Friday, November 30, 2018

Free Download: Mini Rex Evaluation Rating Sheet

Recently I created a new zealand evaluation and rating sheet to help me with the process of understanding and evaluating my rabbits when it comes to deciding which rabbits I should be breeding to which and which kits and juniors are showing the best development and body type to keep for the show team and as future breeders.  And since I found it so helpful I decided that a rating sheet for my daughter to use with her mini rexes would be worth taking the time to put together as well.

So, I spent  a couple of afternoons combing through and pouring over the 2016-2020 Standard of Perfection and I put together a three page rating sheet to help me remember what to look for as I evaluate my bucks and does for breeding pairs and for evaluating the future litters they will have.

Here is a sample of the tri-color section.  I created a two page general evaluation sheet and then created a six page sheet where I break down each color variety with requirements to look for and score as well as their faults to check for and disqualifications (D/Q) to evaluate.  The idea behind this is that you can simply select and print only the color variety that you need to evaluate.

Since I am hoping this will be a great tool, I am making it available to you as well.  This is a free printable resource.  Please feel free the make changes to it to suit your needs and use as many copies as you like.  I only ask that you direct people to my blog to download their own copy and do not host the file anywhere on the internet without written permission from me.  Thank you.  You can check it out and download it for free from google drive here: Mini Rex Rating Sheet Download.

As always, I would love to hear from you.  If you have comments or suggestions about how to make this form better send them my way.  Or if you have a story about how this form has helped you I would love to hear about it.  If you love the rating sheet and want to say thanks we are always accepting donations to help feed the rabbits.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Spots, Spots, English Spots!

What is it about children that make them so determined to do their own thing?  We began with everyone so excited to help me with the new zealands I had chosen for meat raising.  Then we discovered rabbit shows and realized that we all enjoyed it.  And now all three of my older children have decided that they want to focus on their own breed of rabbits.

My oldest Seriah is no exception.  Having discovered a love of rabbits and after seeing all the different breeds of rabbits at a couple of the shows she decided that she needed to have her own breed of rabbit to raise and show as well.  She picked English Spot rabbits.

She managed to pick a breed that is harder to find and isn't always on the list of sanctioned breeds for rabbit shows.  The English Spot also happens to be a breed of rabbit that I know absolutely nothing about yet.

So the race is on.  Not only do I need to learn as much as I can about the breed but so does my daughter.  And she might find herself having to work at promoting this beautiful breed of rabbit if she wants to compete with them at the rabbit shows.

Meet Houdini a pedigree black English Spot buck born on May 25, 2018.  Our first English Spot to join the bowery herd.  A big thank you goes to Brenna Oshel at Big & Small Animal Farm for helping us get started with English Spot rabbits and selling us both Houdini and his litter mate and brother Jax Lepus.

He is settling in nicely and is full of energy.  I don't think there is a time or moment that I am out in the rabbit barn when he isn't moving around his hutch with spare energy to burn.  He is happy to come to the door when we open it for attention and treats.  He was also our very first escapist.  Fortunately he loves attention enough that it was easy to get right up to him and collect him to return him to his cage.

Meet Jax Lepus a pedigree black English Spot buck born on May 25, 2018.  He came to us with his brother and litter mate Houdini as a two rabbits for the price of one deal.  He is super sweet and loves attention and is always as full of energy as his brother is.  My daughter named him Lepus after the constellation and Lepus is Latin for Hare.  We are looking forward to seeing what the judges think in the coming year.

Her first project now is to build herself a display table so that her bunnies have a place to exercise.  Since they are judged with natural movement and not posed they are going to need to have a chance to use all their energy running up and down her table.  And who knows after the table she might just decide all their energy should be focused with some rabbit agility and hopping courses.  Yes rabbit hopping and agility is a thing, and it has a big national club that puts on events and everything.  You can find out more about it at the American Hopping Association for Rabbits and Cavies.

I am proud of her for working all summer to save the money to pay for her cages, and for her own rabbits and supplies.  Rabbits have been one of the best teachers of communication, confidence, budgeting and responsibility that I could ask for.  It has truly been a pleasure to see not just my oldest but all three of my older children blossom as we begin to rabbit adventure.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Black New Zealand Babies Arrive

It is with great excitement and pleasure that we announce the arrival of Baccara Rose's and Swift's first litter of black new zealand kits on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.  Six little bundles of bunny joy to be grateful for just in time for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday while I was out in the afternoon doing cage cleaning and maintenance, trying to take advantage of the warmer weather we have had this week and I noticed that Baccara was pulling hay from her hay rack and stashing it in her nesting box.  So I gave her a huge handful to go with the already prepped and padded straw in the box and enjoyed watching this first time mom build a nest like a pro.  It is to date one of the very best nests I have ever seen built.  The hay and straw was practically woven together on all sides until there was a cozy little burrow.  Happy with her work and resting I finished my chores.

