American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2007 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Mouse Keeping: Record Keeping in the Mousery

By Virginia Pochmann

From Mouse Review, Issue No. 6 (April 1989) and Issue No. 7 (May 1989). Permission given to reprint article.

This lead-in paragraph to this article was a statement made by Roger Hutchings in an article he did for Mouse Fancy Review on “How Many is too Many?” (Vol. 1, No. 2, Nov. 1983) (This newsletter with similar name as Mouse Review was published years prior in England by Mr. Hutchings) “Do you keep effective breeding records? Perhaps not, because you think it would need even more of your time. Yet the reality is that a recorded breeding stock needs smaller numbers to equal the results of random off-the-cuff methods. The same principle applies to the time needed to acquire some basic knowledge of inheritance and livestock improvement methods. A modest extent of study can save vast amounts of time and wasted effort throughout your career as a fancier.”

Many fanciers keep no records whatsoever of matings, animals, dates of birth, etc. This is O.K. if you are just breeding a few animals for fun, but if you are breeding toward a goal, you really need to keep records so that you can look up pedigrees, dates of birth, and genetic background of each animal in the colony. If there are no such records, you may one day succeed in producing a beautiful animal and have no idea of how you did it . . . thereby being unable to duplicate the breeding and get more like the good one.

I am going to put down here my own system of record-keeping. There are many others just as good, I’m sure, but this one works well for me, and may be helpful to some of you. My system consists of three parts: a stud-book, in which every animal is listed and described; a card file, in which every breeding doe has a card which lists date of each mating, number of buck used, date of birth of each litter, description of litter, and numbers assigned to those kept for breeding; and a cage tag for each animal. I also keep a log for the colony, in which I make note of any abnormal happening, such as an animal appearing out of condition, a litter being destroyed, the appearance of a tumor, etc. Any oddity gets noted there . . . and this comes in very handy later when tracing back to the origin of any problem. Also noted are medications used, dates used, and dosage given; use of insecticides for ectoparasites; acquisition of new animals and dates of quarantine; and any other happening in the mousery. A subscriber of Mouse Review wrote in an excellent suggestion of an additional item to keep tabs on: keeping records of people to whom mice are sold/given, and also records of money received for stock sold (for those fanciers who make a business of it, and need substantiation for IRS audits). This may seem time-consuming, but really it takes only seconds to make each entry out, and is well worth it in the long run.

The Stud Book

The stud book is set up as follows: I use a loose leaf 3-ring binder which is divided into sections, one section for each breed or variety of mouse I am breeding. I use letter prefixes which differ for each breed, so as to keep them straight. For example, each roan mouse has a number preceded by an R (Rl, R2, R3, R4, etc.). After the number comes the symbol for gender. I use the scientific symbols: ♂ for male, ♀ for female. Then the physical description of the animal (color, coat type), date of birth, number of sire and dam. I then leave two lines on the page empty for later notations. (For example, if the animal’s offspring include those of another color, such as Blue or Albino, I would note that the recessive gene for this color is present in this animal. Blue would be noted as Dd, albino as Cc, to show that the animal is heterozygous for this color.) I may also note here the percentage of English bloodline in this particular animal if this is a variety which I am crossing to the English.

A sample entry would look like this:

Stud book entry

To translate this entry into English, you read as follows: Roan number 8 is a Black Tan long-haired male, born on the 14th of December 1988, out of female R4 and by buck R2. He has 50% English blood, and is heterozygous for pink-eyed and albino.

This entry is made only once for each animal put into service as a breeder, and is a lasting record for use in figuring out pedigrees, from then on. When the animal is sold or culled, a check is placed beside the number, so that I know at a glance that it is no longer in the colony.

Besides the section for Roans, I have a section for pure English (no prefix, just No. 1, 2, 3, etc.); a section for Satins crossed to English (prefix S), and a section for Pied (spotted) mice crossed to English (prefix P).

The Cage Tag

Each animal is provided with a cage tag, which goes along with it when it is moved from one cage to another. This tag, in the case of bucks, contains two lines with the same information found in the stud book; Number (with prefix showing breed), sex, color and coat type on the top line; numbers of dam and sire, and birth date on the second line. In the case of does, there are three lines: top lines same as for bucks, bottom line has date of mating, number of buck, and date of kindling at left. Tag is written on one-inch-wide masking tape using a fine-point Sharpie pen or other permanent marking pen, and looks like this:

Cage tag

The tag can be moved to a new cage when the mouse is transferred. A doe gets a new tag each time she is mated to a buck.

When I glance at a cage containing a litter of mice with the above tag on it, I know at a glance that the litter was born on Feb. 20, and that the mother is S16 and the sire is S18. If I need to know more about the sire, I either have to look at his cage tag, or at his entry in the stud book.

The Card File

The third part of record-keeping is the card file, which contains a card for every doe used as a breeder. I use 5″ x 8″ cards and write on them with pencil so that I can erase if necessary. The file is a recipe-card file, with dividers marked as follows: LITTERS, MATED DOES, INACTIVE DOES, CULLED DOES, and BLANK CARDS. When I first mate up a doe, I fill out a card for her from the BLANK CARDS section, enter the number of the buck and the date mated, and put the card into the MATED DOES section. When she kindles, I mark the date and move the card to the LITTERS section. After weaning the litter, she either gets rebred or rested for a week. If rebred, the card goes back into the MATED DOES section; if resting, the card goes into the INACTIVE file. When she is sold or culled, the card goes into the final section; CULLED DOES. A line is drawn all the way across the card after each litter.

The card for an English Champagne doe looks like this (sample):

Card File

If necessary, you could turn over the card for more litters, I do not take more than 4 litters from one doe, so space is not a problem. Also, most litters take up less space on the card than this doe’s, because I don’t usually keep the whole litter. ♀ 25 has particularly fine large young, so I keep most of them and the right hand column is pretty filled-up.

This system can be modified in any way you think of. It is quite flexible. The section of CULLED DOES comes in handy if you want to look up the breeding record of a certain mouse’s ancestors. *

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June 22, 2014