Sunday, December 5, 2010

Angora (New Owner) Prep Sheet

Over the summer I had several experiences with new owners who showed up to purchase one or more bunnies with no carriers to take them home in, and a few even had no cages set up at home to put them in when they got there:(. After the last instance, I decided to write up a 'Prep Sheet' for prospective new angora owners which I now keep as a file and send to every person who makes an appointment to come and buy a rabbit. I thought I would include it here for anyone who can make use of it.

Please feel free to copy or customize this list in any way, and make a point (even if it seems unnecessary!) of letting people know what equipment they will need before coming and what supplies will be needed at home in order to properly care for an angora. So far I have gotten excellent feedback on this list, and I'm sure I will be revising it over time and adding new information.


This is a list of materials that are required for the health and maintenance of an angora rabbit. Before bringing your new bunny home, please have the following items on hand:

-Sheltered Wire Cage or Outdoor hutch. Housing should be well protected from drafts and sunlight. Cages should measure 30 X 30 X 18 inches or (preferably) 30 X 36 X 18.

-32 oz. Water bottle or 32 oz. Ceramic (or Plastic) Water Crock

-32 oz. Ceramic or Plastic feed dish

-Hay (preferably Timothy)

-Quality Pelleted Feed (16-17% protein)
Quality brands include:
Heinold Wool Formula
Manna Pro
Purina Show Formula
Blue Seal Show Hutch Deluxe
Blue Seal 16%
King Feeds

-Slicker brush

-Toenail clipper (either small dog or cat scissor)


Please bring:

-Secure metal rabbit carrying cage (available from KW Cages at or Klubertanz Equipment at ) If transporting more than one rabbit, you must either have separate compartments for each OR separate carriers. They cannot be transported together.

-If a metal cage is unavailable, one or more plastic cat carriers with latched doors may be substituted. If using a cat carrier, do NOT line the floor of the cage with wood shavings, towels, or newspaper. Pad carrier floors with hay only.

**DO NOT use cardboard boxes to transport rabbits OR expect to hold rabbits in lap during transport, as both could result in severe injury to the rabbit. If no adequate mode of transport is available upon arrival, the animal in question will not be permitted to leave and the non-refundable deposit will be absorbed.

-Feed and Water dishes will not be necessary during transport unless the trip extends overnight or lengthy stops are expected. Rabbits typically do not eat or drink in transport, so it is important to provide food and drink immediately upon arrival home.

The only time a list such as this would not be needed would be if you are selling to an experienced breeder/owner. Even if someone arranges pickup at a show or fiber event, it is simple to mail this list ahead of time so that the buyer knows what is expected.

Have a great week!:-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giant X notes

I finally got the chance to snap pictures of most of my Giant/cross keepers from this summer's breedings. These babies were all born in the middle of July and are now about 4 1/2 months old:).

This here is BOCA, an FA/GA cross. She weighs in at 7 lbs. so her bone/frame is good, but her wool is typical of what you might see in a crossbreed---lack of balance and a very high maintenance coat as a result. Surprisingly, the FA/GA crosses are proving far harder to keep matt-free than the NZ/FA/GA crosses. I will need to breed toward the easiest care coat possible that still maintains a correct ratio of GH to underwool/awn fluff.

This is DAFFODIL, the Chocolate littermate to Boca. I have said before that I am not wild about the color Chocolate because it has never been very dense in my experience, but since this girl has big bone and has already passed the 8 lb. mark, I am keeping her around. LOL.

These are the two boys out of Marin, DOMINO and OLIVER. They are not as large as the other rabbits, but their weights are still respectable and they have very good type.

And this is the best (cross) baby that was born this year. MARLEY is very large for her age (around 8 lbs.). She is typey and well balanced. Her wool is dense and easy to care for, and she feels like a lead weight when you pick her up *grin*. She is also out of an NZ/FA/GA breeding.

And this last picture is of Soraya, a black FA out of Etienne and Diego who is also 4 1/2 months old. This is a beautiful little girl who should do well on the show table next year:).

These buns only represent the first GA breedings I have done so there will be lots of work to do in the future. Since the real work in breeding is to isolate the best qualities of a herd and make them repeat themselves again and again, it will take many years and many generations to get the animal I want that can be produced the way I want it over and over the same way. Just as it is with French Angoras or any animal anywhere, each person's herd is like a signature that is refined and developed over time. Lots of work, lots of time, and lots of fried brain cells , LOL.

Have a great week:^)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spang's Evita--0SP57

Just a quick picture this week of my junior doe Evita, who is nearly 6 months old now and got her first haircut today. Evita was my best baby born this summer, and she is looking forward now to the 2011 show season:).

