Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Stand To Challenge That Judgement

It was recently brought to my attention that someone made the claim that; Breeders who produce rare and sometimes unshowable varieties are nothing more than pet breeders who are not serious about their breed. As a show breeder who breeds for quality and also has side color projects where I focus on getting quality on color, to me this statement is very ignorant. We each have our own personal goals. For someone's goal to be different than yours, doesn't mean they are wrong. To claim all breeders who have color projects are pet breeders, is to question their ethics and integrity.

Let me better clarify why this statement is factually incorrect and is simply just a placement of judgement/opinion. The majority of color "rules" are made based on the simple fact they can produce unshowable offspring, and not that they would affect the color quality like you would assume. Keep in mind new varieties will eventually be accepted and showable. One of my personal color projects is the Chocolate Otter Jersey Wooly. I knew beforehand of acquiring any of Jersey Wooly that I would like this variety. Why? I adore the color and it is quite simply special to me. We all have that special color/s. I later discovered the color was harder to find. Not many breeders have the color because of the fact they are unshowable (at the current moment). Because of this I had to put in a well thought out plan on how I was going to pull the Chocolate color out and put it on wool. Keep in mind both the Chocolate color and the wool gene are recessive, which made this project quite challenging and rather difficult. The project has required me to expand my knowledge of (but not limited to) genetics, linebreeding, conformation and other  breeders to inquire stock from. I worked incredibly hard, spent loads of money and time, and am proud to say I have produced my first Chocolate Otter.

Does this sound at all to you that I have no regards to ethics of breeding and genetics, or that I truly do not care about the well being of the breed? It is quite the opposite. In fact, because of my color projects I have a much greater understanding of color genetics and what colors shouldn't be used together and which are okay and why. To place a judgement that I am a pet breeder by the simple fact I have color projects is ridiculous. Take a look at my rabbits and you will discover outstanding quality, and someone who has an expanded understanding of breeding and color integrity.

At the end of the day, there will always be those who will always believe; if a breeder purposely produces unshowable varieties or who touches underdeveloped showable varieties are nothing more than pet breeders. That is just fine, but I stand to challenge that judgement.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Which Breed is Right For Me?

What’s My Perfect Breed?

First of all, think size. Size is a huge part of a breed. I categorize the breeds in three different sizes: large, medium and small. You could go more in depth. Larger breeds are more to pick up and are quite a bit heavier. They also require larger cages and more food, and have bigger litters. Smaller rabbits eat less and have smaller litters. If you pick a Dwarf breed, you will get peanuts in many of your litters. And of course the medium sized breeds are somewhere in between.

Second, what fur type? There are four types of fur: normal, rex, satin and wool. Do you want a rabbit that has wool? If yes, you will have quite an easy decision on picking your breed because there are only 6 wooled breeds. If no, mark out those wooled breeds. Remember, wooled breeds require much more grooming than a rabbit with normal rollback or flyback fur. There are also only 2 breeds that have rex fur; the Rex and Mini Rex, and 2 breeds that have satin fur: the Satin and Mini Satin.

Third, think about conformation. Consider body type profiles. There are 5 different groups of body type: Semi Arch, Compact, Commercial, Cylindrical and Full Arch. Also think about ear. Ears are what make a rabbit! Do you prefer large and erect? Short and erect? Lopped? 

Fourth, do you want a breed that comes in a rainbow of colors? Or is one color or a couple okay?

Fifth, think about the availability and popularity of the breed. You can pretty much get your hands on any breed if you know how. It certainly may not be as cheap as finding a breeder of a more popular breed locally. Rarer breeds need more development, and are considerably less competitive at shows because of lack of entries. Stock will be limited and selling them may be tougher, and you certainly can’t let the breed get into the wrong hands.

A few other things to ponder about is the average temperament of the breed, and also whether you would be interested in Marked Breeds. Marked breeds are when the rabbit has to have specific markings. For example, the Dwarf Hotot and Blanc de Hotot both have eyebands. Markings for the English Spot are worth 44 points! It is higher than general type.  

To sum it up, when deciding what breed to get be very picky and understand where the breed fits in all the categories. Pick a breed that is going to fit you perfectly. Read its standard. If you don't like how they should be built, why get the breed?  For me personally, I prefer medium and small breeds. The large breeds are my Mom's. They are too big for me to carry around easily. They are beautiful and fun to work with out of the nestbox and as juniors, but once they get to their full size they are too big for me. I also prefer tiny erect ears and cobby bodies, which is why I am so drawn to Netherland Dwarfs. I really like a breed that is posed upright, but am starting to fall for lower posed breeds such as the Dwarf Hotot. We all have our own preferences. Picking your perfect breed is tons of fun! Enjoy the search, have fun and take all things into consideration.

Thanks of reading, Heather

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Bunnies

    Easter is approaching and for many reputable rabbit breeders it is a time of closing down for the holiday. Though there is nothing wrong with getting a rabbit ON Easter, you shouldn’t get one FOR the sake of the holiday. If you are prepared for the commitment, have done your research and actually want a rabbit for the long run and not just for the sake of the holiday’s gimmick, there is nothing wrong with giving one or getting. If your child is begging for a rabbit this Easter, ask yourself these questions:

1:  Are you prepared to take responsibility of the rabbit if your child isn’t able to commit or loses interest in the rabbit? If no, get your child a stuffed bunny instead. 

