Category Archives: Show Rabbits

Rabbit Pots and Bunny Berries

The display of our bunny berries at the craft fair.

The display of our bunny berries at the craft fair.

We have been stretching all of our boundaries lately.

 

Earlier this year we invested in a cubit press from the Urban Rabbit Project to make Rabbit Pots.  (For the unfamiliar, Rabbit Pots are cubes of compressed bunny berries (rabbit poop). These are excellent starters for seed sprouts, or can be crumbled over houseplants as a fertilizers. The cubit press can also be used to create fire starters and compressed fodder cubes.)

 

We have friends who are going through the adoption process and asked us if we could participate in their fundraising efforts by offering something to sell in a local craft fair. We were absolutely in favor of supporting them but yours truly doesn’t rank high on the “crafty” scale.

 

But we do have poop.

 

So, our family put our heads together and put together an assembly line packing moistened, aged bunny berries in Dixie cups and squeezing it into cubes. (Best case scenario will allow the poop to air dry thoroughly before packaging, although a dehydrator is also a good option.) Then we primped and packed our offerings to try to “gussy them up.”

 

The results:

Rabbit Pots

The Rabbit Pots we made are about three inches square. They’re a little delicate.

Bunny Berries

Dixie cups with compacted Berries make this a good option as a seed starter.

 

 

To be frank, the feedback we received is that the Bunny Berries were the talk of the craft show and people thought it was very clever but the sales were slow, as most of the craft show clientele (it was hosted in a retirement community) were more in the market for crocheted pot holders and scarves than manure… go figure!

 

The general take away is this is a good idea, but better marketed in Farmer’s Markets or at local plant nurseries. Either way, we’re glad to add this to our arsenal of ways to make rabbit relevant to every day life!

Blanc de Hotot Sports — Photo and Classification

Obviously, this is not a rabbit. It is a sport. Or a hat. Your call.

Obviously, this is not a rabbit. It is a sport. Or a hat. Your call.

Don’t you just love it when something forces you to think and learn? We do!

 

Raising Blanc de Hotot have given us a whole new topic to explore and learn. To be frank, we’re just working to figure out the genetics piece, and I’m also deep in the research different factors affecting spotted rabbits.

 

Genetically speaking, the Blanc de Hotot is a black bunny with a really, REALLY large white spot! Here’s the starting point: the genetics of a purebred Hotot should be aaBBCCDDEEEnEnDudu. And the broken gene in an Hotot is also called the “English Spotting” gene.

 

I’m sure that means something to you genetic gurus out there. I’m still figuring it out, personally!

 

Since I’m not fluent with the genetic identifications here, another thing we’re learning is that different Hotot sports have different names. I’ve collected photos from around the internet with explanations of what these markings are called. Thank you to anyone who actually took these photos – in many cases I haven’t been able to identify the owner of the photo or rabbit.

 

If a “broken” Hotot produces a show marked animal (dark eyes, white rabbit, black spectacles or eye bands) and looks like this:

Is this not a beautiful rabbit?!  Photo Courtesy of Autumn Denistoun

Is this not a beautiful rabbit?! Photo Courtesy of Autumn Denistoun

 

Then a “solid” Hotot produces a Piebald, which looks a lot like a Dutch rabbit:

20140706-100603-36363433.jpg

Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

Now, within the piebald category there are also silver pied. This is a rabbit exhibiting the Dutch markings but with silvering throughout the black blanket of its coloring:

 

See the white silvering in the black? That's a giveaway that you've got an  hotot! Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

See the white silvering in the black? That’s a giveaway that you’ve got an hotot! Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

Piebald with spots - baby fur. Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

Piebald with spots – baby fur. Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

 

The markings of the Hotot also have specific names. When an hotot has only one eye (instead of both) with the black fur rimming it is called a boxer:

Finger is on the boxer baby. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

Finger is on the boxer baby. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

Older boxer, missing one of the eye bands. Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

Older boxer, missing one of the eye bands. Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

 

(And reminds me of Petey from Little Rascals!):

 

I know, wrong animal. Cute nonetheless, though, right?!

I know, wrong animal. Cute nonetheless, though, right?!

