Monday, April 8, 2013

The Silver Martins Have Kindled!

We used to raise our own rabbits for meat at Harmon PFarms.  At some point we got rid of them and we've regretted it ever since.  So at the 2012 Pope County Fair, when the rabbit show judge, Tex Thomas brought some of his world famous Silver Martens to sell, Ted bought ClaireAnna a trio.  The term "silver marten" can be confusing because it describes both a color and a breed of rabbit.  Several different rabbit breeds come in the color silver marten.  But Claire's new rabbits are the breed Silver Marten, which of course, comes in the color silver marten.  Confused yet?  In addition, the silver marten color comes in several varieties: black, blue, chocolate and sable.  ClaireAnna's rabbits are black and blue. 
Silver Marten rabbits are small meat rabbits.  We plan to raise them for our own freezer and ClaireAnna will also show them at the County Fair.  Rabbits are easier to raise and butcher then chickens.  Rabbit meat is delicious all white meat, tastes almost exactly like chicken, and is very nutritious.  We love it and use it exactly like chicken.
ClaireAnna's new Silver Martens: A blue buck, a blue doe and a black doe.
I don't have a good photo of Claire's adults, but this is what a
black Silver Marten looks like. (Not our rabbit.)
This is a blue silver marten.  (not our rabbit)
Claire's blue doe kindled (gave birth to) seven kits (baby rabbits) on April 4th.  Unfortunately, the first time mom did not pull enough hair or make a nest, had her kits on the wire and did not feed them properly.  This is not uncommon for rabbits.  We did force nurse her once which is a procedure in which one person holds the doe on her back by the scruff of the neck and the back legs.  A second person then places the kits on her belly so they can nurse.  Doing this often triggers a release of hormones in the doe and afterwards, she may step up her mothering skills, pull more hair and nurse her babies.  Unfortunately, it didn't work well enough to save this first litter.  We're hoping her second littler goes better.

Sadly, all of these kits died.   
ClaireAnna's black doe kindled four kits on April 6th.  These were also born on the wire with no nest made and we lost one the first day.  We force nursed them just to be on the safe side and two days later, the remaining kits are fat and healthy!  Mom is doing a great job!

Three fat and healthy two day old black Silver Marten kits.  
Here is some interesting rabbit color genetics for those who might be interested.  The black color in rabbits is dominant. Let B = black.  The blue color is a recessive gene. Let b = blue.  So Claire's black doe is from all black rabbits and carries two copies of the black gene - BB.   All blue rabbits carry two copies of the blue gene since blue is recessive and would not show up unless there were two copies.  Our buck is blue - bb.  When we breed him to our blue doe, the only color they can produce is blue.  That is because each of them only had blue genes to pass on to the kits.  When we breed our blue buck to our black doe, she will have only black kits.  That is because the buck only has blue to give and the doe only has black to give.  Each kit will have one blue gene and one black gene - Bb.  So, since B is dominant over b, all her kits will be black even though they have a blue sire and once copy of the b gene.  However, these kits will be able to produce blue rabbits since they carry a blue gene.  But for now, we will always know which baby came from which mom.  The blues from the blue doe and the blacks from the black doe. 

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