Saturday, April 26, 2008

The FA as a Dual Purpose Rabbit

It's been a long time since I've talked about the FA as a dual (even multi) purpose rabbit, but today seems like a good time to bring it up what with breeding season, baby season, and show season all going on at the same time:).

There are many different breeds of Angora (as everyone is well aware:)), but I admit personal bias when I say that I believe the French Angora to be the hands-down champ when it comes to supreme, all-purpose utility. There is no other angora that is quite so low maintenance, versatile, and hardy, and I believe that it is this characteristic that will determine the survivability of the breed well into the future.

At the moment I am embarking on a 'study' to determine the profitability of the FA breed if rabbits are raised to age 12 weeks, sheared, and then culled as fryers at approx. $1.25 a lb. Since a small yield of 3 inch staples CAN be obtained from a good line of FAs at this age, I plan on shearing every cull before sending it to the processor, collecting the wool together to have it spun into yarn, and then totaling the profits from the sale of yarn combined with the sale of the meat.

If the theory of myself (and others) holds true, the French Angora may well turn out to be one of the most versatile and profitable rabbit breeds in existence. The strength of this rabbit is it's ability to reach the 5 lb. mark at 12 weeks or earlier making it widely acceptable for use as a meat rabbit. It has also been providing increasingly higher yields of low maintenance quality wool, and it is an exceptionally good breeder and mother, making it easy to perpetuate good lines and improve breeding characteristics. The other breeds of angora are wonderful in their own ways too, of course: The English Angora is the supreme show animal, the Giant (and German) Angora are supreme wool producers, and the Satin Angora, while a newer breed that does not yet have the size and yield of the French Angora, will likely be every bit as versatile as the FA in the future.

Angora rabbits are overwhelmingly viewed as pure wool animals and that is primarily what they are. In the case of the French and sometimes Satin Angora however, wool is an added plus when compared with the value of the overall rabbit as a whole. Giant (and many German Angoras) tend to be slower growing and do not hit fryer weight as consistently as the FA, but if that were to change at some point their overall value would be substantially increased as well.

It is important for people to view the Angora rabbit as more than just a 'pretty' face on a grooming table, IMO. Too often these breeds are regarded as almost irrelevant and little more than a beautiful (or even snobby) distraction that has no legitimate value in the "real" world of rabbits. Though the angora has proven itself for centuries on the world stage with the value of it's precious wool, it is high time that the French Angora, especially, be recognized for it's true multi-purpose function as a show rabbit, meat rabbit, and wool rabbit.

More again next week (and best of luck with the buns!:-)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

2008 Rhinebeck, NY Show

Yesterday was a fun (if abbreviated) day at the Rhinebeck, NY show. I was forced to leave after judging due to a Little League commitment (of which there have been many this spring, LOL!), so I did not get the usual amount of pictures, and I did not get shots of Nancy Nichols winning BOB and BOS buns or other photos of the showroom and people, etc:(.

There were 17 FAs shown with 3 exhibitors, and the judge for the Angoras was Deb Vecchio. I brought 3 buns (1 Sr. and 2 Jr. s), and the BOB/BOS was taken by Nancy Nichols with a REW doe and a Broken Blue (I think??) buck. No Satin Angoras were shown, 1 Giant was shown, and a good amount of English were present though I had to leave before judging for that group was over:(.

Here are a few pictures that I did get before the show (mostly during grooming:)). The day was absolutely beautiful with temps in the low 80's later on, but the turnout for the whole show was lower than usual, probably because of gas prices and probably because this is still only a single show making it difficult for people to justify the trip. I already spoke with a few members of our club and we will be setting up an Angora Specialty in the afternoon of the same show for next year so that it will become a double show for Angoras and we can increase the 'wool' turnout in the future. We will see how it all goes:).

