Different Breeds

    There are 45 different rabbit breeds recognized by the ARBA. They range from the 2.0 pound Netherland Dwarf to the 15+ pound Flemish Giant. To look at a picture of each breed, go to http://www.arba.net/photo.htm. Here, I will provide an brief outline of some of the more popular breeds. (references: ARBA official guidebook and the Standard of Perfection)

Giants

Name Ideal Weight Varieties
Checkered Giant 12 pounds Black, blue
Flemish Giant 15 pounds Black, blue, fawn, light gray, sandy, steel gray, white
Giant Chinchilla 13-14 pounds Chinchilla

Mediums

Name

Ideal Weight

Varieties

Californian 9 pounds One-white with black nose, ears, and feet.
Champagne D'Argent 10-10.5 pounds One type-the name means "French Silver"
English Lop 10 pounds Agouti, broken, self, shaded, ticked, wide band
French Lop 11 pounds Agouti, broken, self, shaded, ticked, wide band
New Zealand 10-11 pounds White, red, and black
Palomino 9 pounds Golden and Lynx
Rex 8-9 pounds black, black otter, blue, Californian, castor, chinchilla, chocolate, lilac, lynx, opal, red, sable, white, seal, and brokens
Satin 9.5-10 pounds Black, blue, Californian, chinchilla, chocolate, copper, red, siamese, white, broken group

Smalls

Name

Ideal Weight

Varieties

Dutch 4.5 pounds Black, blue, chocolate, gray, steel, tortoise
English Angora 5.5-6.5 pounds Agouti, pointed white, self, shaded, solid, ticked
English Spot 6-7 pounds Black, blue, chocolate, gold, gray, lilac, tortoise
Florida White 5 pounds white
Harlequin 7.5 pounds Japanese (orange + color) and Magpie (white + color), both in either black, blue, chocolate, or lilac
Havana 5-5.5 pounds Black, blue, chocolate
Mini Lop 5.5-6 pounds Agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, solid, ticked
Tan 4.5-5 pounds Black, blue, chocolate, lilac

Dwarfs

Name

Ideal Weight

Varieties

American Fuzzy Lop 3.5 pounds Agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, solid
Britannia Petite 2.5 pounds White, agouti
Dwarf Hotot 2.25 pounds One-white with black eye bands
Holland Lop 3 pounds agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, solid, ticked
Jersey Wooly 3 pounds Agouti, Pointed white, self, shaded, tan pattern
Mini Rex 4 pounds Blue, Californian, castor, chinchilla, lynx, opal, red, seal, tortoise, white, broken group
Netherland Dwarf 2 pounds Technically only selfs, shaded, agouti, and tan pattern, but also there is "any other variety", so really any color
Polish 3.5 pounds black, blue, chocolate, BEW, REW, broken group

 

 

Origin of the Holland Lop

    The Holland Lop was developed by Adriann DeCock of Telborg. It is a Dutch breed, originally developed by crossing French Lops and Netherland Dwarfs. In 1952, a doe from these litters was breed to a English Lop. This cross, and breeding between the offspring from it, was the beginning of our current-day Holland in 1955.

    An overview of the current Holland Lop standards is as follows: Holland lops are a 4-class breed, meaning that they are shown as Juniors and Seniors in their color group. There are two colors groups, Broken and Solid. Juniors are less than 6 months of age, seniors are over. Holland lops should be massive and heavy set. They should have well-rounded features and heavy bone. The ears should be think, well rounded, and the ears openings should be turned in towards the body. The heads should be large, and the length of head to body ratio should be about 1:2. The Holland Lop body should have good depth in the hindquarters and shoulders, and should be well-rounded. The topline should carry straight back from the shoulders and slope gently to the ground. It should not flatten out anywhere on the slope. Most of the weight when properly posed should be resting on the hind feet. The front feet should be gently touching the ground. The Holland lop should weigh no more than 4 pounds. They should have roll-back fur, meaning that the fur gently 'rolls-back" into to the correct position.

 

 

Caring for a Rabbit 101

    Hollands can live comfortably in a cage 18"x24"x14" high. Breeding does will do better with a cage 24"x24". Fresh water and hay should be available at all times. Does nursing and Hollands in the summertime consume more water. Does with kits and kits should be able to free-feed, meaning eat as much as they want, as long as they aren't getting fat. Treats such as carrots and from a pet store should be feed sparingly. Fresh food should never be feed to any rabbit under the age of six months. The cage should never have a bad odor. If it does, it needs to be cleaned. The cage should never get to that point though, as rabbits are normally quite clean animals. Both bucks and does make equally good pets, it just depends on the rabbit's particular personality. Adult bucks who aren't neutered have a tendency to spray urine, and does who aren't spayed can become territorial when in their cage. But, it just depends on the individual rabbit.