I've got loads more grooming to do tomorrow and this week. Keeping up with 2 breeds is a LOT of work, (LOL!) and I have recently come to the conclusion that I am not---just not---a Furnishings Person:(:(. I completely understand that there are people who are completely devoted to fluff on ears, cheeks, foreheads, and feet and I would never want to insult those fabulous people, but unfortunately I will never be one of them because I love the practicality of clean ears and faces too much, LOLOL!

Anyway, more again next time and have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!:-):-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Handling Rabbits--Do's and Don'ts

--This is another post from the old blog, but since I groomed a lot today I decided to also include pictures of Spang's Zsa Zsa, a REW doe whom I've been growing out to extremes to see if she can eat a full ration all the way to harvest. Since she has NZ in her (she's an F4 cross) I wanted to be sure that there were no issues with woolblock before breeding her. As of today, she is wearing a 6 1/2 month coat and I am thrilled to report that she is cleaning her dish everyday---YAY! More stuff again next time:-)

Handling Rabbits--Do's and Don'ts

Lots of people, particularly newer breeders, are often unsure of the best way to handle, pick up, and carry a rabbit. Different people have different methods that are used for pets, showbunnies, and angoras wearing showcoats, but here is a list of the typical do's and don'ts when it comes to running rabbits around in general:

-Keep bunny nails neatly trimmed to avoid getting them ripped out on the cage floor and to keep from being seriously scratched by your rabbit.
-Let the rabbit know that you are ready to pick them up by talking to them first and making them aware of your presence (no surprises, in other words!)
-Place one hand over the head and ears/neck of the rabbit before lifting it out of the cage, and slip the other hand under the belly so as NOT to be lifting the rabbit out by the head or scruff of the neck. Placing your hand over the head is only for restraint purposes, never for lifting.
-Use a stepladder to remove rabbits from top cages so that you are not forced to drag a rabbit forward in order to get it out.
-Always LIFT, and never PULL a rabbit out of a cage whether you are taking them out backwards or forwards.
-When removing a rabbit from the cage who is facing backward, place one hand over the head and the other one under the belly and lift the rabbit out backwards. If you cannot get one hand on the head then slip it under the belly/chest of the rabbit right up to the front legs, hold them firmly, then use the other hand to grab the rump of the rabbit and lift it safely out.
-When taking a rabbit out of a cage who is facing forwards, wrap one arm around the side and rear of the rabbit, and the other directly under the rib cage and lift up.
-Once you have a rabbit out of a cage tuck it into the crook of your arm like a football (facing backwards), and hold it against your body firmly.
-When placing the rabbit back into the cage try to do it backwards to avoid tripped/torn toenails. Reverse the hold you used to take the rabbit out of the cage facing frontwards and place one hand under the chest with the other hand grasping the rump. Lift the rabbit into the cage backwards and place it down on the cage floor.

-Do not ever sneak up on a rabbit before picking it up or touching it. Always make sure he/she is 100% aware you are there to avoid sudden bolts and possible spinal injury.
-Never pick up a rabbit by the ears, head, or scruff of the neck. Repeated lifting of the skin over the neck can cause it to actually become permanently separated from the meat. The resulting flabbiness/fattiness will make it impossible to get the rabbit into show condition, and performance will suffer as a result.
-Never drag a rabbit out of it's cage. Instinct will cause it to dig it's nails into the cage floor and resist the motion, resulting in broken or ripped out toenails.
-Once a rabbit is out of it's cage, never carry it like a briefcase with the legs dangling. This is almost a sure-fire recipe for spinal injury, and one that should be avoided at all costs.
-Never hold a rabbit away from your body unless you have a very firm grip on the chest and rump of the rabbit. Any position of 'dangling' or flailing will greatly upset a rabbit of any breed, and if they must be held out they must be held firmly enough so that they feel secure and do not kick or panic.
-Never grip a rabbit's hind legs together to stop it from kicking. It is not natural for rear legs ever to be touching one another, and if a rabbit should panic or try to escape in this position both legs could break.
-Never move quickly around rabbits. Never grab them roughly, severely, or suddenly, and never surprise them from behind or above. Remember that calm bunnies are much less likely to injure themselves, and much more likely to let you handle them when they trust you to keep them safe:).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Misc. Stuff:)

It has been really, absurdly busy around here since I went back to work (for the most part) full time. There has been hardly any time to do dishes, feed children, take care of animals, or clean the house I live in much less blog and check email, LOL. It has been an embarrassing couple of weeks I tell you:).

There are a couple of days off coming in the district I work in, so I will begin to try catching up on normal life. Several new bunny litters arrived this week which I will be updating to my website. Juno had a litter of 3, Diana had 9, Bijou had 7, Etienne had 5, Elenita had 2, and Natalya and Marin are due with litters tomorrow. I have noticed lately that Fall litters often tend to be smaller than the Spring ones, and I am sure this year it is directly due to the horrible summer we had and the fact that my bucks (especially the older ones) went completely and totally infertile for a period of several weeks:(.

