Flemish Giants

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by GoldenWood Farm, May 8, 2004.

  1. GoldenWood Farm

    GoldenWood Farm Legally blonde! Supporter

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    Hi,
    My mom is getting a breeder pair of flemish giants(I believe they are around 4 years old?) is that to old for breeders?? They have been bred before and kindled with no problems that I know of. They are sandy colored. She wants to use them to cross onto new zealands(sp) for meat rabbits. I have heard that the cross makes a wonderful meat rabbit. I am wondering if anybody here breeds flemish giants and could tell me about them...their pros and cons plus are they prone to kindling problems or are they real easy kindlers. Or if anybody knows of any good meat rabbit books or websites.

    Thanks!!!
    MotherClucker
     
  2. Michael Leferink

    Michael Leferink Well-Known Member

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    Although I have never raised Flemish Giants, I have always heard that the Flemish Giant x NZW cross produces a fast growing kit, but that they have too much bone to meat. The ones I have seen, bear this out. Some people, feeding their dogs with the BARF diet, seem to prefer feeder rabbits with large bones. Most people seem to prefer better meat to bone ratios for their own consumption. If your raising for profit or to save money over what chicken costs in the stores, consider the feed to growth ratio. The Flemish Giant and F.G. crosses are said to eat quite a bit more feed than the standard meat breeds. Of course it will depend on the particular strain. Feed efficiency is one of the things people breed for and not all rabbits of the same breed will eat the same amount of food.

    Some commercial breeders in the past used the F.G. crosses in their herds to make market weight faster and to create a longer bodied rabbit to carry larger litters. Because of this you find a lot of long bodied NZW's being bred as meat rabbits. This cross is not as popular as it once was. I'm told, most processors want better meat to bone ratio in the fryers they buy. We have a Californian that is quite long and even though she is supposed to be from show stock, I suspect she might have one of these crosses in her family tree some where.

    In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with using the F.G. in your breeding program, as long as you understand the advantages and disadvatages. Advantages: creating a broader gene pool in a herd that may be too inbred, the F3 or F4 bucks may make good herd sires, it may give your does more length if they are overly short. Disadvantages: F1 and F2 offspring will have more bone to meat (good if your a BARFer, bad if for human consumption), fryers may be longer in the body than your processor wants, you may develop does that have too many kits, feed efficiency may suffer, larger and more expensive housing will be necessary, colors other than white may be produced especially if you don't use REW (most processors prefer white). There are probably other pro's and con's. And I am far from being an expert, especially on F.G. and genetics. If I had the money to play, I'd probably experiment with the Flemish Giant and the Checkered Giant and others. If I was showing Flemish Giant and wanted to have some rabbits to eat, then I would consider crossing them with one of the meat breeds to make better fryers. It really just depends on what your goals are.

    You might consider staying with one of the following meat breeds:

    NZW: Most popular and most developed meat rabbit in the meat industry.

    Californian: Second place behind NZW, said to have better flavor by some. Most popular cross in the meat rabbit industry (U.S.A.) is a cross of Californian buck x NZW doe (called a smut by some) or NZW buck x Californian doe (called a pearl by some).

    Champagne D' Argent: Popular cross with Californian, very popular in southern Europe and said by some to be the best flavored rabbit.

    Silver Fox: Some strains are said to be very feed efficient and to produce the best dress out percentages and meat to bone ratios.

    Palomino: Very pretty rabbit about the size of the NZW.

    There are others, but my perception is, these are the most popular. We have the Californian, Champagne and Silver Fox and are crossing them. If you want "white" crosses and you are not crossing NZW x Californian, you will have to breed your first generation crosses back to the "white". Each generation afterwards should produce more "white" offspring. Otherwise you will get virtually all black offspring. Ours do silver out as they grow older. Even after "setting" your genetics, you will get the occasional black kit. You will need to maintain no less than 75% NZW or Californian in the mix.

    Perhaps other folks will post their opinions, I'd like to learn more about the Giant breeds. I've always loved the looks of these rabbits.

    Good luck,

    Mike
     

  3. Michael Leferink

    Michael Leferink Well-Known Member

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    Sorry! I forgot to answer your question about breeding age. Four years old is older than usual for rabbits. However, it really depends on the individual rabbits genetics, health, how many litters the doe has had already and how long it's been since they were bred last. Heavy/fatty rabbits might not sucessfully breed. Over weight does could have kindling difficulties.

