Mini Rex Rabbit Breeding

AltonaAcres

Crowing
Jan 13, 2019
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Hey there! I am starting out my Mini Rex breeding program, and I am looking for a little guidance. I have been breeding Holland's for quite some time, but I have decided to be done with them after my best one dying, my other best one being too old to show/breed, lots of failed litters, etc.. I decided on Mini Rex's because they are a nice small, manageable, breed that comes in lots of interesting colors. Anyways, I found a great breeder and bought a really nice Broken Chocolate Otter doe from her. She has Tri's, blacks, and chocolates in her pedigree. Her sister has a junior leg! She isn't old enough to breed now, but she will be in several months. I am now looking for one or two more does, and a breeding buck to add to my program. I don't want to have a huge breeding program, all I do is 1-3 shows per year, 2-4 breedings per year, and I usually sell the babies (as pet or show rabbits) after weaning them. I only rarely keep one who is showing really well. Anyways, I am now trying to decide on which rabbits to get. I am new to working with these colors!! Here are my options: Two Tri bucks from the same rabbitry as my first doe (haven't been showed yet). A broken black buck who has showed well, from the same rabbitry as my first doe. A chocolate Otter doe (her parents are outstanding, she is a very poor representation of the breed, but breeder said she'd be a good brood doe). A blue buck, shows very well, is getting old, lost his pedigree. A litter of 5 week old blues and opals (their sire is the blue buck), they are being sexed this evening. So many options!! Anyone have thoughts on which rabbit(s) are the best for my breeding program? Thanks!!
 

Sara L

Free Ranging
Aug 14, 2017
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There are certain colors it is advised against breeding together because the resulting offspring will have colors that are not showable or higher chance of DQs. There are other sites out there, but here's a link to two of them.
http://mr-colors.tripod.com/
http://www.oaktreerabbitry.com/home/breeding

I think if you want to base your new herd off this broken chocolate otter doe, you probably want a chocolate otter or lilac otter buck. Do not breed a broken to a broken, it will result in charlies, which have two copies of the broken gene. The broken gene has been linked to gastrointestinal issues and charlies are more likely to have those issues.

Good luck with your herd!
 

Bunnylady

POOF Goes the Pooka
11 Years
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The broken gene has been linked to gastrointestinal issues and charlies are more likely to have those issues.

I know of one study (using Checkered Giants) that found that all Charlies have those issues, the only difference being the severity of the symptoms (which tends to increase with age, even in individuals that seem only slightly affected when young).

Generally speaking, color should be the last thing one considers when choosing a breeding animal. First and foremost, you want good type and a good coat, with color being part of the equation only to avoid "whoops" colors (my term for those colors that aren't showable, or are poor versions of a color due to the lack of certain key genes (Chestnut/Castor and Orange/Red being examples of the latter).

When breeding Brokens, one thing to bear in mind (separate from the Charlie issue) is the amount of white on the animal. You want an animal to have a nose marking, color on the ears and around the eyes, and between 10% and 50% color on the body - more or less than that is a DQ. Some people are breeding lines that are solid colors only for many, many generations. When you breed a Broken to a solid from that sort of breeding program, you may get "booted" Brokens - animals with just a little bit of white on the feet and chest, and maybe on the face (the bunny in my avatar is a booted Broken Red). The Broken gene sets the pattern, but exactly how that is expressed depends on some "helper" genes, and a rabbit that doesn't have Brokens in its ancestry may not have the right helpers. This seems to happen a lot in Mini Rex, so if you are breeding Brokens, you want to breed to solids that have Broken relatives.

A chocolate Otter doe (her parents are outstanding, she is a very poor representation of the breed, but breeder said she'd be a good brood doe).

By "very poor representation of the breed," do you mean that she's a false dwarf? False dwarfs happen in all of the dwarf breeds (as you doubtlessly know from breeding Hollands), but when bred to a true dwarf, they can produce showable, true dwarf babies. The does in particular can be useful because they have slightly larger litters, hardly ever have birthing problems, and never have peanuts. False dwarfs aren't just oversized, though; the dwarfing gene affects certain body parts in certain ways. The trick to successfully using false dwarfs in a breeding program is learning to recognize what good type looks like without the influence of the dwarfing gene.

On the other hand, if this female just has poor type, no matter how good her parents are, you would be dealing with conformation faults that might take many generations to weed out. You have to decide whether you want to work with that.

A litter of 5 week old blues and opals

The animal you currently have is an Otter, that's the Tan pattern. Blue is the Self pattern; breeding a Tan to a Self will produce Tans and maybe Selfs. All of the variations of Black-based and Chocolate-based (Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac) are showable in both Self and Tan patterns in the Mini Rex. If you want to play it safe, a Blue may not get you Chocolates, but it won't produce anything you can't show. Opal is the Agouti pattern. While you may not see them in the first generation, sooner or later, Chocolate and Agouti in the same breeding program will result in some whoops colors, some of which you may mistake for something showable, only to have the animal DQ'd by a sharp-eyed judge who knows what to look for (to the best of my knowledge, the only Chocolate-based Agouti-patterned colors that are showable in Mini Rex are Lynx, Tricolor and Red)
 

AltonaAcres

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Thanks for all you help. I have doing my research, and I think I have figured everything out. I decided on a nice buck (he has AMAZING type). I have talked to the breeder about colors, and she helped me out a lot with that.
 

