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  1. #1
    BPnet Veteran frankykeno's Avatar
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    Holdback Future Breeding Group

    We've started doing things a bit different recently with our rat breeding. Instead of growing up our males and female rats for future breeding and trying to keep track of who goes with who, we are creating breeder groups with a male assigned to a group of 4 females basically from birth to death (or feeding off). At weaning he'll be seperated just until it's his females are breeding weight then go back to living with them in the big colony enclosures we have.

    We're going to experiment with leaving the male in with his females through breeding and raising their young and see how that goes. If the females bred too often and show ill effects then of course I'll be re-assessing this. Male rats however make excellent parents so it will be interesting to watch how keeping them in permanent family groups (like we do with our ASF's) works out over the long haul.

    Here's a group of holdbacks Mike and I choose from various litters. The female Dumbo you see with them is actually not their natural mother but is fostering them. Dee (the Dumbo female) is reaching the end of her highly productive cycles so is retiring to basically help finish raising and socializing future breeders. She's a fanastic female and very nice tempered so does a great job of being our "rat finishing school" for future breeder groups. This group is still nursing but Dee has milk available as her last group of only 4 young was moved to another female to allow her to foster the holdbacks.

    Blue male.....



    Blue & White female.....



    Dee & the Blue male.....



    The holdback females - two blues, one albino, one dumbo albino....



    Dee and her foster babies.....



    The holdback litter, some of the nicest looking rats we've ever produced. Two of the blues in particular have the nicest coats, almost blue mixed with a white undercoat so that there's layers of shading. Not important of course for the purposes of breeding feeder rats but I enjoy nice looking rats and we do occasionally have request for pet rats.....

    ~~Joanna~~


  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Laooda's Avatar
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    Re: Holdback Future Breeding Group

    Hey Jo! Sounds like a solid plan... I've been keeping my males with their females since we built the rack. Knock on wood, it's been just fine! You've set a lovely set aside! I love those blues!
    Grey Scale is a good thing...

  3. #3
    BPnet Veteran Argentra's Avatar
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    Re: Holdback Future Breeding Group

    Those are some of the sweetest looking ratties! Blues are my favorites... and I'm sad that I couldn't get any for my breeding quartet.

    Let us know how all that turns out. It would be better for the rats and me if I could just leave the males with the girls all the time, but I won't do it unless it works for other experienced breeders.
    **Adriana - White 'N Nerdy!**

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  4. #4
    BPnet Veteran frankykeno's Avatar
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    Re: Holdback Future Breeding Group

    Quote Originally Posted by Laooda View Post
    Hey Jo! Sounds like a solid plan... I've been keeping my males with their females since we built the rack. Knock on wood, it's been just fine! You've set a lovely set aside! I love those blues!
    Thanks Laura. I've always liked blue rats but the ones I've purchased in the past always died young. I'm hoping these ones that I've produced and been careful about their genetics, will do much better for me.

    So far all the "family" groups are doing well but it's early days of course. We'll see how it goes. Let me know how it works out for you over the next few months, I'd love to compare notes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Argentra View Post
    Those are some of the sweetest looking ratties! Blues are my favorites... and I'm sad that I couldn't get any for my breeding quartet.

    Let us know how all that turns out. It would be better for the rats and me if I could just leave the males with the girls all the time, but I won't do it unless it works for other experienced breeders.
    I will certainly post my thoughts on how this goes as far as my own groups. It does seem easier but in the end, if it doesn't produce well or burns out my female rats too fast then I'll go back to my old routine of rotating males in and out.

    Blues, good ones anyways, seem hard to find. Most of the ones I've had from pet stores were not sound animals so instead I just went the other route and created hets and made my own.

    I'll have to try and get a good picture of the albino dumbo. She's got to be the cutest thing with her big ears and that pure white coat...cute but goofy looking.
    ~~Joanna~~


  5. #5
    BPnet Veteran marmie's Avatar
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    Re: Holdback Future Breeding Group

    I wrote this once and it vanished on me so sorry if it's a duplicate . . . and I sure hope it's not in some other unrelated thread!

    Adorable pictures! How could anyone not find a rat cute!

