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Albert

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We are first time rabbit keepers living in central France. We've reached the age where keeping large livestock is a bit much for us going forward so we have decided to keep things simple this time and just keep Rabbits, Geese and Chickens. In the hope that it will let us potter about in the mornings and evenings and produce some nice livestock to sell and eat.

We chose to add rabbits because they are still very popular in France and a lot of old French country houses have a rabbitry built in, unfortunately ours doesn't but a huge variety of stock is available locally along with supplies etc. All very handy when you've only been in country for 18 months and your language skills aren't up to scratch yet.

We've gone for a trio of Californians because they are a little bit unusual here and hopefully they're a good fit for the climate and our needs? Our vet is really taken with them and says they are much more docile than a lot of pet rabbits she has come through. It would have been easier to go for a Giant Butterfly breed because frankly you can't throw a stick round here without hitting one!

Bottom line, we joined because there are only so many Youtube videos, books and articles you can read before you need real people with experience to say "Hold the bunny bus, what are you doing that for?".

Thanks

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Photo by Robert Doisneau - Lapin au Champ de Mars, 1943
 

MuddyFarms

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....Bottom line, we joined because there are only so many Youtube videos, books and articles you can read before you need real people with experience to say "Hold the bunny bus, what are you doing that for?".

Thanks

Howdy! That's definitely why I joined RT! I found there is so much more to learn after already memorizing the rabbit books. :)
 

eco2pia

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It would have been easier to go for a Giant Butterfly breed because frankly you can't throw a stick round here without hitting one!
Hahaha, and then I go and suggest "some large spotted rabbit"...My first buck was a little spotted agouti mutt, he produced so so many different colors and patterns, but he was too small for a meat rabbit really. It was a ton of fun trying to guess what we would get. I was hooked. I love my American Chinchillas now, but they look like they have been made in a factory, nearly identical. That is good, but I will some day probably revert to colors, just for the surprise of it.
 

MuddyFarms

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Hahaha, and then I go and suggest "some large spotted rabbit"...My first buck was a little spotted agouti mutt, he produced so so many different colors and patterns, but he was too small for a meat rabbit really. It was a ton of fun trying to guess what we would get. I was hooked. I love my American Chinchillas now, but they look like they have been made in a factory, nearly identical. That is good, but I will some day probably revert to colors, just for the surprise of it.
I love the color surprises! We were so unsure about breed choices and thought we would stick out the rabbit venture longer if we enjoyed the colors and patterns of our rabbits. I find it more enjoyable than the Californians I had, although they are often a great breed. I have a better idea of who's who in litters and just really enjoy watching them grow and develop their colors.

I thought it was interesting that you mentioned Rex as a possible breed to introduce into Cals (in your other post), because so often people do not recommend them as a meat breed. I almost stayed away from them because they were supposed to be very slow growers, better for furs with meat as a byproduct. But I chose them due to the color and personality, and expected to have a 12-15 week butcher time. The original stock we purchased did take a while to get up to adult weights, but their kits grow fast! This second generation does better than my Californians did, so I hope this trend continues down the generations. I am amazed to have color and rabbits that have been 5LB at 11 weeks, 8LB at 16 weeks, and 10LB at 24 weeks (7.5-10.5 LB being the breed standard). I was not expecting that, to say the least!
 
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Albert

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Hahaha, and then I go and suggest "some large spotted rabbit"...My first buck was a little spotted agouti mutt, he produced so so many different colors and patterns, but he was too small for a meat rabbit really. It was a ton of fun trying to guess what we would get. I was hooked. I love my American Chinchillas now, but they look like they have been made in a factory, nearly identical. That is good, but I will some day probably revert to colors, just for the surprise of it.
Brilliant! Your answer and advice was still awesome but I did think to myself "Now where am I going to find a large spotted rabbit? Oh yeah... EVERYWHERE!!!
 