Here are three pics of bunnies I brought along after grooming. The first is of Spang's Kitka, a Jr. doe that I have decided to keep out of Sadako's last litter:

And the next two are of Spang's Oomi, a beautiful REW Sr. doe who is coming into coat densely and evenly:

This next shot is of Linda Cassella grooming Silvertone Everest (also pictured in the photo below). The sun was in a really terrible position here making it hard to get a decent shot, but we did the best we could and at least the rabbit was mostly visible in both pictures, LOL:).

Pictured here is Collin Burns who also made the trip out yesterday with a few of his EAs. Here he is shown grooming diligently in the morning:

and this is a picture of his beautiful doe Countryside Desiree posed up immediately afterward!:).

All in all this was a fun show though I wish I could have stayed longer, and next year we will be sure to make it a double for Angoras so as to attract a larger entry with the great facilities that we have. Another improvement that the club made this year was to switch from the old wooden holding coops to stainless steel (Thank God!) but there are still no floors in the Angora coops so I am going to arrange to have wire inserts made for next year, and after that we will tackle the problem of better holding coops behind the table for the individual class winners.
Anyhow, more stuff next week when we get back to the normal rabbit life around here:). The next show I am thinking about attending is the North Haven show in CT, but as I only have one rabbit who is in coat right now (Eek!) it is hard to know whether that would be worth the trip or not. We will have to see what happens:).
The very last picture shown here today is one gratuitous one of my 8 year old son Jonathan who is the #1 Catcher for his Little League team this year. He is doing a great job and is very proud of a number of saving catches he made this season (not to mention that I think he looks very cute in all the padding and helmut stuff:)).

More next week and have lots of fun with the buns!:^D

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Zodiac Breeding Chart for 2008

I recently posted the updated Zodiac Breeding chart for 2008 on the FA list, so I thought I'd post it here too in case anyone else was interested. I don't use this method much myself, but this Saturday I did breed 4 does on a Cancer day which is supposed to produce 'best quality does', so we will see what happens and if something great comes out of it that will be wonderful (it is lots of fun to try these things and see if they work:-)).

To use the list you simply choose what sex/quality of rabbit you want on a given month, and then you breed according to the day listed to get the result. I realize it would have been a better idea to have posted this back in January, but obviously I am running a little behind this year, LOL.

Breed in:
ARIES--for mostly bucks, not best quality
TAURUS--for mostly does, good quality
GEMINI--for mostly bucks, not best quality
CANCER--for mostly does, best quality
LEO--for mostly bucks, not best quality
VIRGO--for mostly does, not best quality
LIBRA--for mostly bucks, best quality
SCORPIO--for mostly does, best quality
SAGITTARIUS--for mostly bucks, not best quality
CAPRICORN--for mostly does, good quality
AQUARIUS--for mostly bucks, not best quality
PISCES--for mostly does, best quality

Aries--Jan. 14, 15
Taurus--Jan. 16, 17
Gemini--Jan. 18, 19
Cancer--Jan. 20, 21
Leo--Jan. 22, 23
Virgo--Jan. 24, 25, 26
Libra--Jan. 1, 27, 28
Scorpio--Jan. 2, 3, 29, 30, 31
Sagittarius--Jan. 4, 5, 6
Capricorn--Jan. 7, 8
Aquarius--Jan. 9, 10, 11
Pisces--Jan. 12, 13

Aries--Feb. 10, 11
Taurus--Feb. 12, 13
Gemini--Feb. 14, 15
Cancer--Feb. 16, 17, 18
Leo--Feb. 19, 20
Virgo--Feb. 21, 22
Libra--Feb. 23, 24, 25
Scorpio--Feb. 26, 27
Sagittarius--Feb. 1, 2, 28, 29
Capricorn--Feb. 3, 4, 5
Aquarius--Feb. 6, 7
Pisces--Feb. 8, 9

Aries--Mar. 8, 9, 10
Taurus--Mar. 11, 12
Gemini--Mar. 13, 14
Cancer--Mar. 15, 16
Leo--Mar. 17, 18
Virgo--Mar. 19, 20
Libra--Mar. 21, 22, 23
Scorpio--Mar. 24, 25
Sagittarius--Mar. 1, 26, 27, 28
Capricorn--Mar. 2, 3, 29, 30
Aquarius--Mar. 4, 5, 31
Pisces--Mar. 6, 7