These new litters will be 12 weeks old by the PA Convention (which is exactly why I bred them at this time, LOL). There should be plenty of babies to bring for sale even if they are too young to place on the show table yet. I am looking forward to seeing how they turn out and also how the latest Giant litters turn out, of which two more are due to be born this week.

Speaking of Giants, I managed to acquire 3 more purebred bunnies from a very nice breeder in PA named Ashley Shaw. She sold me a beautiful little doe along with a nice buck and a purebred Black buck, and I am thrilled to death because now my GA base herd is complete and I can really get to work with a decent sized gene pool in place. The GA crosses I saved from my last breedings are really coming along now, and at the last weigh-in they either equaled or exceeded my French litters of the same age. Of course, much of this is due to hybrid vigor which can be expected to wear off in the next 2 generations, but it's a good start and the buns I am holding onto are strong, hardy representatives of the breeds that were used.

Aside from this there is really nothing going on besides the usual closing up of the rabbitry for winter and preparing to break out the water dishes for everyone. This week (as everyone knows!!) is ARBA Convention week up in Minneapolis, MN, and I think the judging should have finished up by now and we will soon be awaiting the results of the show. From what I understand there is actually a larger Satin Angora entry than FA this year which is utterly amazing. Years past have seen well over 100-150 French entered at that show, but apparently there are less than 40 entered this year:(. I have heard rumors that the Pennsylvania clubs are planning to put in a bid for the 2013 location, and if that is the case then I will certainly plan on driving down and adding my numbers to the bunch. There is nothing like an ARBA convention to look forward to--the biggest (rabbit) show on earth!:-)

Anyway, more again next time when I have time to snap and post pictures. Best of luck to those traveling to and showing in MN this week. Have a fun week and get home SAFE!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rabbit Show 101

--another post from the old blog:

Visitors attending a rabbit show often come out of the experience with no idea of what actually happened, LOL. There is very little fanfare or discussion/direction going on on behalf of the judges or exhibitors at these events, so many people leave feeling confused as to what took place, what happened during the judging, and who exactly won in the end:).

This is the way a rabbit show works:

Early on the morning of a show the showroom opens early to allow breeders to enter, get themselves and their animals set up, and check in. Once the designated hour of the show comes around, the judges put on their showcoats and stand behind the row of cubbies that has been reserved for the breed/s that they will be working with that day. The exhibitors identify the table that they will be showing at, park themselves nearby with their animals, and the show begins.

While the judge stands behind the table to examine animals, a person called a "writer" sits next to him at a small table with control sheets and comment cards to write down the judge's comments for each animal and to record the winners of each class and BOB/BOS (BOB stands for "Best of Breed" and BOS stands for "Best Opposite Sex").

When the judge is ready, the writer calls for the first class to be brought up. In Angoras this is normally the "White Senior Buck" Class, so everyone who has entered WSBs brings their animals up and places them into the cubbies. Before placing the animals, the judge first checks all the entries for DQs. A DQ may include such problems as white or mismatched toenails, white spots or hairs in a colored coat, malocclusion, genital defects, signs of illness, or undesirable characteristics that are unique to each breed. Once the judge has finished the preliminary check, then he/she goes on to evaluate each animal in more detail, checking type quality, wool quality, overall balance, and so on. Once this is finished, the judge then places each animal in a cubby in the order of it's placement (This is not required but it is the method they often use to keep track of everything), and the last place animal is taken out first. The ear number of the animal is read off for the writer, the placement is given, and comments are recited as to what the strengths and weaknesses of the animal are. The animal is handed back to the owner, and the next-to-last-place animal is taken out. The routine is repeated, and the animal is handed back to its breeder again.

By the time the judge reaches the first place animal, he/she goes through the same routine again, reads off the ear number, gives comments, and then puts the class winner off to the side in a cage behind the table or in a cubby on the end if there is room. The next class is then called up, and the entire cycle repeats itself with the judge evaluating each new animal until another class winner is selected. The order of classes in the Angora breeds is usually judged as follows:

1-White Senior Buck (WSB)
2-White Senior Doe (WSD)
3-White Junior Buck (WJB)
4-White Junior Doe (WJD)
5-Colored Senior Buck (CSB)
6-Colored Senior Doe (CSD)
7-Colored Junior Buck (CJB)
8-Colored Junior Doe (CJD)

Once the White classes have been judged, the judge will then choose an animal for BOV (Best of Variety) and BOSV (Best Opposite Sex Variety). These two animals will remain on the table until the Colored classes are concluded so that a winner can be chosen between the White BOV/BOSV and the Colored BOV/BOSV. Once the Colored classes are finished and the Colored BOV, etc. have been chosen, then the judge will compare the 4 winning animals to determine which is the Best 'Overall', and that animal will be awarded BOB--the Best of Breed. The judge will then choose the best opposite sexed animal for BOS, and the judging is over. The BOB animal is entitled to advance to the BIS (Best in Show) table at the end of the day, but the show will be over for the rest of the animals that were entered.

