- Weight: 10 – 20 lbs. (4.5 – 9.1 kg)
- Comparable breeds – Californian rabbit, New Zealand white
- Purpose – Meat
- Country of origin: United States of America
- Body type: Commercial
- Lifespan: 5 – 10 years
History and origin
To begin with, this commercial rabbit breed (not recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, ARBA or the British Rabbit Council, BRC) was developed for the sole purpose of creating sires (buck) to help breed highly efficient meat rabbits that are terminal crosses and not for show tables.
Just to clarify, terminal crosses are not used for breeding. Instead, the entire litter is sold off for meat, fur, pelt or for whatever purpose it was created for. This crossbreeding is known to help improve hybrid vigor (heterosis), weights, and dress-out percentages of the resultant offspring.
The Altex project was developed by Steven D. Lukefahr, a Professor in the Department of Animal & Wildlife Sciences at Texas A&M University Kingsville, working together with some of his former students.
The project began in 1986, and these bunnies got their name from where they were initially developed, i.e., at Alabama A&M University and Texas A&M University, i.e., AL for Alabama and ‘TEX’ for Texas.
In developing them, purebred Champagne d’Argent (CHA), Flemish Giant (FG), and Californian rabbits (CAL) were acquired from fanciers and reputed breeders from several states in the US and brought together at the Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, AL.
The Flemish Giants bucks were then crossed with Champagne D’Argent and Californian bunnies to create two sets of first crosses, the F1. Afterward, bucks and does from the F1 sets were again crossed to give rise to second crosses, the F2, making all the F2 sets to have ½ FG, ¼ CAL, and ¼ CHA.
The F2 “breed composition was used to assemble genes from the three breeds for sire traits: rapid and efficient body gains, high dressing percentage and the high meat-to-bone ratio” notes tamuk.edu. This meant that fryers could hit the market up to a week earlier with optimized profitability.
As you would expect, the F2 had different traits, coat colors, body types, sizes, fryer growth rates and so on due to their different possibilities of genetic compositions. However, through selective breeding for five generations, the Altex rabbit was eventually developed.
Uses of Altex bunny or breeding stock
To use them, get a purebred Altex buck and breed it with a New Zealand White or a cross of Californian and New Zealand white doe since they:
- Have large litters
- Have better mothering skills
- Produce more milk
- Live for a longer time
As earlier noted, all the progeny of Altex rabbits are only for meat, i.e., terminal breeding. Do not save replacements since they will be less efficient, i.e. to be specific, according to the tamuk.edu, an “Altex x NZW sire may produce less fast-growing fryers than an Altex sire, and the Altex X NZW dam may consume more feed, produce less milk and wean fewer offspring than an NZW dam.”
On the other hand, offspring of Altex doe and New Zealand White sire grow slowly. Therefore, if you are a commercial breeder, you should get a replacement Altex buck while if you need a doe, get a purebred one from reputed New Zealand white breeders.
Note that, at the age of 6 months, both the Altex bucks and does weigh more than 13 pounds, and they can be mated.
They have a white coat with grey markings resembling their Californian ancestors. This is a genetic stamp that was developed to avoid confusion with an albino Flemish Giant or a mature smaller sized Californian rabbit.
Temperament and behavior
They are docile, sweet and well-behaved bunnies. They are also easy to handle.
Care and health concerns
They feed on commercial feeds mainly and have the usual health, care and housing concerns that most bunnies have.