By the time evening feeding came around and we returned to the barn, she had delivered her entire litter and was happily munching on hay and pellets.  I am pleased to see this morning when I went to check on everyone that they are all full of energy and have nice round bellies.  I have a very grateful heart this morning for these six little miracles.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A/at/a Genetics and Otter vs Self-Color Kit Identification

I have been studying rabbit genetics of all things lately.  Mostly because a friend of mine has started to bounce around the idea of creating a new variety of New Zealand (NZ) Rabbit: Chocolate.  Then Clarissa decided she wanted to raise, breed and show mini rex and that added a whole new spin to the need to understand genetics since there are so many more colors and varieties of mini rex than their are NZ rabbits.  And their genetics are pretty simple breed white to white, red to red or broken red, black to black or broken black, and blue to blue or broken blue and never the colors shall mix.  But with mini rex colors and genetics are a completely different story.

Mini Rex come in the following colors:
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Tri-color: Black/Orange, Chocolate/Orange, Blue/Fawn, Lilac/Fawn
  • Castor
  • Chinchilla
  • Chocolate
  • Himalayan: Black, Blue
  • Lilac
  • Lynx
  • Opal
  • Otter: Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac
  • Red
  • Sable
  • Sable Point
  • Seal
  • Silver Marten: Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac
  • Smoke Pearl
  • Tortoise (Tort)
  • White: Blue Eyed White (BEW) & Red Eyed White (REW)
  • "Broken" followed by the color comprising the broken (for example: Broken Black)
It also seems that it would be worth mentioning that there are other colors that are possible such as harlequin & magpie (I mention these because you need them to breed tri-color but they are not recognized varieties by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) and not showable at this time.)

As you can see it is quite a list and in order to really be successful at breeding quality animals it is going to take some understanding of genetics and how they work.  Since the first gene I studied was black verses chocolate color (Bb).  You can read about that here.  The Aata gene seemed like the next logical choice especially when I stumbled upon a photo in one of my Facebook groups where they showed comparisons of types of this gene for kit identification and comparison.  Genes come in pairs and are listed in order of dominance so I am going to tell you about each gene from most dominant to least dominant.

A = gives you the look of a wild rabbit, with dark hairs called "ticking" mixed throughout their lighter colored body coat.  They will also have tan, fawn or white around their eye circles, in a triangle at the nape of their neck as well as on their feet, legs and inside their ears.  They will also have a white belly.  A gene is also called Agouti Pattern and mini rex varieties in this group are Castor, Chinchilla, Lynx, Opal and Red.

at = gives you self colored fur with no ring color or band in the middle of their fur and they also have no ticking.  They are solid colored on the top and body of their fur with tan, fawn or white around their eye circles, in a triangle at the nape of their neck as well as on their feet, legs and inside their ears.  They will also have a white belly.  at gene is also called Tan Pattern and mini rex varieties in this group are Otter and Silver Marten.

a = gives you solid colored fur that lacks rings or bands and is the same color throughout the fur.  a gene is called the Self-Color and mini rex varieties in this group are black, blue, chocolate and lilac.  This group also includes some genetically self rabbits with shading, but it is important to remember that a genetically self-colored rabbit will never have the agouti or tan pattern markings.  The shaded varieties of mini rex are seal, sable, sable point, smoke pearl, and tort.

What does this all mean when it comes to breeding rabbits?  Well depending upon the genetics of the breeding pair of rabbits you are going to have 4 possible combinations.  Lets say our example buck is AA and our example doe Aa.  I like to make a little table to help me understand the possible outcomes.  I take the bucks genes in blue and the does gene in pink and then I add each pair combination together.