Aries--April 5, 6
Taurus--April 7, 8
Gemini--April 9, 10
Cancer--April 11, 12
Leo--April 13, 14
Virgo--April 15, 16, 17
Libra--April 18, 19
Scorpio--April 20, 21, 22
Sagittarius--April 23, 24
Capricorn--April 25, 26, 27
Aquarius--April 1, 2, 28, 29
Pisces--April 3, 4, 30

Aries--May 2, 3, 30, 31
Taurus--May 4, 5
Gemini--May 6, 7
Cancer--May 8, 9
Leo--May 10, 11, 12
Virgo--May 13, 14
Libra--May 15, 16
Scorpio--May 17, 18, 19
Sagittarius--May 20, 21
Capricorn--May 22, 23, 24
Aquarius--May 25, 26
Pisces--May 1, 27, 28, 29

Aries--June 26, 27
Taurus--June 1, 2, 28, 29
Gemini--June 3, 4, 30
Cancer--June 5, 6
Leo--June 7, 8
Virgo--June 9, 10
Libra--June 11, 12, 13
Scorpio--June 14, 15
Sagittarius--June 16, 17, 18
Capricorn--June 19, 20
Aquarius--June 21, 22, 23
Pisces--June 24, 25

Aries--July 23, 24
Taurus--July 25, 26, 27
Gemini--July 1, 28, 29
Cancer--July 2, 3, 30, 31
Leo--July 4, 5
Virgo--July 6, 7, 8
Libra--July 9, 10
Scorpio--July 11, 12
Sagittarius--July 13, 14, 15
Capricorn--July 16, 17
Aquarius--July 18, 19, 20
Pisces--July 21, 22

Aries--Aug. 19, 20, 21
Taurus--Aug. 22, 23
Gemini--Aug. 24, 25
Cancer--Aug. 26, 27
Leo--Aug. 1, 2, 28, 29
Virgo--Aug. 3, 4, 30, 31
Libra--Aug. 5, 6
Scorpio--Aug. 7, 8
Sagittarius--Aug. 10, 11
Capricorn--Aug. 12, 13, 14
Aquarius--Aug. 15, 16
Pisces--Aug. 17, 18

Aries--Sept. 16, 17
Taurus--Sept. 18, 19
Gemini--Sept. 20, 21
Cancer--Sept. 22, 23
Leo--Sept. 24, 25
Virgo--Sept. 26, 27, 28
Libra--Sept. 1, 2, 3, 29, 30
Scorpio--Sept. 4, 5
Sagittarius--Sept. 6, 7, 8
Capricorn--Sept. 9, 10
Aquarius--Sept. 11, 12, 13
Pisces--Sept. 14, 15

Aries--Oct. 13, 14
Taurus--Oct. 15, 16
Gemini--Oct. 17, 18
Cancer--Oct. 19, 20
Leo--Oct. 21, 22, 23
Virgo--Oct. 24, 25
Libra--Oct. 26, 27
Scorpio--Oct. 1, 2, 28, 29, 30
Sagittarius--Oct. 3, 4, 5, 31
Capricorn--Oct. 6, 7, 8
Aquarius--Oct. 9, 10
Pisces--Oct. 11, 12

Aries--Nov. 10, 11
Taurus--Nov. 12, 13
Gemini--Nov. 14, 15
Cancer--Nov. 16, 17
Leo--Nov. 18, 19
Virgo--Nov. 20, 21
Libra--Nov. 22, 23, 24
Scorpio--Nov. 25, 26
Sagittarius--Nov. 1, 27, 28, 29
Capricorn--Nov. 2, 3, 4, 30
Aquarius--Nov. 5, 6
Pisces--Nov. 8, 9, 10

Aries--Dec. 7, 8
Taurus--Dec. 9, 10
Gemini--Dec. 11, 12
Cancer--Dec. 13, 14
Leo--Dec. 15, 16
Virgo--Dec. 17, 18
Libra--Dec. 19, 20, 21
Scorpio--Dec. 22, 23
Sagittarius--Dec. 24, 25, 26
Capricorn--Dec. 1, 27, 28
Aquarius--Dec. 2, 3, 4, 29, 30, 31
Pisces--Dec. 5, 6

More next time and have a great week!