    I've been breeding rats for about 3 years and it's been total trial and error. Thank goodness I found this thread (my husband is the one that's active on the site and I'm a late bloomer)

    Here is what I've had happen:

    1. The female can get knocked up within hours after delivery and have another litter in 21 days. I've lost a few females when this has happened and I think they just didn't have time to recover from the first litter.

    2. The litters become smaller and smaller when they are bred back to back

    3. I've had some not so good fathers who have killed entire litters or mangled them pathetically (and it's so icky to witness).

    I hope you have better luck than I have and I hope you continue to post your progress. I have learned so much from these threads over the last few weeks and I know I have a lot more to learn but I just wanted to let you know what I've experienced.
    Laurie

  6. #6
    BPnet Veteran SatanicIntention's Avatar
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    Re: Holdback Future Breeding Group

    Jo, in my experience, this is not something that needs to be experimented with. It's been proven time and time again that breeding back to back litters quickly burns out females, resulting in small, weak litters, and a very reduced life span.

    Back to back breeding will only give you burnt out female rats who are depleted of all of their resources, poorly offspring, and likely cannibalized litters because mom knows she does not have enough in her own resources to keep herself healthy, not to mention a litter of 10 or more. Also, I have not seen that the fathers are good babysitters. Gerbils, yes, ASFs, yes(I would assume from reading), mice, fair, rats, not really. Male rats only want to mate, eat and sleep.

    Why not just keep on doing what you're doing? You're producing healthy, robust, large litters as it is and your females are healthy and living full lives. Why wreak havoc on their bodies to produce maybe a few more pups a week(pups that could easily be stunted and weaker if born of a weak, already nutritionally-depleted mother). Just wouldn't be worth it to me to know my snakes aren't eating high quality prey.
    --Becky--
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  7. #7
    BPnet Veteran frankykeno's Avatar
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    Re: Holdback Future Breeding Group

    Thank you both for your thoughts, however, I don't see this as something I need not or should not do. It's a process of learning, of thinking outside the box and being undertaken with a wealth of rat breeding experience under my belt. I will be able to make the judgement calls that both work for the rat colony and provide for the top quality feeders that have always been my goal in raising our own snake feed. If I find this system isn't working, then I'll adjust it.
    ~~Joanna~~


  8. #8
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    Re: Holdback Future Breeding Group

    The blue rats are SO cute!

    I'd be somewhat concerned with a holdback group that has so much blue in it, since that is associated with some problems. It wasn't clear from your post if these are the first generation of blues you've produced or not. If so, then they are still 50% pet store cruddy rat genes. I'm assuming blue pet store rat x home produced rat = F1 generation 50% pet store genes. But then you'd have to breed 2 of those F1s together to get the visible trait, so even though you are another generation away, it is still 50% pet store genes. Of course, if they are further removed then that is different.

    As far as your experiment with doing a breeding colony that stays together rather than a rotation system, that is of course your choice and I'm sure you'll be able to recognize quickly if you are unhappy with the results. I know some people do this, so it is not totally impossible, but it may be impossible to get results you'll be happy with.

    One thing I've often wondered about is people talk about back to back breeding resulting in smaller litters. But it also results in more frequent litters. So maybe it averages out in the long run? You'll find out. I'm sure you'll burn out the females faster, but as long as you have enough production to be able to spare extra females to replace them, that isn't the end of the world.

    There are really 2 questions that need to be answered here, for Joanna and for anyone else who might try/is trying a system like this:
    1) Are you able to produce enough rats of a high enough quality for your needs? Or are you able to produce more and/or better quality with a rotation system?
    2) Are you comfortable with the quality of life that your rats live with the new system? There doesn't seem to be any debate that breeding the females back to back reduces their quality of life. But that doesn't necessarily mean it is inhumane. Not every animal has to live a pampered life.

    Not trying to tell anyone what to do. I haven't even bred rats other than a minimal amount when I was a teenager, like 2 litters I think? But I do expect to be breeding sometime in the relatively near future, so I always read these thread with interest and think about how I will be doing it when the time comes. So I guess this is mostly thinking out loud (thinking through my fingers?).
    Casey

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