Albert

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I love the color surprises! We were so unsure about breed choices and thought we would stick out the rabbit venture longer if we enjoyed the colors and patterns of our rabbits. I find it more enjoyable than the Californians I had, although they are often a great breed. I have a better idea of who's who in litters and just really enjoy watching them grow and develop their colors.

I thought it was interesting that you mentioned Rex as a possible breed to introduce into Cals (in your other post), because so often people do not recommend them as a meat breed. I almost stayed away from them because they were supposed to be very slow growers, better for furs with meat as a byproduct. But I chose them due to the color and personality, and expected to have a 12-15 week butcher time. The original stock we purchased did take a while to get up to adult weights, but their kits grow fast! This second generation does better than my Californians did, so I hope this trend continues down the generations. I am amazed to have color and rabbits that have been 5LB at 11 weeks, 8LB at 16 weeks, and 10LB at 24 weeks (7.5-10.5 LB being the breed standard). I was not expecting that, to say the least!

I was seriously considering Rex for our start up Trio but my book "Raising Rabbits for Meat by Tiffany Simpson" rated them down from the Californian. What really interested me about them was obviously the colour patters and fur but also what it said about temperament. Are they really that good? It also says that two does can co-habit which goes against everything I had read everywhere else about rabbit keeping. We're defiantly sticking with the Cali's and I'm pleased with them but I think the chances of us being a single breed rabbit breeder is slim so Rex rabbits for us maybe a thing in the not too distant future.
 

MuddyFarms

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I was seriously considering Rex for our start up Trio but my book "Raising Rabbits for Meat by Tiffany Simpson" rated them down from the Californian. What really interested me about them was obviously the colour patters and fur but also what it said about temperament. Are they really that good? It also says that two does can co-habit which goes against everything I had read everywhere else about rabbit keeping. We're defiantly sticking with the Cali's and I'm pleased with them but I think the chances of us being a single breed rabbit breeder is slim so Rex rabbits for us maybe a thing in the not too distant future.
I have that book, too. :) I also have the book, Raising Rabbits for Meat, by Eric and Callene Rapp, which I find to be good.

Funny! I initially wanted Rex and decided to go with Cals instead, too. I raised them for a little over a year before having to get rid of them due to my setup. When I was finally able to get going again, I found a show and meat breeder that had some good-looking Rex and a good, clean setup. They were a price I was willing to take a risk on (not that they were especially cheap), so we decided to just try it. We could always get back into the Cals later if these turned out to be a flop!

There seems to be a lot of variation in breeds depending on the line you get them from. I was just reading a thread on Rex for meat and someone mentioned how there were lines that were bred for faster growth, but that their fur quality went down because of that. There definitely do seem to be slow and fast lines, so I must have happened across a fast one! Rex also have about the same weight range as Cals.

The temperament seems to be pretty nice on my Rex, but I don't think I would try keeping two does together in a cage. I am not sure where she got that info; it was something that I questioned when I read that part, too. The bucks are great, and vary from being content with little interaction to practically dying while trying to get attention and petting from you. The same is true for the does, although they can go through times that they don't prefer a lot of petting. That is mostly for certain individuals when they have become used to hiding behind their cute little kits! But it usually doesn't last too long.

We were a little concerned about the Rex breed's feet getting sore hocks. But what I have found interesting is that the bucks we bought and our second generation does are not having problems yet. Only the original does that had narrow feet have issues. The does we saved back that have wide feet are doing well. I am happy about that and hope they continue to do well.

Anyway, we really like the ones we have!
 

MuddyFarms

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I also recall something about Rex being raised to at least 6 months old in France for the fur industry. So I am not sure how fast-growing the lines in France are. It would be interesting to find out, though!
 

Albert

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I also recall something about Rex being raised to at least 6 months old in France for the fur industry. So I am not sure how fast-growing the lines in France are. It would be interesting to find out, though!
From my limited understanding, the age for finishing rabbits for fur here is more based on coat finish / lustre along with skin strength and resilience. Basically if you cull too young you end up with a more delicate and easily damaged pelt.

