Friday, April 1, 2016

The American Blue Meat Rabbit




The American rabbit is a multi-purpose animal developed for meat and fur, with the blue variety being the deepest blue color of any of the recognized breeds in America. The National Breeders and Fanciers Association of America (now known as the American Rabbit Breeders Association, Inc., or ARBA) recognized the breed with an official standard in March 1918. With their deep blue color fur and mandolin body type (a.k.a semi-arched), the American Blue's were the premier meat rabbit in the United States until the development of the more compact commercial bred Californians and New Zealand's almost drove the breed into extinction. A true American heritage breed, American rabbits are not allowed to be exported out of the United States, although there have been rumors that some were sold and moved to Canada in the early 1920's.


Breed Facts

Americans are large rabbits with mature bucks weighing 9 to 11 pounds and does at 10 to 12 pounds. They are a hardy breed, and their large, long ears make them more heat tolerant than some other breeds. They are docile in nature, produce large litters and are typically good mothers. Fryers make marketable weight fairly quickly and are easily kept on wire bottom hutches.

Status: Threatened
Use: Meat, Fur
Adult Weight: 9 – 12 lbs
Temperment: Docile




What To Look For When Purchasing An American:

The following attributes for the American Blue comes from the Standards Of Perfection book from the ARBA which lists the primary characteristics or “standards” of the breed that are used when the rabbits are judged at rabbit shows throughout the United States. While we do not show rabbits here at TAP rabbitry, we strive to maintain the primary characteristics and show quality of the breed.

Head and Ears

The head should be well shaped, rather slim, but not too long. The ears should be approximately 5 to 5 ½ inches in length, narrow and tapering slightly to a point. The eyes should be clear and of a bold blue color.

Body Shape and Size

The body should be mandolin shaped with a compact broad meaty back that is slightly arched back when posed, not humped or flat. It should be fairly broad across the hips with it's body tapering from the hips slightly towards the shoulders with as small a dewlap as possible.

Fur Color and Condition

The rabbits coat should be a rich, clear slate blue with as great a depth of color as possible. It should be free from all white hairs, sandy or rust color with a uniform blue color over the entire body, feet, legs, chest, head, ears, belly and tail. When stroked, the fur should return quickly to it's natural position and should lie smoothly over the body. The undercoat should be fine soft and dense. The bottoms of the feet may be a slightly paler shade of blue, but should not be tan or sandy colored.




Conclusion

As mentioned, we strive to preserve the best qualities of the American Blue in our breeding program. Any offspring that do not meet the ARBA guidelines are placed in the freezer and we eat them, which was the primary function of this breed. We only use pedigreed American Blues in our breding program to help us to produce the best quality rabbit we can. Having a pedigree helps us to determine which rabbit came from a particular bloodline so that we can re-breed certain qualities into our stock, and weed out any poor quality traits. All of our American blues at TAP rabbitry are sold with a pedigree at no additional cost to the customer. This is just a small way that we can help to maintain the quality of this classic American heritage breed.

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References:

ARBA Standards Of Perfection

American Livestock Conservatory



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