It has been a little longer than usual since my last blog but we have been traveling and upon our return have been super busy. We are in the middle of expanding our facilities which requires a lot of thought and hard work. We will update you on that later.
Today I want to discuss a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time and it affects every breeder in some form or another - the pedigree.
I have purchased many bunnies over the years, some with pedigrees and some without, and oftentimes I find that there was not a distinct advantage either way. Before you get too upset over that statement let me explain.
In my opinion, an incomplete pedigree is just as bad as not having one at all. There are several pieces of valuable information that should be on a pedigree but the one piece that is most of the time missing is the weight of the animal. It is such an easy thing to do and yet, after all these years, I have failed to see a single pedigree that was complete in regards to weight. Not a single one...ever. That is a lot of years and a lot of pedigrees.
If you are a breeder, whether it be for show or meat, I believe that you need to know the weight of the ancestors to at least have some idea if the line has a propensity for good growth. I see a lot of ear numbers on pedigrees which tells me that someone took time to tattoo these animals, when on a scale of importance as related to weight, does not even register.
If you are starting to think I have lost my mind today, just take a look at the number of inquiries in various Facebook groups asking about the growth rate of bunnies. They want to know that the bunny will reach a good weight at a specific age. Let's say that I just bought two bunnies in hopes of breeding them. They both have pedigrees but the weight is missing on nearly every animal. How can I, in good conscience, tell the prospective buyer that this pairing is going to produce the adequate weight when I have little or no information on the pedigree to even guess at it? All I can do is give the generic answer that we all know which is NOT what the buyer wants to hear.
As a breeder it is vitally important that we breed in such a way to meet or exceed the standard in every way and while most all are only focused on color, the weight of the animal should not be excluded. It is every bit as important, if not more, than anything else on the pedigree so please, if you are a breeder, take time to put the critter on a set of scales. I think you will find that it will help you as well.
Do not let the title of this blog fool you. You may very well find yourself using that phrase over and over again when trying to decide which bunny stays and which one goes. It can become quite difficult to decide, even for me.
It is very easy to become attached to a specific bunny and not want it to leave but unless you are planning on building a warehouse and have a never ending supply of both money and feed it is not very practical. One of the things that I oftentimes find odd is that sellers expect you to keep "their" bunny forever and never get rid of it. That is like selling someone a car and then telling them where and when they can drive it. I will admit that I have my "favorites" who will probably never leave purely for sentimental reasons but I am no fool.
I would much rather see a rabbit go to another breeder when it can still be of some use to their program than to hang on to it until it no longer benefits anyone. I am very adamant about preserving specific bloodlines as in the case of my original blue whose line continues to be very dominant. I do not, however, have to keep every kit from the line to do so. I do so love seeing all the new little ones but I know that most, if not all, of them will have to say their goodbyes as we make room for others along the way.
So how do I decide whether to keep any new kits? It is a simple matter that can be answered with a few questions:
1. Did I get the colors I was expecting from the pairing?
This may not seem like much of a big deal but it is important that if I bred two reds
that I get reds, not some unrecognizable color.
2. Do any of the kits "stand out" in comparison to the rest of the litter?
Is one clearly larger than the rest or is one's color more uniform?
3. Is the "stand out" a buck or a doe?
What does your breeding program need from this pairing?
These are the first three questions that I normally ask myself when making a selection. Though there are a lot of variables to consider as well these are the basics.
It sounds a lot better than eenie, meenie, miney moe, one of you has got to go. lol