I recently watched this Youtube piece comparing Cali and Rex kits and there's nothing in it.

 

eco2pia

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Here in the states the rex/Mini rex breeds and the popularity in the pet trade has messed with the stock available--Mini rex became so pupular that anything with color was labeled "mini rex" and half the time they didn't even have rex coats. A REW was always a "purebred NZ". Now I see all kinds of random meat mutts sold as "NZ". I like mutts. I just like them to be labeled. I think that the proper standard rex is a great meat rabbit. I almost went that route for this round, but I really wanted a bunch of chinchilla colored pelts, and American chins are quite popular here.
 

hotzcatz

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Aloha Albert,

If you're in France, you could raise angoras and get that depilatory feed that lets you just brush the wool off of them. France has a sizable angora wool production so there should be some good fluffy buns around there somewhere? Still, the most money in angora fiber is selling it as yarn, so after you get the fuzzy buns, then there's the spinning wheel and,... well, maybe meat buns are easier.

Not a bun question, but, good croissants in France?
 

Albert

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Aloha Albert,

If you're in France, you could raise angoras and get that depilatory feed that lets you just brush the wool off of them. France has a sizable angora wool production so there should be some good fluffy buns around there somewhere? Still, the most money in angora fiber is selling it as yarn, so after you get the fuzzy buns, then there's the spinning wheel and,... well, maybe meat buns are easier.

Not a bun question, but, good croissants in France?
We only live about an hour and half away from a place called Felletin which holds the annual wool fair for France. If you love wool and wool products like we do it's the place to go and the place to sell your products. You can even buy Angora rabbits at the show along with sheep and alpacas!

So it had crossed our minds but considering we are new to the wonders of bunny keeping we decided to keep it relatively simple and not add grooming, preparation, dying and spinning into the mix. Even though my wife is very talented at all things knitting and dress making and we could have taken it all the way to finished product.

If you want a good croissant you have to go to the boulangerie, the problem is resisting all the other yummy pastries in there!
 

Albert

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Here in the states the rex/Mini rex breeds and the popularity in the pet trade has messed with the stock available--Mini rex became so pupular that anything with color was labeled "mini rex" and half the time they didn't even have rex coats. A REW was always a "purebred NZ". Now I see all kinds of random meat mutts sold as "NZ". I like mutts. I just like them to be labeled. I think that the proper standard rex is a great meat rabbit. I almost went that route for this round, but I really wanted a bunch of chinchilla colored pelts, and American chins are quite popular here.
It seems pretty good here, the rabbit club of France keeps a register of breeders as you'd expect. The amateur rabbit breeding fraternity in this region is huge (compared to England) but the French are very particular about labelling things A baguette here can only be called a baguette if it contains just 4 ingredients (water, flour, salt, and yeast) and it must be baked on the premises in which it is sold. No exceptions or its not a baguette! :)

So any mutt rabbit is termed as a "farm rabbit" and any pedigree rabbit is termed as "pure race". Any cross is still labelled as a farm rabbit but they'll show/tell you what they crossed to get it. The Rex rabbit according to the national club represents 63% (1825) rabbits in what they call the fur breeds division so they're certainly available. The Cali is in the medium breeds division (a much bigger selection of rabbits) and has a representation of less than 2% (409) rabbits.
 

Blue bunny barn

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Hello and welcome Albert!

Here in the Pacific Northwest of the US, there is a lot of variety with rabbit breeds. I personally like the Californians and New Zealand whites, but the wife likes colors and the soft fur. At odds in the household.... Currently I am winning out as I "do the chores" and really enjoy working with rabbits. But I have noticed more and more of my rabbitry is getting color??? I know, I know, I am a softy. You know the old saying, happy wife, happy life!!

I am working on a budget, as most are, but I just haven't found a line of Rex that have similar growth rates within my area. I still am keeping an eye out and more than likely will be adding some in time.

I am new to this group too and am looking forward to learning and sharing.
 

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