The results are kits that can be either AA or Aa. Because the A is the most dominant all the offspring will look like the A agouti pattern rabbits.  The fun part in all of this is definitely the baby bunnies.  And learning how to identify the kits correctly can be a real challenge.  Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and this one does a fantastic job of showing you the differences between not only the Bb gene but also the ata gene.  I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

Photo provided by WindFall Farms

One of the comments that Windfall Farms made on the Facebook group post about identifying kits and how do you get so you can do it accurately everytime was this"Practice is the short answer. As kits self-colored (black, chocolate, blue and lilac) will be all one color. Otter (black otter, chocolate otter, blue otter, lilac otter) and Agouti (Castor, Amber, Opal and Lynx) will have white bellies, inner ears and markings at the back of the neck, nostrils and around the eyes."

A big thank you goes to WindFall Farms who was willing to share her picture of kit identification with me so I can share it with all of you.  You can find their Farm page on Facebook: WindFall Farms.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Just a Boy and His Bunny

We spent a couple weekends ago at the East Texas Rabbit Breeders Association (ETRBA) show in Mesquite, TX and we had a wonderful time.  We took several of our rabbits and a couple of them did quite well, but we are waiting to announce results until the official show report is received.

While the older three of my children and I were there at the show in between showing the rabbits they walked and walked the showroom.  At first I thought they were just enjoying seeing all the different breeds of rabbits, and meeting new people.  As I saw them talking to several people.  And I couldn't help but think good for them.  Being confident and being more outgoing then I was.  Oh I met new people and I enjoyed conversations but I certainly didn't seem to be attracting it the way my kids were.

Then my son came to me with excitement in his eyes and the hopeful expression on his face that I was certain meant trouble.  He explains to me that he has found the perfect Holland Lop rabbit and it is for sale and he wants to buy her.  She is a really nice doe and I just have to come see her for myself.  Well I was surprised and completely unprepared for this to happen.  My parent brain should have known better though.  So we went over and talked to both sets of people who had the only Holland Lops for sale at this particular show that we saw.

I asked questions about lops and we were warned that they are hard to breed and to expect a lot of litters to not survive.  We were also told that it is pretty competitive and that if he wanted to do well, he would have to be willing to spend a couple hundred dollars per rabbit.  Something I am not sure I was willing to do.  I know that pedigree show rabbits are more expensive I certainly didn't get my new zealands cheap, but several hundred dollars for one rabbit for a ten year old to try out a hobby is hard for me to contemplate and I can't begin to consider doing this.  Especially if I want him to learn responsibility and to earn his own way.

So I told Treysen that the decision was his because it would be his project.  He would be expected to pay for his own rabbits, their cages, supplies and feed.  He decided that this little black tort junior doe really was perfect for him and he spent his own money to buy her and bring her home.  My son couldn't be happier as she gives him smaller rabbits to handle and show.  I think my new zealands were a little bigger than he felt he could handle.  And he is saving his pennies for his next bunny purchase.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Free Download: New Zealand Evaluation Rating Sheet

I still very much consider myself a beginner to understanding and evaluating my rabbits when it comes to deciding which rabbits I should be breeding to which and which kits and juniors are showing the best development and body type to keep for the show team and as future breeders.

Today, while re-reading a couple of sections in Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits, I came across the rating sheet sample the author had shared for the Tan breed on page 117 in my edition of the book, and it gave me the idea to do a rating and evaluation sheet of my own for new zealands.

So, I spent the afternoon combing through and pouring over the 2016-2020 Standard of Perfection and I put together a three page rating sheet to help me remember what to look for as I evaluate my bucks and does for breeding pairs and for evaluating the future litters they will have.

Here is a sample of the third page where I break down each color variety with requirements to look for and score as well as their faults to check for and disqualifications (D/Q) to evaluate.

Since I am hoping this will be a great tool, I am making it available to you as well.  This is a free printable resource.  Please feel free the make changes to it to suit your needs and use as many copies as you like.  I only ask that you direct people to my blog to download their own copy and do not host the file anywhere on the internet without written permission from me.  Thank you.  You can check it out and download it for free from google drive here: New Zealand Rating Sheet Download.

As always, I would love to hear from you.  If you have comments or suggestions about how to make this form better send them my way.  Or if you have a story about how this form has helped you I would love to hear about it.  If you love the rating sheet and want to say thanks we are always accepting donations to help feed the rabbits.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

B/b Genetics and Chocolate New Zealands

I have been studying rabbit genetics of all things lately.  Mostly because a friend of mine has started to bounce around the idea of creating a new variety of New Zealand (NZ) Rabbit: Chocolate.  Her desire to bring friends and interested people on board for the project got me thinking about genetics and wondering how it all worked; especially if I was going to consider joining her in her chocolate NZ rabbit experiment.  So off I went to study genetics and this is what I learned.