In Angoras the winning rabbit is almost always a Senior Doe simply because does are larger and normally have superior coats and wool balance. The BOS often works out to be a Senior Buck, though it has certainly occurred that a buck has won BOB or a junior buck or doe has won BOB over a senior animal. Judges have individual opinions and preferences as to which animals are the best, of course, and one thing you can be positively certain of is that the results of one show will almost never be the same as the one that came before it. There are some judges out there who are extremely capable with Angoras and take the time to honestly evaluate them, while others have an active dislike or grave lack of knowledge with them (unfortunately).

People may ask, "Well, if you can never get the same result in each show then how will you ever learn what the quality of your animals is to begin with?" That is an excellent question and the answer is that you can't know after attending only one show with one judge. The proof in the pudding comes when one or more of your animals consistently does well, or consistently places in the top 10, 5, or 3, or gets similar comments day in and day out from different judges. The value of a show (and the reason they were invented to begin with), is to give breeders the chance to have their stock evaluated by a neutral and independent source that is a proven judge of rabbit quality. Everyone who raises livestock knows that 'barn blindness' is a standard problem among breeders, so it is critical to have animals seen and evaluated on a regular basis.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Misc. Stuff

I spent most of this (beautiful) day doing barn work and moving bunnies around, and then we went ahead and processed 21 fryers so there aren't many brain cells left to think of something interesting to write tonight (grin:).

Due to this unfortunate case of brain-freeze, then, I have decided to re-post some interesting links that I found for the UARC list today in response to a discussion going on regarding the Chinese Angora. UARC members were discussing the difference in quality between Chinese wool found in the stores over here and that which is sold by individual breeders on a smaller level throughout the rest of the world. This first link below is really a history of the Angora rabbit in various regions (as told by one writer---there are really many different versions of this 'origin' story:)). The last two links are detailed accounts of the Chinese Angora itself, which is said to be a cross between the French Angora, German Angora, and New Zealand White meat rabbit.\

Anyway, hope you enjoy this, and I hope that the weather is cooling off in every area to get that wool growing out again!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

NYS Convention

This Saturday I traveled up to the NYS Convention with 7 rabbits in tow (6 for showing). The NY Convention (or Grand Finals, as it is also called) is always held in Syracuse, NY at the NY State Fairgrounds complex which is very large and which is where an ARBA Convention was actually held many years ago.

I had just 2 Seniors to bring since most of my showbuns had been bred over the summer (and several had needed double clipping due to the heat), and I brought 4 junior does.

There were 43 French entered in each show with approx. 6-7 exhibitors. The judge for our first show was Scott Wiebensohn, and the judge for the second was someone we rarely see in these parts named Susie Dapper.

In show A, my REW Senior doe Zsa Zsa took BOB and earned her 6th leg, while my Junior doe out of Carmen (Spang's Evita) took BOV colored. In the second show, none of my rabbits placed at all in any class and generally went home winless, LOL.

Below are a few pics snapped in between showing and snoozing in my chair (I was in a total stupor most of the day due to only having slept 6 hours the previous two nights, LOL). The first is a general picture of the show hall as it was filling up in the afternoon. This is a very large building with aisles and aisles of cooping for exhibitors to 'store' their buns in for the weekend.

This is an adorable little fuzzy lop that was waiting to go to the table on the roof of someone's stroller:).

These were my bunnies in their carriers waiting for Show B:

This is Lorrie taking care of bunny sales between shows:

This is one of the colored French classes being judged in Show B:

And this is a cute picture of Robin Gottung holding her little EA before judging. Robin also breeds and shows Brittania Petittes.

Anyway, so that was it for the weekend:). The next show to concentrate on will be the PA Convention in Lebanon in Feb, and until then I will be breeding, grooming, clipping, and breeding some more:-).

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun-Bunny Stuff

This weekend I spent the greater part of my time doing rabbit chores. Yesterday I dropped pans, cleaned the barn, and groomed every rabbit that needed it (yikes!). Today I sheared down all the 2011 PA Convention prospects, scrubbed out and sterilized every water bottle on every cage, figured out my breeding pairs for next week's Fall breedings, and did some tattooing. Whew!:-)

While I was doing my grooming I decided to take a picture of my slicker brushes, which are DoggyMan brand in two different sizes. I have one little one for dewlaps, chins, and armpits, and a bigger one for the stomach, chest, and saddle areas.

As everyone in angoras knows, Doggyman is the gold standard in rabbit slicker brushes. They are softer than any other brand and do less damage to coats than any other brand. They are fantastic. The only drawback (IMO) is that the handles have no grip to speak of and are made of the same exact material that the body of the brush is made of. Also, the handle is put together in two parts which are prone to breaking in half after a couple months of use.