 

 

Genotyping Rabbits

    Genotyping a rabbit is not as hard as it may seem. All that is needed is basic knowledge of rabbit color genetics, breeding records, and the rabbit's pedigree with the correct colors written on it.

  1. Figure out the rabbit's color

  2. Write down the genotype for that color, if there is a dominant gene, leave a space next to it to fill it in. (Check my "genotypes" list for help if needed)

  3. Look at the sire's color and find the genotype for that

  4. Fill in any blanks-like if the rabbit has to carry a recessive gene because the sire has it

  5. Do steps 3 and 4 for the dam

  6. Look at the breeding records-what colors did the rabbit have or sire? For example, if the rabbit is black, but there was a blue in the litter, then the rabbit has to carry dilute. Fill in any missing blanks from this information that is possible.

  7. Now what is written for the rabbit's genotype is what is known. But, if the gsires, gdams, ggsires, and ggdams are looked at then it can be guessed what else is carried.

Here's an example:

  1. Rabbit's color: Black

  2. Genotype: aa B_ C_ D_ E_ enen

  3. Sire's color: Blue    Genotype: aa B_ C_ dd E_ enen

  4. Fill in blanks: aa B_ C_ Dd E_ enen

  5. Dam's color: Broken chocolate tort   Genotype: aa bb C_ D_ ee Enen

  6. Fill in blanks: aa Bb C_ Dd Ee enen

  7. Breeding records show that the rabbit has sired litters with the following colors: black, blue, chocolate, blue tort, and a REW

  8. Fill in: aa Bb Cc Dd Ee enen

  9. Ta-da! The rabbit's genotype!

Of course, it doesn't always work out that the genotype is completely filled out, but it helps to give a clue at least. It can be tested too; to learn what a rabbit may carry. For example: if it is a blue rabbit that is thought to possibly carry REW, then breed the blue rabbit to a REW and see! Of course, the rabbit may not throw the REW gene, but if this is done enough so there are at least 10 or so offspring and no REW's show up, then chances are it doesn't carry REW. And, if a REW does pop up in a litter, then it does carry REW!

 

 

Peanuts vs. Max Factors

The terms "peanuts" and "Max factors" are thrown around a lot when there are abnormal and/or extra tiny kits in litters. These kits usually die within the first two weeks, often the first couple days after they are born. There is a difference between the two, not only in what they look like, but also what causes them.

A peanut is a kit that is abnormally tiny, usually with a large head and protruding eyes. Their legs and hips are not always totally developed and can be crossed. Pituitary dwarfism is the "technical" term for what causes peanuts. The pituitary gland is the master gland that controls the entire endocrine system. (The endocrine system consists of all the glands in the body.) Besides controlling all other glands, it controls the secretion of the growth hormone. In peanuts, there is a genetic defect that causes the pituitary gland to malfunction and it will not release enough growth hormone to sustain the kit. As a result, the kit dies.

Pituitary dwarfism happens when a kit inherits two dwarf genes. A normal dwarf rabbit has a normal gene (Dw) and a dwarf gene (dw). Its genotype is Dwdw. A peanut has the genotype dwdw. Having two dwarf genes causes the lethal combination. On average, one kit in every four will be a peanut. This is shown in the Punnett Square below with a cross between two normal dwarfs:

Dw

dw

Dw

DwDw

(big dwarfs)

Dwdw

(dwarf)

dw

Dwdw

(dwarf)

dwdw

(peanut)

Okay, now for Max factors. They are very different from peanuts. Max factors happen all because of a rabbit named Max. Max was a dwarf brought over to the United States from Germany to help improve the USís dwarf lines. While he was used for mostly Netherlands, he also aided with the improvement of Holland Lops. His lines flow through quite a few of the dwarf breeds. While most likely the gene that causes a Max factor was around before Max (the rabbit), it didnít have a name. The Max factor is a normal recessive gene that causes the kit to be born with any or all of the following:

Open eye(s): while not lethal in itself, if often causes eye infections that most likely will lead to blindness.

Deformed Limbs: Usually one or more limb is twisted, or at least display severe "splay legs".

Weird feet: Most of the time they have flipper feet, which are webbed. They have been known to have dewclaw on their hind foot (feet).