 

The original goal of the Blanc de Hotot was to build a breed of pure white rabbit with dark eyes. The woman credited with starting the breed is Madame Eugenie Bernhard of Northern France. Because of her influence, when you run across an hotot with NO eye bands at all, it’s called a Bernhard:

A bernhard, named after the founder of the breed, has no black rings of fur around their eyes. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

A bernhard, named after the founder of the breed, has no black rings of fur around their eyes. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

 

Another interesting variation of the Blanc de Hotot sport is the evidence of blue “marbling” in their eyes. Marbling refers to having blue spots or streaks on an otherwise brown iris. This is not a desirable trait, but does come up:

Most of the time the marbling will not be the entire eye, although it's possible for an entirely blue iris to occur.

Most of the time the marbling will not be the entire eye, although it’s possible for an entirely blue iris to occur.

Do you see the blue there in the bottom of the eye?

Do you see the blue there in the bottom of the eye?

 

Many times I am confused by descriptions and need a visual to understand what people are mentioning. I hope this little pictorial will help others as we learn about this wonderful breed. Many thanks to all who offered photos for us to see! We welcome your comments!

 

Blanc de Hotot Breeders

Hotot logoOne of the things we have committed to in our rabbitry is raising rare breeds in as quality a manner as possible. That means not only breeding them, but also culling hard toward the breed standard and promoting them whenever possible.

One of our breeds is the Blanc de Hotot. It is ranked #1 on the Rare Breed list and adds a certain challenge to the breeder because it is a marked breed – the Standard of Perfection calls for evenly marked black eye bands — “spectacles— round dark eyes on a perfectly white rabbit. Additionally, the fur has a frosty appearance due to longer guard hairs.

In our litters we often have show marked rabbits, as well as “sports,” those rabbits who aren’t completely white and have black markings on them in random spots. We see our spots most often in between the ears or along the spine. Unless a sport has incredible body type, we cull them out of our program, and are working toward having exclusively show marked rabbits. But it’s a long process!

One thing that often confuses people is that there is a difference between a Dwarf Hotot and a Blanc de Hotot. The Blanc de Hotot is what we raise, and it is a commercial breed rabbit… BIG! It’s comparable to a Champagne d’Argent, Satin, Silver Fox, Californian, or New Zealand. The Dwarf Hotot is also white with black eye bands but it’s a little thing, more along the lines of a Netherland Dwarf. It’s much more common to see Dwarf Hotot around, we have often gotten comments from people who are shocked at the size of the Blanc de Hotot because they’ve never seen them in real life!

Since the Blanc de Hotot are a rare breed rabbit, it’s often difficult to figure out where other breeders are located. There is a facebook group called Blanc de Hotot rabbit breeders that has been very helpful to us as we have gotten more involved with the breed. We recently came up with a breeder listing and now have a map to generally see where people are located:

We're a small but mighty group! Would you like to join us in preserving this rare breed?!

We’re a small but mighty group! Would you like to join us in preserving this rare breed?!

Doesn’t Arizona look lonely?! It’s just our single little dot on the map! We’d sure love to see other Blanc de Hotot breeders come forward and work with us to preserve this breed! They’re funny rabbits, solid for meat production, curious in temperament, and in need of people to work on improving their type and competitiveness!

My Rabbits Bought my Keurig

Our rabbit money purchased a Keurig for our family this fall.

Our rabbit money purchased a Keurig for our family this fall.

People will often ask if it’s possible to make money on rabbits.

 

No. (Kinda.)

 

Raising rabbits is a lot like the blogging world in some respects. There are some people, like the Pioneer Woman, who make money on their blogs because they have a massive following and sponsors. But for every Pioneer Woman there are 5,000 people who opened their free blog account and post on occasion and make nothing.

 

Kinda like rabbits.

 

There are people who run commercial rabbitries who are able to make money for themselves selling meat rabbits. There are some people who have worked very hard on their lines and can make money on sales for their rabbits that actually support them in their retirement.

 

But for the average person, rabbits can be a bit of a money pit, especially if you’re addicted to buying new stock all of the time and you haven’t clearly stated your objectives.

 

For our family, we have three priorities for our rabbits:

 

1. To provide a healthy meat source for our family, where we know what is in the food we are eating. In this respect we are paying about $3/lbs for rabbit meat when we process on a 10-week schedule. That takes in to account the amount of food consumed by mama while nursing the litter and the amount of food consumed by the individual rabbit until butcher time.