    After researching commercial rabbitries, I have developed the following perception: longevity of does depends more on how many pregnancies than on how many years. About 8 litters seems to be the average. Good commercial does will usually stay in production for 1 - 2 years, depending on the breed back schedule being used. Remember that commercial rabbitries, cull any rabbit that is not meeting production standards. A doe that is not acceptable in a business setting, may be fine for providing food for a family. Just watch so your not spending more on the rabbit than your are saving on shopping. We had an American Chinchilla (great doe & meat producer) that was about 4 years old when I had to slaughter her. Hated to do it, but we had to move and we had to stop raising rabbits for a while. She averaged 3 - 4 litters per year. In all that time, she only lost one kit. That was from a litter of 13.

    I did not put the American Chinchilla on the list in my last post. Ours was a great rabbit. Also, one of my uncles raised American Chinchilla's in the 1960's and told me he did rather well with them. It's the demand for white rabbits and the decline in the fur industry that keeps these and the other colored rabbits from being more popular. It's a shame, as this has caused some breeds to become more and more rare. If your not going to be selling to a processor, I'd like to recommend that you consider one of the more rare breeds. We may loose some breeds forever if some folks don't keep them going.

    The book of choice is "Rabbit Production, 8th. addition".

    For web sites check out: http://www.3-cities.com/~fuzyfarm/, http://www.texasrabbitconnection.com/, http://www.rabbitfarming.com/menu2.htm, http://www.qsl.net/ki0dz/rrr.htm, http://home.comcast.net/~rgwade/rabbitry.html,
    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/wasteland/, http://www.prma.org/

    Hope I've been of some help,

    Mike
     
  4. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    *shakes head* Oh.. why, why, why, why, why...... ?????? After literally HUNDREDS of years of careful breeding.. by LOTS of KNOWLEDGABLE individuals; to come up with the best possible breed for different uses... wool, meat, etc.... WHY don't people just GET a darn pedigreed GOOD Californian or New Zealand White trio (or whatever ELSE YOU may deem good meat breed) and just do that?????????????????????

    I don't get it. Pedigreed bunnies are like....?? $25 bucks? (pardon the pun) Now, no offense.. if you got your big bunnies fro free or something.. great...and are trying to down size, I understand.. but geesh.. As I've said in other posts... PEDIGREED animals don't cost anymore to feed than non pedigreed!! AND SOMETIMES you end up saving yourself trouble in the long run with joe blow bunny from questionable background.

    And YES.. in my opinon.. 4 yrs is getting DOWN TO THE WIRE on breeding age!

    This post is NOT TO SAY in any way that I am down on cross breeds for those who are working on the creation of a new breed, or pets, etc...OKAY? :) I just don't understand WHY when the homeworks already done... :confused:

    IF you want to know where to find pedigreed bunnies.. start with the American Rabbit Breeder's Association site... (.org) refer to shows in your state, state and local clubs, etc. It won't be long before you find a reputable breeder.
     
  5. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First off, I'd like to commend Mike's excellent posts! Very well said and very explanatory. Secondly, I'd like to address Chickflick's "pedigree" post and question.

    Yes, in *some* areas, pedigreed rabbits can be purchased as low as $25.00 each... but certainly not in all areas! In my area, I had the *only* pedigreed *commercial* strain of NZW's, which I sold for $25.00 each... all others were *show* rabbits and *started* at $35.00 each. My own show NZW's often sold for as high as $100.00 each. Commercial meat breeders have no real interest in pedigrees, since they generally don't show rabbits, anyway.

    Obviously, Chickflick doesn't know a whole heck of a lot about the commercial meat industry, wherein the intensely line-bred pedigreed show rabbits tend to have smaller litters, are unaccustomed to the more intense breedback schedules, and are generally lacking in hybrid vigor. Unfortunately, these factors are priorities when raising rabbits for the commercial meat industry. In addition, the profit margin tends to be small, so we need to keep an eye on all expenses.

    Cross-breeding is a definite advantage for hybrid vigor, and considering all these factors, then, I have to disagree with the statement of "PEDIGREED animals don't cost anymore to feed than non pedigreed!!" A rabbit who produces smaller litters, unthrifty kits and can't sustain the breeders breedback schedule would be a very poor investment, indeed. Sadly, such a rabbit may well be an excellent "show" rabbit, but not so good for commercial purposes, eh?

    Yes, I know that the meat breeds are judged on their meat qualities, but they are *not* judged on the factors mentioned above that can mean the difference between profit or loss for the commercial producer, and they can never be judged on those "unseen" facts, either. Judging is a "hands on" activity, and trying to determine litter size, hybrid vigor, etc., would be an impossibility. As such, "pedigreed" rabbits have come to be known in the meat industry as "show" rabbits, with few exceptions.

