My little French Onion himi satin teddy sow came into season yesterday and, I believe, was mated by Tarragon, a cream boar. She has such a nice coat for a satin, I hope the genetics work out.
And it appears that I may actually be having more babies before July. I was checking pigs and cleaning cages and a couple of sows that I had assumed were just getting pudgy are actually now feeling more like they're in pig, if you know what I mean. They've got that heavy pear shape thing going. A week ago, I would have said no way, but now...? I'll be sure in a couple weeks. Right now, if I had to bet, I'd say that my gold teddy, and a cream sow and a DEW sow are due sometime in June.
Cavy genetics are pretty easy until suddenly I start feeling completely confused. I'm starting with Agoutis because you don't see a lot of Agouti Abyssinians, and I just wanted to show off some pretty piggies.
Silver Agouti: AA, BB, crcr (or crca), EE, PP, SS
Solid are the same as the Agoutis except that you replace the A with Ar.
I don’t do Tans but think they’re awesome.
Next time I'll do selfs.
The Quick Guide to Cavy Color Genetics
First I’m assuming that everyone reading this has a basic understanding of genetics. This is just a cheat sheet.
A is for Agouti
A = Agouti
Ar = Solid
a = Self
B is for Black
B = Black
b = Chocolate
C is for Color
C = Red
ck = Dark Dilution of red
cd = Light Dilution of red
cr = Ruby Eyes, complete dilution of red to white, slight dilution of black
ca = Himalayan, complete dilution of red to white, no black except on points
E is for Extension
E = Full extension (B gene controls, C gene unexpressed)
ep = Partial extension (B and C both expressed, eg, Brindles, Torties, Brokens)
ee = Only C is expressed, B gene is supressed
EE = 100% Black
Eep = 100% -85% Black, 0%-15% Red
epep = 85% -50% Black, 15%- 50% Red
epe = 50%- 25% Black, 50%-25% Red (Best Brindles in my experience)
ee = %100 Red
P is for Pink Eyes
P = dark eyes
p = pink eyes and dilution of black series to lilac and beige
Rs is for Roan Spotting
Si is for Roan Silvering }
S is for Spots
S is usually no white spots
Ss is usually less than 50% white
ss is usually more than 50% white
I’m not going to deal with roaning or spotting since I don’t work with those. My main focus is creams and silver agoutis, so how to get there.
To be fair, I didn’t find her, Alyssa Frymyer of Teddy Bear Teddies, did, but still.
I had just purchased a new boar from Alyssa, a cream without dark ears. Dark ears on my creams plague me, but the best coats seem to come with the dark ears not surprising since my bloodline includes several Bandirose whites from years ago.
Anyway, Alyssa and I got chatting about how now that Gold is recognized in Americans, judges are looking for much lighter creams in teddies. I have a pair of Gold teddies, and they are much much darker than my creams, but looking at pictures of American creams makes me despair.
What to do? I pulled out my old genetics stuff (which I found also doing Spring cleaning), and read that lighter creams result from using the Himi gene (Ca) than the ruby-eye gene (Cr) which is what’s found in Sliver Agoutis and Solids.
I’ve down-sized quite a bit from 50-60 pigs to 28, over the winter and early spring (such as it was — more like winter and more winter). Some of that 28 includes sentimental favorites, so breeding wise, I have four teddy boars and five teddy sows, six aby boars and six aby sows. All of this means that I could rearrange cages, which lead to deciding to make a Facebook page, which means updating pictures.
Alyssa looking at my pig pictures immediately spotted what I could not see. My PEW satin sow was actually a poor Himalayan. I just saw dark ears. It was Alyssa who thought “wait a minute, dark ear on a pink-eyed animal isn’t from the gene that gives beige and lilacs. It’s a Himi!”
Her name is Oignon (French for onion), and she’s not a very good Himi, but I don’t need her to be since my goal is to breed creams. And the last time I really looked at her was when she was young before her points started to darken. I had put her down as a Pink-eyed White (PEW), put her in with a some other young sows, and that was that. Now she’s old enough to breed, and developing quite a nice coat for a satin, dense but plush, plus a very bright sheen. Actually, the satin sheen makes her look like a super light cream. Go figure.
Next time, I’ll do a post on the genetics of all this. Just to refresh for myself because sometimes you only see what you expect to see.
So you've decided that you really want to get a pet guinea pig. Obviously you want a healthy and well adjusted little companion who will be around for years.
But where do you get such an animal?
From worst to best:
The short answer is avoid big box store pet chains and anyone that strikes you as a hoarder/collector/crazy person. Local pet shops, reputable rescuers, and the kid in your daughter's sixth grade class who's giving away free babies are probably all safe bets. Best is an experienced breeder who is a member of the American Cavy Breeders Association, breeds show quality pigs and has a good reputation.