2. To produce show animals that pay for themselves. We enjoy showing. I get it that not everyone does, but we find it to be a lot of fun for our whole family. Showing a rabbit is not terribly expensive, but it does take money in gas, entry fees, purchase of carriers to get them to and from the show, and incidental costs while there, like a soda. If we are able to sell stock to cover the cost of our show experience we consider that a fun experience that pays for itself… and that’s a win-win. As time has gone on our rabbit sales have also slowly chipped away at the initial purchase cost of our cages and supplies. We have a depreciation schedule for this so I’m not expecting to break even but, it’s happening slowly!

3. To allow this hobby to bring our family together. This is a purpose that doesn’t have a price tag, but so many of the hobbies we see as options are not whole family events. We love to go snowboarding, but now that we have kiddos it’s a bit of a scheduling nightmare to figure out how to manage all the childcare so we can hit the slopes. Rabbits aren’t like that for our family – we come together to take care of the daily husbandry tasks and when we go to shows we are often en masse with the kids and have found rabbit people to be extremely welcoming to well-behaved children.

We also recognize that rabbits have become our family hobby. Hobbies of all types exist in the world, but usually you expect to have a bit of expense involved whether it’s buying a specific size of knitting needle or yarn, or a special rope perfect for bouldering. Hobbies come with a price tag – ours also comes with fur!

 

The first year we had rabbits I fretted quite a bit over the monthly budget allowance we had going to the animals, thinking we would never break even. We sell our animals to people for show and starting their own meat operations, and have gotten a fairly steady stream of people who are interested in purchasing the poop — ‘bunny berries’ — for their gardens, which brings in a little extra cash. Now that we’ve been at it awhile, we also have been able to scale back our regular costs significantly to basically food and shows.

 

That has left a little extra room on occasion to save for bigger upcoming expenses. Dollar by quarter we are able to set money aside… and just a few weeks ago I was able to completely pamper myself by buying a Keurig coffee maker using our rabbit profits! So now we’re caffeinated as we pet our bunnies, a crazy combination! Ha!

 

I suppose when it comes down to it, it’s about your priorities. I would never recommend rabbits to someone as a money-making proposition. If you’re interested in a rewarding hobby with lovely relationships with others and potential to make a healthy lifestyle choice, this might be right up your alley!

How Much is Too Much to Spend on a Rabbit?

Yep. Been known to Happen.

Yep. Been known to Happen.

The ARBA national convention is this weekend and I’ve been having several discussions with different breeders about their purchasing budget.

 

Convention is a two-edged sword, because on one hand it’s a wonderful opportunity to spread bloodlines across the country and have access to livestock you can’t normally get because of distance. On the other hand, a rabbit purchased through Convention is typically much more expensive – maybe double the price or more – than a rabbit you can get locally once you add up the purchase price, transport cost, care cost, and entry fees.

 

So what’s the right choice? To buy… or NOT to buy? This is the question!

 

Everyone will have to come to their own conclusions, but this is how we look at it.

 

1. Gene Pool. We are raising rare breed rabbits. The ability to mix up bloodlines is pretty important – over generations sticking to the same gene pool will lead to a smaller sized, genetic abnormalities, and type characteristics that won’t help the breed long term. So getting new blood is worth the expense to us in that respect.

 

However, we don’t want to buy just anything willy-nilly. When we were first starting out I was interested in buying stock from anyone that had rabbits available. Now that we’ve gotten our feet wet and know our own lines, we can selectively choose animals that will (hopefully) add a specific trait to our herd. No herd is perfect! Part of what makes rabbit breeding so fun is seeing the changes in quality in your herd over time. Convention provides a perfect opportunity to gain access to a wider spectrum of rabbits.

 

2. Cost Analysis. From a purely practical standpoint, each rabbit has a cost/benefit. Let’s say a rabbit’s purchase price is $100. (That’s a nice even number). It’s a doe and she has a litter of 7 – of those you sell 2 and cull the other 5 for meat or such. Even if you sell the two babies for $50 each and the culls at $5 apiece you’ve made your purchase price back off of just one litter, while your original rabbit might produce ten more litters for you in her lifetime… or you might sell her as a proven doe at some point later in her life, recouping some of her original purchase price.