Since these are not the cheapest brushes available and no one can afford to be without a means of grooming (LOL), angora people have come up with ingenious ways to doctor their tools to make them last longer and feel more comfortable in their hands.

Electrical tape or textured adhesive tapes work very well for wrapping around handles. The tape makes the handle easier to get a grip on, and it also keeps it from breaking in half so the brush lasts much longer overall.

Unfortunately tape doesn't always do a perfect job, so the second fix is to wrap rubber bands around the handles which gives you an even better grip on the brush. It may sound unbelievable, but rubber bands actually make a real difference in the amount of pressure that grooming puts on your hands, especially your wrists. For some ergonomic reason you can feel a real difference when you have multiple rabbits to do, or multiple rabbits to do fast, like before a show, etc. Some people favor the types of rubber bands used on broccoli at the supermarket, for ex. (because they are wider and flatter) but any kind will work. As you can see, it isn't pretty but it works:-).

Also, we took a trip down to the Museum of Natural History in NYC last week, and look what we stumbled upon in the Hall of Dinosaurs!

For those who do not recognize it without the fur and ears, this is the skeleton of a rabbit, specifically a ROCK RABBIT.

Below the skeleton there was a plaque explaining the relationship between the rabbit and the pika, which is the only other animal in the Lagomorph family. I tried to take a close up that was as easy to read as possible. There were also skulls of some much earlier rabbit ancestors in the hall, but they were difficult to photograph in the positions that they were in.

We took tons of pictures of different dinosaurs at this museum. I do not believe that the collection of dinosaur bones at this museum is rivaled anywhere, and it took a l-o-n-g time to get through the whole thing. Here is a picture one of the boys took of a complete triceratops:

Oh, and here is a last gag photo that the kids took of Jonathan pretending to put his head in the mouth of a stuffed tiger. Nice, huh? All well, boys will be boys:-).

Anyhow, more again next week and hopefully our weather will stay cool here after YET ANOTHER heat wave last week. At this rate we will not be taking the fans out of the barn until Christmas, for sure. I have not seen a summer like this in 10 years:(:(.

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Bunnies for 2011

Well, the Summer breedings are pretty much over with now, and out of 50 or so babies it looks like I will be holding 9 or 10. These Jrs. will not reach Senior-hood until next year, but for now they can probably go to a few Fall shows as Jrs. and pick up some legs (maybe---?:)), and then they'll be ready for the Big Leagues on the tables next Spring:).

Below are a few of the keepers I took pictures of today (I still have more to groom tomorrow). There are also a few younger litters that have yet to be evaluated but who should have nice prospects in them out of Etienne and Diana. Those guys were recently weaned and I won't handle them to check type until they are at least 10 weeks old---so they have had more time to flesh out.

First is Spang's Anje (0SP67) out of Kimba and Anton. Anje is a large REW doe with great bone and type:

Next is Spang's Aiko (0SP54) out of Carmen and Diego, one of two sisters who should be great show rabbits as Seniors:

This is Spang's Nikola (0SP64) out of Diana and Anton. Also a typey girl:)

And this is the second (and best:)) sister out of Carmen and Diego--Spang's Evita (0SP57)

This is Spang's Duncan (0SP37) out of Marin and S'more. A MONSTER big Sable boy who I have to put on the scale tomorrow to make sure he isn't overweight already, LOL:

And finally, this is Spang's Selene(0SP61) out of Bijou and Diego. This doe is going to have a wonderful, wonderful coat just like her Mother (grin!), so I have decided to keep Bijou indefinitely to get as many carbon copies of her as possible:)

Anyway, more again next week when I will blog about something more interesting for a change instead of pictures, pictures, pictures. LOL.

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Giant Project

Today I took some Giant cross babies from my most recent litters, and had my son snap a few pics of them.

These buns are approx. 7 weeks old, and are a cross between a black Giant and 2 different REW FA/NZ crosses. As you can see, many of them already exhibit the furnishings one would expect on a Giant, but I think it will be awhile until the coats are correct and can actually be considered Giant triple coats.

My plan here is to develop a line of Black and REW GAs. I got plenty of both colors in the three litters that I bred, fortunately, so I am hoping that these babies will be a nice starting point for the project.

I am hoping to select the very best/heaviest/hardiest/typiest babies out of these litters, and then breed them to Dustbunny's's Liam (the pure REW GA I have) for part II of this thing:). For culling help I have enlisted the aid of two wonderful meat breeders I know who are experts in type and bone, and that way I should manage to get excellent evaluations of everyone which will lessen the chances of me making a horrible mistake on my own, LOL.

