Gnomish Giant Rabbits. Over the waters of the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota, a new rabbit rhythm can be heard, the thump of Gnomish Giant Rabbits.
(Raising-Rabbits would like to thank Gnomestead Bunny Tree for developing this new breed and contributing content and pictures to this webpage. To learn more, visit their website at Gnomestead Bunny Tree.)
What do you get when you cross the most massive specimens of two breeds, Rex Rabbits and Silver Fox Rabbits, over and over again, without using any giant breed rabbits??
Why, Gnomish Giants, of course!
The Gnomish Giant Rabbit development project is already 8 years in the making, and work on the breed remains to be done. The ultimate goal is to create a rabbit that weighs at least 16 pounds, utilizing selective breeding only and NO giant breed rabbits.
The breeders call it the "bull dog" of rabbits, in that it will have more of a boxy loaf look to it and not the rounded ball look that standard show breeders work toward.
The "perfect" Gnomish Giant will have a compact body type, stocky build, tall/erect/expressive ears, rex fur, and a calm and gentle demeanor. The rex fur will be evenly blanketed with silvering, much like a Silver Fox.
The ideal Gnomish Giant rabbit will be useful both as a pet and as a meat production breed. The breed developers have no interest in development for show at this time.
Gnomish Giant Rabbits are being developed in a wide variety of colors and patterns, all with luxuriously thick fur and distinguished silvering. Because they are being developed apart from the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), breeders are using alternative names for their plush pigmentation. You will hear these terms, which easily remind you of more traditional pet rabbits:
Frosted, Midnight, Dalmatian, Mantle, Sapphire, Chocolate, Blueberry, Lavender, Honey Cream, Ember, Cocoa, Caramel, Truffle, Mandala, Toffee, and Snowcone.
While most breeders of new breeds immediately seek ARBA recognition, Gnomish Giant breeders are taking more of an "open source" approach to developing these hefty hares, and this is why.
Pictured: Sapphire Dalmatian Gnomish Giant. By "long" fur, they mean normal fur, that is, not short rex fur. (The gnomish giant does not carry genes for angora wool.)
When breed development is being supervised by ARBA, the rabbits will be expected to conform to variations of traditional standards. Gnomestead Bunny Tree and other breeders developing these robust rabbits want to maintain independent standards that will be guided by the evolution of the breed, versus the ARBA policy of breeding evolution guided by pre-determined standards.
This is not the first time such a strategy has been utilized. German Angoras are a very successful breed of rabbit when it comes to wool production, however the Bavarian Buns have yet to achieve ARBA recognition.
This is because German Angora breeders chose to focus mainly on wool production (the chief purpose of the breed). As a result, German Angora shows have a completely different competitive culture, where the main emphasis is on wool production, and body conformity standards are basically just to ensure that the rabbit is healthy and well cared for.
For this reason, they do not have the extremely uniform bodies that are required for recognition by ARBA.
Frosted Toffee Mandala Doe Gnomish Giant.
Frosted Sapphire Dalmatian.
Here is the history of the Gnomish Giant Rabbit in the words of Naomi, the initial breeder and owner of Gnomestead Bunny Tree (slightly edited for flow, and used with permission):
The Gnomish Giant Rabbit was named after our rabbitry and is currently under development.
In 2014 we decided as a family to raise rabbits for meat to supplement our grocery bill as I had become disabled and had to sell my family business.
We began our journey creating a new meat breed of rabbit and that is still our passion. We have evolved into a full farm LLC in 2021 and endeavor to share all of our natural gifts.
We have come a long way since the beginning in 2015. At the beginning, we began breeding for the purpose of raising food for our family. Before we even had our first litter of bunnies, we had requests from people to buy one of our babies.
So the rabbit journey began. We soon decided after much researching that we wanted to create a better meat rabbit for personal use. We discovered that our bunnies were very popular as pets as well. So our goals became intertwined. A superior meat-sized rabbit with a great temperament. Our bunnies have been adopted as family pets, as meat rabbits by homesteaders, as classroom pets at schools, and as therapy animals.
We started to dream about what our new breed would look like. We didn't know. So we began looking at what makes up each breed, how were they developed, what constituted a breed, and so on.
There are many, many breeds. Some are recognized by the rabbit clubs, but many are not. We decided we did not want to make show rabbits; we wanted to make a giant meat breed. Once we got our first three does and a buck and told a few people, they said, "Hey, let us know when your first litter is born. I want a breeding pair to start my own meat breeding."
And so our first litter was sold before it was born.
Our end goal for the breed is a minimum of 16 pounds with a compact body type, silvered rex fur, and tall, erect ears. We will not use any giant breeds to accomplish this as we not only feel that is cheating, but also because none of the giant breeds have the attributes that we want to see and would just set us back in our progress.
In order for a rabbit to be considered a giant they must be a minimum of 12 pounds. We are hitting that mark more and more with each generation. Currently our rabbits are reaching 10-13 pounds as adults which is double what they were only a few years ago, and we are very proud of this.
As we approach our goals, the hard part is getting the large size to continue building while keeping the Rex fur and also adding the additional attributes we want to see. We are getting a wide variety of colors and will continue to stabilize and develop more colors and patterns. As the saying goes, you have to build the barn before you paint it.
These colossal cottontails are truly dual purpose - great as family pets, and very valuable as livestock for homesteading families.
Gnomish Giants breed well, with does kindling consistently in 32 day pregnancies (vs. the standard 31 days), and they have great maternal instincts. They are ready for motherhood at 6 months old (although a few amorous does have been known to start in week 16), and will consistently have litters of 8-10 if cared for properly and allowed to regain prime condition after weaning. Weaning time is typically at the 6 week mark.
Pets: They have very tame, even temperaments. Some rabbits aren't well suited for emotional support and service work, but Gnomish Giants can be great therapy animals. They grow bigger than most large rabbits. Recognized giant breeds also tend to have similarly laid back personalities. Because Gnomish Giants are being developed without specific giantism genes, they are consistently healthy and robust.
Livestock: Gnomish Giants also have a very good meat to bone ratio. They have the good development and growth rate associated with the more common medium and large livestock breeds, so they can sustain homesteaders and farmers well.
Recognized giant breeds typically have a poor meat to bone ratio, because they need heavier bones to support weights that can exceed 30 pounds (in some instances). Heavy bones reduce their practicality for self-sufficiency.
The meat of the Gnomish Giant is comparable to the dark meat of turkey, and any given recipe for turkey meat works quite well for Gnomish Giant lapin (rabbit meat).
As the breed expands, Gnomish Lapin will likely become highly regarded. Their distinctive fur will also provide beauty and protection for modern frontier families against harsh winters. They also tend to prefer grass hay over pellets, which makes caring for them by homesteaders easier.
Gnomish Giants do not have a breed club currently, and as yet there is not one being created. However, ARBA recognition is not necessary to start a breed club, just the desire for breeders to compare their regal rabbits. As there is no breed club, there is also not a show competition schedule. As the breed is still in development, the Standards of Perfection will continue to evolve. Hopefully as the breed continues, a club with a show schedule will also be formed.
Snowcone Gnomish Giant.
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