Category Archives: Champagne d’Argent

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

 

Bad Timing

Rabbits! There are so many rabbits!

Rabbits! There are so many rabbits!

It’s been a busy weekend for us – three does from three different breeds gave birth! Our Champagne d’Argent, Silver Bell, Silver Fox, Ceres, and Silver Marten, Bonfire, all had large, healthy litters and we’re still waiting on one more mama to pop any time.

 

That’s a wonderful place to be because getting stock that produces and raises what they bear is quite nice and all of these does are proven and have our trust. They don’t typically lose any babies. Having all of this happen at once is also a bit scary because the size of our rabbitry doubled in a day! Whew! We’ll have babies for sale soon!

 

Silver Bell threw us a curve ball this time, however, and I thought it would be worth writing about as our friend Primrose the Holland Lop did something similar a few weeks ago.

 

While I was feeding and watering the rabbits yesterday morning I noticed Silver Bell looked… distressed. We had given her a hard time because she had taken all of the hay out of her nest box and put it in the corner of her cage on the wire. We called her crazy and put the hay back in the nest box, and she began to gather it in her mouth and start to move it out again. We decided to let her be and went on with our chores.

 

When I came back by in a few minutes I saw the hair around her eye brows was different and I just knew she was in labor. I put my water bottles down and sat still. Within a few minutes I watched Silver Bell deliver a kit, right in front of my eyes! She popped that baby out on the wire in the spot she had tried to make a nest before we took her hay away.

 

I didn’t want to disturb her, so we left for a bit. When we came back the kit was still alive but she had not pulled any hair. She was still rearranging her hay and didn’t give the impression she was finished delivering. My husband pulled her out and palpated her – her stomach was still hard as a rock and it seemed there were babies still to be had. We spread hay all over the wire of the cage and let her be.

 

We took her little kit, which was starting to get cold, and tucked it into a warm place for a few hours. When we checked her again mid-afternoon and there was still no hair pulled and no babies we identified the newborn singleton with sharpie marker and put it in with the silver fox litter that was born that morning.

 

Bed time came and we checked Silver Bell – this is a doe with a proven track record as a mom! She’s a great girl! She was pulling hair frantically and putting it in her hay nest on the wire. The nest box was right there, unused and full of hay. Very strange.

 

To make a long story short, when we came out this morning Silver Bell had a nice little nest of hay and hair set up in the corner of her cage and nine little babies tucked inside! She delivered the first kit and the other nine at least 14 hours apart from one another!

 

We got the original kit out of its foster nest and tucked it in with its siblings. Covered in marker but none the worse for the wear.

 

I mention this because I always expected a rabbit to deliver their babies on Day 31 within about 10 – 15 minutes. That’s what all the experts and books say… yet yesterday’s experience proved this isn’t always the case. Duchess, a Champagne d’Argent, always delivers on Day 33 or 34 (once even on Day 36!).

 

As another story of non-traditional rabbit birthing, our friend who has Holland lops noticed her first-time mom doe go into labor (displaying spots of blood and amniotic fluid) on Day 30, deliver one kit on Day 32 and another on Day 34. Sadly, both of those kits were born dead. But it was shocking to both of us that there could be a span of five days between the beginning of labor and the end. (And she did consult a veterinarian to ensure the best care for her rabbit… and was told to wait it out.)

 

I’ve read raspberry leaves can help when a doe is in labor. We don’t have a supply of those handy, so I’ve made Raspberry Zinger tea for our does. I can’t guarantee it’s helped them, but I do know it hasn’t hurt them at all! We also typically follow up the birth with a yummy treat like carrot, apple, banana, or celery and a couple of calcium-enriched antacid tablets.

 

Good luck with your litters – I’d love to hear your stories of non-traditional rabbit births!

 

 

 

Ugly Babies

While most “baby” animals end up looking cute, the majority are born looking pretty… well… pathetic.

Baby bunnies are no exception.

Baby bunnies are born hairless, with their eyes and ears closed. They are very susceptible to death, as they can get chilled quickly. Mama pulls hair out of her dewlap (basically a double chin with purpose!) and uses the hair as insulation for the litter.

Holland lop litter, hours old.

And, did I mention they’re ugly?

Champagne d’Argent, hours old.

Mama rabbits will nurse only once or twice each day and stay away from the babies in the meantime. Somehow, even without much nurturing, love and support, the baby rabbits will gradually grow hair and fill out.

