Sunday, June 26, 2011

Percent Protein and Hay

Question: Another question on hay... I am unhappy with the level of protein in the local pellet feed. Not a single kind is 18% and the %17 percent cost almost twice what 16% does. Typically I mix a 12% with the 16%. I have heard that American rabbits do very well on closer to 18%. I wanted to supplement their pellets with alfalfa hay. Is this OK or would that be too much protein? I only feed them a little alfalfa currently. But they really like the alfalfa.

Response: American breed rabbits should do well on 16% feed. There should not be a need to have special feed formulas to grow them into proper weight range.

Americans were developed to be meat and fur rabbits. Selective breeding will give you rabbits that thrive on 16% feed.

The commercial rabbitries typically feed 16% feed to bucks and non-nursing does. Nursing does and growing meat pens get 18% feed.

One commercial breeder said that as he pushes his feed cart down the aisle he would look for the nest boxes and if there was a litter they get 18% feed. Everybody else gets 16%.

Because 16% feed usually costs less than 18% feed. So 18% feed is reserved for nursing does with litters and for growing out meat rabbits.

I fed a lot of 16% feed (Purina Complete green bag) to my Americans. Later I would mix 18% feed (Purina Professional grey bag) and 16% feed to make an average 17% feed. That was because of our mixed herd of four to ten different breeds at any one time. That seemed to cover the higher protein need of litters and big rabbits like French Lops and Angora rabbits while not overwhelming the little Holland Lops, Netherland Dwarf and Polish. I could feed them all from one barrel and it worked!

Sometimes we would feed 16% Purina Show blue bag because of the extracts and oils they added but mixed with the 18% feed or mixed with the 16% Complete green bag to cut the costs down.

Those changes were to accommodate some of our other showbunny breeds, not to affect the Amerians.

For basic feed a breeder can use 16% feed. When our budget would get tight we would use all 16% feed and use oats for supplement. For nursing litters supplement with a tablespoon of Calf Manna or Animax each day. I used crocks to feed so it was easy to put the supplement on top of the pellets.

I want to breed rabbits that thrive on 16% feed with some supplement for does with litters. Some people say that meat pens should grow on 16%. Maybe with some oats or corn/oat/barley/molasses (COB).

Having said that, for individuals who are not quite reaching show weight, I found that Barbie Brown's conditioning mix supplement is very good for filling out the body.

As we grew and selected our rabbits for body type and size, there was less need for the conditioning mix.

As for hay, we used oat hay or grass hay because it has a good fiber content and is cheaper than alfalfa. Rabbits get plenty of alfalfa in the pellets. As rule of thumb, good horse hay is good rabbit hay. So we would buy hay from feed stores that cater to horse people.

Rabbits can adapt to alfalfa hay if they have to. If alfalfa hay is low cost in my area I would use it. I would like to have rabbits that thrive on feed that available locally and would feed it consistently.

We would also use the hay to stuff nest boxes. It gives the kits something to nibble on and I only had to store one bale of hay instead of a bale of hay and a bale of straw in my small rabbitry.

Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
Have a good day!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Can't Find White Buck

Problem: I lost my buck awhile back, and can't find a White New Zealand buck to breed my White New Zealand buck to. Every one wants to sell me a Black New Zealand.

Response: In Rare Breeds we run into this issue with shortage of breeding stock. If the BNZ has good body type, breed to WNZ and save a color cross buck to grow into a breeder. The color cross will have one white and one color gene. When 5 or 6 months old you can breed the young buck to a White doe. You should get half White and half Color rabbits in the litter.

So if you bred a BNZ and a WNZ today you could have a new litter with WNZ in 6 or 7 months with some color cross for the freezer.

Save more than one color cross buck and keep checking in case the Sex Change Fairy visits your rabbitry.

Have a good day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stray White Hairs

Question: I'm trying to find out if there is a genetic reason for stray white hairs in black rabbits (New Zealand Black)? I have two youngsters that just developed patches of scattered white hairs (enough for a Disqualification DQ on the show table). I had high hopes for these two because of their body types - but don't want to perpetuate the bad color if it's genetic.

Answer: The Stray White Hairs (SWH) are a genetic issue. I believe the stray white hairs are a separate gene.

It is not caused by breeding to Ruby Eyed White (REW) unless the REW happens to have the SWH gene, which would be hidden under the white coat. Some Black Dutch rabbits will have SWH. Dutch are NEVER bred to REW. Some breeders will use tweezers to pluck SWH before a show although it is against the rules.

Stray White Hairs are an issue in American Blues, which has been fighting SWH since the beginning of the breed in 1917. The issue can be improved by breeding away from SWH, only breeding those rabbits with excellent body and fur and minimal SWH, to overcome the SWH fault.

I believe most of the breeds with solid colors recognized have a Fault for stray white hairs which becomes a disqualification (DQ) if 3 white hairs are found together in a colored fur area. My advice is try to find mates that do not have SWH to breed to the youngsters with SWH. Then maybe you can get some offspring with the body type and less SWH.

Have a good day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rabbits for Independence

Amherst family subsists on home-grown rabbits
In pursuit of independence

Have a good day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


NCAG - CoCo County Fair, New Zealand 2011 Rabbit Convention

The New Zealand 2011 Rabbit Convention is featured in pictures on the web log of the Northern California Angora Guild. We mean the country of New Zealand, not the rabbit breed.

Betty Chu is the manager/editor of the NCAG blog and has assembled a great group of pictures from the NZ Convention. Follow this link to the articles

Something I did not expect to see was a picture of Enderby Island rabbits on the the show table. Enderby Island rabbits are unique to the country of New Zealand, having developed by natural selection on Enderby Island.

Also featured this week is the rabbit show activities at Contra Costa County (Calif.) Fair.

Great snapshots of a traditional county fair that keeps to the basics.

While you are at the NCAG blog, bookmark it so you can visit and check out what Betty has found.

Have a good day!