Saturday, March 26, 2011
Breed of the Day: American Rabbit
The American rabbit is a multi-purpose animal developed for its meat and fur. The American Breeders Association (ARBA) recognized the breed with an official Standard of Perfection in March 1918. First known as the German blue Vienna, this name was quickly changed to the American blue because of WWI. While a number of people were showing interest in the development of an ideal blue breed, it was Lewis H. Salisbury of Pasadena California, who is given credit for producing the American blue. Mr. Salisbury was rather secretive as to which breeds he used to create the American blue. Because of the breed's mandolin-shaped body called for in it's standard of perfection, the blue Vienna, blue beveren, blue imperial and blue Flemish giant are likely the foundation stock for the American Blue.
While other breeders had also produced an all-blue rabbit, Lewis H. Salisbury's American blues were considered the best in the country for several years prior to 1917. In time, the ideal body type was set and the characteristic deep blue color was fixed. In the early days of development, specimens were often plagued with brown patches and stray white hairs throughout the coat. A white variety was recognized in 1925 that was produced from white rabbits in litters thrown from the American blues and the addition of white Flemish giant genes.
The popularity of the American rabbit was almost instantaneous, quickly spreading throughout the nation. By 1920, furriers were paying the unbelievable price of $2.00 for a good pelt, and a breeding-age doe would start at $25.00. Both blue ans white varieties maintained a huge following through the 1940s, but by 1950 the interests of rabbit breeders had changed to other new breeds that were being developed and imported into the US. The American rabbit is unique and restricted to North America, and has since become one of the rarest breeds in the country.
American rabbits are large rabbits with mature bucks weighing 9 to 11 pounds and does at 10 to 12 pounds. They are a hardy breed, docile in nature, produce large litters and are typically good mothers. Meat rabbits used for frying make marketable weight fairly quickly and are easily kept on wire-bottom hutches. The blue variety has the deepest blue variety blue color of any of ARBA's recognized breeds.