2:  Have you done your research on how to properly take care of a rabbit? Do you have a proper setup for the rabbit (cage, bedding, food and water bowl, and rabbit food)? 

3:  Can you afford to buy rabbit food and bedding for the rabbit as needed?  Are you prepared to clean the rabbit’s cage out at least once a week, and to feed and water the rabbit everyday? 

4:  Are you knowledgeable on rabbit illnesses? Would you know what to do if the rabbit starts to show signs of an illness? 

Having a rabbit/s is a big responsibility because it is up to YOU to give them all they need. If you fail to take care of them, they will be the one to suffer. 

 Breeders have seen and dealt with horror stories, which reflects their decision not to sell rabbits on or near Easter. Too many times a child will receive a rabbit FOR Easter, lose interest in the rabbit after a few weeks and will neglect to take care of it. Nothing good can come from that, and the rabbit is the one that suffers.

Something to also keep in mind when considering buying a rabbit on Easter is though a 5 week old baby rabbit is adorable, it is illegal to sell/buy a rabbit under the age of 8 weeks in the state of South Carolina. This law will save you a lot of heartache. This holiday is a feeding ground for many "less than reputable" breeders to try and sell a mass amount of underage rabbits.

Rabbits are awesome creatures and leave footprints on your heart. Perhaps instead of getting a live animal, why not get your child a stuff rabbit? As for yourself, go buy you an awesome rabbit figurine or another rabbit collectable item. Check out these figurines we seen and just had to add to our collection:

For the love of wabbits, Heather

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Erin's Dwarf Hotots

Note: I use the term "cull" to describe the act of removing a rabbit from my herd, usually by means of rehoming.

When I first started in rabbits, boy was it hard to cull the ones that you loved so much yet were the worse in quality. It's sometimes hard, but that's part of being a breeder. If they aren't going to improve your herd, you have to cull them. I used to get easily attached. I do love my rabbits a lot. The ones I keep the longest are always the hardest to let go. Those special ones you are always talking about, those bunnies that have those cute little quirks, are sometimes very hard to let go of. Every time you cull a rabbit, it opens up a space for a better rabbit. I'm not breeding for pets. I am breeding for show stoppers. The sad part is I have to cull hard and not keep my favorite "pet".

Off topic, but not by much... As some of you may know I show Chinese Cresteds and just recently had my first litter of pups. What a learning experience it was! From the moment they are born, you are busy taking care of them or worrying about how they're doing. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and check on them to make sure everybody was okay. I was there for it all.

I remember when they first started learning how to walk. It was so adorable! I remember when it was time for them to start eating kibble. And when it was time for them to learn how to go potty outside. I taught them to walk on the leash and to stack on the table. Then to free stack. I spent a lot of time with each of the puppies that naturally I became attached to them. I began to evaluate them and could see who was the pets and who I would keep to show. It broke my heart so much, but my favorite out of the bunch just wasn't show quality. I wanted to make exceptions for him. I tried so hard to fit him into the AKC Standard. I had to be honest with myself and realize if I kept him and used him in my breeding program, he would not improve it. His gait is what hurt him. Even though he had the greatest personality in the world, and me and him were just perfect together, I had to give him to a pet home. I miss him dearly. Because I wouldn't make an exception for him, I will never ever make an exception for another dog (or rabbit). By pet homing him, it helped me gain a higher and stricter standard in my dogs. It also helped me realize the only way to improve in my rabbits is to cull hard and smart, and not with your heart.

Thanks for reading

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Ugly Duckling

As a fun little post, I thought it would be interesting to compare how much a rabbit can change as it matures. It is true that a rabbit that is a fugly junior might just be an outstanding senior, to some extent of course. Below are some examples I have put together.

First up is Sinderella, a Black Silver Marten Netherland Dwarf. She wasn't the prettiest junior. I am shocked at how nice she really is now that she is a senior! She is a very nice brood doe. She lacks the mass it takes to be a good show rabbit. But I really like this doe quite a bit.

Here is Clark, a Blue Otter Netherland Dwarf. The photo on the left was taken the day I brought him home. You can see a big difference between his junior and senior pics. His head has really filled out, balancing with his ears. I plan to show him soon.

This is Sapphire, Erin's Dwarf Hotot doe. As a junior, her head and body appeared to be much narrower than it is now as a senior. She has a fantastic head now, and good depth of body. She would be show quality if she wasn't a blue banded. 

Here is Oliver, Erin's Dwarf Hotot buck. He went from an ugly junior, to a handsome senior! We plan to enter him in more shows in the future.

And here is Flint, our Orange Netherland Dwarf. He was the definition of a fugly junior. He is GORGEOUS now as a senior. We plan to show him soon. We definitely wouldn't have entered him in a show as a junior. This is an amazing improvement. The ugly stage for NDs can be pretty rough.