Author Topic: Altex Rabbits  (Read 7465 times)

revdecan

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Altex Rabbits
« on: January 12, 2013, 04:40:00 PM »
Below is cut and paste of an article defining the Altex rabbit.  It was written by one of the developers of the Altex, Dr. Steven Lukefahr.

DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW COMMERCIAL SIRE BREED: THE ALTEX
Steven D. Lukefahr, Professor
Department of Animal & Wildlife Sciences
Texas A&M University-Kingsville 78363

Introduction
Commercial livestock producers often use sire and dam breeds of recognized merit to produce crossbred offspring for market.  In fact, the majority of chickens, beef calves, hogs and lambs produced in the U.S. for meat are crossbred.  The crossbreds give more efficient performance and greater profits.  For example, in swine, Yorkshire sows with breed strengths for large litter size, high milk production and excellent mothering ability are commonly mated to Duroc boars with breed strengths for rapid body gains, good feed conversion, minimal backfat and lean carcasses.  Such a combination of breed strengths is referred to as breed complementation.  The crossbred pig will also express hybrid vigor, which is an additional benefit of crossbreeding.  In Europe, the sophisticated use of commercial sire and dam breeds to produce crossbred fryer rabbits is widely practiced.  Major rabbit breeding companies exist which develop and sell parental hybrid lines to commercial producers for the purpose of crossbred fryer production.

Development of the Breed
In the July issue of the Journal of Animal Science, an article described the development of a terminal sire breed in the U.S. (Lukefahr et al., 1996).  The breeding project began in 1986 when purebred Californian (CAL), Champagne d'Argent (CHA) and Flemish Giant (FG) rabbits were obtained from reputable commercial and fancy breeders from several states and received at Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, AL.  As shown in Figure 1, FG bucks were mated with CAL and CHA does to produce two first-cross (F1) lines.  Bucks and does of both F1 lines were then crossed to produce a composite, second-cross (F2) population.  This resulted in all F2 rabbits being 1/2 FG, 1/4 CAL, and 1/4 CHA.  This breed composition was used to assemble genes from the three breeds for sire traits: rapid and efficient body gains, high dressing percentage and high meat-to-bone ratio.  In such an F2 population, it is expected that all possible gene combinations can occur.  Thus, a great deal of variation can arise for all observable traits.  Many different coat colors appeared in this generation and there was substantial variation in body size and type and growth rate among fryers.

During the long-term breeding program, rabbits were fed a commercial diet.  Litters were weaned at 28 days of age by removing the dam from the rearing cage.  During the 28- to 70-day postweaning phase, growth, feed consumption and survival rates were monitored.  At 71 to 73 days of age, one or two rabbits from each of 240 litters were randomly sampled for evaluation of dressing percentage, meat-to-bone ratio and other carcass traits.

As early as the F1 generation, superior growth and meatiness were clearly observed.  The F1  rabbits had large body frame size and plenty of muscle to portray a desirable commercial meat-type animal.  The F2 population was next separated into two genetic lines: selected and unselected.  This was done to measure genetic progress for the sire traits in each generation.  Next, there was one generation of random mating in both lines (generation 0).  For the next five generations, rabbits in the selected line with the heaviest body weights at 70 days of age were saved as replacements.  No attention was paid to coat color or other characters.  Replacements for the unselected line were chosen at random.  There were a total of 1,616 rabbits from 336 litters (sired by 121 bucks and reared by 321 does) produced in this phase of the breeding program.  Under intense selection, considerable genetic progress was achieved in the selected line (Figure 2).  By the fifth generation, the average 70-day body weights of selected rabbits were 4.9 lb, while those of the unselected line were 4.5 lb.  In addition, genetic improvements in weaning weight, daily weight gains and meat-to-bone ratio were also confirmed in the selected line.

Between 1988 and 1994, commercial producers in 12 states used bucks from the selected line at Alabama A&M University to produce crossbred fryers.  These large bucks were mostly mated with New Zealand White (NZW) purebred or CAL X NZW crossbred does.  Many producers reported that their crossbred fryers reached market size about a week earlier than purebred NZW fryers.  In a two-year experiment at Alabama A&M University involving 460 litters, total 70-day market weights of NZW litters averaged 27.8 pounds compared to 29.7 pounds for litters sired by select line bucks and reared by NZW or CAL X NZW does (Khan and Lukefahr, 1996).

