(c) Gryph- if you repost this article, please post with a link back to my website.
Let's talk about co-breedings for a bit. I had a fantastic time this weekend at the Assessment workshop and got to look over kits from three co-breedings that I did. I'm VERY excited to add rabbits from all three litters to my lines. Co-breeding is where two breeders each contribute a parent to the breeding. Another form of co-breeding is studding. And while not co-breeding, let's throw buying or selling a bred doe into the mix.
My number one piece of advice for all of the above- know the terms before you even consider any of these options, whether you are the buck owner or the doe owner. A 5 minute conversation can save a LOT of confusion and hurt feelings after the fact.
Let's start with studding, since it's the simplest option in theory. Both breeders need to discuss the 'stud fee' up front before any breeding happens. The most common stud fee is 1 pick of the litter (that would be the buck owner's pick out of the entire litter). Some breeders will only accept cash as a fee, and some will not stud at all. I typically only stud for rabbits I have sold or with friends I work closely with. Even rabbits I have sold, I usually do an exam of the doe first. Other things to be discussed before breeding- at what age will the kits be weaned, what feed is the doe on, and who will get credit for the kits? Typically in a studding situation, the buck owner pedigrees their pick under their rabbitry and the doe owner pedigrees the others under their rabbitry.
Which leads us to co-breeding. Co-breeding differs just a bit. Sometimes the terms of a co-breeding are that the litter is split. One breeder gets first choice, then the other gets second, then the first breeder gets third, and so on to the end. Sometimes one breeder will get all the does, and the other will get all the bucks. Or sometimes the breeders will have a deal to each pick one, and sell the rest (hopefully only selling good quality and culling the bad), and split the money, or letting the doe owner keep the money for the time and expense put in to raising the litter. Sometimes the buck owner's picks get pedigreed under their rabbitry, while the doe owner's goes under their rabbitry. Sometimes both breeders' names go on the whole litter. (Gryph-Oracle, Gryph/Oracle, or Gryph Oracle). Decide the terms ahead of time. Who will pedigree each kit? Who will get to choose first kit? How will the litter be split? Whose name will go first if you both share the pedigrees?
Finally, there's buying a bred doe. Some breeders will breed for free and some will breed for an additional fee. Now, technically, whoever did the breeding is whose name is on the pedigree. If you buy a doe already bred, or if the seller generously offers to breed a doe you are buying from them, that litter was bred by the buck owner. You need to communicate with that person to see what the agreement is for the kits. Will they be pedigreed in the seller's name? Do not assume that they can just be pedigreed under yours.
Now, let's talk about WHY all of the above are useful. Number one, it gives breeders a chance to bring in new lines and/or to compliment their rabbits with something they may not have in their barn already. It gives more experienced breeders a chance to help out newbies. It can also just be fun to play with new genetics.
Some of the drawbacks. Biosecurity risk is the biggest drawback. This is why many breeders do these breedings at a show where the rabbits are already exposed to so much. Miscommunication. Many friendships have ended over miscommunication. Have your deal figured out ahead of time. Even better, put it in writing. Typically the doe remains in the doe owner's care while she is pregnant and while she's raising the litter. This means all the expense to raise the litter is on the doe owner. When selling a bred doe, if your name is going to be on those kits but you have never put hands on them, there is a risk that crappy stock will be put under your name. You will also possibly have rabbits out there that aren't in your pedigree system. These are things you need to consider BEFORE any breeding happens.
All in all, studding, co-breeding and buying/selling a bred doe can all come in very handy. But know the terms. Have a frank discussion. PUT IT IN WRITING (I personally have a written contract that I use). Avoid hurt feelings. Be responsible, and in the end the deal can benefit both parties.
Click here to continue to the next topic: Litters (Coming Soon)