I’ve detailed some of the struggles and questions that have come up in trying to figure out how to get a curly bunny. There are several people internationally who are working to get Astrex recognized as a breed – this means that we’re all learning together how to isolate the gene and hopefully get it to breed true.
The greatest resource for all of this has been the Facebook group, Astrex, Curly Coated Rabbit. One of the members there recently developed a grading system that will help everyone dealing with Astrex in the future have an idea of exactly what they’re looking at genetically… or as least a better idea than we have right now!
We have personally made a decision to put breeding for Astrex on a back burner for now. We have sold all of our Astrex stock expect for one trio… I just couldn’t pull the trigger on having them gone completely! Over time it’s quite likely we will breed for them again, particularly if we have an opportunity to get unrelated stock to what we have right now.
When that time comes, we’ll have a good idea of how to rank our curl! The grading system is outlined on the brand new Astrex website, also put together by the same member who came up with the grading system, Sarah Roche!, but I’ll share it here as well:
The Astrex Grading system is not a measure of how curly a rabbit is, but how likely it is to keep that curl throughout it’s lifespan and how likely it is to pass it down to it’s offspring. A rabbit’s number isn’t fixed and will change throughout it’s lifetime; in fact, it’s impossible for a junior to have a score higher than “Grade 4”.
Grade 1: Rabbit is over six months old and curly, and has produced offspring that are over six months old and curly.
Grade 2: Rabbit is over six months old, curly, and has produced curly babies. Babies lost their curl and it didn’t return after six months of age.
Grade 3: Rabbit is over 6 months old, and curly.
Grade 4: Rabbit is/was a curly junior. BOTH parents are over six months old and curly.
Grade 5: Rabbit is/was a curly junior. Both parents were curly as juniors, but both of them are not curly adults.
Grade 6: Rabbit is/was a curly junior. Neither parent was ever curly.
Grade 7: Rabbit was never curly, but came from at least one parent that is over six months old and curly.
Grade 8: Rabbit was never curly, but came from at least one parent that was curly as a junior.
Let’s say a breeder suddenly get a curly junior out of non-curly parents. It would be a Grade 6.
At six months old, the rabbits curls molt away and make no sign of re-appearing, so it remains a Grade 6.
However, at two years old, the rabbit molts again and the curls return (this often happens between 18-36 months of age). Because the curls have re-emerged, the rabbit is upgraded to Grade 3.
If the babies keep their curl (or have it shed out and re-emerge), the rabbit is promoted to a Grade 1.