In 1994, Dr. Lukefahr moved to Texas A&M University-Kingsville and took rabbits with the best genetics from both the selected and unselected lines.  In Texas, the two lines were crossed to expand the genetic base.  Selection efforts continue to further refine this improved genetic line.  The name "Altex" (Al from Alabama and tex from Texas, and pronounced "all-tex") has recently been given to this new commercial sire breed.  In terms of color, fryers possess a white pelt.  Soon, all Altex rabbits will be white with dark points - a simple recessive gene retained from the CAL foundation breed.  This "genetic stamp" will avoid confusion between the white (albino) variety of the FG, and will avoid confusion between the smaller body size and lighter mature weight features of the CAL (Photo 1).

Use of Terminal Sires
Altex bucks and does may first be mated by 6 months of age.  Mature body weights typically exceed 13 pounds in both sexes.  It is advised that when Altex bucks are used in a commercial crossbreeding program that all offspring be sold for meat.  This breeding practice is called a "terminal crossbreeding".  In other words, replacements should not be saved because less efficient production would be expected.  Specifically, an Altex X NZW sire may produce less growthy fryers than an Altex sire, and the Altex X NZW dam may consume more feed, produce less milk and wean fewer offspring than a NZW dam.  A commercial breeder may simply obtain another Altex buck from a nucleus herd source when a replacement is needed.  Replacement does can be purchased from reputable purebred NZW breeders or other commercial sources.  This process in itself leads to improved production efficiency because the breeder is relieved of the responsibility and time involved in making selections and in occupying cage space for young, home-grown replacement bucks and does.  Lastly, it is emphasized that the Altex is a commercial breed, being developed according to sound genetic principles of selection for economic traits.

Butch Mazza

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2013, 07:15:23 PM »
Hey revdecan,
Altex rabbits are the rabbit breed that surpasses other meat rabbits growth and can bring rabbits to market faster then other breeds. It's exciting to know you can ship these to breeders all over. Alabama and Texas... whoa! what a combination!
Do Altex rabbits eat about the same amount as a NZ or Californian rabbit?

 :)
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revdecan

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2013, 07:59:02 PM »
According to the experts their grow out to 5 or 6 pounds is 1 to 2 weeks faster than NZW or Cal.  They eat about the same day to day, but grow faster thus saving substantially on feed costs:  1 or 2 weeks worth of feed!   We have some new NZW kits  and will soon have some purebred Altex kits, Lord willing.  We will be watching their growth closely.  We need to get some additional NZW does grown up so we won't be doing the cross of Altex to NZW for a few months but when we do, we will carefully monitor the speed with which they hit harvest weight, comparing it to the NZW's.  Both the NZW's and Altex are from a commercial breeder, meat supplier.  Any thoughts? 

Butch Mazza

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2013, 08:25:20 PM »
Now I'm excited! It's like having a tv show post "To be continued" so we just can't wait to hear more. 
I raise Commercial New Zealand Whites at our rabbitry. Its what I do every day of the year and I enjoy seeing them go to new homes. I sell most as breeders, many of the bucks go to the processor or to our freezer, but the does are sold as breeders. This past year was a great year for us and we hope to wean some in February or the first part of March.
Keeping track of weights is part of the job but boy is it time consuming unless you have a second pair of hands helping. My son and my wife are here to help me alot. I couldn't do it without them. Eating rabbit can reduce my insulin to 25% of my normal dose. Sounds impossible, but it true as long as I keep watch on what I eat. My wife makes me rabbit soups, stews and sometimes mixes the rabbit into other recipes. We have a few recipes on our forum so check it out and see if you would like to try one. You are welcome to add one if you'd like.
Oh, at what age will you breed your does?
Butch
 
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revdecan

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2013, 09:37:58 AM »
I bred these two Altex does at about 5 months.  Bred and then bred again 12 hours later.  Put them back in with the bucks a couple of days later and they were quite angry about it.  Palpation does not seem to be my strong suit, but I think they are bred.  Seem to be getting bigger.  I am curious if there is going to be a market for Altex bucks?  We shall see.

Butch Mazza

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2013, 09:59:09 AM »
Revdecan,
Have you placed an add in craigslist? Consider all the major cities including some outside of your state and place some pictures too. You can leave the price out of it and have people call or email you for information. Make sure to mention you do ship, that will be a strong point!
Have you used craigslist before?

