Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just Stuff:)

Well, after a super busy (but still fun) holiday I am starting to get things back together and am beginning to catch up on all the bunny work I missed between Christmas, sick children, and a mound of work, LOL.

This week on vacation I managed to get 3 does bred and and am shooting for two more tomorrow, and I got some juniors clipped down in prep. for the upcoming spring show season.

An unbelievable miracle occurred today. It was 60F (!!!!). Without wasting a moment, I grabbed my grooming table and blower, planted them outside, and thoroughly blasted each of my potential entries for the PA show in Feb:). After this I clipped down 3 more babies, bred 1 doe, and will continue clipping and breeding until everything is finished and I have nothing to concentrate on but new babies in the nestbox:).

One of my newer bucks, Henryi, is going to be siring 2 of the new litters. Angelo, a Chestnut buck, will sire one and possibly 2 if I decide to use him with Yvonne, and I will probably use Giacomo with Natalya as soon as I can get them both sheared. Next spring I will focus on using Giacomo and Fabrice almost exclusively while Henryi and Angelo are in coat, and some of the up and coming bucks will join the roster as well (later in the season).

I am also in the process of revamping my website this winter (actually I had planned on getting that done earlier too, LOL), and then I will be adding lots of new pictures and loading a bunch of articles to make the whole thing more complete.

More again in a couple of days as life gets settled again, but I'll leave you with a parting shot of Giacomo after his wild session with the blower:-). He is super disheveled because of the fierce wind that was blowing here all morning (in addition to the one I created, LOL) and he is also looking rough because his coat is pretty well shot at this point, having gone past prime and down the road to slippage :^).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Timed Breedings--Charts

Note: This is another post from the old blog, but if I were writing it now I would probably change the Sr. peak date from 9 months to 10 or 11. A 4 month old coat would certainly be primed and would probably be impressive on the showtable, but a 5 /6 month coat (as long as it was prime and not slipping) would be more competitive still.

There are several charts available to help breeders time breedings for particular shows or maturation points at certain times during the year. Since hold times and molting cycles have changed for the typical French Angora over the last 20 years or so, a modern chart would need to include current development rates and assume that individual coats are being held and released later.

If we assume that today's FA Junior peaks at approx. 4--4 1/2 months (in some lines), we need to devise a list in order to plan our breedings so that babies are hitting the most important shows by exactly 4 months. Here is a list of the 12 months of the year alongside a column listing what month a rabbit would reach peak Junior age ( 4 months/ 16 weeks old) if bred by the month in the first column:

Breed In (for) 4 Month Old Juniors in:

January /June
February /July
March/ August
April/ September
May/ October
June/ November
July/ December
August/ January
September/ February
October/ March
November/ April
December/ May

Also, if we assume that an FA molts it's first coat and is harvested at 5 months, it will probably not peak again as a Senior until approx. 9 months of age (though if hold time is different, breeding dates will need to be adjusted accordingly). Assuming that you are trying to breed a 9 month old Senior for a specific show, here are the months you would need to breed in, in order to achieve that.

Breed In (for) 9 months old in:

January/ November
February/ December
March/ January
April/ February
May /March
June/ April
July/ May
August/ June
September/ July
October/ August
November/ September
December/ October

These are examples based on dates targeting 4 month old Juniors and 9 month old Seniors. The key thing to take note of is precisely what age your rabbits tend to peak in either category. Take notes on the development of your herd, and plan your breedings accordingly. Generally it is a good idea to push coats to be as large and heavy as they can be before they actually begin to slip (the very end of the Prime phase), and plan your Juniors to be as large as possible with as much wool growth acumulated before they actually go overweight (keeping them at or just under 7 1/2 lbs.).

Again, as many of us know, raising Angoras for show all boils down to timing, timing, timing:). Showbreeders are not the only ones who benefit from manipulating a molt either. Managers of fiber herds may time breedings also so that bunnies are bald in the summertime when temps, are highest, and in full coat during the winter when temperatures plunge. The nature of an Angora growth cycle is such that a breeder CAN time breedings to manipulate a coat for his/her own needs--- just one more advantage to owning these wonderful rabbits for wool or show.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Bunny Pics

These are just some recent bunny pics I took after grooming, which is a frequent activity now:). This bunny below (in 2 pics) is Giacomo, a Tort Sr. buck in his first Sr. coat, and Juno's son out of her most recent litter.

Btw, please ignore the piles of coats, shoes and scarves on the wall and floor in the background, LOL. It is the freezing time of year here:).

And this is Giacomo's sister and littermate, Mimosa. A fawn doe:

And this is Devaki, who is continuing to grow in but is still slightly behind the other two bunnies in length/width. It is also easy to see from the picture that Devaki is an older rabbit than the others because she has considerably more guard hair in her coat. Devaki is 2 years old, while Giacomo and Mimosa are only about 8 mos. old.

There are other bunnies in shorter, varying stages of growth in the barn at the moment, but my big job now is going to be giving all of last summer's babies their first haircuts, since all are nearly ready to be harvested and grow new coats for the spring. As soon as that is done, things will be much easier around here because there will only be Sr. bunnies to care for, LOL.
Have a great week!:-)