Which was proven by my other two does. Dutchess gave birth to 5 kits yesterday: 3 BEW and 2 VM's, all in the nestbox. Needless to say I was really excited, especially since I wasn't really sure how she was going to do as she never actively made a nest, I basically had to do it for her. But she pulled fur, gave birth in her box, and cleaned up her kits really well, although there was a good bit of bruising on the heads and backs of her kits. But when I really pulled them out to look at them, I realized two had their eyes open and had somewhat oddly shaped heads. One was a little smaller than the others, and the other had misshapen hind legs.
Hmmmm. Max Factor babies.
A recessive trait brought over from Germany in a couple of brother Netherland Dwarf rabbits, one of whom had the barn name, Max. Somewhat like the true dwarf gene, the carrier status brings some benefits to the rabbit, but carrying both recessive genes causes problems. With the true dwarf gene, carrying both results in a peanut, with the max factor it results in kits with misshapen heads, odd ear sets, misshapen hind limbs, and they are born with their eyes open, resulting in blindness in almost all cases. They also have odd, wispy haircoats.
You can see the two max factors in Dutchess's litter picture below. The larger BEW in the middle, and the VM next to that BEW with its head pointed to the bottom of the photo are the max factors. Since their chances of having any kind of a normal life are incredibly slim, they were removed from the nest and humanely euthanized.
Since Dutchess and the sire of the litter, Jack Daniels, are closely related, I will not be repeating this breeding. Since it has been proven that both are carriers for the max factor gene, I don't want to risk having them pop up in future litters.
The sire of this litter was also Jack Daniels. So, while I am happy with the performance of my does (even with the loss of this litter out of Vienna, and the two kits in Dutchess' litter), I am going to cull this buck. Since I don't want to get any more max factors, I can't breed him to Dutchess or Vienna, since that does produce the unwanted kits. And the conformational traits that he has are not such that I really want to cross him with Lilly, so that leaves no does in my rabbitry to breed him to. And I'm contemplating neutering him before I offer him for sale.
On another note, I'm interested to see what color the VM kit in Dutchess' litter turns out to be. I know that it is going to be Agouti because it has the light colored belly, eye rings, and triangle behind the ears, but over the back appears blue, not black, which you would normally associate with a chestnut agouti. Of course, I could be wrong, so it will be interesting to see as the fur comes in.