Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do you have any Sable Points available?


I get more requests for sable points than any other variety of Fuzzies.  That’s not a scientific survey of course, because most people know that I don’t raise too many of the rarer colors anyway. But torts and sable points are very compatible when it comes to breeding and since most of us have torts, then most of us could also raise sable points. 

As discussed in the last post, there are five main color genes (ignore the broken and vienna genes for now).  By the way, there is a very good article in the current issue of Domestic Rabbit, May/June 2011, on rabbit color genetics also, which is a great reference too. We are going to focus on one gene for this discussion though, because it is where the torts and sable points different, the “C” or pigmentation (also called color) gene.

In some ways, the pigmentation gene is the hardest because instead of a nice simple two versions, with one dominant over the other, the “C” series has five different forms or alleles.  “C” is the dominant form which means that one copy of this allele will affect the color of the rabbit. The other four alleles of the pigment gene are : “c(chd)”, called chinchillation dark which results in chinchilla or silver marten varieties; “c(chl)”, chinchillation light, required for sable points, Siamese sable, and smoke pearl varieties; “c(h)”, Himalayan (or Californian) allele, giving pointed white, and “c”, for albino or ruby-eyed white variety.  Since each rabbit has two copies of the pigmentation gene, the dominance of each matters:  C > c(chd) > c (chl) > c(h) > c. 

The sable point rabbit pictured at the top of this post has very nice clean sable point color. Note the darker shading on his muzzle and ears.  The legs and feet are also darker sepia brown. The color over the body isn’t white, but is a very light almost “pearl” color (sable points are called “pearl” in the angora breeds).


Solid sable point AFL with clean color


Solid sable point with darker sable point color. 

There are variations in the sable point color that occur as seen above.  It is believed that two copies of the c(chl) gene will result in the darker version while one copy of the gene paired with a “c” allele will give the cleaner color.  This could be tested by breeding each of these rabbits to a ruby eyed white rabbit, if REWs as well as sable points are in the litters, then the sable point parent carried one copy of the c allele.

One complication with broken sable points is that the light body color can make it difficult to see the pattern on an adult.  The color is readily seen on a broken sable point kit. At birth the colored skin is as visible as in any other broken, and as the wool grows it is still easy to see.



But as the wool grows, the color seems to become diluted over the length of the hair shaft and be more difficult to see.  Sometimes these rabbits are disqualified for having too little color, but most judges realize the need to look closely (even in the sunlight if possible) at the body, as well as the head.  A rabbit with normal or heavy broken markings on the head is likely to be well colored on the body as well.



The buck above shows the typical pattern of color on the head seen in broken Fuzzies with a prominent butterfly and colored ears.  Additional pattern of color is also apparent on the face of the rabbit.  The body also has several large areas of slightly darker colored wool, although the length of the wool makes it harder to see the color.


A broken sable point with less density in the wool has more prominent color patches.  Some sable points are also darker in color than others; this is probably because the rabbit carries two copies of the sable point gene rather than only one copy. 

Enjoy your sable points.  They are a beautiful variety of AFL.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh Mr Mendel, where are you?

When the talk turns to alleles and genes and Punnett squares, some folks’ eyes glaze over while others get very very excited. If you are one of those who start thinking about what you are having for dinner when the ABCDEs roll into the conversation, just stick with me and give it a shot.  This won’t be a full lesson, just a tidbit.  If you want to produce colors (varieties) that can be shown, then you need to know some basics about rabbit color genetics. 

There are five genes that determine most of the varieties of colors shown in Fuzzies (Note I said “most”, not “all”).  Each of these genes has at least two alleles (or versions) that will determine some feature of the rabbits color. 

DSCN0028First is the “A” or agouti series.  This gene determines whether a rabbit with exhibit agouti, tan or self pattern, thus there are three possible alleles of this gene.

The “B” series is next, and is sometimes called the basic series.  Its easiest to think that all rabbits are either black or brown.


The “C” series, or pigment series, controls the amount of pigment in the hair shaft and has six different alleles that produce rabbits that range from full colored to albinos (ruby eyed white).


The “D” series or color intensity gene controls the intensity of color resulting in either intense color, e.g. black, or dilute, e.g. blue.


The extension gene, “E” controls the extension of black to the fur tips.


There are two other genes that are important to us also.  First is the gene that produces either solid or brokens.  Any color can be broken. Then there is another gene, usually termed Vienna or Blue-eyed white that can conceal all colors and produce a BEW.

Photos are from rabbits that were class winners at AFLRC National shows and ARBA Conventions. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Basket of Babies

There are few things as exciting as your first litter of Fuzzy Lops (well the second, third and fortieth are close!).  After just celebrating the arrival of the litter, the next fun part is to figure out what varieties are in the nestbox.  Since we have so many torts, its not usually that difficult.  But some of the lighter colors can be more challenging.  For example, I have thought I had a ruby eyed white (REW) kit until the eyes opened and the wool started growing and I realized it was probably a blue point.  Experience also helps a lot.  I recently had an email conversation with a new exhibitor/breeder who wasn’t sure whether her sable point juniors were solid or broken.  My suggestion—let’s look at the photos of young kits before the wool grows in.  Watch these Fuzzies grow:








So what varieties are in these two litters?  Its one broken tortoise shell, two REWS and two solid sable points.  Beautiful!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Warm weather = power washing


  So why are all the rabbits loaded up in transport cages?  Sure its nice outside, but they would rather be in their normal cages, eating and relaxing on a warm weekend day.

Do you think something is happening in the barn that we should investigate?IMG_0967

It is time for spring cleaning, one of those days that we both love and hate.  It is a huge job, and best done with lots of help.  First everything is removed from the barn—rabbits, tables, feeders, and assorted junk that accumulated over the past 6 months.IMG_0964  Next, the wool is burned off with a hand held torch.  This doesn’t remove all the wool, but it helps. A broom and shop vac are used to clean the light fixtures, walls and rafters.  The biggest step and most time is spent with the power washer.  It takes at least two times over the cages, and heavy work with wire brushes to clean everything.  IMG_0969

Eight hours later, the Fuzzies are all back in their cages, fed and water.  The trays may still have a few stains that collected over the years, but the cages are clean and fresh smelling!  Ready for the summer now.