These first two pics are of two Black crosses. Their color looks good but as far as type and meat condition go, it is still too early to know anything. Below this are two REWs who are the exactly same age, and as everyone gets older I will continue to post pics here so everyone can see how they develop. This is going to be a fascinating experiment because you never know what will happen when two different lines and breeds mesh together. It will be really interesting to see how these litters grow, and it will also be fascinating to see how long (and how many generations) it will take to make a true, functional, bone fide Giant:-). I am trying to get ahold of one or two more purebred GAs to add to my herd, and I may also try adding a purebred NZ White doe from a friend of mine who has stock from one of the top lines in the country.

Anyway, more stuff again next week. Hope everyone is enjoying the MUCH cooler weather now (in this area, at least!:))

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Butler County PA Show

The first show of the Fall season here is usually Cobleskill NY, but this year I have to skip that one because of a family/ kid commitment. Since I am high and dry between now and the NYS Convention in terms of shows, I thought I would try a new show in PA this week that was only 3 hours away and a double show to boot WITH an Angora specialty attached (making it a triple show!).

I brought very few rabbits thinking that there would be lots of other angora exhibitors there, but it actually turned out to be a tiny little show with hardly anyone else on the table, LOL! It was a beautiful, cool day at a really nice fairground so it was fun anyway, and the show was so well-run that we got home at a reasonable hour despite tons of shows and specialties going on at the same time:).

Here are a few shots that were taken throughout the day. Spang's Elenita earned BOB in the first show and Spang's Zsa Zsa took BOB in the second Open and the Angora Specialty, eventually earning BIS in the Specialty at the end.

These first 3 pics are of the first Open show judged by Johnny Hausser (sp?), a brand new judge who was actually one of the youth breeders featured in the upcoming movie 'Rabbit Fever', LOL! He did a wonderful job and I think he has a bright and wonderful future ahead of him as a judge:). Here he is examining both Elenita and Zsa Zsa.

This is Deb Vecchio judging the Specialty with Alex Stepnoski at the writer table. Zsa Zsa is hanging out in the end cubby.

And this is my usual bunnies-in-carriers shot. Extremely boring but an easy pic to remember to take during the day, LOLL!

And this last is a cute picture of the Youth BIS Judging with two kids holding onto their well groomed Giant and English Angoras:).

Anyway, so that's it for tonight. We are enjoying nice COOL weather here (finally!!!), and the bunnies are very relaxed and relieved. Hopefully the temps will stay low at this point so the bucks have time to recover in time for the next wave of breedings in October (knock on wood!)

Have a great week!:-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wool Facts

--another post from the old blog

I was just flipping the 'Rabbit Production' book today and found some interesting facts on Wool growth, Molting, and adjusting feed to manipulate holding time. This is a wonderful book that encompasses ALL aspects of rabbit raising, and I find new information every time I read it:). Here are a few angora notes:

-"Females produce about 20% more wool than males"--p.441

-"Angoras reach their peak of wool production between 18 and 36 months of age. After three years of age, wool production and reproduction abilities begin a rapid decline."--p.441

-"There is an apparent antagonism between the amount of wool produced and reproductive performance"--P.441

-"Genetic selection is very important in the improvement of wool density and texture. Wool production and quality are highly heritable traits."--p.441

-"The rabbit's coat is prime when the hairs have a good sheen, are tight, and have attained their maximum length. The skin is white and the hair flows back into place evenly when the coat is rubbed from the rump to the shoulders".--p.105

-"Unprimeness is indicated by a dull, uneven coat and loose hair. The hair does not flow evenly when the coat is rubbed from the rump to the shoulders. Patches of new fibers can be seen, and these new fibers will appear in a growth pattern that varies from animal to animal. The skin of these new hair growth areas is dark and easily detected on rabbits with colored coats."--p.105

-"Heavy feeding of the young tends to cause the molt at an earlier age----Rabbits may be thrown into molt by disease, going "off feed", the sudden occurrence of unseasonable high temperatures, or other stresses."--p.106

-"Shedding first occurs on the sides of the rump and the thighs, followed by the back, then increasingly in areas down over the sides."--p.106

-"A high quality diet and high feed intake promote molting. The growth rate of hair is more rapid with a high nutrient intake, so the rate of turnover of hair is greater."--p.106

-"Restricted feeding of adult show animals reduces the amount of hair shedding and keeps the fur in prime condition for a longer period."--p.106

Basically I think that these facts demonstrate what so many good conditioners of rabbits already know----you cannot feed the same rabbit in exactly the same way year round regardless of climate or coat condition. An excellent breeder I know begins adding a top dressing to his meat rabbits' pellet ration as soon as a molt is over. He continues feeding this mix until JUST BEFORE the rabbits hit prime, and then pulls them off it and gives them nothing but pellets and a pinch of horse sweet feed while they finish building and completely prime out. The withdrawal of the grain mix at this point ensures that the growing cycle slows down and the rabbit holds prime condition longer, and the addition of sweet feed (only) makes the rabbits thirstier and improves flesh condition by increasing their fluid intake. Once a molt begins, he feeds the rabbits black oil sunflower seed to push them through it faster, and then begins the process over again once molts are finished and the new coats begin. This same formula may also work with angoras, though the sunflower seeds may not be necessary because we can clip our rabbits and get rid of the excess wool that way.