Happy Breeding:-)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bunny Stuff/Pics

I've been taking lots of baby pics the last 2 weeks and now that my camera is working I guess I'll post them here today. I currently have 5 litters of 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 week old babies tearing up the house/barn, and in another week or so I will get to work breeding another round of does.

First of all, here are pictures of some of the adults who are (or were) in coat over the last week or two. This first is of Spang's Oomi, a beautiful doe who is not yet in full coat but who has great density and balance and a very good body. She will hit the showtable for the first time at Rhinebeck, and maybe a few shows after that if I can find something to enter her in later on:

Next is Nereida, a Blue doe who is getting sheared today and bred sometime next week. She has wonderful color, but unfortunately Blue seems to be one of those varieties (along with Choc. and Lilac in my barn) that just does not have the density and coat quality of some of the other color varieties. I am going to breed more of this color in litters in the future to see if I can work to improve it some more, but as of now I have never had a Blue that has the kind of density that some of the other colors have.

This is Devaki, who was sheared last week but who had a really beautiful, balanced coat. I will be breeding her for the first time next week also. This was her first Sr. coat.

The next few photos are all baby shots. Below is a picture of Juno's litter of 4 (several of the original littermates faded early on), and the color on the Torts and Pearl (especially) look really intense at this point. I am hoping for several nice show bunnies out of this bunch.

This is Pascha's litter napping after a feeding, with 2 foster babies added in from Echo. The Fawn in this litter (which is difficult to see, unfortunately), has the best Fawn color of any of the babies of these breedings so far, with bright orange color and very little smut :

Here is the rest of Echo's (large) litter of REW, Pearl, and----ta da---- SABLE!!

As I mentioned earlier, my last Sable rabbit died a few months back and I was really upset because I didn't know if I would be able to produce it again here. Then suddenly, what looked like Blue babies in Echo's litter from the beginning turned out to be the long sought after color, and now I am thrilled to death because this is one of my favorite colors in the universe and I will probably develop a pure Sable line sometime in the near future. Below is a closeup of one of these babies in natural light (ignore the ratty, torn up rabbit jacket behind it though:)):

Sable is an unusual color because it can start out either blue OR brown in the nestbox. It then becomes almost frosty looking at one point (as you can see here), after which it settles out and becomes the dark, Sepia brown that is so stunning on the showtable and in spun garments. These babies started out Blue which threw me for a loop in the beginning because 90% of the Sables I've had have started out brown, but as soon as I realized what they were I was just about beside myself with excitement, LOL. There are 3 Sables in her litter and I will try to keep at least one to perpetuate into the future, working the color up until the offspring are purebred and registerable.

Finally below are pictures of my two youngest litters (who are not yet outdoors permanently). These babies below are out of Morwenna and Dijon and I am hoping for nice prospects here too because both parents are nice, and the doe tends to throw very consistent quality.

It is hard to know anything about these babies yet as this is the first litter for Evariste (and Dijon). The colors here are Black, Tort, and REW. We'll see how everyone looks in a few weeks:).

That's about it for today. There will be more later on as things heat up and get more interesting this Spring (now that the long and boring winter is over:)). I did a very hard cull at the end of last Fall in order not to have as many rabbits to bring through the winter and also to raise the quality of my breeding stock a notch. As a result I have only (gulp!) 14 adults in my barn at the moment, so I am looking to build things up and get a larger working herd in place over the spring and summer again.
Have a great week and lots of luck with the buns!:-)