AltonaAcres

Crowing
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Sorry, one more question I just thought of. I have had a couple charlies born in my rabbitry in the past, but had no idea about the GI problems they inherit. I sold them, so I don't now if they ever did develop problems. However, if I have any more born, should I not sell them? Should I cull/eat them? I'd be sad to eat a mini rex, but I wouldn't want them to suffer in life. what did you mean by GI issues? Just sensitive stomachs, or life threatening issues?
 

Bunnylady

POOF Goes the Pooka
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This is life threatening. The gene that causes the Broken coat pattern is also involved in the development of nerves and muscles lining the rabbit's digestive system. In the study I mentioned, sections of the tissue lining the intestines were stained and examined under a microscope. In rabbits identified as Charlies (having two copies of the gene for Broken), there were significantly fewer (like, on the order of 80% fewer) nerves present. Such a lack of nerves means the process of moving the food through the digestive system (called peristalsis) goes a lot slower. Also, the inner surface of the intestines was abnormal, meaning that the ability to absorb nutrients from the food was impaired. Finally, there was a gross distortion and enlargement of the last part of the large intestine (a condition called megacolon). Digesta tends to get backed up with megacolon, because the shape interferes with the process of moving the material along. Basically, these rabbits are Gastrointestinal (GI) Stasis waiting to happen, and if you can't get the bowel contents moving again, the rabbit will die within a few days.

You can usually spot the difference between a genuine Charlie and a single-copy lightly marked broken. In the nest box, the inability to do a proper job of absorbing nutrients usually makes a Charlie grow slower than its litter mates (some will even die before the litter start on solid food). Once they start on solid food, the Charlie's poop usually looks funny - whereas a normal rabbit has poop pellets that are round and slightly flattened (in shape, a bit like regular M&M's), the Charlie's poop will be irregular shapes and sizes, possibly "off" as to moisture content, or even mixed with mucous.

Of course, if you don't breed two Brokens together, you don't get Charlies.
 
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AltonaAcres

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So should I cull any charlies I have at birth? I just feel like I have had several charlies live to several months old, be super healthy, and then I sell them. I know they are charlies bc they didn't have nose, ear, or eye markings. The breeder I bought from encouraged me that breeding two brokens was fine. She says she does it quite often with good results. The two brokens I bought have lots of solid in their pedigrees. Especially my doe, she has over 1/2 solids.
 

Bunnylady

POOF Goes the Pooka
11 Years
Nov 27, 2009
18,763
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Wilmington, NC
I know they are charlies bc they didn't have nose, ear, or eye markings.

You can usually spot the difference between a genuine Charlie and a single-copy lightly marked broken.

The lack of a nose marking or any other marking does not make an animal a Charlie (in fact, the term "Charlie" was coined by English Spot breeders who thought the smaller nose marking of the double Brokens looked like the mustache of silent film star Charlie Chaplin). I once had a Tricolor MR doe with a gorgeous big blanket and no nose marking - clearly, not a Charlie (not showable, either, darn it). Before I understood about Charlies, I owned a Mini Lop doe who was a Charlie, and had nose, eye, and ear color. Domino also had a stasis episode every time she kindled. After the third time of seeing her sitting in a corner, grinding her teeth in pain and wondering if she would survive to raise her litter, I finally learned the connection and I never bred her again.

The breeder I bought from encouraged me that breeding two brokens was fine. She says she does it quite often with good results.

Of course it's "fine" - each "good" Broken has one copy of the gene for Broken, and one copy of the gene for solid color. Most of the resulting offspring will get at least one copy of the gene for solid color, and be able to live a normal life (actually, even single-copy Brokens have a slight reduction in the number of nerves and gut function, but it is barely noticeable). A lot of Charlies lead relatively normal lives - at least, at first. But some don't, and all are ticking time bombs when it comes to stasis episodes. Some people don't have a problem with producing rabbits like that; we breed dwarf to dwarf, knowing perfectly well that some of the offspring will be peanuts and cannot live, after all.:idunno But at least peanuts are a self-regulating problem (within 3 days, generally), while a Charlie may create anxiety and emergency vet bills for years.


The two brokens I bought have lots of solid in their pedigrees.

Sounds like someone has been avoiding producing Charlies, if for no more reason than that they aren't showable.:idunno
 
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AltonaAcres

Crowing
Jan 13, 2019
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I've been researching a lot today!! I just realized that a doe I had WAS a charlie. She had the nose/eye/ear markings so I assumed that that meant she was not a charlie. She had wool block quite often, her poops were all weird and big, and everything makes sense now!! She's the one in the picture. She did end up passing, and I didn't know why. So much to learn about this complex issue. She had a baby that had no nose markings, no ear markings, and only partial eye markings, and some markings on his back. Was he a charlie? what is the definition of a charlie? One person online said less than 50% color, another said less than 10% color. I am wondering if I should re-think this whole thing, and maybe either sell one of my broken mini rexs or have two breeding pairs, each consisting of a broken and a solid. Or just try a litter and see what happens. I want to start out right, so I don't have disaster in the end. What are your thoughts!?! So glad you brought this up.............
 

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