Friday, January 21, 2011

Showing Rabbits

Chores seemed to take a long time today or could it be that I am just getting older and slower???  Nah!

I was enjoying the sunshine and warmer temps for sure.  I gave all of the pigs big mounds of hay and they are all out sleeping in the sun right now.  Full bellies + sunshine + a comfy bed= happy pigs!

Narrow Gate Farm Dallas-broken black Holland Lop buck

I have been wanting a chance to photograph some of the rabbits and today is a perfect day for that too.  Hollywood will be a bit of a challenge since he has no fear of jumping off anything from any height.  He can be a bit of a pill, but he is new here and still figuring everything out.

Musical Bunnies Hollywood-Broken Chinchilla Mini Lop buck

Right now Hollywood is playing in my office floor-leaping and bucking and conducting solitary rabbit races around my Pyreness (who is oblivious).  Basically I am trying to get the "ants out of his pants" before going outside for our photo shoot!  Dallas will have his turn next.  He loves to get let out to play.

Tomorrow I am taking a break from the farmer's markets to go to a rabbit show.  I am taking a couple of the young boys to see how they do.  I still have a lot to learn and these are not top quality show rabbits but I am interested to see what the judges say about them.  It is all a learning experience and everything that I learn will help me to improve my herd.

I have always loved rabbits and at different times, there have been house rabbits and yard rabbits and even pasture rabbits.  I like the lop earred rabbits although I always think of the words of a prominant tan breeder who says that they "look like puppies and that he likes rabbits that look like rabbits".  They do have a puppy dog look and they are so cute.  I also love anything spotted, so I have several "brokens" and some dilutes, which are my favorites.

In preparation for the show, I have had the boys out clipping nails, brushing them, posing them and just basically handling them and reminding them what it is like to be picked up and posed and moved around.  At a rabbit show, when your class is called, you place your rabbits in  a "coop" (one of a long row of small cages) in front of the judge.  The judge then takes the rabbits out one by one and handles them.  You cannot really tell the body type of a rabbit until you put your hands on it.  Once you hold them, you can feel the thickness of the shoulders, their body condition, fur condition etc.  The judge then moves the rabbits around in the coops with the higher placings going to one end and the others going to the opposite end. 

The most beneficial part of a rabbit show for a breeder is that after the judge has sorted out the rabbits, he/she will then comment on their reasons for each placement.  The judge's comments (as well as the placing in the show) are a tool for helping to evaluate your rabbits.  Rabbit shows are also attended by people who like rabbits (they are like potatoechips, you can't have just one) and buy them.  The shows get your rabbits out in front of people who like your breed and who may buy from you.

I have three Holland Lop does bred and set to kindle at the end of January.  The does are all different with different strengths and weaknesses.  Any kits with disqualifications or obvious faults will be sold as pets without pedigrees.  I will keep the rest of the offspring until they are about 3-4 months old.  At that time, I will choose one or two of the best ones to keep and show. 

Narrow Gate Farm Diva, Broken Tortoise Holland Lop doe

When you purchase rabbits, no breeder is going to give you his absolute best stock, so you usually purchase the best that you can and then improve your herd through breeding and culling.  Rabbits have a quick turnaround, so a herd could be improved quite quickly with judicious culling.  By culling in the case of a pet and fanciers breed (as opposed to a meat breed), I mean that the rabbits not kept in my barn for showing/breeding will be sold as pets and as brood stock (not eaten).

Although it would be fun to place well tomorrow, the best win for me will be from rabbits that I have bred myself.  I think that Mike and Joanna could attest to that as far as goats go!  The two rabbits going tomorrow are from local breeders.

Meat rabbit brood does, fertilizing the garden to be-a New Zealand and a NZ/Californian cross

I have a different criteria for culling meat rabbits and those culls do usually go on someones table.  With the meat rabbits, I weigh litters and actually keep track of how many pounds of rabbit each doe produces per year.  I keep my replacement breeding stock from does who wean large litters with heavy weaning weights.  This means that they are good moms who produce a lot of milk.  The New Zealands and Californians that I currently have are commercial rabbits and are not pedigreed, so I will not show them.  I do hope to add some pedigreed NZ and Cals soon.

Well, off to get the car packed for tomorrow.  More tomorrow on how we did.


  1. Good luck at the show tomorrow! We have two Flemish Giant does. I was looking for a buck this summer but then we got caught up in our move to the mountains and that had to be sidelined for the time. If you know or happen across any Flemish breeders, I would love to get their names and contact info. We moved to Trade, Tn (right on the TN/NC line) in September and are not too far from you. When the weather gets warmer I would love to come see your farm. Again, best of luck tomorrow.

  2. Thanks Sandy! There actually is a Flemish breeder near me who moved to the area about the same time I did. I met her at the last show but have not been out to her place yet. I have always wanted a Flemish as a pet.
    Her name is Cheryl Gott, , .
    Also, Charles Bryant of in Dallas, NC raises Flemish and makes and sells cages/supplies. He is
    You are welcome to come visit and then we could go look at very large rabbits at CHeryl's place!

  3. Nice & useful article. Thanks.