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A rabbitry update, and e. cuniculi treatment information

My beautiful Daffy, a black English Angora doe, had 4 kits yesterday, her second litter. I am confident that the new litter will have excellent wool density, as their sire, Lawman, has not missed that mark yet.

Lawman’s dam is a litter sister to Daffy’s sire. Lawman’s grandmother is Daffy’s dam. Both Lawman and Daffy have very good wool density, and very compact, round bodies. He is slightly cow-hocked, but she has correct hocks. Daffy is older full sister to the doe who was BOV Color at the NARBC national last year.

Lawman can sire only black or REW kits. (If the doe is agouti, then of course some of his black kits will be chestnut.) He is homozygous for black and for dominant extension. He is aa|BB|Cc|DD|EE. Daffy is aa|B?|Cc|D?|Ee. I’ve used Lawman so much this winter that I might be headed towards a herd that is completely genetically black. I don’t really care about color, because I am trying to get the wool quality and the bodies consistent first.

I appreciate what Lawman has done for improving my herd. When I selected him to be a herd sire, I had no idea that he would bring such dramatic results. I worried that his slightly cow-hocks would be a problem, but so far, the majority of his offspring have correct hocks, courtesy of their dams.

I think it is pretty remarkable, when going over litters of 9 and 10 bunnies, to find most of them worthy of keeping in the herd. I am impressed with what the simple process of selection has accomplished in just a couple of years (since first litters in 2013). Selection of breeders is like pouring one’s herd genetics through a filter. With each generation, the filtering process is refined.

I have gone to only one show so far in 2015; I took 3 young juniors to the show in Killeen, Texas. I liked the facility there very much and enjoyed spending time there with my dear friends who live in Texas, Kelly Flading and Ricardo Gonzalez. I also got to hang out with Dana Faber, Sasha & John McPherson, and Caylie Voudren (her senior doe in fully developed show coat was BOB). I did not get there early enough to enter the Friday night show. On Saturday, Angoras were judged by Scott Rodriguez and Eric Stewart. I was encouraged by their comments on my rabbits; it is good to have confirmation from trained observers that my rabbit breeding is headed the right direction. I enjoyed the show so much that I am planning to go again next year, taking more rabbits.

I had planned to attend the Southwest Missouri show, which was yesterday, but the weather forecast was so dire that I decided to stay home instead. Anna from Missouri said that she, her mother, and her friend Tessa attended; Anna’s REW doe was BOB of both shows.

Here is a short article about e. cuniculi I wrote for my local all-breed rabbit club’s newsletter.

Encephalitozoon cuniculi symptoms, prevention and treatment

Encephalitozoon cuniculi aka e. cuniculi, is a common cause of the rabbit ailments called “wry neck,” or “head tilt.” Those are when the rabbit carries its head crooked, and it may even spin in circles or roll over and over.

E. cuniculi is a single celled parasite in the Fungi kingdom. It seems to be endemic in rabbits, passed from dam to offspring, as well as environmentally. The parasite normally remains dormant in a rabbit; it is unclear why sometimes it migrates to neurological tissues.

I was acquainted with the familiar “wry neck” symptom, but it took me awhile to recognize arthritic symptoms as e. cuniculi infections, when I noticed a couple of rabbits having difficulty getting to their feet. They were old rabbits, and I just thought, “Oh, they are stiff from the cold weather.” But when the symptoms worsened, I took a closer look, and saw the rabbits also had white clumps of threadlike appearing lesions in their eyes. A quick search with Google confirmed those as a sign of e. cuniculi. The affected rabbits were too far disabled and had to be humanely destroyed.

I learned that the most recommended drug for preventing and treating e. cuniculi infections is fenbendazole, also known by brand names “Panacur,” and “Safeguard.” One method of treatment is to use Safeguard Liquid Goat Dewormer. Measure it out with medical syringes and give it orally. Rabbit breeder and veterinarian Dr. Alfred Mina recommends giving .1 ml (1/10 of one ml) per pound of rabbit’s weight. A five pound rabbit would receive 1/2 ml. Give it daily for 9 days to prevent e. cuniculi and for 28 days to cure active infections. Existing neurological symptoms are probably permanent; the damage is done and is irreversible.

If you have a lot of rabbits you want to treat, you might find it easier to use pelleted Safeguard as a top dressing on the rabbits’ feed. Dosing by this method also requires 9 days as a prophylactic, and 28 days to treat active infections. Dosages recommended by Dr. Alfred Mina. DVM:

1 lb. 2 g pellets=> 1/2 tsp
2 lb. 4 g pellets =>approx 1 tsp
3 lb. 6 g pellets =>approx 1 tsp
4 lb. 8 g pellets => approx 2 tsp
5 lb. 10 g pellets=> 2 tsp
6 lb. 12 g pellets=> approx 2 tsp
7 lb. 14 g pellets=> 3 tsp or 1 tbsp
8 lb. 16 g pellets=>approx 3 tsp
9 lb. 18 g pellets=> approx 4 tsp
10 lb. 20 g pellets=> 4 tsp

Safeguard is considered to be very safe and may be given to pregnant animals. If used as a dewormer without consideration for e. cuniculi, 3 days of treatment may be adequate. It is also effective for treating giardia infections of pets. A friend of mine used it to cure her dog that was having diarrhea.

DISCLAIMER: This little article is not a substitute for advice from your licensed veterinarian.

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