Adult Size: Large (10-2o pounds/ 4.5-9 kilograms)
The Altex rabbit was first developed as a sire rabbit in 1986 at Alabama A&M University and later at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. It was bred from Flemish Giant, Champagne d’ Argent, and Californian rabbits. The Altex was genetically selected for heavy 70 day market weights for over 20 generations. Mature body weights typically exceed 13 pounds in both sexes. Color markings are that of a Californian (white pelts and dark points on the feet, tail, ears, nose) but Altex rabbits generally weigh more.
The Altex breed takes advantage of both hybrid vigor and breed complementation, two factors that can significantly enhance meat rabbit production in the backyard and in a large-scale commercial facility. But it is not meant to be the sole rabbit breed in a meat rabbit producer’s rabbitry. The Altex lack many of the best qualities of Californian and New Zealand White rabbits, especially when bred pure. For example, they are harder to mate and they often have smaller litters (6-7 kits). The Altex’s main strength shows when they are crossbred, producing rabbits that have faster weight gain. This creates a more efficient performance and ultimate greater profits from the herd. Altex/New Zealand White crossbred fryers typically reach market weight a week earlier than purebred New Zealand White fryers. Another recommended cross is the mating from an Altex buck to a Californian/New Zealand White crossbred doe.
Altex bucks and does can be mated for the first time at about 6 months old. When Altex bucks are used in a commercial crossbreeding program, all offspring should be sold for meat. This breeding practice is called a “terminal crossbreeding”. In other words, replacements should not be saved because less efficient production would be expected. Specifically, an Altex/NZW sire (buck) may produce slower growing fryers than a purebred Altex sire, and the Altex/NZW dam may consume more feed, produce less milk and wean fewer offspring than a purebred NZW dam. For best results, seek out another Altex buck from a nucleus herd source when a replacement is needed. Replacement does can be purchased from reputable purebred NZW breeders or other commercial sources. This “terminal crossbreeding” process in itself leads to improved production efficiency because the breeder is relieved of the responsibility and time involved in making selections and in occupying cage space for young, home-grown replacement bucks and does.