Worst is a big box pet chain like Petco or Petsmart. Over the years I have heard many tragic stories about animals from these chains. Typically you'll pay $30 or more for an animal that is already about two to three months old. They have not been socialized at all and usually have parasites or diseases. The box store chains have to purchase their "stock" from wholesalers. The wholesalers ship their animals from warehouses which are hundreds of miles away. Years ago, I was at a big cavy show where the wholesaler was buying young pigs, packing them into bins regardless of sex and throwing the bins into the back of an 18-wheeler to take them from Pennsylvania to Texas to be processed and then resold to these box stores. The whole system stinks for the guinea pigs, putitng them under extreme stress which weakens immune systems, and so on. Finally, the pet store chain will try to sell you a lot of stuff that guinea pigs really don't need, like the ubiquous pigaloo.
The next choice is between a guinea pig rescue and a backyard breeder. Here you really are taking your chances. Some pet rescue people are great and some are just one episode away from being a "collector/hoarder." Back when I first started with guinea pigs, I did some rescue, mainly having pigs dumped on me by other "rescuers" and people who had bought pigs from a chain and then realized that they didn't really want them. The animals I got from the rescues had all kinds of medical problems while the pets from the former pet owners were fine. So if you go the adopting-from-a-rescue route, expect to either have to deal with medical issues, parasites, bumblefoot, and so on, OR if they are reputable, have to undergo an interview process, sign contracts, and pay a fee equivalent to the box store chain prices.
Probably better is the backyard breeder, someone who got some pigs from a pet store and wanted babies. Chances are pretty good that the babies were well handled and socialized, and that their cages were cleaned regularly, and that they've gotten used to eating plenty of veggies. The price is going to anywhere from free to $15. Ask around at schools that have classroom pigs or look on craigslist. You are still taking your chances though so be sure to ask around.
About the same level of risk is buying from a local pet shop. These folks usually get their animals from backyard breeders or from real breeders who breed for show. The animals are going to be healthy if the pet store has a good reputation, but they may not be well socialized depending on how long they've been at the shop. Again, look for clean cages and make sure that the shop has separate cages for males and females.
Your best choice is to find a breeder who is a member of the American Cavy Breeders Association. People who raise cavies for the show table and breed to a standard of perfection know their bloodline, keep their animals super healthy and super clean. They usually know more about cavy health issues than the local vets, and contrary to what you might have read elsewhere, do socialize their pigs because a pig that is afraid of people and struggles to escape the judges isn't going to be a good candidate for the show table. These breeders are as enthusiastic about thier pigs as any pet lover, maybe even more so. They keep their herd numbers in check because they know their limits. Prices are going to range from $10-$15 for a pet quality pig. Show quality animals with pedigrees are going to be more, of course, especially sows.
These breeder do have to sell to wholesalers when their herds get too large and when there is no local pet store to sell to. So buying direct from the ACBA breeder insures that you get a young, healthy guinea pig from a healthy bloodline. However, most breeders are careful about not overbreeding and they never breed for the sake of breeding, so be prepared to be on a waiting list.
RWT Huckleberry is a very nice light cream with a great coat. I just got him from Alyssa Frymyer (thanks Alyssa!) The best part for me is that his ear are nice and light, too. Several years ago I bought some of the last Bandirose pigs, some really amazing whites, from Katie Carter, perfect in everyway, except for the dark ears. And now, years later, the dark ears pop up in all my best creams. That's genetics for you. Anyway, I'm so excited about Huckleberry.
Here he is:
I am finally at the point where I can start selling some of my cream Abbies. Right now I'm thinking of selling a couple of senior cream sows, along with a white sow and a red sow. In addition there are some nice younger Abby boars, including a very showable red junior boar. In Teddies I am also looking a couple of younger boars that will probably also be available. I'll try to post some pictures next week. In the meantime, please send me an email if you're interested and able to come to State College PA to pick up your pigs.
Also if anyone has a chocolate or even black abby boar they could part with in the mid-Atlantic region, let me know.
Spring is coming!
Here they are: First three teddies. They were born three days ago, a cream sow, a PEW sow (who is hiding) and a PEW boar.
And five Abbies. These guys were superwiggly so I could only get a good shot of one of them, but here they all are. They're a week old. Three cream sows, one cream boar and a DEW boar. All look good so far.