There are ten different genes that help to determine the color of a rabbits fur.  They are A Through E, En, Du, Si, V, and W.  I have to be honest and admit that I am still learning so for now I am going to talk about the one I think I understand B and b.  Rabbits have 22 pairs of Chromosomes and the B gene or chromosome pair decides whether your rabbit has black or chocolate in their fur.

B = gives you a black band in agouti fur and in self colored fur it gives you a solid black color.
b = gives you a brown band in agouti fur and in self colored fur it gives you a solid chocolate color.

Now it gets interesting because we have to talk about which one comes first or is dominant in our chromosome pair.  When you have a BB pair of chromosomes they are the same and are called homozygous because they match and you will have a black furred rabbit who produces black furred offspring.  The B (black) is the dominant gene and when paired with a b (chocolate) gene the black will always win and be the color that shows in the fur.  This is called a heterozygous because they aren't they same and now the rabbit has a chance to produce chocolate offspring because it is a carrier of that recessive or non dominant b gene even though it looks black.  When you have a bb pair of chromosomes there is no dominant gene because they are both recessive and you have a chocolate furred rabbit who can't produce black furred offspring because it doesn't have the dominant gene.

So what does this mean if I want to try and breed chocolate NZ rabbits?

Well I have a couple of options.  I start with a test breeder or two that are chocolate.  I am thinking that I will want to have my test breeder be a chocolate satin because they have the same body type of a NZ and that will make developing this new variety a little easier.  Then I will need to breed my Black NZ bucks to this chocolate satin doe to see if any of the the offspring are chocolate.  Because I know b is recessive this breeding would let me see if any of my bucks carry this recessive gene even though they look black.  And because the black is always dominant I will probably need to test each one a couple of times just to be certain.  I will also need to do the same test breeding with my black NZ does to a chocolate satin buck to see if any of them are carriers of the recessive b gene.  Then if I get very lucky and I find that I have a buck and doe who do I will start breeding them exclusively until the random roll of the gene pool hits on some of their offspring and I get a kit or two that are chocolate because they received the bb pairing, by getting one b from each of their parents.

The next option that I have is to get a chocolate satin doe or two or a buck and breed them into my NZ line using their offspring to then test breed as chocolate carriers and continue as with the first options plan.

With either option, it is going to be a long process and project to get the future offspring to be consistently only bb animals and meet the NZ standard of perfection that is put out by the ARBA.  Not a project for the faint of heart, or even for the type of person who like results quickly and lacks the ability to see the bigger picture.  But the more I think about the more fun I think it would be to try it.  To be able to say I worked on that and I helped to develop a new variety and ultimately maybe improve the breed just a little bit.

If you are interested in learning or more joining the project you can find the group over on Facebook: Chocolate New Zealand Project.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Rabbit Topical First Aid: What to Keep in Your Kit

Barn chores are something that come with every rabbitry or any home, farm or place that keeps animals.  The proper care and keeping of the animals we raise is important to me and our barn chores here at the bowery are pretty standard for any rabbitry.  They include things like:
  • feed & water the rabbits
  • clean food and water containers
  • remove waste and clean dropping pans
  • dis-infect cages and spray them down when needed
  • weigh rabbits periodically
  • trim nails monthly
  • enjoy, hold, cuddle and appreciate all the bunnies
I am just now starting to realize just what a time commitment this is.  At first it is a couple of rabbits and it takes a couple of minutes out of day so it isn't a big deal.  These few minutes start to multiple with each rabbit that you add to your herd.  Today Clarissa and I went out at lunch time to do our weight checks and nail trimming for each of the rabbits we have.  Right now including our three kits who only needed to be weighed that makes seventeen rabbits.  Well, we took our time and slowly worked with each animal so we didn't stress them out and so they got to be held and snuggled and posed a little bit as well and by the time we were finished two hours had gone by.

Now you may think that I am complaining about how long it took, but I am not.  I enjoyed the time working with my daughter and taking care of the rabbits; and as far as fall days go it was on the warmer side so I can't even say I was cold.  No, the reason that I mention our barn chores and the time we try to take and spend with our rabbits on a regular basis is because of how important it is.