With our pellet rations, we also need to increase the amount of feed given in winter, restrict it in summer, increase when the coat is coming in, and decrease when the coat peaks and begins to go out (OR increase again when the coat slips in order to get it through the molt faster---I will be trying both those ideas in my herd to see if there is any difference in molt "speed" if you push the energy up).

Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Sale Bunnies!

I have two more sale bunnies to add to the previous blog post, which will complete the babies offered out of the 2010 summer breedings. This Sable Pearl and Tort are both bucks, and both out of Spang's Juno and Spang's Felix (Born 6/8/10). They are $100 each:

Note** Btw, please excuse the unorthodox pose of this first boy---he is convinced he is a running breed today (grin).

Hope everyone is winding down this horrendously hot summer with at least some coats still intact (ugh!!). More bunny stuff again this weekend:-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bunnies For Sale

I have three nice little bucks for sale at the moment. After evaluating most of the babies from the last batch that was weaned, I set several aside to keep and observe a little longer, while others will go up for sale immediately.

Lately I have been setting stricter guidelines for myself as far as what gets sold from my rabbitry, so at this point I no longer sell unshowable rabbits with the rare exception of those who end up with a non-genetic DQ such as missing toes, tails, and so on (from accidents at birth and overzealous diapering by mom:)). I have always worried about passing unwanted traits into the French Angora gene pool, and since I am selling more babies each year it has become very important (IMO) for me to restrict what goes in and out of my barn and into the genetics of the breed.

I have always tried to sell rabbits that were solid, thrifty, and functional, but I also sold babies on occasion with faults that would not necessarily earn high placements at shows (for ex. rabbits that were hippy, lacking in depth, or lower in the shoulders, etc). I have always explained faults to the customer buying the rabbit so they knew what they were getting, but I would have preferred to have always sent out top-notch rabbits so that anything getting bred would have a stronger than average chance of passing on the best possible traits.

Unfortunately it is tough to produce perfect rabbits all the time (LOL!) so naturally a period of building happens in this hobby where you are able to produce a few great rabbits who do well on the table, but the larger majority for a long time end up being bunnies that are still nice and may do well for someone somewhere, but the quality can't be boosted enough to breed good ones and sell them very often. In the beginning it seems reasonable to expect a ratio of about 20% keepers to 80% culls, but as a line improves and gets more 'concentrated', this ratio tends to shift until there are more good ones than bad ones suddenly, and the ones you once held as 'cream of the crop', now become rabbits you would sell in favor of others coming along with more highly evolved traits.

Anyway, I seem to have reached a point where my herd has become very stable and is producing animals lately that can push the boundaries of what I used to own a little further. It was a very tough couple of years with the NZ/FA experiment I was doing that at first did not seem to bear fruit, and even worse before that was the enteritis outbreak I had where literally 1/2 to 3/4 of every litter I bred died (a long story with a happy ending that I will definitely get into once I have more time:)). After several years of hitting walls everywhere, everything fell into place suddenly and the line I wanted was finally within reach. The NZs are fully incorporated at last with great benefits to type, vigor, and breeding/mothering, and the enteritis problem is over and solved so that virtually every baby born is living and thriving.

There were enough nice bunnies weaned over the last couple of months here that I had trouble knowing who to get rid of, LOL. There were a large number of buns sold in spring and summer, but now there are a few left over from the better breedings that I wanted to post, too. Below are pictures of bucks from 3 different litters with details and descriptions:

-Sable Pearl buck (born 6/8/10)
-Sire: Spang's Giacomo
-Dam: Spang's Margaux
-Large buck with very good type and wool. Will make excellent showrabbit.
-Price: $100

-Sable buck (born 6/1/10)
-Sire: Spang's Anton
-Dam: Spang's Diana
-Also very large with exc. bone and outstanding wool. Not as much depth as SP but still very balanced. Will make great showrabbit or wooler.
-Price: $100

-Tort buck (born 5/30/10)
-Sire: Spang's Diego
-Dam: Spang's Carmen
-Well-balanced buck with good type who will also have a nice, dense, senior coat. Will make great showrabbit.
-Price: $100

Please email with questions, and there will be more bunnies posted as I continue to evaluate litters.

