As for the breeding I am in awe at how long it takes. Sure you can throw your pair together and pop out a few babies and pass them on their way. That is easy. I however am in this for the long haul and I want to do more than just be a bunny mill. I am striving to learn my lines to the best of my ability. For the most part I have about 3 lines I am working with. This in my opinion makes it a little easier, but by no means less time consuming.
For example: I bred a doe with one of our herd bucks. Her kits are now almost 4 months old. They are still growing and changing. I have one that hasn't even molted yet. Very slow growing line. I can not yet determine if it is a dominant doe or buck line. I can't determine any strengths or weaknesses yet as the growth is so slow. I plan on growing them for another month or two. That will be about 6 mths total. That is just one litter, with one buck. She is now bred with our other herd buck. That litter I will also monitor for 6 months or so. All in all, that is a years worth of time and food and cleaning and trimming just so I can learn my lines. And that is only with one doe.
I must mention also that just learning type in the torts has been a challenge for me. I am still trying to fully understand the crown. I want to strive for massive crowns. This doesn't just magically happen by putting two rabbits together. More work goes into then the average person would understand.
From studying my animals I have been able to figure some things out. I started with a buck that was pinched in the hind quarters. I bred him to a doe with full hind quarters, however she was slightly long in body. Well, from there I have bred a perfectly compact doe that has great bone and hindquarters along with h/e/c. However in that same litter I passed on the long body trait. In another litter I had a tight crown doe with a very typey body. When bred to the same buck, I produced a doe with a better crown, but a longer body type even though neither of the parents appeared long. So I am able to document this as genetics in one of the parents, or both. However for the time being I am unable to tell. In a similar breeding I had 2 parents, with good h/e/c and somehow the 2 kits were both born with very tight crowns. Meaning one of the parents carry this in their genetic make up. I have a doe that is producing some massive bone but smaller head types than I would like.
I could go on and on about what I have learned over the course of a year. I didn't do it by breeding constantly. I did it by observing and being selective and planning my breedings accordingly so that I have the time to monitor and study. This spring will be our first round of Line breeding. Once we have learned what we feel we need from this we will be doing our research and plan on learning Outcrosses.
I have my own opinions in breeding and I feel the more work you put into a certain line, the stronger the defense mechanisms are for that line. Making it in the end a stronger animal, not just in type, but also in health. I think when you breed any animal you randomly buy, to whoever you decide to match up for it, and continue doing so, you lose something along the way.
So we may be a slow growing rabbitry. We may not produce many animals for sale. But I hope by learning and studying, years from now we will have something to be very proud of.