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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sweet PDZ, CarryCages, etc.

rabbitgeek notes:
SWEET PDZ: We used Sweet PDZ in the trays to cut down the smell. You can put powder in plastic jars with holes drilled in the top so you can dust the trays. A little goes a long way. We used plastic dust pans to scoop poop out of the trays into buckets. Take empty tray out for a quick spray and dust with PDZ. We also put a handful of shavings in the corners where they go poop.There's a product called Sweet PDZ sold for freshening horse stalls. It's a powder you can sprinkle on the trays. Use an empty peanut butter jar, drill holes in the jar lid, put powder in jar, put lid back on and sprinkle powder in the corners of the trays. A little goes a long way. You can get Sweet PDZ at most feed and tack stores. If smell is building up that fast, then plan on cleaning daily. Use plastic dustpans to scoop poop out of the trays, dump into 5 gallon bucket, carry outside to dispose.

CARRY CAGES: Compartments should be about 18 inch long, 8 or 10 inch wide, 10 or 12 inch high, plus 2 more inches on the bottom for the droppings tray. Be sure to get the kind with handles. The top should be held down with spring clips. A common design has 3 compartments for rabbits. 3 meat rabbits are heavy. Get a cart to help carry it around. Get a good cart so you can move 3 or 4 cages stacked. Little water bottles can be attached to outside of cages and little feed cups go inside the cages. Cage makers like Bass, KW, or Klubertanz are good sources. Often these vendors will be at rabbit shows so you can see and handle the gear. By the way, an 8-10 inch wide travel cage is still wide enough for them to turn around when they want.

BABY SAVER: Get some 1/4" x 1/4" hardware cloth. Cut into 4 inch strips. Use the strips as "baby saver" barriers by placing strips at floor level around the nursery cage. Attach to the outside of the cage with zip ties or wire twists or other device. 


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-Flemish Giant Explained

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