Went into the caviary this morning, and there was Critter, sitting all by herself at one end of the pen. And peaking out from under her was a tiny cream butt. When I lifted her up, there were two more tiny butts. Actually, all three babies are a nice size. We have a cream sow, a PEW sow and a PEW boar. Yay! Exactly what I had hoped for. I can't tell yet if they are satins because they're all still a little damp and mama is still cleaning them up. Pictures soon. I'm gonna let mama and babies settle in to their new little nursing cage. Critter is such a sweet and competent mother.
I have decided to part with the following. I will post more soon as I make decisions going into the summer. These are all $15 each, but I'd be delighted to give one price for multiple animals, especially if you come to pick them up.
And two white boars, siblings to the sow. These would be better as pets. I only keep boars that are practically perfect. With Abbies, I find that it's critical. I am more flexible when it comes to teddy boars, but not abbies.
Cream sow, year old. Not showable, but would make great pet. Or if someone wanted to work with creams as long as you had very good boars to breed with her. She has given me a couple of showable offspring.
Show quality REO sow. 11 weeks old. [SOLD]
Lilac and REO sow, eight weeks old.
Red sow, 19 weeks old.
Sire is a GA, Dam is DEW.
She could be shown but the red is on the orange side, probably because of the modifiers from the white mother. However all the ridges and rosettes are pretty good, so she'd be good in a breeding program for creams, white, silver agouti, and even dilutes.
Getting photos up has always been a bit of struggle around here. My ditigal camera is about 10 years old and technology for uploading pictures is ancient. We're not much of a high tech family here. But yesterday I finally broke down and ordered myself a new iPhone with all the bells and whistles so getting pictures up should be a snap from here on out. Woot!
The iPhone gets here tomorrow.
Breeding is sometimes like gambling. You place your bets and hope for a lucky roll of the dice. After cleaning out the big girl cage, I reshuffled the deck and made some new mating decisions. Hopefully, informed decisions. The cards are played and now we have to wait.
In the Teddy catagory:
The two creams are staying together. That's Ash and Ori. Critter, the dilute agouti sow, has been bred to CaraMel, the satin gold boar with excellent results, however I want to try my red sow with Mel. She has such nice type and her last litter was so disappointing. So Salvia (red) is in with Mel (satin gold), and Critter (DA) is in with CocoPuff, a lilac boar. He's six months old, so this will be his first go.
In the nursery, Dreamsicle (Roan gold (pink eyes) delivered yesterday. Sadly only one baby made it. She's a nice little satin cream. Yay, a satin sow at last. I've gone years getting only the occasional satin and then always a boar.
In the Abyssinian catagory:
Carmelo (Roan cream) x Lilla (Lilac & REO). Both have good ridges and I'm hoping for a roan lilac & REO.
And the rest are combinations of gold x whites or creams x white. I did decide to breed my red boar to a younger red sow just because they are both really nice abbies.
And in the aby nursery, Ninata (cream) had four DEW babies about a week ago, two of each, all doing well. The sire is Snowy (DEW — what else?). Now Ninata ridges and rosettes are all over the place, but Snowy's are great and all of the babies take after dad! How excellent is that? I really need white abbies for both creams and silver agouti, so this was a bet that really paid off.
I'll try to add some photos soon. First though, I need to clean more cages.
The latest baby cavy boomlet was disappointing. Mostly red and orangy golds. I want creams and whites. Out of a dozen babies I might keep two. There is one chocolate and white agouti abby sow that I'm in love with even though her rosettes and ridges are all over the place.
The next series of litters should include a couple of teddies, too.
The kids are home for Spring Break, or what passes for it in our school district. I'm going to see if I can get them to help with cage cleaning. "Hey guys, it's FUN!"
We have several junior abyssinian cream sows that are ready for new homes. They'll go fast so if you're intetested please let me know. The good news is that there are more coming this month. I have four sows that are due in the next couple of weeks. No teddy litters until April, however.
The red teddy still hasn't delivered. But at about three o'clock this afternoon, I went down to check water bottles and there was an aby sitting in the corner resting surrounded by four still damp pups. Two cream boars, a lovely gold sow and a DEW sow. Mama and babies are all doing fine. So now I have new babies to look at and put in my new database program. I'll try to get some fresh pictures up as soon as I find the camera.
I wish I had a photo of Nubbers somewhere. He was such a fixture in the caviary for so long that I never thought to take his picture. When he finally died last fall he was over six and still producing lovely babies. I miss him. In the mornings or evening or whenever one of us would go into the caviary, he'd be right there with his little front feet on the edge of his tray, standing up there to say "hi", give you a little kiss and accept any treat that might be forth-coming. When he passed, my heart went out of Teddies, and I ended up selling most of my Teddy herd. I kept his last mate, who was pregnant with his last litter, plus two others.
So it's been about four months. I have ten teddies now. And Nubbers' daughter is expecting her first litter any day.