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can you stunt a rabbit's growth?

Discussion of specific breeds, breed standards and selection criteria for purebreds.
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can you stunt a rabbit's growth?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby shazza » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:50 pm


and would it affect the size of its kits?

i've had a big learning curve with my rabbits since getting them last spring and while i've learned a lot, it feels like i keep having problems. if nothing else i guess i at least know what to do when everything goes wrong, lol.

my latest problem comes in the form of my two standard rex rabbits, a doe and a buck. they were purchased at the same time at around 8 weeks old and are now 7 or 8 months old. they were purchased to be show prospects but the buck turned out to too light for a castor so he's out of that ring and i'll get him a nice dark coloured girlfriend later. the doe is a rew and she is good type, but i'm worried that neither of them will ever hit senior weight. the buck is about 6.5 lbs and the doe is a little over 7lbs and that's it. at 8 months old.

when i first purchased them i was feeding a feed that i chose as it was soy-free, but turned out to have a very low protein - 14%. i didn't realize this feed was formulated for adult PET rabbits, not breeding or meat rabbits. when i switched to a 16% commercial feed in july or so, i saw a great increase in their size, but lately they seem to not be growing much more and they're still too small for rexes. i've had to cut back on the buck's feed because he started getting fat instead of bigger. i can deal with not being able to show these exact rabbits, but if i bred them do you think their kits would grow to the right size with proper feed even if their parents stayed small? the doe is ready to breed now and i don't want to wait too long but i want her to get as big as possible first...

i've already culled out a supposedly standard rex doe that never got bigger than a mini rex (and aggressive,) and i really would like to be able to keep these. they have great bodies and the doe has a good coat that i would love to pass on.
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Re: can you stunt a rabbit's growth?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Zass » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:48 pm


If they were mine, I'd breed and see, but, only if you are ready to cull. I wouldn't breed if the plan was sell their kits as show or brood prospects, unless you were sure the potential was in the genes.
Some lines or breeds are slower to finish than others too.
I know, my harlequins usually finish in size well after their first litters, where the silverfox could reach their senior weights in 5-6 month.
Also, if they had any kind of digestive upset (even something as small as a couple days of soft poo at 4 weeks,) it can set growth back. I think, it is possible that the lower protein feed could have slowed growth, the feed switch could have contributed, even if they appeared to take it well and started really growing later.

Just maybe, they might still grow a little. :)

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Re: can you stunt a rabbit's growth?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby shazza » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:40 pm


fortunately(?) i don't really plan on selling any kits right now as i STILL haven't been able to make a show to get judge opinions and experience...so any kits that i didn't feel were good enough would just get eaten with the meat mutts. i guess i'll just wait and see how it goes. it just staggers me as my birthday present rex i bought yesterday is almost as big as the REW doe and the new doe is only 3 months old. is it normal for that much disparity in growth from different lines? how do you choose what ones are good prospects if it takes them so long to grow out? if i'd started showing my other rex as juniors there'd be like four months where i couldn't show them because they were too big for junior but not big enough for senior o__o
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Re: can you stunt a rabbit's growth?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby alforddm » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:42 pm


Poor feed can stunt growth. I've seen it before in cattle. Generally though, I wouldn't think 14% protein would not be low enough to stunt their growth unless something else was lacking from the feed. Slow it yes, but not permanently stunt it. There are some lines of Rex that really struggle reaching minimum weight anyway. I've seen speculation that it's because mini rex have been bred in with the hopes of getting those really short shoulders that do so well in the show ring now. But of course that is all it is really, speculation. I'd give them a bit longer and see. Some rex lines take forever to mature as well.

EDIT: left out a "not" which totally changed the meaning. :oops:
Last edited by alforddm on Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: can you stunt a rabbit's growth?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Zass » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:33 pm


How do you choose what ones are good prospects if it takes them so long to grow out?


With the harlequins, you chose by markings. It's a very simple breed. :)

For rex, it's a bit more complicated. Faster growing kits will finish faster though. If you want to speed up growth in a line you can take a few gens selecting for that, or buy from someone who has.

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Re: can you stunt a rabbit's growth?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Dood » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:39 am


Yes you can stunt their growth

I agree with the above comments and I would produce a couple litters and see if they out grow their parents

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