Our First Egg!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

MRCA Valentine's Show in Plymouth, CA: Feb 13th, 2016

We actually travelled 2.5 hours to a rabbit show last weekend. It was fun to get away with my "little" and see the much less crowded area around Sacramento. Plymouth is only 45 minutes away, but feels so much better & is much less hectic.

Our Genetics:
All in all, we brought 8 baby rabbits to the show. We needed some more input from other Angora breeders about what color our three agouti-like kits were, and we got that! They are agouti, even though my two parents are not agouti-looking at all, one carries the big A genetically.

Here is the Sire Winchester (not looking agouti at all):
 No agouti rings in this wool:
 No characteristic agouti white parts on ears, face, nose, eyes, etc. :

And the Dam Blueberry (smoke pearl; not looking agouti either):
No agouti rings in this wool:
 No characteristic white markings of agouti on this face:

So, which is the agouti? Blueberry has had two other litters, one with an agouti sire, and one I don't have details about. There is no suspicion of agouti with this dam. With Winchester, a junior buck at time of breeding, he has steel in his pedigree. This was his first litter. I suspect him, as opposed to her, to be an agouti. As I have read other posts about "self" colored rabbits being steel rabbits masking agouti genes.

The two white kits described in earlier posts are smoke pearl chinchilla/agouti, and the "opal" is an opal. Although I would call him more of a lynx in color.
Smoke Pearl Chin: Twinkle (sold in California that weekend)

Opal or Lynx kit: Baked Potato

Evan did showmanship as a novice at the show. We never got the results of how he did however. No awards were given for novice or peewee. We were both disappointed. We study the judge's sheet on showmanship to remember what to learn or do better for the next time. Oh well, on to the 4-H Leader's Show in March, in Reno. Evan did showmanship with Pudge, the other smoke pearl chin from this litter.

We entered all 8 remaining babies from Blueberry & Winchester's first litter, and did well. In show A our bucks Pudge and Twinkle were called Judge Kendal's "favorite junior bucks," but both were disqualified for being an unshowable color. One of our self blue junior bucks won a leg instead. He was sold to Julie in Southern California following show A.  Twinkle was sold to Jesse following show A as well.

In show B Pudge won a leg, as the judge did not recognize that late in the day, while running behind time-wise, that smoke pearl chin was not a showable color. He did however catch that one of my bucks had a white toenail (Thumper) and was disqualified. He also noted that my doe Cinder had two white nails as well. Both of these lovely little buns will now be destined for fiber bunny or pet houses, as we do not have the room to keep the whole litter, and are in greater need of show bunnies in our breeding lines, rather than purely fiber bunnies.

Hot Cocoa:
In other rabbitry news, I got a chocolate rabbit for Valentine's Day! We named her Hot Cocoa, although Valentine also suits her. She is a beautiful & sweet self chocolate doe from Black Diamond Rabbitry! Thanks Charlotte!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Updates on kits:

We got the kits judged again tonight. They all "look really nice." They have great wool density & balance, and have good bodies. Each kit page has been updated. We found out two of our bucks are lilac steel.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

On the importance of big cages for angoras...

So we seem to have a lot of new hits on our blog, most likely because we have kits for sale and I have placed a few craigslist ads. Thanks for stopping by!

And now, on topic, what size of cages are appropriate for an angora? How do you know?

Our adult rabbits are in 30x36 cages, with frequent outings (made more difficult by the snowy weather). We housed them in the garage. But, now that we have 12 rabbits, including the kits, it was too much for our garage! Too much mess, grass on the floor, odor, too hard to get dirty pans to the yard, etc. it worked really well for two to three rabbits, not well for 12.

So what to do? A rabbit shed would be perfect. But we cannot afford a shed at this time. So, after reading several posts online, we decided outdoors is best for us. After reading a compelling blog from a meat rabbit producer in Maine, who housed his buns outdoors, thoughtfully, with careful planning, I was convinced that our angoras would do fine in a Nevada winter.

