Selecting Breeding Stock
For many commercial rabbit growers, choosing good breeding stock is a gamble. You pay your money and take your chances! There is a certain amount of risk involved, but for the most part you can be in control of what you are purchasing. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts pertaining to choosing good breeding stock:
- always select animals that are strong and have an overall appearance of good health
- Choose rabbits that have a good body conformation and that are free from sore hocks and buck teeth
- Always ask to see the records of the parents. Does with good mothering ability, large litter size and high milk production pass these traits on to their offspring. The offspring from does producing less than six litters per year should not be considered for breeding stock. Bucks pass on good meat qualities
- Choose stock from does and bucks that have been productive for a long period of time, as longevity is also a highly heritable trait.
- Purchase stock from someone who has a good reputation in the rabbit business. Don’t be afraid to be picky.
- Disease resistance is affected by both heredity and environment. A dirty barn could mean low health status.
- Ask if the owner has feed conversion statistics for the herd. A good ratio is 3.5:1.
- Do not choose rabbits without looking at them first.
- Do not purchase rabbits from someone who does not keep production records. Family history tells a lot!
- Do not purchase rabbits from breeding stock at an open market. You have no idea how old they are or what kind of environment they come from. Disease risk increases greatly with purchases of this sort.
- Do not make large purchases of breeding stock until you have tried a doe or two and a buck from the herd. If they work out, go back for more, if not, you haven’t wasted a lot of money.
- Do not purchase stock and move it directly into the rabbitry without quarantine. No matter how good the stock appear always take this precaution.
- Do not purchase stock according to price. You are much better off to purchase one or two quality does or bucks rather than a whole bunch of inferior stock. More expensive does not necessarily mean better either!