 

With that in mind, I find it easier to spend more on a Convention rabbit, as long as I keep a longer-term outlook about it. Over time rabbits will pay for their own food, the cost of physical rabbitry (cages, water bowls, etc.), any miscellaneous costs, BUT it’s not going to happen in six months. It’s a multi-year process and in the meantime you have to guard your own reputation and make sure you’re keeping your rabbitry clean, rabbits healthy, and selling stock buyers are excited to have and can (hopefully) win for them or produce great litters for their own livestock operation.

 

3. What’s Practical Now. When we were just getting started I practically mortgaged one of our children to get stock! Well, that’s overstating it quite a bit, but at that season I felt we had to snatch up the opportunity to get animals out here, since no one in our area was breeding some of these breeds. Fast forward a few years and now I’m staying within my budget and passing on animals I wish we could buy because I already said yes to some offered earlier.

 

Just a piece of marital advice, stick to your budget! My husband told me I could only buy rabbits with money rabbits made this year and it’s caused a few pains when I passed on a great animal… but a whole lot of peace with my spouse! There will always be more rabbits, I only want one husband!

 

So there you have it! It’s not a straight up  answer to how much YOU should spend on your animals, but at least a glimpse of how it’s working for us right now. May all your purchases be positive!

Silly Wabbit, Jokes are for Judges!

Laughter is good for the soul.

Laughter is good for the soul.

When we go to a rabbit show I am always very eager to hear what a judge has to say about our rabbits. I’m interested in all the comments, because if I can start seeing what a judge is seeing when they evaluate, I will only get better at breeding toward the Standard of Perfection at home.

 

There are many times I begin to feel a little sorry for a judge, however. When faced with a table of multitudes of rabbits that are practically identical, how on Earth do judges come up with something to say about every single rabbit?! Those judges who come up with creative descriptions get my kudos – and a nod toward a legacy with their words being immortalized in the blog-o-sphere!

 

Here are some of the most memorable judges comments shared by other rabbit breeders:

“This buck poses like a football player because he leans forward and braces like a linebacker.”

“This doe has shoulders like a quarterback.”

“Flat as road kill…”

“The head is just horrible but behind that, it’s Disneyland!”

“This doe just isn’t wearing her party dress today.” (with fur flying from molt)

“(I’d) only like Lionheads if they had a long tail with a broom type fur at the end & fangs!”

“(She’s) so little she still had milk on her breath.”

“Very nice buck, but the color is Yuck!”

“Nice arse.”

{Rabbit molting} “An outstanding individual but just needs a fresh coat of paint.”

“This rabbit would look great, (big pause) in a big pot right next to some potatoes & carrots.”

“This is a movie star rabbit – she’s got the body of Marilyn Monroe and the head of Phyllis Diller.”

English Spot who was congested: “And the hunter didn’t quite get him.. The pellets all hit here.”

“You can bounce a quarter off that rabbits back.”

A judge kissed one of my Florida Whites and asked her, “As cute as you are, I wonder if you would be just as tasty?!”

“This one seems to be a little over conditioned.”

“This doe has a butt ‘SMOOTH AS BUTTER!”

“This guy has such incredible fur, I just want to rub him all over me.”

Years ago someone asked a breeder how she got such nice, big rear ends on her Satins after winning BOB and BOS. Her response: I walk down the barn and tell them “Look at momma!”

“Really nice coat and not a lick of sense.”

“Lacking color…” (on a REW!)

A judge back a {my rabbit} and said “pick another one to love.”

“Looks like moths got to this one.”

“This animal’s coat is so dense that if I stuck my face down next to it, it would literally punch me in the face!”

 

Thank you, judges, for keeping us entertained – we look forward to the next round of fun descriptions!

Youth Discounts & Questions

on-vase-34We have been privileged to work with some excellent young people who are looking for a quality start or continuation of their rabbit projects for 4H or just because they love the breeds we raise! We have children ourselves, and we hope that they will love rabbits through their whole lives. It makes sense to invest in the children who will one day be adults directing the atmosphere of the rabbit world.

Because we have chosen to take a long-term view of the benefit of kids working with rabbits, we will do our best to offer our best stock to young people so they have a chance to work with a great rabbit with reasonable ability to compete strongly. No one likes a loser and it’s not fair to give a child a cast-off rabbit that will not be a winner just because they’re young and need a discount. We feel pretty strongly about this because we want to set kids up for loving this hobby their whole lives… but that’s just us and I’ll get off the soap box now!

