The "gray giant" rabbit breed bred in the Soviet Union is very close relatives of the largest breed - the Flanders rizen. Nobody knows where the Flanders rabbit came from in Belgium. But this was the first large rabbit in those days. Actually, today no one would call the old Flanders rabbit large. The weight of the original Belgian giant barely reached 5 kg. But if you remember that the weight of the ancestor of all breeds - the wild rabbit, is about one and a half kilograms, it turns out that the flandre was really gigantic at that time.
In the photo there is a wild red rabbit, in a cage under it is a medium-sized black rabbit weighing 2 - 2.5 kg.
Immediately after the war, a Belgian rizen was brought to the Poltava region in the Petrovsky fur farm, most likely for breeding for meat, since the skin of the flanders is not of very good quality. But the Belgian giant is a rabbit, little adapted to the conditions of even the Ukrainian frosts. In addition, the Soviet government needed not only meat, but also skin. The Flanders rabbit was crossed with local outbreds to obtain more frost-resistant animals. Further, the breeding of the breed was carried out by the method of breeding hybrids in itself with the selection of individuals desirable by type and characteristics. The selection result was registered as a breed in 1952.
The video shows an explanatory comparative analysis of the Flanders Risen and Gray Giants breeds.
Description of the breed
The “gray giant” rabbit turned out to be smaller than the Flanders giant, having inherited rather large dimensions from the Belgian breed, exceeding the size of the local Ukrainian rabbits. Also, the gray giant inherited a large skeleton and significant weight from flandre. Local rabbits have added to the breed's "gray giant" vitality, weather resistance and fertility.
Rabbit colors "gray giant" can be:
- the black;
- dark grey;
- agouti, giving either zone gray or zone red - the so-called hare colors.
This is an option that only has a romantic name. In fact, the colors of this branch of the gray giant can be from light red to auburn with a light yellow undercoat.
Standard for rabbits of the breed "gray giant"
General appearance: a large bony animal with a massive long body. Large, rustic head, more elongated in the face than in flandra. The ears are V-shaped, rather large, fleshy. The tips are somewhat rounded. Less bursty than the Belgian giant. The chest girth is not less than 37 cm. The length of the body is from 55 cm. The back is wide, straight. The croup is wide and rounded. Feet are strong, set wide, straight.
Important! The rabbit must have a high density of wool, which is very important in the manufacture of fur products.
In the manufacture of fur products, the skins are stretched, obtaining a smoother shape and, in the case of expensive fur, material savings.
The average weight of a rabbit is 5 kg, a rabbit is 6 kg. The weight of rabbits of this breed can range from 4 to 7 kg.
Vices of the breed
The exterior defects of the gray giant are no different from those of other breeds of rabbits:
- signs of rickets: sweeping on the front legs, narrow humped back;
- close hocks on the hind legs;
- narrow and shallow chest;
The weight of the breeding giant at 2 months should be 1.5 kg; in 3 - 2 kg; in 4 - 2.6 kg. When fattening for slaughter with high-protein feed, the weight of the young stock must exceed the indicated figures.
Rabbits with conformational defects should not be allowed for breeding.
Keeping rabbits "gray giant"
Rabbits "gray giant" are kept according to the same rules as their more thermophilic relatives. The only difference is that Russian rabbits can live outside in winter. For Europeans, a room protected from the cold is required. The rest of the rules are the same.
For large rabbits, it is undesirable to keep on a mesh floor. Although giants are often also kept in sheds, they are trying to equip them with a smoother floor than for broiler light breeds. Due to too much weight, the wire of the mesh floor digs into the paws and damages the skin. As a result of damage, pododermatitis occurs, the so-called corns, which is an open gate for infection to enter the rabbit's body. It is better to make the floors in the cage smooth or flat slats. A good option is to keep giants in ground enclosures.
A giant needs a larger cage than normal rabbits. If possible, giants should be given 1.5 times more cages than normal rabbits. This is especially important when breeding rabbits and keeping the uterus with rabbits in the aviary.
Advice! Giants can be kept in standard sheds and regular cages, but these should be rabbits that are fattened for slaughter.
It is better to use hay or straw on bedding in queen cells and cages with smooth floors. Depending on what is cheaper in specific regions. But we must remember that roughage is the basis of the rabbit diet. In other words, the animals will eat the bedding material. For this reason, rotten hay residues cannot be used as bedding.
In theory, you can use sawdust, but the disadvantage of this material is that it is easy to rip them open and scatter them on the sides. As a result, the rabbit will be on the bare floor. Although the absorbency of sawdust is better than that of hay or straw. Mixed types of bedding are often used, spreading sawdust down and hay on top.
