Stuck Kits

This past fall we lost our minds for a little bit and came home with some dwarf rabbits, both Dwarf Hotot and champagne Netherland Dwarfs. Obviously, this is really big departure for us because we are used to BIG rabbits and these… even full grown they are so tiny!

 

We’ve been enjoying them, however, and have bred them for some successful litters. However, this week our ND was due and we had our first run in with a stuck kit. A little back story, this doe has given birth without issue before, but this litter was two days overdue. We’ve since learned that there is a theory that you want to breed a dwarf with stuck kit issues multiple times so that she had a larger litter which theoretically also equals smaller kits.

 

This is our daughter’s rabbit and she’s been watching her like a hawk for the babies to arrive. The doe nested as usual and did a great job of preparation but the kits just didn’t arrive. Then we went out and my husband observed her convulsing and pulled her out for a closer examination.

 

Stuck kits occur when the baby is took large to be easily delivered through the birth canal. This is especially common within the dwarf rabbit breeds because of the shape of their skulls.

 

Here is a clip of the video we took of the contractions. Since we have never had a stuck kit, it was extremely informative to us to even know what we were seeing.

 

 

Once we turned her over we were able to observe the feet of the kit emerging from the birth canal and we realized what was happening.

 

It seems the best practice if you’re going to assist with a stuck kit is to wait for a contraction and gently tug with the contraction toward the stomach of the rabbit.

 

In the end, the doe delivered three dead babies (very, very large!) and over the next 24 hours she delivered the placentas, etc. She’s doing fine and recovering well. We have given her raspberry and dandelion leaves and rest. Experienced breeders have encouraged us to give her a few days and then breed her again.

 

Extended Labor in Rabbits

We blew it. Except we didn’t know we were blowing it.

 

Here’s the story – we put the nestbox in with our doe. We waited. She pulled fur and had one baby. All evidence pointed to the fact that this was a singleton litter and our temperatures are still below freezing many nights, so we fostered the little loner in with another litter to better its odds of survival, then removed the nestbox from mama.

 

And walked out the next morning to six more babies on the wire of mama’s cage, frozen solid.

 

What the….?!

 

All of our rabbit husbandry experience has taught us that rabbits give birth within a span of about 15 minutes. But in this case, I can say absolutely without question, that there was at least a 36 hour break between that first little bunny being born and the other six!

 

I don’t know how often this is, and without having personally experienced it we would have pooh-poohed the possibility of rabbits giving birth at different spaces. However, it does make me wonder about the few times we have counted babies, then a week later discovered our count was wrong and there is another baby in the box. Did the mama have another while we weren’t looking?

 

The only explanation I can figure for this behavior is if both of the uterine horns were impregnated. Since we occasionally leave our rabbits in with the bucks overnight (in the winter they typically don’t want to breed immediately so we’ve found making them roommates for a time works better) perhaps the doe was impregnated in different uterine horns, hours apart, and that caused a different delivery schedule?

 

Who knows, but I was shocked enough I felt it was worth noting on the blog that it can happen.

 

And we’re so bummed about the babies who didn’t make it because we blew it.

Memorization Tools for ARBA Registrar Exam

 For those of you who know us, we are big believers in ARBA’s registration system and do our best to register all of our rabbits. Being able to find stock that’s registered is a great help to newer breeders who may not know the ins and outs of a breed!

 

For those of you unfamiliar with this, here’s a description of registration from the ARBA website:

“The American Rabbit Breeders Association has a unique and exacting registration system. Unlike other animal registration systems, each rabbit or cavy must be examined by a licensed registrar, certified free from heritable defects and found to meet specific breed requirements as outlined in the ARBA Standard of Perfection.

The ARBA does not issue registrations of litters or register individual rabbits based on the registration or pedigree of its sire or dam. Each rabbit or cavy must be at least six (6) months of age before it can be inspected by a licensed ARBA Registrar. Because of its exacting requirements, the ARBA Rabbit/Cavy Registration system is arguably the single best livestock or pet stock registration system in the world.”