We discovered while we were weighing our buck Swift and trimming his nails that he had caught his hip on something and injured himself.  There was a nickel size patch of skin that had been torn back and the under tissue was exposed.  Now I am certainly not trying to gross anyone out so bare with me.  This injury is a first in our rabbitry.  Something that I was shocked to find since just Saturday he had been at a show in Stillwater, OK with no injuries at all.

Now I am asking myself how did this happen?  Looking closely at it it doesn't look like a bite, it looks like he got caught up on something and hurt himself trying to jerk free.  So back to the cage to investigate.  We removed the water bottle holder that had a screw and nut on the inside of the cage on the off chance that it might have been the cause.  Of this I am not certain since he would have had to be flipping and doing gymnastics to get his hip that high up in his cage, but I guess it is possible.  Nothing looks out of place and I am stumped.  So into an empty cage he goes, until I have a chance to go over every surface with my bare hands and find the sharp or poking and offending point that could have caused the injury.

But this does bring me to my topic of discussion today.  How do we treat scraps and cuts on a rabbit?  What is safe to use topically that won't harm them when them groom themselves?

My small list of topical go to's that I keep on hand in my rabbit first aid kit:
  • Bag Balm Udder Cream - treats minor cuts and sores for rabbits and other small animals.  Helps prevent infections and is a topical antimicrobial wash.
  • Vetericyn Opthalmic Gel - goes directly in the eye for irritated, and injured eyes.  It is an antimicrobial solution and helps prevent infection.
  • Vetericyn Plus Wound/Skin Spray - Treats skin abrasions lacerations minor irritations cuts and intact skin
  • Kwik Stop Styptic Powder - helps to quickly stop bleeding if a nail trim gets the nail quick.
So we cleaned the area with a damp clean cloth and sprayed it with Vetricyn Plus Wound Spray and now we watch and wait.  With daily checks to make sure Swift is healing properly and nothing gets infected.  I am of the opinion that if you don't have the time to check on each and every one of your animals everyday then you have too many animals and I am grateful that something as simple as weight checks and nail trims allowed us to catch a fresh injury so quickly before anymore damage was done or before it had a chance to get dirty or infected.  He will have rest and time to recover as he misses the next couple of shows we have planned to attend.  But I have high hopes that he will make a full recovery.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Time To Vote Buck or Doe?

You would never guess that trying to get baby bunnies to hold still and stay in a line up for a quick photo was at least as bad or worse than trying to get all five of my children to be happy and smile for the camera in a photo at the same time but it definitely was.  They are all so full of energy and bounce at this age.  So time for a vote Buck or Doe?  Leave your guess in the comments below.

Black Kit # 1 weighing in at 12oz today Buck or Doe?

Broken Kit # 2 with the black nose markings weighing in at 14oz today Buck or Doe?

Broken Kit # 3 with no nose markings weighing in at 13oz today Buck or Doe?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

And Her Heart Is Set On Tri-Color Mini Rex

Clarissa and Miss Pris

So my daughter Clarissa has been all in when it has come to rabbits from the very moment that I suggested we start raising them.  She is also very good at convincing me to give in and get her things when I probably shouldn't.

Case in point:  we are walking through a swap meet in the middle of May.  It is a warm day and she spies bunnies.  We were there looking for chicks.

We had a hutch at home mind you, I just hadn't decided what type of rabbit we were going to raise yet, except that I wanted it to be a meet breed and my book recommended starting with high quality pedigreed breeding stock.

All the couple selling the bunnies could tell us about the rabbits my daughter found was that they were young fryers.  So she at least found meat rabbits.

I should have known better then to take the kids with me to go animal shopping whether it be for rabbits or baby chickens or animals of any kind.  But there I was with my five kids in tow and a goner for sure.  Between all five kids trying to use reason and logic: like we already have a place to put them mom, and I will pay for her with my babysitting money, to the giant pleading eyes.  I gave in and we brought home 4 rabbits: Miss Pris a red eyed white (REW) new zealand mix, Patches a broken black mix, Nala a broken chinchilla mix, and Shadow a sable colored new zealand mix.  And my daughter found something she loves so much she has given up other hobbies and activities to keep doing and learning more about rabbits.

At first it was always being willing to go feed the bunnies and clean the cages.  She was also always watching the weather and making sure we got the hutches covered when it got too windy or it started to rain.  She also spent more time then even I did just sitting outside the hutches or sitting with her hand just resting on the floor of the cage so the rabbits would get used to her presence and recognize and trust her.  Then one day she came to me and said:

"Mom, if I stop doing horseback riding lessons can we use my lesson money for the rabbits, so I can raise a different breed then you?"