One of the ways we work with youth is to offer a lower purchase price for our rabbits, but then also give them the options of gaining an even greater discount by answering rabbit trivia questions correctly. We compiled a list of questions and answers about rabbit raising – when we have an interested youth we let them draw as many as three questions from a fishbowl. Each correct answer is equal to a $5 discount off the purchase price of their rabbit.

Here are the questions we’ve come up with so far. I’m sure over the years we’ll come up with more, but it’s a good starting spot! ** If you have additional questions we should add to this list, please put them in the comments!

Youth Discount Rabbit Trivia Questions
1. Why are rabbits a good livestock choice in an urban area? They produce more pounds of meat per pound of food consumed than other choices, can be kept in a relatively small space, are practically silent, and their manure can be used for backyard gardens, etc.
2. What is the national professional organization for rabbits? ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association)
3. What is a good rule of thumb for cage size for a rabbit? 1 square foot per pound of rabbits adult weight.
4. What is more dangerous for a rabbit – warm temperatures or cold temperatures? Warm temperatures. Rabbits actually thrive in colder temperatures and are quite happy even in below freezing temperatures.
5. When raising a meat breed, what is the ideal weight the rabbit will hit by 8-10 weeks of age? 5 lbs.
6. What is the average gestation (pregnancy length) for a rabbit? 31 Days.
7. What is a male rabbit called? Buck
8. What is a female rabbit called? Doe
9. What makes up a trio of rabbits? A buck and two does.
10. What is a rabbit cage called? Hutch
11. When is the best time to feed your rabbit? At the same time every evening.
12. What is the large fold of skin at the throat of a female rabbit? Dewlap
13. A domestic rabbit can be bred with a wild cottontail rabbit. True or False? False – They are different species.
14. A domestic rabbit can be bred with a wild European rabbit. True or False? True – Domestic rabbits are descended from wild European rabbits.
15. How many teeth does a rabbit have? 28
16. Name two ways to control disease in the rabbitry. Keep hutches, food & water containers clean, do not lend rabbits, quarantine new rabbits, provide fresh food and clean water, bury or burn dead rabbits, good ventilation
17. What mammal order are rabbits classified as? Lagomorphs
18. Where are rabbits believed to have originally come from? Spain
19. What is a pedigree? A record of a rabbit’s date of birth and three generations of ancestors.
20. Who originally is believed to have introduced domesticated rabbits to England? The Romans
21. What is the extra claw on the inside of the front leg? Dewclaw
22. A rabbit’s teeth grow 1/2 inch or more per month. True or False? True
23. What is the most common feeding problem? Over feeding
24. Name three parts of a rabbit besides eye, ear, nose, mouth, foot or tail. Cheek, dewlap, chest, toe, rib, belly, flank, hock, leg, shoulder, hindquarter, forequarter, rump, hip, loin.
25. What is a baby rabbit called? Kit
26. What is a group of kits? Litter
27. What is the mother of a rabbit called? Dam
28. “Variety” is a term for what? Color
29. When do a baby rabbit’s eyes open? 10-11 days
30. What is the father of a rabbit called? Sire
31. How many generations are on a full pedigree? Three (parents, grandparents, great grandparents)
32. At what age should kits be weaned? No earlier than 4 weeks, 6-8 weeks preferred
33. Which ear do you tattoo on a rabbit for identification? Left
34. What book lists pictures, descriptions and standards for all the breeds? The ARBA Standard of Perfection
35. Name two types of records that are important in good rabbit raising. Expenses, Income, Pedigrees, Show Records, Hutch Cards, Doe Records, Buck Records
36. Name a Commercial breed. French Angora, Giant Angora, Satin Angora, Blanc de Hotot, Champagne D’Argents, Californian, Cinnamon, American Chinchilla, Creme d’Argent, French Lop, Harlequin, New Zealand, Palomino, Rex, American Sable, Satin, Silver Fox, Silver Marten
37. What is an official ARBA document indicating that a rabbit is of good quality and meets the standard for it’s breed? Registration
38. How many times a day does a doe normally nurse her young? Once
39. Rabbit show category for breeds having an ideal adult weight of under 9 pounds? Four-Class
40. Rabbit show category for breeds having an ideal adult weight of 9 pounds and over? Six-Class
41. How many rabbits are in a Meat Pen entry? Three