Because we believe in the system, I’ve had the idea of attempting to become a registrar in the back of my mind for quite some time. But the application process is not a walk in the park:

“In order to receive an ARBA Registrar’s license, each individual must be a continuous member of the ARBA for at least three (3) years, as well as have secured the written endorsement of 20 ARBA members in good standing prior to submitting an application to the ARBA office. Upon being approved to apply for an ARBA Registrar’s License, the applicant has two (2) years in which to pass a written and oral examination delivered by an official examining judge appointed by the ARBA and must work under three (3) judges at three (3) shows, assist one (1) registrar with registering animals, and secure the endorsement of the registrar and at least two (2) of the judges under whom he or she has worked.”

Big sigh. Time to set the goals high, right?!

 

At Arizona State Convention last month I was able to obtain the necessary signatures of support from other members (THANK YOU FRIENDS!) and since then have been trying to prepare myself to take the exam.

 

There’s a lot to learn and memorize. Like, a lot. It’s a little bit like trying to take a sip from a firehose.

 

Now, our kids are involved in programs that require a TON of memorization, so after becoming overwhelmed with all of the information in the Standard of Perfection to study, I decided to pretend I was going back to elementary school and use my kids memorization techniques, applied to rabbits.

 

First, I purchased and started working through the ARBA Registrar Study Guide:

 

Next, I channeled my homeschool vibe and made a lapbook of the pertinent facts. This is expandable, so if more items come up, I can just add another flap using colors, shapes, and placement as a tactile Memory Palace, or Method of Loci (yes, a Memory Palace is a thing):

 

Then, I took yet another step down the rabbit hole of super-kooky and… created songs and chants. (Yes, You May Laugh At Me Now.) (I’m laughing at myself. But kinda proud all at the same time.)

 

Now, before you click on any of these links I think it’s really, really important to note that I am in no way a professional musician, singer, or anything else that would cause people to admire my warbling. BUT, if a method is quirky and kind of strange, that in itself is part of the memory technique! I’ve found myself singing these songs in my head before I go to bed, which is a sign that something is working correctly in the memory banks!

 

So feel free laugh at me for these songs, but be gentle with your comments because ain’t nobody got time for nastiness ’round here.

 

Ear Length Disqualifications

Types of Fur

5 Body Types

4 Class Breeds

6 Class Breeds

 

If these are helpful to you, please use them! It’s general information that might be good for children studying for 4H exams, Registrar or Judge hopefuls, or people who just really like to embrace their best quirky self and know random facts about rabbits! Perhaps this will be a Jeopardy quiz show winning answer at some point in time! (And if you win $1,000,000, please be sure to send a chunk of it back to me as an expression of gratitude!)

 

I’m not exactly certain when I’ll take the test. Hopefully sometime in the next month. I’d rather be prepared than fail, so I’ll have to take the rest of our crazy life and schedule into account and right now, finishing up our school year with projects galore, may not be the best time to focus on studying.

 

The more time to memorize the better, right?!

 

If you’ve taken the exam, I’d love to hear your tips for success in preparation!

Arizona State Convention 2017 Show Report

One of the door prizes handed out at the banquet. It's missing it's movie theater gift card in this pic!

One of the door prizes handed out at the banquet. An Arizona coffee mug, theater candy, and a movie gift card. (It’s missing it’s movie theater gift card in this pic!)

Last weekend we attended Arizona State Convention. The state convention is a wonderful time to meet new breeders, see friends, and compete against a wider pool of exhibitors. Many breeders who aren’t able to attend shows regularly will attend the state show, which is a wonderful treat.

 

We took a full carload of rabbits in six breeds: Cinnamon, Champagne d’Argent, Blanc de Hotot, Silver Fox, New Zealand and mini satin. Many bunnies. Much fur. My body is still telling me we were busy shifting those carriers around! A carton of approximately 30 lbs. is not so bad when you first move it… but when you move it over and over… yikes! Oh my achin’ bones!