So where to put them? We have a covered deck, but it is our Outdoor room in the spring, summer, and fall, we have an outdoor bed, rugs, ceiling fan, etc. it did not suit our purpose for that "room."

So, we searched on Pinterest for other outdoor rabbit solutions. That is the preferred place to immediately feel inadequate about your DIY skills, creativity, and level of organization, don't you think? We oohed and ahhed appropriately at all the great outdoor rabbit housing ideas, and then got real. Mother Earth News is a better website to get hooked on, for down-to-earth solutions on a homestead. People there care about thier animals and land, but don't have an endless supply of money and time.

Outdoor rabbits need protection from the wet, sun, and wind. That includes drafts. They need to have good airflow, but three sides of thier cages protected (back, sides). They need to be in the shade. Water bottles will freeze in the winter, and they will need a lot of attention in weather over 80-85 degrees.

So we sited our cage banks (two 30x36 stacking cages) near a wall, with plywood on top that overhangs on front and back, on paver bricks, covered with a 10x12 heavy duty tarp on three sides with an overhang. We trailed ivy over the top to help disguise the tarp. It's brown, so that also helps. We also have a tarp dedicated to cover the front in blowing snow and rain. But, it is not facing the wind, and is in a protected location, in the shade.

Eat that pinterest. Pictures to come soon, as soon as I find that endless supply of time.

Our kits now moved to the 30x36 bank of cages. I knew the grow-out cages were too small now, because they were not properly able to groom themselves anymore, due to a low cage height. Rabbits sit up on thier back feet to groom, and they were not feeling as inclined to be able to sit on thier haunches on our short cages. In addition, they were getting too many knots in thier coats, from rubbing up against the sides. So, that is how you definately know your cage is much too small.

After moving our kits to much larger cages, outdoors, i am happy to report that everyone is well groomed, with happy faces. They can see the birds, sunshine, snow, and blue skies. They were so happy this morning.! So were our adults, they all took a quick run on top of the frozen snow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Eggs N Kits

In Rabbit News, Today:
We got an update on some of our rabbit kit bodies and colors. We think we need a second opinion, as the first one was quite rushed after our regular 4-H meeting, so we are asking for help from Black Diamond Rabbitry.

We may also be going to the Plymouth, CA rabbit show on February 13th, 2016. That would be weather & health pending. Seems like kiddos always come down with colds in so much snowy, cold weather!

The News from the Coop:
Our chickens (barred Plymouth rock, white brahma, easter-eggers x 2) had been laying an egg or so a day, each, up until about two weeks before Christmas. Around winter solstice (shortest day of the year), Sesame (white brahma), and Fluffy Muffy (easter-egger), stopped laying suddenly.

Chickens have the ability to lay throughout winter, as it is not the cold weather that causes a drop in production, but the amount of light in a given day. So, shorter days, mean less eggs. What to do? Add more "daylight" hours in the day, by supplementing via a light inside the coop at night.

We had not supplemented the light in our coop, and did not have the ability to, as we were planning to run electricity professionally to the coop, but the freezing temps and snow began earlier than we expected.

But we needed to take action, as only Bob (barred rock) was continuing to lay daily. 7 eggs per week is just not enough on some weeks for our family. And we cannot supply eggs to family or friends at 7/week.

So, we got their old heat lamp, added a fluorescent bulb instead of a heat bulb, and plugged it into an extension cord. The heat lamp is not outdoor rated, but our coop is dry inside, does not leak, and we have our trusty roof over the entire coop and run to keep things extra dry. So we could chance it. So far, no heat, no problems.

And....drum roll.....the last two nights, after a week of extra light supplementation, we got TWO eggs instead of one! Fluffy Muffy is laying again. I thought I heard Sesame doing the egg song this morning as well, so I am eager to see if we have three tonight.

As a side note, some people feel that supplementing light causes undue stress to the chickens, however, we only resorted to doing it when - GASP - we might have to buy eggs from the grocery store! That is just unthinkable when we have four chickens in the yard! True confession: I finally broke down and supplemented when I did actually have to buy Model Dairy eggs one day to make waffles after already making homemade crepe tortillas all week. Yikes!