42. What is the maximum weight of a Meat Pen rabbit? Not over 5 pounds.

43. Name a breed in the cylindrical group. Himalayan

44. Name a breed in the Full-Arch group. Belgian hare, Britannia Petite, Checkered Giant, English Spot, Rhinelander, Tan

45. Name some rabbit disqualifications. Abnormal eye discharge, colds or nasal discharge, mange, ear cankers, vent disease, abscess, split penis, malocclusion, marbling, pegged teeth, sore hocks, screw tail, missing toe, wall eye, spots

46. Name a breed in the Semi-Arch group. American, Beveren, English lop, Flemish Giant, Giant Chinchilla

47. Name a breed from the Compact group. American Fuzzy lop, English Angora, Standard Chinchilla, Dutch, Dwarf Hotot, Florida White, Havana, Holland Lop, Jersey Wooly, Lilac, Mini lop, Mini Rex, Mini Satin, Netherland Dwarf, Polish, Silver, Thrianta

48. What are the five groups of ARBA rabbits? Semi-Arch, Compact, Commercial, Cylindrical, Full-Arch

The Rabbit With No Ears and Big Teeth

It was a rough day around the rabbitry for No Ears.

 

If you’ve been following our blog for awhile, you’ll remember that back in February we had a litter of Cinnamon born where their first-time mother got over zealous in her cleaning at birth and ate the ears of several of her kits! Most were damaged only a little bit, but one poor rabbit had his ears bitten right down to the ear base.

 

No Ears' baby photo. He's ... the one with no ears.

No Ears’ baby photo. He’s … the one with no ears.

 

This little buddy has been known as “No Ears” since then. I wasn’t sure he’d make it through the summer, as rabbit ears are important for a rabbits body temperature regulation and our rabbitry is outside in Arizona! (It’s a mountain town but it can still get hot here!) He made it through the summer just fine but this afternoon… he’s hit a spot he probably won’t make it through.

 

We have children here. Our children get rabbits out and play with them almost every day. Our rabbits are loved, harrassed, and spend time hanging out on a trampoline with kiddos regularly.

 

When you have children and animals, there’s a special level of kindness necessary on the part of both the children and the animal. We think of it kind of like this – the children have to treat the animals in a way that will engender trust… and the animals have to not bite the children.

 

We’ve only had two biters around here and both found their way to the slow cooker almost immediately. Today, No Ears made the unfortunate choice of unleashing his teeth on my arm.

 

At this moment, he’s still breathing, but he signed his death warrant with that decision. Some might say we’re harsh to have such  black & white stance on the subject, especially since No Ears is the last of his line and has a pretty nice body type. I’m tempted to breed him before he hits the road… but we’re also firm believers that personality is a genetic trait as much as body type.

 

No Ears is a satinized Cinnamon, which I was looking to use to work with a torted Satin project. This photo was taken just minutes before "the incident."

No Ears is a satinized Cinnamon, which I was looking to use to work with a torted Satin project. This photo was taken just minutes before “the incident.”

No Ears has proven his mama was a biter and he’s a biter – I’m a little concerned about any animals produced out of him and their demeanor.

 

Do any of you have experience with this? Can you confirm or deny the biting tendency and whether it is passed down from generation to generation?

 

Setting Prices for Stock Sales

wendy's origami

wendy’s origami

If you’re anything like me, talking money can sometimes be uncomfortable. Especially if you’re not used to buying and selling.

 

When we purchased our initial stock, I was pretty determined not to spend more than $20 per rabbit. When I started researching the animals we were interested in, I realized that I would have to make some significant compromises in my expectations if I wanted a $20 rabbit – and even then, it was going to be hard to accomplish. Over time, I changed my philosophy, upped my budget, and found a sweet spot between what I am willing to pay for a purebred, pedigreed rabbit and what compromises I will make in quality in order to stay in my budget.

 

Obviously people have different budgets for their rabbit life, so  how do you come up with the prices for your own rabbits when it comes time to sell them?

 

There are probably a million different ways, but we connected with another breeder in our area who raised the same breed(s) and we discussed our pricing structure together. We ended up deciding on the same prices, which meant that we could refer people to one another for rabbits if they wanted gene pool diversity without having additional money conversations and we knew also that we could back each other up in our pricing and discussions of the value of the rabbits. This worked well for us as we both raised rare breeds.

