Breeding is getting started up again hot and heavy now that our weather is more like
spring instead of winter. So with the new litters that are coming I will start pictures of different stages. Keep checking
back for updates.
You will do your first major culling
when you wean the babies from the mother around 6-8 weeks old. At this point you are going to compare the size difference
in the same litter.
Start out with sexing the babies and placing them by their sex. With the does you are going to not
always be looking for show stock but stock that could help out in the breeding area as well.
Take all the does and go
over each one, thinking in your head or write on paper their faults. When we first got started I would take a sharpie pen
and put numbers in the ears to keep track who was who. Then place them in an order on who is better to worse. Faults you might
not want to keep are things like; hippy, narrow in shoulders, undercut (not a full hindquarter to the table), pinched in the
hindquarters, bad teeth, wrong color toenails, white spots or any other DQ for that color. You pretty much can set these aside
for culling, you only want to keep the best or with brood stock you only want to keep something that is better than Mom. Sometimes
you are lucky out of say a litter of 4-5 to only keep two babies, sometimes you might not keep a single baby. That is OK,
sometimes you are going to find a buck and doe just do not work together to make good babies.
When culling the bucks you
are going to be a little bit harder on them. You only want to keep the best, no big bucks should stay for the breeding program.
We always start out by measuring he ears. Our theory (and again this is ours) is that they must be 2 inches or less, anything
above must go...hard one hu. They must come as close to the standard as they can, with us keeping in mind that no one has
produced the perfect dwarf yet, you have to try and get as close as you can though.
When we first started out we did keep
many longer than we should have, but it was a learning experience and in the long run it taught us many things. Sometimes
you might get rid of an animal to soon. The longer you work with the same lines the easier it does become. Only easier, after
doing it now for about 10 years it still is not always our favorite part of breeding.
One of our first litters of Himalayans
we had one doe and she was not very cute at all, however we were working with a new line and knew we need to keep her at that
time for breeding, so we put her on a bottom cage so we did not have to look at how ugly she was. This was late fall, in the
spring we were putting together entries for the first show of the new year. My daughter grabbed her out and put her on the
table to see what she looked like. She was AWESOME, man what a few months can do to some, not all. She went her first show
and not only took BOB but when on to win BIS. She went on to get 7 legs, 2-BOB and 3-BOSB were included.
Not all are going
to work out like that, but it is a learning experience that when you start working with a new line or add one in to your other
lines you need to see what is going to happen. Some lines mature young and others mature as they get a little older. You should
know what you have by the time they are around 4 months old though.
What to do with sick animals. Well I had a breeder
when we first got started put it to me straight forward. A sick bunny is a weak bunny and you do not want to use that in your
lines, so cull it out asap.........
This is a good way of looking at it. Not only are
you saving lots of heart ache in the long run but also saving your herd. If you have a sick rabbit you run the risk of spreding
that thru your herd and losing some or all of your stock.
If you use it for breeding you are only going to
end up with more weak bunnies and have more problems in the long run.
We have been very lucky and obtained healthy stock
and seem to produce healthy stock. However we have helped some that have bought unhealthy stock and they only end up with
a big mess and usually have to put most or all of the bunnies down and start over. What a waste of time and money......
When the kits are under 4 weeks it is difficult
to be accurate on what size they'll be when adults. About all I can tell is whether they will have long ears, and even there
I am wrong at times. The number of kits in the litter can affect the size of the young kits. I wean most of my kits from 5
to 7 weeks of age. At that time they get weighed and their ears measured. In the 15 years that I have been keeping records
I have come up on some rules of thumb.
At 7 weeks I don't want a kit more than 18-19 ounces (1.2 to 1.3 lbs), generally,
and I want their ears not longer than
1 3/4". If an animal is larger than 18-19 oz, but has short ears, say 1 1/2" to
1 3/4", I will keep it around for a couple of months to see whether it is just a fast-grower or a BUD. BUDs usually have the
longer ears even when they are young. In my barn, any kit with 2" ears at 7 weeks is headed for the pet shop, and most of
them with ears at 1 7/8" when weaned will wind up there, too! Their ears will be at 2 1/4 or 2 3/8" when they are an adult
and that doesn't look much like a Dwarf to me. So don't just use weight as your criterion. Look for a balance between weight
and ear length. To measure the ears, wrap the kit in a towel, put a 6" ruler between the ears, and see where the tip of the
ear touches. Measure the ears when they are erect, not folded back over their shoulders.