 

It’s really exciting to report that we came home with a Best of Breed or Best Opposite of Breed in all the ones that we took except mini satin. (We only took one mini satin and he just couldn’t compete against the animals there. Arizona has some phenomenal animals! But we listened, took notes, and know where to work for the future!) What an encouragement that we’re doing something right!

 

I think that encouragement is pretty huge. It’s very, very easy to get consumed with the hard things of raising rabbits – the litters that don’t work out, the poop that needs to be scooped, the grumpy intermediates who scratch you and make your hands look like they’ve been through a blender… there are plenty of things about rabbit raising that aren’t at the top of the “fun” list! For us, while receiving the recognition of having a top animal is great, I’ve learned that listening carefully to the judges will help encourage me about the strongest attributes of even our worst rabbits! Encouragement is awesome!

 

The thing is, very few rabbits have nothing to commend them. If may be that this rabbit has a great head or strong shoulder or wider hindquarters. Maybe they don’t compete with the top animal, but there is always some thing encouraging to work with in the future if you’re able to see them all lined up together on a judging table. Even if it’s just validation that the rabbit I think it pretty awful is actually awful, going to a show is a great encouragement!

 

I also really can’t talk up the folks who put on the Arizona State Convention enough. They know what they’re doing and they’re kind. There’s always a bit of drama (people being people) but the show committee isn’t the start of it or spreading it. Whether it’s addressing difficult decisions or making sure the judges are able to maintain a constant flow of rabbits on their table, these people are amazing. If you’re looking for a great show to add to your routine, consider Arizona!

Recipes for Getting Stains Out of Rabbit Fur

Hutch stains and spray stains are the bane of a white rabbit breeder's existence!

Hutch stains and spray stains are the bane of a white rabbit breeder’s existence!

Recently we discovered a few of our bucks had had a literal pissing contest with each other and both were covered with urine stains. There’s a high “eww” factor involved in this, as you can actually feel the urine on a dirty coat. The rabbits themselves don’t seem to mind one way or another, but a dirty rabbit is pretty distasteful to view. (Just imagine if you are a judge and get handed a rabbit with a dirty coat like the one pictured… common courtesy toward a fellow human being tells us we need to do our best to clean them up!)

 

In a black rabbit like a Silver Fox you can use a baby wipe and elbow grease to clean them up pretty easily – but with a white rabbit like a Blanc de Hotot even when the residue of the dirtiness is gone those stains can stay and become the bane of your existence! Even a Champagne d’Argent is capable of getting some nasty coat stains under the right conditions. What to do?!

 

We have tried several different stain removers and all have had some limited success. I don’t think we’ve gotten it figured out – which honestly may be due to the individual coat differences of the rabbits. Here are a few we’ve used successfully*, plus some of the remedies others regularly recommend:

 

  1. Baking Soda and Vinegar. This is our homemade recipe that we like the best so far. We dissolved about a teaspoon of baking soda into about a 1/4 c. of white vinegar. Added some drops orange essential oil to address the vinegar odorthat stays on the rabbit. Spray on the rabbit, rub it in, and let it dry. After dry, wipe with cloth. Repeat as necessary.
  2. Miracle Groom. This is a horse product that some Champagne d’Argent breeders swear by. It had a nice scent to it. We got ours at Tractor Supply Co.
  3. Chase’s Stain Away. Good scent, good success with getting our Blancs white again, although it left a little oily residue behind. Can be purchased at BunnyRabbit.com.
  4. Corn Starch Paste. Corn starch mixed with white vinegar into a paste and rubbed onto the stain. Let dry, then brush it out.
  5. Witch Hazel & Hydrogen Peroxide. Create a 50/50 mix of witch hazel and hydrogen peroxide. Rub on with a soft rag or cotton pad (be aware that both of these are drying and could cause hair breakage if overused).
  6. Lemon Juice. Spray on and let the rabbit groom it out themselves.
  7. Blue Listerine. Only the blue version of Listerine will work for this. Use a paper towel to wipe the solution on. Fur should be damp, not wet. As the fur dries, the urine/hutch stains will disappear. Repeated applications over the course of several days may be necessary.
  8. Baking Soda and Peroxide. Spray it on, let it dry, brush it off. Note this recipe is for peroxide from a beauty supply store, not hydrogen peroxide.
  9. Cowboy Magic Rose Water. This demineralizing shampoo and conditioner is useful for some breeders.