 

Though we agreed for our area, we are not lock step with other breeders in the country for these breeds. For example, currently we sell our Cinnamons for $55/rabbit with discounts for multiples or 4H members. However, one awesome breeder in the midwest sells for $25/rabbit; another a few states away charges $125/rabbit. With a range like that, how do you know if you’ve got the right price on your rabbits?! How do you know you’re getting a good deal as a buyer?

 

Take some time to consider what you are selling.

  • Are your rabbits purebred? Pedigreed?
  • Are your rabbits being used for food, fur, or fancy?
  • If you show, how do your rabbits perform? Do they win top honors for the breed?
  • If you are working with meat animals what is your average litter size and mortality rate? What is the growth rate of your kits to 10 weeks? What is your dress out percentage?
  • If you are selling as pets, who is your market? A pet store? Craig’s List? Your mom’s best friend?

If you are a buyer, consider what you’re looking for?

  • What is your goal for your rabbitry? Food, fur, or fancy?
  • How important is it to you to have a pedigreed rabbit?
  • How important is your genetic diversity at this point? (At some point it might be worth importing a rabbit from another region of the country to widen your gene pool – that can be expensive.)
  • Are you hoping to sell rabbits yourself (if that’s the case, I’d strongly encourage you to start with pedigreed stock)?
  • Have you talked to breeders about who they’d recommend for purchasing your rabbits?

 

Once you have identified your goals it will become easier to determine your pricing structure. Investigate the websites of other people with your breed. Get on your breed’s facebook or yahoo chat groups and ask other breeders about their prices. Check out the ARBA results for your breed at the national convention and ask the winners what they charge. Cruise by your local feed store and price their rabbits.

 

All of these pieces of information will help you as you set up your own pricing. I will caution you, however – do not expect to make money on rabbits! I’m grateful those months that the rabbits sales cover the feed costs, which is only about half the time right now! Also realize that not every rabbit surviving to adolescence is worthy of being sold as a show rabbit and if you sell ugly rabbits for show or a sickly rabbit at any time your reputation will begin to precede you and you’ll find your sales will dry up.

 

We have a sales policy on our page that we worked on to protect us as the seller, as well as lay out clear expectations for the buyer. We often do our best to go above and beyond to make sure people are happy with their purchase. We are so pleased when we have repeat buyers! Our goal as a rabbitry is to be around for the long haul, which means that we have become more and more selective for what rabbits leave our rabbitry bearing our name. In our minds it’s a major accomplishment to send a rabbit out to another location and discover it’s regularly Best of Breed or a fair Grand Reserve. That’s good stuff!

 

Obviously, no one is breeding the perfect rabbit and everyone has to work on their own lines in order to know what their rabbits are actually worth. Once a rabbit leaves our rabbitry we have no control over how it is cared for or how it performs. That being said, we are doing our best to continually improve our rabbitry and the animals leaving – the search for perfection is quite fun!

Forget Free Willy, Free Bunnies!

It’s confession time.

For all we talk a good game of eating our uglies and realizing that everything has a purpose and sometimes that purpose is to be edible… Well, sometimes we just can’t pull the trigger.

Case in point: this is Eclipse.

IMG_0323.JPG

She is a fantastic Silver Fox doe who has given us a ridiculous amount of joy during her life. It has become evident that she is past her child bearing prime but we struggled with wanting to use every cage, every hole to it’s greatest impact.

So… Eclipse was turned loose in the back yard. She has been set free to hide underneath the saw horses supporting the Timothy hay bales and eat our lettuce sprouts. She loves it!

It’s been a few months since we got a freely roaming lagomorph and we weren’t sure it would suit us. But it has! Since then we’ve retired two more of our older does who have earned a special spot. There are a few more holes being dug in our back yard but it’s been working wonderfully.

The rabbits are living peaceably with our Great Dane and miniature poodle and it’s being done! They have not destroyed our feeble attempt at a garden and, as long as we keep them away from the bucks, I believe we have a winning combination.

A 10-lbs rabbit (or two… Or three) does tend to startle the uninformed, however. We had a friend over and when he saw the rabbit resting a few feet away from him he visibly startled. We all got a chuckle out of his reaction and the rabbits ended up coming over for scratches!

%d bloggers like this: