Friday, September 17, 2010

Summer Litters - Part II

These two litters are high percentage German angora crossbreds, all sired by Wiley's Leo. Leo is black with deep brown eyes carrying fawn in his background. The first litter is from Avillion Blue Bayou, who is actually lilac, not blue, and has beautiful blue-gray eyes. There are 3 chocolates (2 bucks, 1 doe) and one black (does). The second litter is from Avillion Black Rainbow (black with deep brown eyes). There are two blues (doe, buck), a black (buck) and a blue tort (doe). These kits are exceptionally chunky and feel very solid when I pick them up. These litters are both exceptionally friendly as well and have been getting lots of attention and socialization.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Summer Litters - Part I

This house has a large basement which makes summer litters a possibility It is cool enough so that the bucks stay fertile and the does can complete pregnancies and raise healthy litters without heat stress. This picture is of a French angora litter sired by CC's Waldorf (chocolate) and Avillion Gillian (chocolate. They are very cute and fun to handle at this stage and stayed reasonably still and together for
their group photograph. There are 2 lilacs (does), 2 chocolates (doe, buck), 2 REWs (doe, buck) and a lilac tort (buck). If all goes according to plan, they will be at the NC State fair. These bunnies will be available for sale during the last week of October.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here Come the Mules!

No these aren't the equine kind of mule. In the fall of 2008, we started an experiment - the crossing of Shetland ewes and Jacob ewes with a Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) ram to produce a commercial style crossbred ewe that would hopefully have the vigor of their primitive breed dams and soft lusterous wool of their BFL sire (Longhope Lord Nelson). These crossbred ewes are called mules. The idea is to breed the mule ewes to a British style Suffolk or Texel as a terminal cross to produce lambs that will finish well and quickly on grass. This breeding scheme is popular in Britain and becoming more widely used in the U.S. You can read more about it at

The first 6 lambs we kept born in 2009 (4 jacob and 2 shetland mules) are now over a year old and ready to be bred. They are shown in the picture below with their Suffolk ram. They are about the same height as their dams, but broader and slightly longer. Based on my experience and reading, the BFL crossed with a Shetland produces colors such as black, white and various shades of gray. The Jacob cross surprised me in that we got some white and dark brown lambs in addition to the black lambs I expected. They seem to produce more wool on a weight-basis compared to their dams. Temperment wise the mules resemble their dams; in fact I often describe the Jacob mules as Jacobs wearing a BFL suit because they are definitely Jacob in behavior, but their wool and body type are more like their sire.