I just got off the phone with the executive director of the Livestock Conservancy which is responsible for rehabilitating numerous domestic species of animals in its pursuits.
Currently they use a combination of in and outbreeding within breeds of rabbits based on the belief that the breeds themselves have all the diversity they need to rehabilitate themselves with appropriate animal husbandry. They have been employing this method for some time with success. I will be doing more research in this area as I approach geneticists to test its longevity, but it sounds promising.
The discussion was incredibly informative as I explained my stance based on my findings and she shared their stance and methods that worked. I have much to learn, but I have renewed hope now that I’m reaching well educated individuals in my field. I’m happy to say I’m often the stupidest person in the room. She also mentioned the livestock conservancy has literature on the topics of genetic diversity available on their website and I would recommend checking it out.
I also received confirmation that my model of breeding rotation is both practical and economical. The Hedgecock model of breeding involves saving a doe from each and every litter you produce and once annually/generationally depending on how big your Rabbitry is you purchase an outside unrelated buck and run it through all that generations does. Again you save one doe from each of those litters and purchase 1 new outside buck the following year. This brings your cost of new rabbits for diversity down to a single rabbit and by rotating generationally you avoid Sire Popularity Syndrome ( sire-ing too much from one desirable buck creating a lack of diversity similar to Attila the Hun‘s conquest of Russia and Asia). This method should be used to replace inbreeding, is economical costing $100 annually approximately and could reduce or eliminate genetic diversity issues as a result of inbreeding. You can also use this to scale your operations up drastically or to maintain your herd population and diversity.
I will continue researching this topic and working through my hypotheses to solve this problem. I will be attending a webinar tonight at 8pm EST hosted by HSUS to discuss the problems faced by purebred dogs by a renowned geneticist. The work is parallel to what I’m trying to accomplish and should be an education. The webinar counts as a RACE con-Ed course worth 1.5 hours. It is free and available to the public. Hope to see you there.