Champagne d’Argent, three days old.

The wisest course of action during this time for a human is to simply leave the babies alone. Check them once, maybe twice, each day to be sure you don’t have a dead baby in the nestbox. (Distracting mama with a bit of apple, carrot, or celery is a good idea.) Other than that, just let time take its course and mature the babies.

If a baby bunny is born pink, odds are it will be white. Black skin color is equal to black bunnies.

Champagne d’Argent, six days old.

We’re excited every time we have a new litter – and patience is hard! But healthy baby bunnies are what we’re after, so it’s best to let the mama do what the mama does best and stay out of the way!

Baby Bunnies and Freezing Temperatures

Duchess’s first kit. Champagne d’Argent, hours old.

We are terribly excited to announce that Duchess gave birth yesterday, on Day 33!

Typically a Champagne d’Argent will have 6-8 kits per litter, so we are a bit surprised that she only produced one. However, it’s her first litter so we’ll give her a few more tries to get things figured out before we make any judgements about her production ability.

Having only one baby did give us a different kind of problem, however. Usually between mom’s fur covering and the sibling’s body heat a baby is fine well into freezing temperatures – but our little one has no one to snuggle with and share warmth while our temperatures bottom out around 17* at night.

Some breeders put a warming plate or heating light in their nestboxes, but the use of these is questionable because they can very easily roast your fur-less rabbits. (Remember, temperatures over 80* or so can be deadly to your rabbit.)

What to do?

We are using a wire nestbox and the hutch is about three feet off the ground. We placed a few cinderblock on end under the nestbox and a normal electric heating pad on top of the cinder blocks (There’s a gaps of about eight inches between the heating pad and the floor of the cage.) Then we dropped the tarp covering down on the hutch and said a prayer.

This morning we have one healthy kit still alive and squirming! Mom’s water dish still had some ice in it but wasn’t frozen solid, so we feel we’ve hit the right combination of warmth.

There’s no perfect way to raise a rabbit, so it’s good to learn how others do it and use your own ingenuity. Here’s to a great little kit growing up strong!

Rabbit Watch, Day 3

Rabbit Pregnancy

We’re on rabbit watch, day 3.

I don’t mean to get so involved in Duchess’s birthing process, but it’s her first litter and, well, I get excited when there are baby bunnies floating around!

Duchess is not cooperating. I put more alfalfa hay on the floor of her cage in hopes she’d gather it up and put it in her nestbox… she didn’t.But she did enjoy her tasty snack!

I’ve spent the last two days searching the internet for information on how you can tell your rabbit is about to give birth. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Every rabbit has a different gestation length. The average length of a rabbit pregnancy is 31 days, although the range is 28-35 days. Let me tell you, the difference between 28 and 35 days is a l o n g time when you’re checking your rabbit every few hours!

2. Pulling hair is spontaneous. Some rabbits will pull their hair and prepare their nestbox several days in advance. This is a well-prepared, type-A rabbit. Then there are the free-wheeling, fun loving rabbits who pull their dewlap fur an hour before birth. Ellen of Sky Island Livestock told me she has does who will pull their hair as they are giving birth. Talk about procrastination!

3. I’ve got a bad attitude. Duchess is a sweet, shy rabbit. In the last week she’s been ridiculously jumpy and grumpy. When we put her next to a buck she began to growl and try to fight him through the cage wire (we quickly moved the buck to different quarters!). Today when I tried to give her our daily scratching she frantically hopping through her 4’x2.5′ cage like I was a demon after her soul. She is not herself. (Frankly, I’m not myself during the last bit of pregnancy, either!!)

4. Test mating might get you more than expected. We bred Duchess, then did a test breeding on day 12 to see if she was pregnant. Turns out the mating activity will stimulate one side of ovaries at a time – and the “test mating” recommended by so many people might actually trigger a second fertilization. Let me put it this way: a rabbit is capable of carrying two pregnancies, simultaneously! So there’s a chance Duchess is about to deliver a litter… and in two weeks she’ll deliver another! I’ll let you know how it goes.

5. When in doubt, send up a prayer and wait. The reality? I can do absolutely nothing to help Duchess right now. Once she births there’s a chance I can save the kits if she has them on the cage floor instead of the nestbox. Still, it’s a waiting game. Those babies will come when they want to come and I’m along for the ride. Patience, patience, patience. I’m developing this virtue!

Do you have any stories of first time rabbit deliveries?