I have to admit that I was really surprised and very pleased.  Not only was she recognizing that her activities take money, time and resources but she also recognized that she was more interested in the rabbits then she was in horseback riding and had figured out a logical way to allow herself to continue to pursue and grow her very own rabbitry project.

We have both since grown and moved on these first rabbits taught us a lot.  First, the ones that bite all the time get called dinner very quickly.  Second, that I really did want pedigree stock, because not only did I want to breed and raise meat for my family, but I wanted to breed and sell good quality rabbits to others.  And Finally I discovered that I love rabbit shows and good quality rabbits are a must if you are going to be competitive and have fun at the shows.

So it is with much excitement and a little bit of motherly pride if I am honest that I am pleased to announce that Clarissa is starting her very own branch of our bowery which will be focused on mini-rex rabbits.  She has read and researched and looked at the different breeds and this is the breed that she has decided she wants to raise.  I think part of it is wanting a slightly smaller rabbit that she can lift and handle easier, but she may be in for a surprise on that score.  She has also researched and looked at all the different colors and varieties that mini-rex rabbits come in and she wants to breed Tri-Color.  So while I am sure that there will be other colors in the bowery as well her focus is going to be on the black/orange tri-color mini rex.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Rabbit Books I Recommend

Anybody who knows me very well will tell you that I have shelves and shelves of books on many different subjects through out my home.  From encyclopedias, non-fiction, self-help, history and how-to all the way down to fiction such as: westerns, fantasy, futuristic, historical, romance, classical, mythology and even some poetry.

My very good friends will even tell you that there is a stack of ten to twenty books on the night stand next to my bed that I am in the middle of reading, and another couple of smaller stacks on the chest under my bedroom window that I was reading and took a pause from or plan to read next.  My plan to read them all, maybe even all at the same time.  I just plan to read them all very, very slowly.

I am also a research and learn a little bit before you start type of person once in a while and with rabbits that was definitely the case.  Mostly because I really wanted to have them long before we were ready to or had the space we needed to have them.  And it was a good thing we waited too.  Otherwise I would have had to figure out how to move them from a rental home to a our home on a 1/4 acre lot in Utah across the country to Oklahoma and into a hotel for 4 weeks before finally moving into the home we are in now that sits on 5 acres.

So I bought a couple of books, and checked out many more from the library and read.  I read and I kept reading at first not knowing which ones where full of less than stellar information and which ones were worth keeping on my shelves.  Now that I am several months into the trenches though and several years into the readings I definitely have some books that I will be keeping in my personal library and would recommend so anyone interested in learning more about rabbits.

Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits by: Bob Bennett

Okay, I know there are many mixed opinions on this book and I will agree that some of the information is a little outdated when it comes to nutrition.  The other thing I really wish it had was color photo's of the rabbit breeds in the back.  There is a section which introduces you to some of the breeds of rabbits and the photo's are all in black in white.  That being said it is an excellent resource that I keep coming back to again and again.  It covers the basics about rabbits and it covers them well, with things like breeding, cages sizes & equipment, how to pick a breed and purchasing good foundation stock.  Anyone interested in raising rabbits will learn something new and valuable reading this book.

Beyond the Pellet: Feeding Rabbits Naturally by: Boyd Craven Jr. & Rick Worden

This is a slim little volume that I bought to help fill in the nutritional gaps from Storey's Guide and because I wanted to know what kinds of natural from the garden treats I could give my rabbits on a daily, or semi-daily basis.  While I didn't feel that the book slim as it was went into a lot of depth on nutrition and providing a balanced diet, it did do a good job of helping me know what was safe to feed my rabbits and what to steer clear of.  You can find the author's facebook page here.

I also read their first book Backyard Meat Rabbits: The Urban Rabbit Project Volume I and I found it very vague and not as useful as I had hoped especially if you have read Storey's Guide.

The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: All Your Questions Answered about: Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding and Kindling by: Karen Patry

This book is set up as page after page of question and answer.  The questions are broken up into catagories and it isn't something you are going to pick up and read in an afternoon.  However, it is a great reference to have on hand, because when something comes up you can flip to that section and scan the questions until to find the one that applies and read through the answer.  I spent a month or so carrying this book around in my purse because I could pull it out waiting in line or a doctor's office waiting room and read a few questions and there was always a quick and easy stopping point to pause and go on with whatever you had been waiting for.  Definitely worth a place on your shelf and the time it takes to read it.