Features of feeding giants
Giants are less picky about food than their ancestors, the Flanders rabbits. Flanders need a relatively large amount of concentrates to replenish the energy of a large body. Giants do not need as much grain feed, but they are provided with quality nutritious hay. The best types of hay are:
Alfalfa contains a high percentage of protein and carotene. It is not very suitable for animals during the resting period, but very good for rabbits during lactation.
Advice! The teeth of rabbits grow constantly, therefore, whenever possible, they are provided with constant access to roughage.
In winter, besides hay, rabbits can be given tree branches and spruce paws. Branches are not very good for nutrition, as they are too coarse food that can clog the intestines. But the rabbit grinds its teeth very well about them, avoiding the disease with dacryocystitis.
As concentrates, animals are given:
- ground corn;
- ready-made granules for rabbits.
The last option is best. These granules will not swell in the stomach or clog the intestines. But animals should always have water in their drinkers.
In addition to roughage and concentrated feed, juicy feed is included in the diet of rabbits. But contrary to the opinion that "the more, the better", juicy feed should be given carefully. In fact, rabbits can easily live on one hay and full-feed pellets.
Important! You cannot overfeed animals. An overweight rabbit becomes too lazy, and fertility decreases in rabbits.
The popular carrot myth is nothing more than a myth. Carrots are given to rabbits very carefully because of the large amount of sugars. It can start fermenting in the stomach of the animal. Also try not to give fresh cabbage leaves. They are also too juicy and tend to ferment. At the same time, kohlrabi leaves can be fed without fear.
Fresh grass is taught very gradually. If this is not possible, give it only after drying in the shade. Dew and wet grass after rain is not given at all. Although there are extreme people who claim that it's okay. But it's not their rabbits that will die out.
Good quality silage can be produced in winter. This silage smells like sauerkraut. If the silage has an unpleasant sour or putrid odor, it should not be given.
Giants are late-ripening rabbits and should be hatched after 8 months.
Advice! It is also not worth delaying with mating. The older the rabbit, the more difficult it is for her to roll around the first time.
Rabbits of giants are distinguished by good fertility inherited from Ukrainian ancestors. They usually bring 7 to 8 babies per okrol. A large number of rabbits are actually not very good for raising as the female rabbit may not have enough milk. At birth, the giant rabbit weighs 81 g. The growth dynamics of this breed is quite high. By 10 months, the giant should already weigh about 5 kg.
Before the okrol, the rabbit makes a nest in the mother liquor, pulling the fluff out of herself. The appearance of fluff is a sign of an imminent okrol. Many people advise not to disturb the rabbit for a week after birth. But if the giants live on the street and their mother liquors are heated, then a situation may turn out like in the video.
Inspection on the 3rd day after we clean up the dead offspring
In the video, however, not giants, but Californians, and the girl simultaneously solves the problem of what to do with too large a litter, but the essence of this does not change.
Attention! It is difficult for a rabbit to feed too large a litter and she must either accept that the weakest will die, periodically removing the corpses, or place the "extra" rabbits to another uterus.
If possible, do not leave more than 8 rabbits under the rabbit.
Reviews of the owners of the gray giant rabbit breed
Arsen Bulanov, p. Starye Sanzhary
It is not for nothing that the gray giant was considered one of the best breeds in Soviet rabbit breeding. Let these rabbits be smaller than modern flanders, but when converted to feed units, they turn out to be much more economical in the output. Where flandrue needs special compound feed for normal weight gain, the gray giant will completely manage with a crushed from a home grinder. In summer, a gray giant's hide may not be very good for fur, but a flandre would probably be no better. But in winter, due to being kept outdoors and being overgrown with winter wool, the skins of gray giants are superior in quality to those of Flanders.
Stanislav Gorodov, s. Zhitkovichi
When I was about to start breeding rabbits and at the same time learn to make skins, they twisted my finger at my temple, but they advised me to have rabbits of the "gray giant" breed, as one of the most unpretentious and specially bred for Soviet realities with constant interruptions of one or the other. In general, the recommendations were justified. If it were not for the diseases imported from abroad, in general, I would not have any worries with these rabbits.
The gray giant is a good breed for beginners who want to try their hand at rabbit breeding, but do not want to invest too much in the initial arrangement of the rabbitry. A gray giant can be content with even keeping in a common room, but in this case, in a fight between rabbits, the skins will almost certainly suffer.