    Sadly, even with the commercial strains and due to the bad habit of crossing NZW's with Flemish Giants for the faster growth rates, there are a lot of these undesirable crossbred rabbits available in the commercial industry. A misconception to the novice is the "longer body," but not paying attention as to where that "length" is.... as in the longer FG-type shoulders produced by this cross. Rabbits simply don't carry their young in their shoulders! A "quick fix" can be to use a Californian buck for shortening the body length and improving the meat qualitites, although using a superior NZW "show" buck can likewise do the same thing.

    I do agree, however, that when selling to others, the crossbreeds should be sold as meat, only, and not passed off even as pets to the unknowledgeable novice.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  6. GoldenWood Farm

    GoldenWood Farm Legally blonde! Supporter

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    Hi,
    Thanks for all the great info. My mom and I are planning on breeding the meat rabbits for BARF people and just for feeder rabbits. We probably will eat them our selves also but are not selling them to people for human consumption. My mom just joined the PRMA and probably will be posting on this forum sometime soon. The doe that my mom is getting has only I believe had 1-2 litters so she hasn't had tons and from what I have seen and know of they are not fat but look to be at a healthy weight. Both me and my mom are excited about getting the pair and look forward to breeding rabbits. I have 4 rabbits of my own as pets but where my mom works people have been asking if she would raise feeder rabbits(my mom works part time at Guide Dogs for the Blind) for people that they know. Thanks again for the great info and I look forward to posting more on this forum!

    MotherClucker
     
  7. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For BARF and feeder rabbits and personal meat purposes, your plans are just fine! Go for it, Motherclucker!

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  8. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Pat.. I must say I have to agree with your well thought out points. As you can SEE, I WAS posing a QUESTION! I have never pretended to know about the meat rabbit INDUSTRY. (And I can certaily say that back in my show days.. it WAS difficult at times to produce litters.... papered or not.. with INFERIOR animals.....mutts always seem to breed easier! BUT hey.... What are you really getting????)

    I was responding to a post by an INDIVIDUAL who was STARTING OUT.... If her beginning stock is good.. fine. BUT my point is;

    If you WANT Californians.. get Californians
    If you WANT Flemish Giants.. get Flemish GIants..

    DO you see what I mean?

    (And personally, I must say.. I have posted on here about TWO times..(of any length)... once was several months ago, and you seemingly 'jumped my ass' THEN! Now, I'm real happy that you know so much.. but do you have to sound so.. 'mean'?) I. E. "Obviously, Chickflick doesn't know a whole heck of a lot about the commercial meat industry" Well no joke!! I didn't SEE anyone ASKING about that!! Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusssse ME!! :worship:
     
  9. GoldenWood Farm

    GoldenWood Farm Legally blonde! Supporter

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    They are only 2 1/2 years old. They will be three this coming fall. We just got home with them and they are beautys! I adore them both, their names are Char Broil and Tim (the girl is Char Broil and the boy is Tim). I will get some pictures of them soon to show all of you. I am glad that my mom wants to go into meat rabbits since we feed our own dogs (all four of them :rolleyes: :eek: ) raw food so that will cut down on our money out put for dog food. I am amazed still at how large they are :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: !!! But they are like gentle giants :) . Thank again for all of the great wonderful info. I probably will be soon asking questions about my mini rex doe whom I just bred yesterday(I know nothing about how to go about palpating a doe!). Thanx!!!

    MotherClucker
     
  10. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Chickflick....

    I do apologize, as I never intended to insult you and felt I was merely stating an obvious fact. Sorry, but I've never been one to be big on using the "smilies" to denote my attitude at the time.

    It comes as no surprise that many have no inkling or knowledge of the many differences between "commercial" and "show" when it comes to raising rabbits, and there is no shame in that, so I wasn't trying to be "rude" and never even thought of it that way. Due to the nature of this board being named "Raising Rabbits for Profit," then, we surely don't wish to mislead anyone since the nature of this forum is and will be "commercial." Therefore, I will definitely step in when I see something which may be contrary to how to successfully raise for the commercial industry.

    Let me explain something, here, since this misunderstanding has come about as the result of the original poster (Motherclucker) wanting to cross FG with NZW. Even back in the 50's, I clearly remember hearing the old-time meat breeders claiming "that is how to raise meat rabbits." This resulted in a whole bunch of so-called "commercial" strains that were long in the shoulders and severely lacking in meat qualities. Unfortunately, this myth still abounds and is slow to die, even though we have been working for years to dispel this myth. Processors sorely dislike these strains, and we have the job of trying to educate the new and/or returning breeder(s) without discouraging them from raising for the industry (and the reason for my lengthy posts).

