Can anyone explain “smutting” in californian rabbits?

Alasgun

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Im trying to learn about the weather related ? Color change in Californian rabbits. Where the point patterns continue out side the normal range of ears, feet and tail?
 

Nao57

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Wish I could help but my area not many people have Californians. A lot are doing New Zealanders instead. I hope you get some responses from the others.
 

Bunnylady

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The presence of dark pigment on the Himalayan or Californian rabbits is regulated by skin temperature. When the skin is cool, dark pigment is produced. I have seen Himi/Cali babies that got chilled in the nest box produce dark pigment throughout the coat in the part of the hair that was growing at the time of the chilling; the resulting dark ticking almost made them look like Chinchillas. It grows out with the next molt, of course. Because does frequently pull fur from the chest/dewlap area even when they aren't being bred, the ARBA standard doesn't fault smut in that area.

The Siamese pattern is also temperature dependent, but to a lesser degree. I once had a Jersey Wooly doe that would start pulling fur at about day 20 of a pregnancy, and keep at it until the babies were born. She wound up basically bald except for a little 2-inch-wide "Mohawk" of hair along her spine (seriously, someone who saw her like that once asked me if she'd been shaved for surgery!). Because she was a Siamese Sable, cooling the skin to that degree caused a color change, and the hair grew back in very dark. Dark brown rabbit with a medium brown stripe down the middle of her back . . . yeah, she looked odd.
 

LilTxFarmer

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Never heard of it and I have California Whites, but only been raising them for about a year now. However, Bunnylady seems to know a lot about it. Interesting and good to know! Thanks for sharing Bunnylady! :)
 

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TaylorBug

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I’ve had a few litters of kits with “nest box chill” that grows out within a month or 2. Interestingly, I once bought a purebred Cali doe who supposedly had nest box chill who never grew out of her gray coat! I never got the chance to breed her to see if her gray would pass on or if it was just a freak thing but it was interesting... and pretty cute! Her name was Frosty 😄
 

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Ridgetop

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I would not penalize them for smut. When were they born? How old are they?

Like Bunnylady says it is due to extreme cold temps in the nest box and they usually molt out of it when they grow in their adult coats. Many show breeders prefer to breed during the colder parts of the year because the winter cold produces stronger coloring on the feet, face, tail, ears of the Cals. Breeding bunnies in hot weather usually causes them to develop light gray coloring instead making them looked washed out. Not because they are carrying a blue gene but simply because the heat has faded their coloration. In Cals you want the deep color on the points with a clear white on the body. Remember that Cals were developed with satins to get that lovely glow un their fur fir the fur trade. The dark points are the parts that are chopped off and tossed when dressing out the rabbit,

If you are interested in showing, breed your show litters in the winter. The washed out summer litters can go into the freezer. HOWEVER, don't count out a terrific bunny just because it has faded color. Breed it to one with very dark color and you will be ok. Smut means very little, even on the judging table in young junior bunnies because the judges know it will shed out. Some breeders like to see smut because they figure it means that the rabbit is carrying the genetics for dark points.

If you like these junior Cals, go ahead and buy them.

BYW, we used to breed Cals and NZWs - I preferred the Cals. I found that good Cals will produce heavier fryers a week or two earlier than NZWs.
 

LilTxFarmer

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Thanks everyone, i ended up going with Satins. 3 doe’s and a couple bucks. By this time next week i’ll have liters from the does!

if anyone is interested in that journey go to my “Alasgun’s hopper haven” thread.
Satins are good, from what I can remember. I raised some Red Satins, in my youth, when I was in FFA. Even showed in Houston Livestock Show, but only got a Blue Ribbon. :(
 
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