Butch
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Butch Mazza

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 10:00:34 AM »
Hey Revdecan,
How are those little Altex rabbits doing? Can you download some pictures for us so we can see them? This is about spring time and I bet there are folks out there who are wanting to start breeding their does soon. Having an Altex will give them more meat in less time! How long does it take to ship a rabbit to Idaho from where you live?
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revdecan

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2013, 06:02:42 AM »
We now have purebred Altex Rabbits available for sale locally in Missoula.  Two litters born February 18th.  Ready for pick-up at 5 to 6 weeks after this date.  We are going to be asking $50 each for bucks.  If you know of any rabbitries outside of our drive area we will ship rabbits by air as well.  $75 for each buck plus air freight and crating.  We are expecting to cut 1 to 2 weeks off the grow out time for a 5 or 6 pound commercial meat New Zealand White or California.  The addition of an Altex Buck as a terminal sire to your rabbitry could substantially increase your profitability.  We are located in Missoula, Montana.  Call me to discuss.  David DeCan at DD Rabbitry.  406-531-6939.  Below is a link to an article about the development and purpose of the  Altex Rabbit by its developer Dr. Steven Fakefahr of Texas A&M University.  http://users.tamuk.edu/kfsdl00/altex-article.html



revdecan

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 05:55:47 AM »
Shipping rabbits takes about as long as the commercial passenger flight takes.  Missoula to ???  The Altex kits are doing well.  Starting to come out of the nest box.  We have just started a w website.  www.altexrabbits.com    Take a look.  Been in contact with Dr. Lukefahr of Texas A&M University, the developer of the Altex.  This should prove to be a be a helpful contact as we seek to promote the Altex nationwide.  Also please be looking for our classified ad in the ARBA magazine.  May/June issue.  Come get an Altex buck guys and try it on hour herd!  Ask yourself this question, "How much more profitable could my rabbit enterprise be if I could reach market weight with my rabbits one to two weeks sooner?"  If you are feeding those little gyppers from 2 weeks to 12 and could cut that down to 10 weeks or less--it really starts to make sense.  Don't forget, the Altex is considered a white rabbit like the California.  Altex are white with gray points--ears, nose, feet, tail.  Altex have a very sweet personality.  There are some folks out there selling Altex crossed with New Zealands--not the way to go.  Loss of hybrid vigor--which is the whole point.  You do not want to keep any of the babies as breeding stock from  your breeding of purebred Altex buck to purebred New Zealand or California.  The offspring from this mating are butchered for meat--thus the term--Terminal Sire.  The Altex was developed by Dr. Lukefahr to increase meat production in New Zealands and Californias.  In reading Dr. Lukefahr's articles and books, it seems to me one of his major motivations for the effort toward the Altex was to feed people.  Worldwide.  As you all know rabbits have huge potential to make a difference in feeding low income and poverty level peoples in American and worldwide--as well as all the health benefits.  If we can make a go of this little enterprise we will be able to keep you in purebred Altex bucks.  Take a look at the new website:  www.altexrabbits.com   DD Rabbitry, David DeCan, Missoula, MT.  406-531-6939.  Email:  david@daviddecan.com.  Be bold.  I am going to have 6 or 8 Altex bucks out of this batch.  Maybe someone could make a trip for a group of people and split the cost--just a thought. 

PURPLE MOUNTAINS RABBITRY

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2013, 09:12:40 AM »
will there be anyone working to get the breed on a Certificate of Development through ARBA? it seems that they have enough differences that they could get a COD and become a new recognized show breed. it might be somthing worth looking into.

hillrise

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2013, 10:50:55 AM »
The developers of the Altex made it clear that they intended for the breed to be a terminal sire breed, and NOT a show breed.  I think it would be possible to get a COD going, but I don't think many people would be very supportive of it for that reason.

Butch Mazza

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Re: Altex Rabbits
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2013, 03:30:46 PM »
Our Idaho resident members Rod & Dawn Chandler are raising ALTEX rabbits in Burley Idaho. We won't have to drive to Texas or another state to get our ALTEX rabbits so check the Chandler's out on the www.imrga.org website and send them an email or call to find out more. ALTEX are fast growers and are bred to be larger then New Zealand and Californian rabbits with a good meat to bone ratio.  Find out how easy it is to raise this special breed.
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