Friday, January 27, 2012

Hind End – An Evaluation of English Angora Type.

When I evaluate the back section of the English Angora body type, I have a few things that I consider most important:  1) the lower hindquarters must be full and 2) the hind legs should either be parallel to the body or close to parallel. 

Lower hindquarters.  One thing that judges hate is a rabbit that is weak in the lower hindquarter.  I do not believe that our breed is too weak in this area, although I have seen certain breeders that do tend towards having this in their line.  This is because it is one of those things that once you breed it in, it is hard to get rid of.  As you run your hand along your rabbits body, your hand should not go in as you come to the end. The rabbit’s width must continue all the way to the floor in order for it to be acceptable.  If your hand goes in, do not breed the rabbit, it is weak in the lower hindquarter.  Do not breed even if you are breeding it to one that counterbalances this fault, because it can be very difficult to eliminate. 

Legs.   When you turn your rabbit over, the ultimate goal is to have a rabbit whose feet are parallel to its body.  With your English Angora herd, you may need to work  and selectively breed until you get to that point, which is not a problem.  It just takes work and dedication, and some day, parallel legs can be a standard in your herd. 

Evaluation.  When evaluating the rabbit you can use this checklist as a guide to evaluating the hind end:

1)      Feel the lower hindquarter, if it goes in do not use for breeding under any circumstances.   if it is full feeling and the width of the rabbit continues from the top to the floor, move to step 2.

2)      Turn the rabbit and look at how the legs are positioned.  Pick the category below that applies:

a.        Cowhocked Feet.  If the rabbits feet stick out severely like they are making a"V" , with the hocks close together, than do not keep for breeding under any circumstances.

b.        Adequate Feet.  If the feet point out only slightly and the hocks are not close  together creating a severe v shape, consider using it for breeding if that is what you have to work with.  If your herd has just adequate feet, work on improving– if you start at with rabbits whose feet stick out of the body at a 35 degree angle out from the body, work to make this a smaller angle.  For instance, with the next generation, you keep nothing less than a 30 degree angle and so on and so forth until you have feet parallel to the body. And yes, go ahead and get a protractor so that you are using unbiased data.

c.       Straight feet.  If the feet are held by the rabbit straight, or  parallel to the body, use this rabbit to improve your entire herd.  Straight parallel feet are perfection, do not expect every rabbit to have this in your first few generations unless you start with stock with this quality.  If you start with stock with this attribute keep it that way by making parallel feet a requirement to enter your breeding program. 

When evaluating, keep in mind that English Angoras can be a bit tricky when evaluating feet structure.  They are just so relaxed when turned over on their back!  Because of this, the rabbits legs may look different every time you turn it over.  So, to determine the actual leg structure, make sure to repose and turn over the rabbit several times on several occasions.  I can tell you that every time I turn over my English angoras, they are holding their legs different, so I try to find the “Status quo” and use that to evaluate them. Other breeds of rabbit tend to be consistent when turned over, because for them, they do not go into a state of relaxation.  Sometimes English Angoras are more relaxed on their back then when sitting normal, a rare quality in rabbits.

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