Tamuk rabbits, new wonder breed or fad? Anyone have experience?

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
4,260
Reaction score
12,722
Points
553
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
Since we are moving to Texas and will be setting up a rabbitry, another friend suggested we look into the new TAMU-K breed. Everyone claims the variety has a great reputation of being very resistant to heat, but when I looked into different reviews, I have some questions about the breed's actual performance. Anyone breeding these rabbits please let me know your experiences.

All the reviews claimed Tamuks were wonderful for heat resistance to 100+ degrees. BUT one reviewer said that they only produce about 4-6 kits in a litter, are not good breeders in the heat, and are difficult to handle without gloves and long sleeves. Gloves and long sleeves are not a problem, but the small litters and difficult breeding aren't very good for meat production. The reviews mentioned larger ears, which would be good for disseminating body heat. The write up of the various breeds that went into developing them was not very promising either, since several of the breeds are not good meat production breeds. Hybrid vigor was another reason some people gave for liking them. I did not have a problem with lack of vigor or health when breeding pure Cals or NZWs. Perhaps the people wanting hybrid vigor were not adding enough outside bloodlines to their breeding stock.

One of the breeds listed in the development was the Champagne D'Argent. DH loves Champagnes and for a while we had about a dozen in our barn. They were very susceptible to heat and were notoriously difficult to get the does bred. We had to put our does into the car and drive around the block to get them to lift for the buck!
(This is an old rabbit breeders' trick and it works.) DH got several lovely litters and did very well with his Champagnes but then a heat wave in February (95 degrees) killed 6 does in one day. We had the misters on and ice bottles in the cages, but the Champagnes died while the other breeds were fine. Not a breed I would have used in developing a heat resistant breed. Perhaps the Champagne breed has become more heat resistant, but the original development was occurring in the 80's, when the breed was very heat sensitive. If heat sensitivity and difficulty in breeding were retained from the Champagnes, I don't think the breed is for us.

Another breed listed as being one of the foundation breeds was the Flemish Giant. This is a poor choice for a meat rabbit. Inexperienced breeders might think that using this giant breed would produce larger fryers however, the Flemish Giant has large bones and skeleton with a lower meat ratio. 8–10-week-old fryers would be large but most of that size would be skeleton with little meat. The Flemish Giant Standard of Perfection does not require meatiness in the loin which is the main meat area of rabbits. Some reviews do not list the Flemish Giant as a foundation breed so maybe people are mixed up about what went into the TAMUK. Although this may be where the long ear trait came from.

Another article listed 7 breeds that went into developing the TAMUK. Most of them are meat breeds, but the list included the Havana and Dutch along with the Harlequin. Havana and Dutch rabbits are small breeds at 6.5 lbs. The Harlequin is eye catching in color pattern, but not as large as a NZW, Cal, or Satin. I would not want to downsize a meat rabbit since rabbits are already small meat producers. 5 lb. fryers are a one meal deal and for a large family (or if you have teenage boys) you might want to cook 2. DD1 raised Havanas, and while they are edible, they didn't produce enough meat at 8-10 weeks to make them worth the effort of dressing out. Since Dr. Lukefahr was producing a rabbit for his own family that would be more heat resistant, and apparently come in more colors than the industry standard NZW or Cal, he probably included the smaller rabbits for their colors and fur. I am not interested in color patterns since once the rabbit is dressed out the skin is discarded. There is no money in rabbit skins anymore, and even if there were, 8-10 weeks old is not the right age to harvest since the hair is more liable to slip on juvenile hides. You can either have tasty fryers or grow out the rabbits for their hides and have stewers.

I would like to hear opinions and experiences from anyone raising TAMUK rabbits and having experience with them. I have written to the Rabbit Project of TAMU Kingsville for more information.

We were planning n raising Californians again. Having raised NZWs and Cals in 100+ degrees for years i southern California, there are a lot of things we did in the rabbitry to control the temperature. Misters and fans are good tools, along with frozen water bottles if you don't have too many rabbits. Bury or insulate water lines for automatic waterers. Selectively choosing breeding stock that tolerate high temperatures is another tool breeders use. Mature bucks go sterile in the summer so for summer breeding I always kept back a good buck born in November/December/January to use. Plan litters around summer heat.
 

secuono

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
7,566
Reaction score
9,186
Points
593
Location
Virginia is for Pasture Farmers!
Join FB groups.
Seems they are just a regular rabbit these days.
The actual project ended years ago, so only other breeders have them now.
Doesn't seem the others have kept up the strict breeding process and most out there are the composites instead of the "pure" ones.
People post the same problems all other breeds have, so I don't get the hype.

Probably best to find those original breeders & hope they're sticking to strict practices, buying their best. Obviously, don't buy ones from up north if you live down south, they won't handle the humidity and heat as well.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
4,260
Reaction score
12,722
Points
553
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
I think I will just find some good Californians. I will raise them the way we used to in hot California summers. Anyone with experience with them please respond.
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
27,587
Reaction score
74,723
Points
853
Location
East Texas
@Hideaway Pines raises them. Their rabbitry is under shade trees with fans on.

Years ago when I raised rabbits, I just didn’t breed in the summer months. Big, fat, pregnant, wrapper in a fur coat, just didn’t make sense.
 

animalmom

Herd Master
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
1,934
Reaction score
2,140
Points
343
Location
North Central Texas
I have Californians for meat and find in Texas that sun is not a friend to the rabbits. We ended up putting a metal roof and metal siding on the bunny barn to try and repel some of the heat. We have two barn fans and a mister and I still lost a buck to the heat this year.

If I had to do it all over I would put the bunny barn in a grove of trees to shade it as much as possible.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
4,260
Reaction score
12,722
Points
553
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
We are planning to put it in the barn under a roof surrounded by trees. We also use shade cloth on our barn now to shade ewes and lambs in summer. We used shade cloth that we rolled down to shade the rabbits in summer, and in winter used tarps. Misters and fans worked well on our rabbitry. We had some occasional deaths, but by removing all bedding from the nest boxes in am in hot spells, and putting it back in evening, we reduced heat deaths. We did not plan litters to be born during the worst heat. I could breed in summer using a juvenile buck, but preferred the last litters to be born by end of June and no litters born until September. This worked well. I also kept lights on the rabbitry so the rabbits would continue to breed all winter long.

I would like to hear from someone with experience in other meat breeds that is now raising these Tamuks to hear if they are really that much better. Sometimes people jump on a "new" breed and t is no better than an old established one.
 
Top