The American Rabbit Breeder's Association's Standard of Perfection 2016-2020

This spiral bound book is published by the ARBA every five years and is a must have for anyone wanting to raise and sell or show, high quality pedigree rabbits.  When I went to see my first breeder and even my first show several people recommended that I spend the money and get a copy of this book so I would be able to understand my breed of rabbit better.  They were all right.  It has helped a great deal in evaluating rabbits I am considering purchasing as well as new litters of rabbits we have raised.  I really can't recommend this book enough.

The American Rabbit Breeder's Association's Official Guide Book: Raising Better Rabbits & Cavies

Okay, okay so here I am just a little bit guilty.  This book is on the top of my stack sitting on my nightstand.  I ordered it from the ARBA the same time that I ordered my copy of the Standard of Perfection and I am not finished reading it yet.  It has been interesting though learning a little bit about the history of the ARBA and I enjoyed the more complete breed section in this book compared to Storey's Guide.  There is some much in this book that I am looking forward to reading more of it each day that I get the opportunity.  I especially enjoyed the section on breeding rabbits and genetics.  So although I haven't finished it yet, it is another book I recommend rabbit keepers have on their shelves and read.

So there it is.  My list of recommended reading isn't a terribly long list but it is a place to start.  I hope that this helps those of you who are looking for a place to start learning more about rabbits.  Do you know of a book that I missed?  A book that is a must read and a keeper when it comes to rabbit raising and care?  Leave me the title in the comments below.  I am always looking for another good book to read.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What Goes on a Rabbit Show Packing List?

Being brand new to showing rabbits I was overwhelmed with wondering about what to pack for my first show.  Then getting there, I felt extremely unprepared and had wished I had brought at least a dozen other items with me.

Then comes my second show and I pack those dozen extra things, or at least I think I do.  Of coarse something always gets forgotten and I find myself sending my husband to the farm supply store for things like hay and pellets and zip ties of all things to not bring enough of.  Needless to say I truly felt completely unprepared.  I discovered I needed things like bigger bowls to hold enough water for my rabbits to last them for an over night stay and a cage scooper/scraper to clean out the litter the next morning.  I had not known this particular show was a cooped show and the rabbits would have to stay over night or even what a cooped show was before I got there.  Something I had not expected or been prepared for now I know.

Then comes our first out of state stay in a hotel over night rabbit show.  What an experience.  We loved it.  Being prepared for this show was a must in my opinion.  So I turned to my friends and other experienced showman on a couple of the rabbit facebook groups I am members of and I asked them to help me out by naming five things that they recommend you need to take with you to a rabbit show.  I also asked that one of the items on their list be something they forgot or really needed at the last show they attended.

The answers I got were great and they really helped me prepare for our first out of state show.  So I have started to develop a rabbit show packing list.  This list is based on answers from my post, and from friends, as well as from things I realized through personal experience these last three shows that I could not do without.

My Rabbit Show Packing List:

directions to show location
paperwork for rabbits entered in the show and entry forms
rabbits entered in the show
paperwork and pedigrees for all rabbits you are selling
rabbits for sale if allowed at the show

feed: hay & pellets
extra pellets for transfer feed for sale rabbits
ziploc bags
water for rabbits

carriers prepped with water and food bowls big enough for an overnight stay for your breed of rabbit and an resting mat to allow them to get off the wire
cage tags to id your rabbits and mark for sale ones
extra carrier space in case you buy a rabbit
extra pine shavings and puppy pads for carrier pans if staying over night
scooper/scraper for cage cleaning
cage cover or large blanket with clips to secure it

table legs
grooming table
ear wipes
body wipes
rabbit nail clippers
water sprayer
grooming towels
tattoo pen and ink
wet wipes for ink spills and other clean up jobs
first aid kit for rabbits

chair for me
notebook & pen
a spare change of clothes
first aid kit for people
a warm jacket
chapstick/lip gloss
hand sanitizer
food I am allowed to eat
entertainment for me for while I wait for my rabbit's breed to go on the table

zip ties
shop towels
no fingers in cages sign
hole punch
paper towels
a large tote to help hold and carry all of your rabbit supplies in
large enough vehicle to bring everything you purchase home

What do you all think?  Is the list big enough?  Would you call it comprehensive?  What isn't on it that you take with you to a rabbit show that you think is a must have that I should be adding to my packing list?  I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.  So leave me a comment below.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A Junior Doe and Blue Gene Carrier Joins the Family

You go to the rabbit show expecting to show off your rabbits and win a few legs if they do well and what happens?  This rabbit owner comes home with a new doe for the rabbitry.  I had originally been looking for another solid black doe or another red doe since I only have one of each of those at present, but when the opportunity came to add a little young junior who is a blue gene carrier to herd I admit that I couldn't resist.  If she had been white, or even just broken black I could have resisted.  But the chance to eventually breed blue new zealands was too tempting.

