Thursday, March 14, 2013

RE: Cross Breeding Americans

*Somebody on the yahoogroup asked about Americans and hybrid vigor. My answer:

Okay, my opinion on cross breeding with Americans.

First of all, the Americans are a unique, heritage breed. Keeping the breed with clean blood lines is a priority. Keeping the breed with clean bloodlines also simplifies breeding programs.

Breeding Americans to Silver Fox for meat would be okay IF you don't have a breeding pair of the right breeds and you need the meat. More of a "necessity" than a best course strategy.

Cross breeding for hybrid vigor does not always work. Not all crosses create hybrid vigor. Sometimes the genetics of two certain rabbits will not be vigorous when crossed. Don't know why, but it just IS.

Crossing for meat usually you have similar bodies. American is mandolin body type. Most everything else, like Silver Fox, is commercial body type.

The goal of crossbreeding for hybrid vigor is to squeeze another 3 to 10 percent of growth for meat production.

To do this as an ongoing, sustainable practice year after year is a challenge. It means having to maintain separate blood lines of rabbits or two herds. Because one needs separate bloodlines to "cross" breed.

How many cages does that take? Each breed will need at least the usual 2 or 3 doe cages plus 1 or 2 buck cages, plus 3 or more growing out cages. So that is 8 cages for each breed, 16 cages more or less. If one has a lot of cage space it is not a problem.

If fast growing litters is important, than select for fast growing pure breed litters. Select the fastest growing, best body type to use for the next generation of breeding stock.

When breeding for fast growing litters, one should also be selecting for easy breeding, good mothering, number of kits raised to butchering. *Also consistency. All similar size in the litter, not 3 meat bricks and 5 mediums.

Focusing on one breed allows one to concentrate the cage space. Take that 16 cages from the above example. One could have litters going all the time, giving ample selection opportunities. ONe would also have cage space to grow the "keepers."

To freshen the genetics of the herd one could pick up a doe from an outside herd every two or three generations.

When a new buck is brought in the herdsman tends to breed it to a lot of does. A new buck's genetics may not interact well with the herd and now we have a whole generation to cull out.

Bringing in a doe gives a chance to see how it blends with the bucks. If it works one can keep a breeding buck from the litters. Now we have a buck with existing herd genes and additional genes from the outside doe.

If it doesn't work well than we only have to cull one doe and the litters.

There is another way to use crossing with Americans. Keep separate American White and Blue herds. The NZ breeders have been keeping colors separate for years because the strategy works. If one needs some hybrid vigor for meat production, than cross the colors.

Keeping separate color herds allows the maintenance of separate gene pools that can be mixed as needed without spoiling the pedigrees.

I think the push to blend Blue/White breeding so all you get is Blue/White litters is done at the risk of homogenizing the gene pool. An all Blue/White genetic herd will have a lot of wild cards eliminated. Wild card genes can be good or bad, but if we don't have them we will not be able to use them in the future.

So those are my thoughts on cross breeding Americans. Overall I think it is not necessary and counter-productive. We need rabbits that have the trait of fast growing litters without bringing in an outside buck. If we grow dependent on hybrid vigor to correct a deficiency in our herd then we have not fixed the problem.

That's my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
Void where taxed or prohibited.

Have a joyful day!
Franco Rios

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Corner of the World 13Mar13

One of the smallest birds, this green hummingbird perches on a small branch.

Another view of green hummingbird

A hawk (Red Tailed) builds a nest in Capitol Park Sacramento. Soon the leaves will grow and hide the nest.

There was about 20 Turkey Vultures over Renaissance Tower. It must be migration time.

Another picture of Turkey Vultures, which I believe has the largest wingspan of birds in our area.

Turkey Vultures flying near the top of the building.
Just some pictures from my corner of the world.
Sacramento Calif
Have a good day!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Betty Chu - Angora Ambassador

*ramblings I posted on a yahoo group*
I would add that Betty Chu is a great ambassador for all things Angora rabbit and rabbit show in general. Betty organizes at least a dozen Angora specialty shows each year and serves as show secretary for them.

Betty maintains a blog for Northern Calif Angora Guild since 2005.

She journals not only angora related topics but general rabbit show info. It's a great look into the life of a showbunny exhibitor.

She also is a fiber artist, spinning and knitting her angora wool. She shares her knowledge freely. When my lovely wife and I first started in French Angoras, we used to throw the wool away. Betty explained to us that the wool can be sold. So we started saving it, and selling it. I taught myself to spin with a drop spindle and that launched my fiber adventure. you can see my blog.

When we bought a Babe Electric Flyer Wheel, we bought if from Betty because she was a dealer. When I wanted some weaving sticks it just happened that her husband was making them so I bought them from Betty.

I learned from Betty how to make the lumpy art yarns that are a favorite component of the knitted hats that she sells. I am often stunned at the fine work of her fancy knitted shawls.

I am a fan of Betty Chu. She has been a great teacher to us. But when you put the rabbits on the table, she is a fierce competitor.

Have a good day!