Many people attempt to become breeders of the English Angora, but choosing the correct genetic partners is a complex art. People who start wool farms and want to raise English Angoras often choose pairings incorrectly in the beginning. Also, people new to this form of husbandry are always looking for a magic formula. The truth is, there is no template to use, often you need to gather advice from many sources and begin the long process of cultivating your own breeding theories.
In fact, almost all great breeders have their own formula for success. The best thing you can do is to find out what several experienced breeders do. The trick is that most will be different. In fact, seek out the differing opinions so that you have alot of information. That way in the future, if something doesn’t work, you have backup methods.
The worst thing that you can do is take too much of your advice from Facebook. People ask advice on various pages, and will get many responses that are not knowledgeable, while the one or two answers that are correct get lost in the crowd. Many people regurgitate info that they heard, but get it wrong.
The English Angora Rabbit and the Art of Breeding
To become a great breeder, you will need to seek knowledge. Most great breeders spend their time in the barn working on rabbits, not sitting in front of the computer waiting for questions from newbies.
You need to cultivate relationships with several breeders, and talk with them directly instead of posting questions on Facebook if you truly want to learn the art of breeding.
The other thing you need to do is to utilize the knowledge you learn to conduct your own experiments to find your own secret to success.
An important thing to realize is that truly great breeders will have their own methods that will differ from others.
Your goal should be to find the differing opinions. Being willing to take chances, making mistakes, and learning from them is what separates great people from average people in any discipline.
Breeding to the English Angora ARBA Standard of Perfection
Your bible for breeding will be the American Rabbit Breeders Association Standard of Perfection. You can purchase it by going to the ARBA website. The Standard for the English Angora is the guide that is used when the animals are judged, so it is the ultimate reference tool for forming your breeding strategy.
Since breeding is an art, we will all place importance on certain aspects that others do not. To decide the traits that you want, look at the qualities that are assigned the most points in the Standard. You will also get descriptions of the ideal traits to help you decide your breeding goals.
Important Breeding Tips For English Angora Rabbits Not In the Standard.
The Standard is your number one priority when breeding. Most breeders also have other qualities that they breed for that are equally important. Because these are not written in the Standard, all breeders will differ on these. Here are three that are important in my herd.
Breeding for Healthy Immune Systems in the English Angora Rabbit
Health is one of my top concerns. In fact, I probably weigh this quality higher than anything in the Standard. Having sickly rabbits is one of the most frustrating things in the world, so I will only breed healthy animals. Once you breed a sickly one, it is rare that you will get the immunity back in that line.
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Breeding for Healthy Reproductive Qualities in the English Angora.
I want my breeding animals to be good mothers. Because of that, I do not typically retain breeding stock that does not do a great job at caring for young. These animals are happy as mothers, produce adequate milk, and take great care of their litter.
Also, I want bucks with good stamina and that more often than not are able to impregnate the doe easily. While this is once again not in the Standard, ignoring these qualities leads to frustration.
Breeding the English Angora for Overall Appearance.
For me, an animals overall appearance is very important because it contributes greatly to the judge’s first impression. Because of this, my breeding program also requires that the animal looks pretty. For instance, I want great furnishings and great color. Also, because I am a busy person, l simply will not breed a rabbit that is difficult to groom with the exception of common grooming concerns. While these are in the Standard they do not have a lot of points.
My personal breeding algorithm weighs these factors higher than the standard because overall appearance is an important quality that contributes to winning. Othera may be purists with the point system, but my personal philosophy takes a more practical approach. Overall appearance makes a big difference, so it is something I consider important.
Develop Your Own English Angora Breeding Strategy
There are many other things to think about when choosing mating pairs on your Angora farm. The important thing is to take a holistic approach. Think of how each mating effects the herd. You need to think of the rabbit as a whole when breeding, you don’t have the luxury of only caring about one or two things.
If you have any other strategies that you think are essential to the art of breeding or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!