She quickly gained the name Sardona after the gemstone Sardonix.  We just wanted it to sound more feminine.  And teaching her to be okay with daily handling and posing could be an interesting challenge.  But we are up for it.  And a huge thank you goes out to Jennifer Lynne Smith for being willing to part with such a gem of a doe.  We are so grateful to you for letting us add her to our rabbitry family.

Sardona is still a youngster and was born June 26, 2018.  She gets her broken black coloring from her sire's side but everyone on her dam's side is a blue or broken blue.  And we are truly excited about the gene's she carries.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Another Senior Buck Joins the Family

Meet our newest herd buck Onyx.  Born November 9, 2016; he is a (proven) pedigreed Black New Zealand.  Out of Rowbotham's line of rabbits and without a lot of show experience in his family tree we will be very interested to see how he does on the show table.  In the mean time we are getting him settled in here at the bowery and trying to teach him what posing is and that it isn't that hard and you don't need to growl about it.  As long as you don't ask him to pose for you he is quite content to get attention and hang out with the ladies.  We plan to introduce him to our broken doe Lillian in a couple weeks and see what their litter will bring to the show table.

Monday, November 5, 2018

10 Days Old and They Begin to See the World

Our newest litter is now ten days old.  They have started opening their eyes today and are nosing around their nest box a little bit more.  I am so pleased with Swift and Sassy's first litter together, or maybe I am just pleased to have a new litter of baby bunnies in the barn right now.  They wouldn't sit still for pictures and I didn't want to keep them out of their nest for long.  But we snapped a quick photo and weighed each of them.  They are growing well.  Our black kit weighed in at 0.8oz, our broken kit with no markings on its nose weighed in at 0.8oz, and our third kit weighed in at 0.9oz.  I can't wait to see they bouncing around the nest box and exploring.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Downloadable Rabbit Inspection Buying & Selling Checklist

So as you all know I have been building our foundation herd over the last several months.  Well building up a herd of animals comes with a lot of talking to breeders, a lot of looking over animals, and a lot of buying animals.  One of the first farms I visited: The Chughole Farm Rabbitry had a sales checklist that they use anytime an animal is purchased by them or from them.

Being new to raising and showing rabbits this checklist seemed like an absolute must to me.  It would allow me to evaluate the rabbits where ever I was and give me something concrete when we get to point of selling our own rabbits as well.  So I took her idea and I ran with it.  I brought the sheet I filled out for the rabbits I bought from her home and I looked it over.

Then I started changing it. I needed to add the things I wanted to make sure that I checked and I also changed the wording to how I wanted it to read.  Once I was happy with it, I started using this little one page check list with every rabbit that I have purchased and even the couple of rabbits that we have sold already.

Every time I have used this checklist the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Many people have commented on what a great idea it is and how they have never thought to do this.  Or that more people should look their rabbit over before buying it.

Since this is a resource that seems like it would be well received and there are many members in the rabbit community that would benefit from having this available to them I am pleased to add this form to my blog and make it available to all of you.

Here is a sample of what the form looks like:

My hope in creating this free resource is to promote better awareness and add to the responsible purchase and sale of rabbits.  As my own children show an interest in raising their own breeds of rabbits I know this will also go a long way in helping our youth and 4-H groups.  It will help teach them how to inspect an animal they intend to purchase.  And if we start to be more careful and only buy healthy animals that will be a good thing for the entire rabbit industry whether you are breeding, showing or just keeping a pet for the family.

I have the Xcel file available through google drive to download here.  This is a free printable resource.  Please feel free the make changes to it to suit your needs and use as many copies as you like.  I only ask that you direct people to my blog to download their own copy and do not host the file anywhere on the internet without written permission from me.  Thank you.  If you love the sale checklist sheet and want to say thanks we are always accepting donations to help feed the rabbits.