Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Some thoughts on inbreeding, linebreeding, and care

Bob and I have a wonderful English Springer Spaniel named Banjo. Banjo does not have papers, his dam's papers were lost. He is a cross between show bloodlines and field bloodlines, his grandfather was ranked second in the state in field trials, or so his breeder told us. Anyway, he is a solid, energetic, tireless and determined hunter, and many times we wished he did have papers, as we would love to breed him. But that doesn't look like it will ever happen. Anyway, I've done a lot of reading about field spaniels, and the most prolific line is the Saighton line. They are bred in Wales, and exported over here. What does this have to do with rabbits?

http://www.spanielsinthefield.com/library-13.asp

This article is an interview with their breeder, and it is fascinating. His philosophy, which worked for him for over 50 years, is summed up near the end:

"Start with the best, stay in the line, breed between your "families," linebreed on outstanding individuals and emphasize good bitches. Then keep the pups until they're old enough to develop and evaluate. And, finally, throw in a large measure of dedication, knowledge and enthusiasm, plus the financial resources ... to carry out your plan."

I have a black otter buck, JG's Santonio, who is heavily inbred to one of my first - and best -rabbits, DA Joey. Joey's only fault, in my opinion, was that he was small. Even in full coat, he only weighed 9 pounds, and he needed to make 9.5 to be registered. However, he had excellent shoulders and the nicest butt. That nice butt has carried through to this guy, you actually have to search for his pin bones! He's small, however, demonstrating that inbreeding "fixes" the good and the not-so-good. So you have to be very particular when you do it. Right now smallness is something I can live with in my Tan lines. I have the structure set, the color is coming along nicely, and so is the wool quality. So, I need to maintain the structure while improving the other two. Once I have gotten all three where I want them, I'll start worrying about size.

Anyway, I am working on 3 "families" right now. The German, the Giant, and the Tan. Once I have the Steel gene bred out of my Giants, the Tans should be ready to cross with them to get size. The Germans are right where I want them, and will continue to influence the other two.

So, I have been pretty much following the same plan as that great spaniel breeder, except I do sell does, and I don't hang onto entire litters as long as perhaps I should. So I am reconsidering those two subjects. I am definitely going to start breeding fewer litters and hanging onto them longer. Also, I am going to get more particular about who I sell to. It has been brought to my attention that some animals I have sold have needed to be rescued, and were in really poor condition. Now, I completely understand that sometimes things get ahead of you, it has happened to me, too. So, if you find things are getting out of hand, please contact me.

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