I have had a lot of requests for TAMUK rabbits lately and there is a lot of information out there about their quality. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation out there too. I spoke to a woman yesterday claiming to have the original TAMUK lines because she worked with the professor who developed them. I have no idea if she has the original TAMUKs or not. Here's what I do know:
TAMUK is an acronym standing for Texas A&M University Kingsville, its not the name of the breed of rabbit. The rabbits are a composite of several breeds in order to create a more heat tolerant animal. Apparently the professor who developed these animals created them for the express purpose of food security for third world countries with a higher average temperature than we experience in the US. He has also published several books on the matter. I am still in the process of researching the animals, their developer and his textbooks. I will update this post as I get more accurate information.
People who are interested in TAMUKs are people who live in warmer climates or keep rabbits outdoors and are looking for a more heat tolerant animal to maintain or to interbreed with their rabbits usually in a commercial/meat industry in order to make the rabbits more efficient under these conditions. Instead of increasing welfare for the animals or educating themselves, people in the rabbit industry or entering the rabbit industry will take shortcuts. Why develop the breed yourself when you can buy it and breed it with yours. While the rabbits qualities may improve a Rabbitry and while outcrossing to this composite breed will likely bring genetic diversity all of which are good things, I think its important to analyze the bad reason people are doing a good thing.
Rabbits DO belong outside, its where they come from originally. HOWEVER it has to be under ideal conditions for the animal. Having heat tolerant animals doesn't make them impervious to heat stress. Domestic rabbits originate from Oryctolagus Cuniculus Cuniculus and Cuniculus Argilus. These rabbits still exist in the wild in Europe, a much colder climate. While rabbits can adapt to things like climate change, it takes time and genetic diversity and gradual introduction through their environment. Too many "breeders" say stuff like "if they are heat tolerant they will survive and then I will only have heat tolerant rabbits" or "only the strong ones will survive and then I have strong rabbits". Not only is this not true, this is clearly animal abuse. You don't put human babies out in the summer sun and say "The strongest will survive" this isn't Sparta. If you wouldn't do it to a human being or a human child you shouldn't do it to your rabbit. This includes inbreeding/linebreeding.
The woman I spoke to last night may indeed be in control of the last of the TAMUK lines, but she sees it as a "franchise" and she is trying to control the industry to benefit herself. She has made valid attempts to benefit the world at large by shipping rabbits to countries in need of food sustainment and been denied by the in country government. She offered me an opportunity to work "with" her which based on her criteria for partnership was just me working for her. I created this blog as a way to share ideas that are normally silenced or censored by common forms of media like Facebook. I also created as a way to control content bringing updated information and telling the truth when information is inaccurate without being drowned out by ignorant individuals. I was not going to join a "partnership" in which my voice isn't considered equal and my content is manipulated to fit other's twisted world views. She criticized my work based on old photos on the website claiming my rabbits should all be dead and that by letting them play outside supervised and in a controlled area I was opening up my rabbits to disease and predators. Rabbits require multiple hours of exercise per day and weren't really made to be owned or possessed by humans if we are being honest. Wild rabbit territories span miles and this woman thinks a cage outside in indirect sunlight is adequate for the animals lifespan to save it from a potential predator. Yes predators are a risk and yes disease and pests are a risk, but that isn't an excuse to make animals our prisoners. She claimed a "black snake" killed and ate her rabbit. If her claims are accurate and her TAMUK line is 10+ lbs then a black racer would not be able to consume it much less be interested in it. She went on to say if I didn't share her exact values or listen to her I would be banned. This should sound familiar because it is what you will hear in ARBA and rabbit forums and from every uneducated person that owns a rabbit. Needless to say I declined to accept her partnership and while I am sourcing the TAMUKs for a repeat customer of mine I will not be taking any TAMUKs for myself.
In summary TAMUKs may be a good solution for your Rabbitry. I am not saying don't get them. What I am saying is if you can't manage the rabbits you have, then adding in heat tolerant rabbits will not solve the problems you have. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Yes, I see the irony because you are reading this on the internet. The difference is I will tell you to follow the science and everyone else will tell you to trust them blindly because "this is what works for them" or "I have x amount of years of experience so I know". I have not listed this woman's information because the point isn't to defame her or her work. The point is to recognize the rhetoric spit by the people who seek to control you by manipulating the truth. Rabbits are amazing animals and often neglected either through a lack of education or general apathy. Be good to your animals and they will be good to you.