Have a great week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The French Angora Standard

It is always a good idea to review the standard for your breed every 6 months or so to refresh your mental picture of what a good example should look like. As almost everyone knows who shows or breeds with the standard in mind, there are a total of 100 points allotted to each breed, and the distribution of points depends on the unique characteristics of each type of rabbit. In the French Angora breed, the breakdown is as follows:

GENERAL TYPE............35
Feet and Legs..............5
TOTAL POINTS.............100

Of these categories, the two most important are clearly Body and Wool, with the heaviest emphasis placed on Wool. The French Angora's commercial body type is very important because it lends the correct shape and lay to the coat, enhancing it's "massiveness" and creating a sense of balance. A rabbit with extraordinary depth is much more impressive than a rabbit with a flat topline, because the lack thereof will cause the wool to separate over the back and stick straight out rather than rise up and drape down over the rabbit evenly. Lack of depth also affects the floor level/base of the coat, making it appear choppy and uneven.

Commercial type is also a great asset to the FA because it enhances it's versatility. Most French Angora lines nowadays are more than capable of reaching the 5 lb. mark at 12 weeks or younger and make excellent meat rabbits, furthering widening their appeal in the rabbit world.

The most important characteristic of the French Angora, of course, is the wool. Of the 55 points allotted to the various traits of a wool coat, density is awarded the most at 25, while texture comes in second at 20 and length is third at 10. While the FA is typically regarded as the angora with the "coarsest" wool type, it is important to note that excessive hairiness is NOT desirable in this breed and is even cited as a fault under the texture description for "an excessively hair like coat". Exhibitors and judges alike often make the mistake of viewing a superior FA as one with the highest percentage of guard hair, when in actuality it is underwool that creates density, and density which supplies the underlying support for a balanced coat and receives the greatest point distribution in the standard. It is critical for FAs to have a large amount of heavily crimped underwool to maintain the 'large' appearance of the coat. A good ratio to use for the percentage of guard hair to overall wool in this breed is 40:60. 40% of the coat should be guard hair, while the rest should be composed of a combination of guards with underwool (and is mostly underwool).

Only 5 points are assigned to color in the FA standard (and to the other Angora breeds as well, except for the Satin which receives 6). People often comment that color is unimportant in Angoras because of this, but this is positively untrue. First of all, a color that is not correct or worse yet, is totally unrecognized, will instantly be disqualified. Many judges skip over color in Angoras on the showtable because they are unfamiliar with the look of standard colors on a long wool coat, but breeders cannot use this as an excuse to ignore color in their breeding programs. The best judges in our hobby are keenly aware of color quality and also have a thorough knowledge of genetics. Unrecognized colors and color DQs rarely escape them. Also, in stiff competition at the National level (or just in a very large show), the difference between the 1st and 2nd place rabbit often comes down to tiny details such as color, condition, ability to pose (overall impression, etc.), and other minutiae. As a result, it is never a good idea to neglect any of the qualities that seem insignificant or may not carry as many points as something else.

Have a great week!:-)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Some GREAT Baby Pics:)

I've got lots of grooming to catch up on tomorrow since we had relatives up all week and tons of kids running around, LOL (I will be sure to get junior pics updated asap). In the meantime my son Keith, the budding photographer, took two beautiful photos of some of our most recent babies in the nestbox.

I have five 2 1/2 week old litters now of which two are purebred and three are Giant/FA/NZ cross litters (FA/NZ crosses which are now considered 'purebred'). In the GA cross litters there are a high number of chocolates which was surprising but which clearly shows that my GA buck Milo carries chocolate along with some of my NZ/FA does.

While Chocolate is a beautiful color for spinning and really lovely, it has never been particularly desirable for the showtable because it is not one of the denser varieties in angoras. I was not altogether thrilled to see so many in these litters (LOL), but as with anything else I will just have to work things out and remember that of all the traits that need to be worked out of lines and breeds, color is not usually the most difficult.

Anyway, more again next time when I post pictures of older babies (and also a few bunnies for sale:-).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coats Growing

In between endless disgusting, hot, humid days we did manage to get two days of cool and breezy weather in which it was finally possible to take rabbits out and give them a grooming. I have several bucks and does (and babies) who are busily growing coats for the Fall season, but here are the first two I did who posed for pictures after a session with the blower:).

This white bunny is Spang's Zsa Zsa, who is now an adult and growing in her first Senior coat (currently about 1.5--2 inches long). She is a big, MASSIVE doe with great bone and density who should hold a full coat beautifully when the time comes.

And this is Spang's Elenita, whose junior pic can be found in the margin of the blog and who is now growing a gorgeous senior coat with absolutely fabulous texture and density. I love the color Sable because it's so dramatic on the show table (like Black:)), and finally there are getting to be enough buns of this color in my barn to seriously work with.

There are Juniors growing out here, too (I picked four out of the last batch to keep). I will try and post photos of them next week.

Have a wonderful (and COOL!!!) week:-)