Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rare Breed ARBA Club

Rare Breed ARBA Club

A member contacted American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) and spoke to them about a rare breeds rabbits class & also an actual rare breeds rabbit club. They were told only clubs that are all-breed or for 1 specific breed can be affiliated. On the rare breed class, it would have to be for fun, no points or legs, since the different breeds would be showing against each other.

What ARBA told you is correct. We've talked about this in the Rare Breed Rabbit yahoogroup. So what we did at a few shows Calif was to include a Best Rare Breed In Show Award in addition to Best In Show and Reserve In Show. Just for bragging rights, not points or legs. Judges were asked to look at the Rare Breeds List and to pick out the best of that group as they were looking. All the judges we asked loved the idea and were very happy to help us with the award. There is a club on West Coast called Northwest Rare and Heritage Rabbit Club that hosts all breed shows with specials for the Rare Breeds. Using an all breed show to promote rare breeds is counter intuitive but it makes sense fiscally. A lot of clubs cut costs by not giving ribbons or trophies for rare breeds which often have few entries. By re-allocating some funds from the popular breed entries to buy ribbons for all the breeds helps promote the smaller breed entries. The shows are to promote Rare Breeds but are open to all breeds. Any All Breed Rabbit Club can support rare breeds by including ribbons for all breeds and an extra award for Best Rare Breed In Show.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nest boxes on cold nights

On cold nights we started bringing nest boxes into the house at night and putting them back out in the morning where the doe was usually waiting to jump in and relieve some milk pressure. Sometimes we did this for over a week until they grew some little coats. The kitchen table would be covered with 5 or 6 boxes. We sometimes wrap a towel over it to keep the popples from popping out.  We noticed the litters that spent the night in the house seemed friendlier. Our theory is the kits imprinted on human scent and sounds. So we made it part of our routine with Angora litters to bring the nest boxes into the house for the night. We had friendlier rabbits that would sit still for grooming.

Have a good day!

Friday, September 27, 2013

1 2 3 breeding priority

From the rabbitgeek notes on facebook: (written about American breed rabbits but applies to all breeds)
In order of priority:
#1 pick for body type. It's the hardest to breed for. I like to set them on a table and let them pose naturally. I like seeing if they display the mandolin type on their own. One rabbit I saved because I looked at the cage and saw the rabbit sort of lounging and the mandolin type popped right out at you. She became a Grand Champion.
#2 pick for fur. The fur is kind of tricky. The Standard calls for normal, fly-back fur but you want the fur to be dense and plush, meaning it needs to be a little longer than normal. If you have mediocre fur but good type, try breeding it to a good fur type.
#3 pick for color. Color is considered the easiest to fix. Because you can cull all the unwanted colors and you will have in good color in 2-3 generations. Not perfect, but should be good color. If you have body and fur you can take a chance on the off color. What you want is that off color rabbit to throw 1 or 2 kits with correct color. Keep the corrects, get rid of the rest.
That's it in 1-2-3. This rule was told to me by long time breeders and it has held up through my own experience. Best of luck.

The 1-2-3 rule works for other breeds too. Focus on what the Standard calls for. Then select for it based on the Priorities and the Standard.

Have a good day!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Rare Breed List

The Rare Breed Rabbit List

It would be awesome to have REAL NUMBERS if you mean actual census/population counts. But those population counts do not exist.

I've conducted surveys for different breeds and found that:
You can never reach everyone since some people do not want to be reached or cannot be reached. I know that some breeders with the largest herds in the country have refused to participate in the surveys. So the reported number is always going to be missing some rabbits.

Definition of the breeds can vary by percentages of hybrids. For practical purposes, there are no 100% purebred rabbits since there was always an outcross somewhere. With the surveys we generally asked people to define the rabbit. 75% or more was counted as one of that breed. If 50% then it was up to the reporting person to decide which one it was going to be.

So if we do not have accurate census data what can we use for study?

Fortunately the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) has on record the counts of rabbits registered in USA every year. They also have on record the numbers of rabbits shown at ARBA Convention each year. So we can use those numbers for comparison.

Since we are monitoring the number of rabbits in each breed, the registration numbers are a solid number. These are rabbits that are examined by a registrar and recognized as representative of the breed according to the Standard Of Perfection (SOP) as published by ARBA. The pedigree must show 3 generations of same breed so rabbit is at least 93% purebred. A rabbit can only be registered once in its life so there is no double counting. The numbers come from all over the country and so regional population variance is minimized. These are firm numbers. We can say there was X number of rabbits registered during the year. We can compare the number of each breed registered. More registrations is more activity. We can rank the ones with most activity and least activity. I use a 5 year average to moderate fat and lean years. We can give it a score of 1 for least active, 2 for second least active, etc.

The other firm number is the number of entries at the National Rabbit Show held during the ARBA Convention. There is an incentive for breeders to take their rabbits to the National Show. First of all there is bragging rights for placing well at the shows. Some of the National Breed Clubs have sweepstakes contests for their members to collect points for placing well at shows during the year. Some of those clubs offer double points at Convention to encourage members to enter rabbits there. There is also a requirement that each breed and variety (color) must have 25 entries (Open/Youth combined) during a 5 year period to remain in the Standard Of Perfection. If this number is not met, the breed/variety is dropped and is no longer a recognized breed or variety. So there is strong incentive to take rabbits to the Convention. The Convention changes location each year so regional variances will influence the count. Technically a rabbit can appear more than once at the National Show and a cross breed (less than 93%) can be entered at Convention. A rabbit does not need to be registered to be entered. So many more rabbits are eligible to appear at the show. By taking the 5 year average of entries we can quickly see which breeds are most active, which breeds are least active and we can give it a score of 1 for least active, 2 for second least active, etc.

So by taking the Registration score and Convention entry score and averaging those two scores I create a new list that will indicate the amount of activity for each breed. Less activity means less rabbits. Less rabbits means rare rabbits.

I hope that clarifies the process of the Rare Breed List.

I have found that the population surveys can vary wildly, but since they are not done every year or in the same manner it is very difficult to include them as firm data.

Have a good day!