Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Breed of the Day: American Chinchilla Rabbit
The first chinchillas were created by French engineer M.J. Dybowski and were shown for the first time in April 1913 at Saint-Maur, France. The new breed took the rabbit world by storm as the ideal fur rabbit, which so greatly resembled the fur of the South American Chinchilla lanigera. A Mrs. Haidee Lacy-Hulbert of Mitcham Surrey, imported the breed to England in the summer of 1917. A British exhibitor presented a shipment at the New York state fair in 1919. After the show, he sold all of the stock to Edward H. Stahl and Jack Harris. The original chinchillas were rather small at only 5 to 7 1/2 pounds, and American breeders set out to produce a larger animal that would be better suited for meat and fur. Through selective breeding for larger size but fine bones and a good dress-out percentage, a breed standard was issued for the heavy-weight chinchilla. It was a larger form of the standard chinchilla; the same shape, color and general make-up. In 1924, both chinchilla breeds were adopted into the standards book and shortly there after, the heavy-weight chinchilla was renamed the American chinchilla.
There is no single person that can be credited with the development of the American chinchilla, though the breed itself can be credited with making a large impact with rabbit keepers and other rabbit breeds. Between November 1928 to November 1929, no less than 17, 328 chinchillas were registered through the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA); a record that has yet to be broken. The chinchilla rabbit has contributed to the development of more breeds and varieties of rabbits world wide than any other breed. Sports from the chinchilla have created the silver martens and American sables in the United States, and the Siamese sable and sallander breeds abroad.
The American chinchilla is the rarest of the chinchilla breeds. Its small population is largely due to the demise of the rabbit fur industry of the late 1940's . Despite the breed's fine meat-producing qualities, the producers of today prefer an all white rabbit for the meat market. The American chinchilla is a large, hardy and gentle animal, with mature bucks weighing in at 9 to 11 pounds and does at 10 to 12 pounds. At first glance the American chinchilla is salt and pepper colored, but once the fur is parted, fours distinct bands of color appear on the hair shaft. They produce large litters, have good mothering instincts and fryers reach market weight fairly quickly.