Sexing kits & rabbit pelts

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by AndreaNZ, Sep 14, 2003.

  1. AndreaNZ

    AndreaNZ Well-Known Member

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    Mar 19, 2003
    I'm sorry if this topic has been done to death -- I've tried the archive for this forum, and came up with nothing. How does one sex kits? Our doe had her first litter (with us) of 7 fat healthy kits that are now 2 weeks old. They all appear to be doe kits (as in no testicles), but I don't know if it's too early for the novice rabbit breeder (as in ME roll ) to tell. My children will each keep one doe as a pet/future breeder, and I'd like them to be able to choose sooner than later, so the kits can become accustomed to being gently handled from an earlier age...

    And, as I've been meaning to look this up in the archives and haven't yet, I'll ask anyway, while I'm here can rabbit pelts be home-tanned and used? Is there a market for them? My son wants to make fur-lined mittens with some of the pelts of this first batch... lol

    Thanks in advance! )
    Andrea
    NZ lol
     
  2. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Location:
    Washington
    Sexing kits at two weeks of age is extremely difficult... the earliest I've been able to successfully do it is at 3 weeks. The testicals don't appear until 10 to 12 weeks of age (and sometimes even later), so you can't go by that. Here are some links which may help you:

    http://www.dreamwater.net/islandgems/1/sexing.html

    http://members.clnk.com/busybunnies/sexing.htm

    When they are that young, it may take two people... one to hold the kit, the other to use both hands with fingers on each side of the casing. A buck will protrude up all the way around and show a "circle" at the top of the protrusion. A doe will protrude only on one end (the part closest to the belly) and will show a definite "slit."

    Yes, pelts can be tanned at home, and there are several different "recipes" which can be used. Your best bet would be to purchase (or borrow from a library) the book: "Tan Your Hide" by Phyllis Hobson. I believe there are recipes in the archives of this forum, too.

    Not much of a market for them, I'm sorry to say. It will cost you more to tan them than what they sell for. This is what basically killed the rabbit fur market in the U.S... the inexpensive imported pelts can be purchased wholesale for as low as 85 cents each and sold at $2.50 at a profit. Best market is to use the pelts to make items and sell the finished products. Please note... "prime" pelts do *not* come from fryer-aged rabbits! Fryer pelts can be used as trims on novelty items, but articles of clothing need to have "prime" pelts. A "junior prime" will occur around 3-4 months of age, though.

    I hope this helps.

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

  3. AndreaNZ

    AndreaNZ Well-Known Member

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    Mar 19, 2003
    Thanks, Pat -- that helps immensely. I think my son had dollar signs in his eyes with regard to selling rabbit pelts (he's only 11 ) ). Why is it that the older rabbit has the nicer pelt? I'd have thought it would be the other way 'round. Our rabbits are supposed to be Rexes (but we just bought them from a backyard breeder, so who knows... they do have nice, round, dense bodies, and the meat production was the main concern), but only 2 of the kits have that nice, dense, velvety Rex fur... genetics are interesting! I'd be interested in any reading (books or websites) that discuss rabbit genetics and what crosses produce what...

    Cheers!
    Andrea
    NZ
     
  4. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Location:
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    Ahhh... I didn't know your pelt questions had to do with Rex rabbits! The Rex fur market is the only viable one here in the U.S., but you have to know what you're doing. The market calls for already tanned, *adult* primed pelts and usually only in specific colors as deemed by the buyer(s). The big drawback for this market is... what do you do with the stewer carcass after taking the pelt? You would be responsible for the butchering, tanning and grading of the pelt, as well as shipping to the buyer. Last time I looked, Rex pelts were bringing around $14.00 each. May sound like a lot, but remember... it costs to raise the rabbits to an adult prime, and most say they're lucky to break even, even at this price.

    I strongly suggest that you make the effort to join the National Rex Club in order to get their guide book and newsletters. This is an ARBA chartered specialty club for that breed. See info below:

    NATIONAL REX RABBIT CLUB
    Bill Lorenz, 21840 S 116th Ave, New Lenox, IL 60451
    Ph: 815-469-5150 E-mail: Rexsecy@aol.com
    Membership: (1 yr) Adult or Youth $8.00 H/W $11.00 - (3 yr) Adult or Youth $19.00 - H/W $26.00 - Foreign add $10.00 per year surcharge.

    Be sure that you have the *standard* Rex and not the Mini Rex! Big differences in size! Also... a tip: WHITE will always have the best fur in Rex (I used to raise Rex rabbits). Attend a local rabbit show and question the Rex breeders, there. A listing of upcoming rabbit shows can be found on the ARBA web site at:

    http://www.arba.net

    Join a Yahoo group (free) for Rex rabbits and ask questions. Go to: http://Yahoo.com and click on "Groups," then type in Rex Rabbits in the search field.

    There is always a demand for the lovely Rex pelts and you should be able to create a local market instead of having to sell at wholesale prices to retail markets. But do your research, first! For example, there is a way of bringing a Rex rabbit into "prime" in the way it is fed, but the genetics for good, dense fur has to be there, too, so your breeding program needs to evolve around that. Good fur x good fur *usually* equals good fur, but a lot also has to do with what is in the background of the buck & doe. You can learn what "good" (e.g., dense) fur is by watching the judging of Rex rabbits.

    I sure hope this all helps.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  5. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    centeral Okla. S of I-40, E of I-35
    I have found a way to tell girls from boys better than the stardard "push the skin back and see if it pokes out" I have been wondering why no books mention it, the does will have scent glands on each side of their organ, the bucks have a bald spot where the testicals develop, My first litter looked like 2 does for 13 weeks, then at 14 weeks one looked male one female, two weeks later it turns out both are male, and more experienced rabbit people than me thought that one was female too! Once I realized this I had no trouble telling the boys from the girls with the second litter.