Rabbitry. It was a goal, not a brag.

Whether it is meat rabbits, angora rabbits, lop rabbits, or any other kind, not all of the rabbits in the litters should be kept. Not all of them should be sold. Only the best should be kept or sold.
Just my opinion based on observations.

Your mileage may vary. Void where taxed or prohibited.

Have a good day!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Poorboy Vacuum Pack

Poorboy vacuum pack: I used ziplock freezer bags. I tried to exclude as much air as possible. I would put meat into bag, cut pieces or whole, then holding the opening up, I would submerge the bag in water and let water pressure push sides of bag against the meat.  When water was almost to the bag opening, I would zip it closed. It seems to work well enough. I would chill it in a single layer in the fridge overnight before freezing. If warm carcass is piled into freezer the core might start to spoil before it gets frozen.

Have a good day!