 

As you can see there are many variations on some similar ingredients. In the end there are some cases where you’ll simply have to wait for the stains to molt out, or you might have a rabbit that just likes to be dirty. If you’re hoping to force a molt, a few kernels of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds a day for a couple of weeks can be helpful to force the molt (but can also add weight to your rabbit or create a perpetual molt, so be cautious).

 

Also, remember that altering a rabbit’s fur for a show is against ARBA showing regulations. These remedies are best used well in advance of a show. And, of course, keeping them from getting dirty in the first place by separating sprayer and having clean cages is the best defense!
What are your recommendations for stain cleaning? We’d love to hear in the comments!

ARBA Nationals 2016 Show Report

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Sunset in Del Mar

We are back from Nationals and ready to give a report of the fun and excitement!

 

First and foremost, we had a wonderful time. The national show is really something. You look out along rows and rows of beautiful animals and can’t help but feel connected to other breeders. There was a sign posted on the outside of the building that said, “For five days you don’t have to explain to anyone why you show rabbits” and it’s true. You’re there with a whole bunch of other people who love this quirky hobby and it’s… community. It’s great!

 

We were able to drive this year, which was wonderful. We did not anticipate the traffic getting into Del Mar and were running a little late. So, first lesson learned – don’t push it when it comes to timing! Whoops! I could have saved myself a few grey hairs and sweaty armpits by adding extra time into our schedule!

 

Unloading the rabbits took some time because there were three buildings, Open, Youth, and Exhibition. We had rabbits in each building. Isaiah’s fitbit said we walked 10+ miles on Saturday getting everyone checked in! Whew!

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We got a few extra passengers on the cart after the rabbits were unloaded!

One all the cage risers were in, food and water cups filled, labels attached, we were good to go for the night and man, were we tired. We found a yummy seafood place for dinner, then collapsed at our hotel room.

 

The show committee had placed a schedule with approximate times and tables for breed judging on the doors of the barns, so we had a vague idea of when our breeds would show. The reality of the schedule, however, is that some breeds will move quicker than anticipated and others take longer, so everything is just a general suggestion.

Our preliminary Show Schedule

Our preliminary Show Schedule

As it turned out, all of our breeds showed on day one with one exception! So we had a very, very long day (and actually completely missed the Silver Fox showing) on Sunday and an easy day on Monday. Still it was wonderful to talk with other breeders as we waited for the judge to look over rabbits, and wander the aisles of coops to admire breeds!

 

We were thrilled to see our daughter’s Cinnamon win Best Opposite Sex of Breed in the Youth show!

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Mad Hatter’s Politico wins Best Opposite of Breed, Cinnamon Youth.

Sunday night we went to Fletcher’s Cove for dinner and enjoyed the most amazing sunset. The kids played in the ocean and we relaxed and let the salt water soothe our aching feet.

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Playing in the waves at sunset at Fletcher’s Cove will be one of our favorite memories!

 

On Tuesday night we went down to Seaport Village. The girls were thrilled to discover Frost Me Gourmet Cupcakes because, well, theres a Food Network/Cupcake Wars obsession in our house!

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Frost Me from Food Network’s Cupcake Wars at Seaport Village.