    Now, then... Motherclucker stated that the FG had *already* been purchased, and she is wanting to cross them with the NZW to produce "meat rabbits." Although we now know that purpose is for the BARF and Feeder markets, we originally didn't. Regardless, the money had already been paid for them, and your post proceeded to tell her to stick to pedigreed and/or purebred rather than crossing them, when crossing breeds is extremely common, popular and often very desirable (and even necessary in some cases) in the rabbit meat industry. It's all in *what* breeds are crossed. FG x NZW is actually an excellent cross for the BARF and Feeder markets, since it improves on both the growth rates (as compared to a purebred NZW) and the meat-to-bone ratios (as compared to a purebred FG). Even pet and snake owners don't want *all* bone, so meat is important to them, too. It's just not good enough for the rabbit-meat-for-human-consumption industry, but it can be very successful *and* profitable for the BARF and Feeder rabbit industries. Success and profitability are highly dependent upon the *requirements* of the particular market as well as the economics of raising, so Motherclucker is off to a good start by breeding for the needs of her market and with an eye for faster growth rates for economic purposes.

    Now, if Motherclucker intended to also cater to the show and pet market, then I would definitely had agreed with you on the pedigrees for the show rabbits. Even I maintained two separate herds of NZW... one "commercial," and the other for show purposes.

    Again, I'm sorry you interpreted my post as being "rude," as such was not my intent.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  11. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Pat.. no harm done.. HOWEVER.. just WHERE and HOW are rabbit folks suposed to get to talk on here? I mean.. could not this section be more open to the noncommercial rabbit folks as well? (I have actually sent people over here from Homesteading Q's and have seen other do the same).

    Should we just stay away, if we're not INDUSTRIALIZED and high production or not interested in such; but just interested in bunnies ???
     
  12. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    >Should we just stay away, if we're not INDUSTRIALIZED and high production or not interested in such; but just interested in bunnies ???<

    Noat necessarily, since this is a Homesteading site wherein raising meat rabbits for your *own* table cn also be viewed as "for profit." Likewise, most of our large herd and "industrialized" producers once started out as small, backyard breeders for their own personal use, too. However, there are lots of forums elsewhere for the show and pet people, so the only real requirement for this forum would be the "for Profit" bit. This would basically include the meat, commercialized pet, fur, personal meat and laboratory markets. Inappropriate would be show topics (does not include 4-H and FFA) and personal pet ownerships, although we would be very willing to recommend specific forums more suited to their purposes. A few of us, here, are also quite capable of answering questions pertaining to the showing of Meat Pens.

    It was because of another meat rabbit forum which had a tendency to chat about everything *except* raising rabbits for *profit* that inspired Tracy to start this one up. I'm sure that, in due time, someone will want to start up a separate forum on the Homesteading site to cover the rabbit show and personal pet ownerships.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  13. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Y'know, folks... I'm *NOT* the moderator or owner of this listserve, so I certainly do *NOT* have the last say in this or any other matters which arise on this forum. Tracy is the owner and does not have the time to constantly moderate... indeed, as a commercial producer and business, she has more important things to do.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time this forum has run into problems as a result of the differences between "commercial" and pet and/or show, and it usually arises because they (pet and show) don't like the answers or options given from the commercial sector, or simply don't realize that there are some major differences between the two and become upset over it.

    Now, I always sign my name with the position I hold, and which makes it very obvious that my statements, answers and opinions are considered to be "commercial," so there shouldn't be any problem with determining which aspect I am representing. I'm also quite sure that Tracy wouldn't mind the "occasional" pet and/or show question or discussion, but there is no way that she will tolerate turning this forum into the average run-of-the-mill show and pet rabbit forum. She, herself, is *strictly* commercial and has absolutely no interest in the pet and show aspects. That is her choice and we only need to respect it. Shouldn't be a difficult thing to do, eh?

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  14. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oops! I just read Tracy's new post "What this forum is about." It appears that she has narrowed the field even more than I did, as I was willing to consider any and all aspects of "commercialism" with rabbits. This forum is now strictly for *MEAT* rabbits, and nothing more.

    Thanks for clarifying this for us, Tracy!

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  15. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    Pat,

    You are always a welcome addition to this forum. :)

    As for the other posters, if you did not read the sticky that I posted this morning please do. If any one wants to learn about meat rabbits, growing for processors, the raw food pet food market, snake market or even for meat for your own table then feel free to ask and learn. The are many other forums for pet rabbits and such and that is not why this forum is here.

    I do not have time to babysit :mad: