Altex Rabbits

Altex rabbits are a commercial rabbit breed intended to produce bucks for use as the sires of "terminal cross" meat rabbits.
Altex terminal cross fryers gain weight faster and go to market sooner. In less-developed countries, they represent better nutrition for people through enhanced rabbit production.

The Altex breed takes advantage of both hybrid vigor and breed complementation, two factors that can significantly enhance meat rabbit production in the backyard and in a large-scale commercial facility, both in the United States and in less-developed countries where nutrition and daily survival might be constant worries.

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Three of the commercial traits that the Altex is specifically bred for are:

  • Rapid and efficient weight gain
  • High dress out percentage
  • High meat-to-bone ratio

The result: Fryers that can be marketed nearly a week sooner. 

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Why Altex Rabbits?

Altex Rabbit Breed - TAMUK

For years, most commercial rabbit production in the United States has utilized either the New Zealand White (NZW) or the Californian (CAL) rabbit breeds. In many instances, farmers combine the two breeds in order to capture hybrid vigor and improve market weights and conversion ratios.

Altex Rabbit. Photo credit: TAMUK Rabbit Research website.

If the farmer then uses hybrids for breeding, the less 'hybrid' they become, and soon the hybrid advantage disappears.

In a market niche such as meat rabbits that is so marginally profitable, being able to bring fryers to market even a few days earlier may represent a large improvement in profitability.  And if the farmer never used any Altex crosses for subsequent breeding, the advantages that the Altex "terminal cross" provides will be retained indefinitely.

Even better, in third-world countries where native forages are the only source of feed, any rabbit breed that will easily gain weight despite the feed shortcomings may make the difference between health and starvation.

If the rabbit farmer could use a third breed that was specifically bred for producing heavier market fryers, and never use the offspring for breeding, then he would retain hybrid vigor and rapid marketability in his herd indefinitely.  

Dr. Steven Lukefahr of Texas A&M University began creating this third, 'terminal cross' breed in 1986, eventually calling it the Altex rabbit, a blending of AL-abama and TEX-as, after the two states where he developed them.

He used the combination of Flemish Giants with Californians and Champagne d’Argents in the ratio of one-half Flemish Giant, one-fourth Californian and one-fourth Champagne d'Argent. Dr. Lukefahr describes the process used to develop the breed in this Altex Rabbit article.

Altex offspring have been produced in a variety of colors as the breed was developed. By now, however, expect to find most if not all Altex with white pelts and dark points (feet, tail, ears, nose) like the Californian.

Both does and bucks of the Altex breed typically weigh more than 13 pounds at 6 months of age.  The first mating can take place at or around 6 months.

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How to Use Terminal Crossing
with an Altex Sire

For ideal results, cross the Altex SIRE with a New Zealand White or Californian DAM.

  • The Altex buck confers size and growth rate (marketability)
  • The NZW or CAL doe consumes less feed than would an Altex dam, produces more milk, and kindles and weans more offspring.
  • "Terminal" means "end of the line." ALL the offspring should go to market, and none are saved for replacement breeders.
  • Market day should arrive on average up to one week sooner than is typical for a purebred, or a CALxNZW herd
  • Replace the buck when needed by acquiring another Altex sire.

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