Overall I can’t say enjoy good about the National Show. Next year is Indianapolis, so I’m not sure how that will work out (although both Isaiah and I went to college in Indiana and a campus visit for old times sake wouldn’t be the end of the world to either of us… hm…) but we are going to prioritize the National show as much as possible!

Now, back to the breeding drawing board for next year’s entry!

 

Our show report from 2016 ARBA National Convention:

Cinnamon:

Best Opposite of Breed, Youth, Mad Hatter’s Politico

3rd Senior Buck, Open,Mad Hatter’s Impudence

Blanc de Hotot:

1st Senior Buck, Open,Mad Hatter’s King Fergus

Silver Fox:

1st Senior Doe, Open,Mad Hatter’s Ovation

1st Intermediate Doe, Youth,Mad Hatter’s Idryl Celebrindil

2nd Senior Buck,Mad Hatter’s Samwise Gamgee

Mini Satin:

Best of Variety, Youth,Mad Hatter’s Lucky

 

Prepping for ARBA Nationals

It’s time for the big show! ARBA Nationals 2016 is located in Del Mar, California and we are going!

 

This is only our second national show to attend, so we aren’t truly experts, but here are a few things we have done to prepare:

 

Get Hotel Room. We originally made reservations at a hotel that was several miles from the fairgrounds, but then a few spots opened up at the host hotel so we switched! Hurray!

Purchase Show Catalog and Results book. The show catalog is full of great information about the schedule, extra meetings, rules, judges of the breeds, club information, etc. Also places to eat and stay, extra tours… lots of stuff! We also enjoy getting the Results book because there is no set schedule for breed judging and if you miss your breed you won’t have a clue how everyone placed without the Results book!

Get Car in for Check Up. We are driving to Nationals and I can’t think of anything worse than being broken down on the side of the road with a load of bunnies in the back! So our trusty Suburban went to the shop for a complete check up from tires to wires and got the seal of approval.

Paperwork. Not only do we have the paperwork from our Convention entry, but also the load/unload sheet for our rabbits. We label each hole of the carriers with the rabbit who will occupy it, and then check it off as we load. We’ll do a similar situation with our return animals. At checkin you also need your ARBA membership card.

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This is our pocket-sized cheat sheet for our breeds and coop numbers.

Labels. Decorations on the coops are discouraged at the Convention, but having something to identify your rabbits is really helpful in the long rows of coops! We used a free download from a teacher for labels this year and included the name of the rabbit and a contact phone number just in case anyone needed to talk to us about the rabbit. And we’ll remove the labels completely when we leave, of course.

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Our coop labels for Convention this year.

Coop Risers/Cleaning Supplies. The rabbits are cooped on wooden floors with shavings. Obviously these shavings get messy quickly and need frequent cleaning! This year we are trying coop risers for our Blanc de Hotot to help keep them clean.This is the way to go! The rabbits stay sooo much cleaner and happier with the risers!

Water Bucket with Spout. We have found a houseplant watering can with the long spout extremely helpful. We can get the job done with a milk jug but the extra maneuvering provided by a watering can is awesome!

Pedigree Book. You never know what might come up, so I’m bringing hard copies of all of our pedigrees. One thing I’m pretty excited about for our sale rabbits is a newer program called Hutch. It allows you to generate a QR code for pedigrees, so if you print the QR code and put it with the rabbit anyone interested would be able to see the lines behind the rabbit right then. How lovely!

Good Attitude and Comfortable Shoes. I was stunned in Portland at how much my feet hurt! The judging classes are large, so there is a lot of standing around as you’re waiting to hear the results! By the end of the first day my back was tight and my feet were sore. By the end of day two even our 9-year-old was desperate for a place to sit! This year we are bringing our most comfortable shoes and consciously choosing to have a good attitude no matter what our circumstances.

 

That’s our quick an dirty prep list for Nationals. I’m sure we’ll have more in the future, but here are the basics!