Spiked/soft fur: Max factors if they live can have funny-looking spiked fur or extremely soft cottony fur because they lack guard hairs.

Max factors do not always die. While most die within the first two weeks of life, if allowed to live they can lead good lives. Also, it has been said that a lot of winners carry the Max factor gene. This may be a direct correlation or just coincidence-it depends on who is asked.

SoÖthatís the difference between Max factors and peanuts. Hope it helps!

 

 

Breeding Techniques

    There are different ways of breeding rabbits. It isn't always as simple as taking the buck to the doe and letting nature take it's course. While that is by far the easiest, there are different theories of the best way to breed rabbits to get the highest number of conceptions and larger litters.

    One way is to take the doe to the buck's cage, and, if they aren't hurting each other, just leaving them together. Watch first and make sure the buck does get a good mount (he'll grunt and fall of to the side). Then just let them be for a few days-checking of course to make sure they're getting along. It's a simple and easy way to breed, but it can be dangerous to just leave them together unsupervised. Often though, it does increase litter size because the buck gets more good mounts.

    Another way that I find quite good is to take the doe to the buck, let him get one good mount, then separate them. In one hour, take the doe to the buck again, let him get a good mount, separate them. Repeat again in twelve hours, and then twelve hours after that. (So a total of four times, hour zero, one, twelve, and 24). I have good luck with this technique, and my Holland's litter size average is 4-5.

    Sometimes the bucks are just too comfortable in their cage and don't want to breed. In this case it helps to get them in a new environment-namely the table. A grooming table or some other table with a carpet square on it works well. Put the buck on the table first, let him get a bit accustomed to it, then bring him the doe. Let him mount once or twice, and put them both back. Follow the same thing as above-doing four or so breedings-just put them on the table instead of the buck's cage.

    If the bucks are uncooperative, they may be lazy or fat. Usually this can be solved by just not feeding them right before they are breed. Wait until evening to breed, then after he services the doe feed him. More often though, it's the does that are not very cooperative. Rabbits do have a cycle (about every 12 days), contrary to common belief, so wait a day or two and try again. If the doe is continuously not cooperative, then a forced breeding can be tried. Just support her hindquarters with one hand, lifting it up and out slightly (sometimes moving her tail out of the way is helpful to the buck) and hold her head/upper body down gently, but firmly with the other hand. Some bucks don't like the person getting involved and refuse to breed, but after some time they do seem to get used to it.

    Good luck! Don't forget to write down the date they are breed/days the are breed and mark the calendar 31 days from then!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pros and Cons of Color Projects

 

    Color projects are fun and interesting. They do add some difficulty though, as usually the rabbits aren't as well typed as the normal colors are.

Pros:

  1. Keeps things interesting

  2. Provides a greater challenge

  3. Makes winning all the more fun to win with a "color"!!

  4. Sets the breeder apart from the rest

  5. The satisfaction of going out to the barn and seeing all the nicely typed "colored" rabbits

Cons:

  1. Can be more expensive to start, as most often they are rare colors and hard to find

  2. Some judges don't like the newer or rare colors

  3. It can be frustrating if it seems like no progress is being made

  4. Having a color project means two things are being worked on-type and color-instead of just type.

  5. Color projects often take up more space

In my opinion though, working on colors is a blast and is worth the extra effort. One look at my typy siamese sables and tri's make everything worth it. Showing is more fun as well-like when my sable point doe won BIS! It also keeps things fun in the long cold winters here in Michigan :o)

 

 

 

 

 

Developing a "Line"

 

    Breeders often talk about having their own "line". It is seen on pedigrees too with the rabbitry initials or breeder's last name being in front of the rabbit's. It takes a while to get a line started, and it's not something that just happens overnight. Here are some ideas on how to get a line started:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cull Doesn't Always Mean "Kill"

 

    The word "cull" brings on bad feelings and thoughts often, because people think it means to kill. Often, this is not what a breeder means when he/she says "cull". The dictionary definition of "cull" is: "To pick out from the others, to select, to select from the others because of inferior quality". No where in that is the word "kill". When most breeders cull their herd, they go through and pick out the ones that just aren't as nicely typed as the rest. These often get sold as pets. Although they may not be the top quality the breeder wants, they are usually fine animals that would be quite good pets. Or, some breeders when the cull their herd have such a great quality of animals that the ones they cull are perfect for starter rabbits for other to breed. Another alternative for those that are terrific, just not the best, are to become 4-H project animals. Cull often does NOT mean "kill".