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What Do You Think?

Ask the Breeder Oct/Nov/Dec 2009 Issue


We have a black senior buck, registered and granded. At 2 years, his eyes began to lighten and are now too light to show (they are a DQ). We have bred him several times and have had no issues with his offspring. Our question is this: do we continue to breed him or should we cull him?

From Fran Schettler:

While I've never experienced such a lightening of eye color this dramatic, the point I would make is that there have been no problems with his offspring YET.  It took 2 years for him to show the issue, the offspring may yet show the same issue.   I would definitely be concerned.  When in doubt on something like this, I'd cull him and continually monitor all offspring closely for eye color.  I'd even considering culling the offspring lest it get bred into succeeding generations during the 2 year interval. 

From Kevin Hooper:

Many of my answers to the “Ask the Breeder” questions all start out with it depends!  This question is no different.  The scenario presented makes me want to know why his eyes did this, and how old are the offspring out of this buck?  Have the offspring been kept long enough – two years – to know if this trait is passing to the next generation?
The other consideration here is how well is he producing?  If he is producing many good ones, yet none of them are showing the eye issues, then you might keep him. 
Now, if you are thinking long term, what you must ask yourself is, if this does pass on, and I won’t know until they offspring are two years old, then I will have already used these offspring for breeding.  Then this trait is in your herd in multiple animals and thus it is much harder to eliminate.
This relates to how a friend of mine is approaching the development of his Dutch.  He has kept the best bodied does, all blacks, regardless of markings.  He is now culling out any doe who does not raise her first litter.  Now, this might be hard for some of us to do, but let’s think about what he will have in the long term?  He will have all with great type – it is already very good – and nearly every doe will start producing bunnies in her first litter!  This is long term thinking.  Sacrifice success now, so that you can succeed in the long term! 
So, the best option is to cull that buck, and plan for the long term.

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