Each new year is a chance to make changes to your breeding program. How can you strengthen your herd for the coming year? How you can you meet the goals you’ve set for yourself?
1. Take inventory.
Be honest with yourself. How many does with tight crowns do you really need? How many bucks with rockin’ bodies but light bone do you have room to keep? Organize your herd on paper and make cuts where you can. It will save you both space and money in the long run, and the overall quality of your rabbits will increase in the coming year.
Cut down to a manageable number of breeds and color projects. Be realistic with yourself. If you have 20 holes and four incompatible color projects, it’s going to be very difficult to juggle those programs at the same time. Choose one or two breeds or colors to focus on, and really dedicate yourself to meeting those goals.
A common misconception is that breeding relatives will create birth defects or other odd physical characteristics. The truth is that constantly bringing in new blood and outcrossing over and over will quickly decrease the quality of animals you’re able to produce. Linebreeding helps to lock in the traits you want and makes it easier to isolate and eliminate unwanted traits.
4. Study color genetics.
If you work with a breed that is recognized in more than one color, it’s important to understand how each color is created and how different color genes interact with one another. Understanding how colors work gives you the advantage of avoiding unrecognized colors and improving the colors you put on the table.
5. Call a friend.
It’s easy to become “barn blind” to the rabbits we work with every day. Invite a friend over for lunch and ask them to go over your rabbits with you. They may convince you to keep a nice rabbit that you would have overlooked or might point out a significant fault on a rabbit you were holding back. A fresh eye and unbiased opinion is the best way to take a second look at what’s in your barn.