We are Rabbit People

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We are Rabbits and Feed. We are rabbit people. I walk into a prodigious room filled with thousands of rabbits from around the world with booths for every breed and the smell of the fresh wood shavings that wouldn’t be fresh for long. People put feed into the bowls and the clerks and cooks cook and fry the food for the day. The sight of all of this can either bring joy or stress into somebody’s life. To the rabbit people, it’s a show that they’ve been waiting for all year known as the ARBA National Rabbit Show. This show can be held throughout the United States from the coast of California to the bay of Boston.

Before anyone can get to a national show, he needs to know all the work that comes with getting a show quality rabbit. First off, the feed is one of the most important ingredients in a rabbit’s diet. People think that they can give it carrots or lettuce; however, this can mess up the digestive system of the rabbit making it have diarrhea, which can dehydrate the rabbit very quickly. Instead, he needs to look at the feed label and look for one of three percents of protein in the feed. With the lowest amount of protein is 15% which is rarely found, but it is usually used for the smaller breeds that weigh five pounds or under when fully developed. The middle of the protein percentiles is 16%, which is used for the breed of rabbits that I raise: Silver Martens. This percent can be used for any rabbit, but some prefer more protein or less. The third and final choice of percent protein is 18%, which is mainly used for meat rabbits and the larger breeds, which includes another breed of rabbit that I raise, called the Flemish Giant, that can get up to twenty pounds. As people are looking through the feeds, they might find a higher protein supplement. We use this on our rabbits to help boost the amount of meat and the fur quality of the rabbit. Then once the percent that is needed for their breed is figured out, they need to figure out the feed brand that will work best. There are probably over one hundred feed companies that sell rabbit food, but from experience of trying some of the top brands, we have had the most success with ADM Alliance Nutrition’s Pen Pals. We are so confident in our feed that we became a licensed feed dealer for the company. Depending on the breed, he or she needs to make sure not to under or over feed the rabbit. A small rabbit should get four ounces of feed. A medium and a large rabbit should get about eight ounces.

After getting the rabbit and the feed, good-housing conditions are a must. If the rabbit is a darker color in the coat, it needs to be in the shade, so the coat doesn’t bleach. One time we had a black rabbit and left it in too much direct sunlight, and it turned to a rustic brown. All rabbits need to be in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight and out of direct airflow. Cage sizes vary to the size of the rabbit, but the rabbit should be able to stretch out both in length and in width with extra room on the ends -- a rule that we follow.

After a breeding line is established, finding what makes a good show rabbit is a definite must in order to compete. There are five different body types that the rabbit can have which include: fully arched, semi-arched, compact, commercial, and cylindrical. With this comes different fur types that include: fly-back, stand-up, rex, satin, normal, and wool. Each breed has very distinct body types and fur. After finding the right combination of genes, we look for faults and disqualifications before choosing a rabbit to show. Some faults include: missing parts of the ear, bleached fur, misplaced markings, ect. Some disqualifications include: snot in the nose (Sniffles), crooked teeth (Malocclusion), wry neck, which is when the rabbit gets an ear infection in one the ears and the head starts to tilt in that direction. This makes it appear that someone twisted the rabbits’ neck, and it’s stuck as it is. After looking over to see if the rabbit has anything wrong with it, it’s show time.

When first arriving at a show at the crack of dawn, there are people by the front door, unloading the many or few rabbits they brought into the cramped building that the show is in. Judging tables line up around the outside or sometimes down the center, making less room for rabbits to be set inside. Then checking in rabbits usually takes a small fee of anywhere between two and two dollars and seventy-five cents to enter. When signing in, people in the back are in chaos, trying to figure out all the paperwork that is being turned in. While walking around, I hear people talking about the fresh smell of breakfast and the great rabbit that they brought saying, “This is the best one I have raised in a while.” My favorite show rabbit was named Coke, which was short for Coca-Cola, and it was a Silver Marten, a breed of rabbit I specialize in. He was a seven and a half pound black rabbit. I showed him multiple times and he usually won. I look around and see people of all shapes, sizes, race, and gender all being here for one reason: to win the top prize.

As the show begins, little kids struggle to get their wild rabbits to the show table every once in a while dropping them along the way. The judge helps the youth with his rabbit and judges it. The judge first looks at the body and fur, then checks for any disqualifications or faults. After making a few comments, he gives it back to the youth. Depending on the placing of the rabbit, the kid can have a huge grin of satisfaction or the frown of a horrible defeat. If the youth wins, he takes it up to the front desk, fighting with other kids to get their prize first. Youth usually get money, a trophy, or ribbons. I have a whole collection of ribbons, trophies, and plaques. These are best of show, best four and six class, best of breed, best opposite of breed, best of variety, first place overall, and first place in black, blues, and chocolate.

After the show is done, people load up and leave for the day. In the end, rabbit people are known as their own breed of humans because people consider it a weird hobby. We enjoy showing rabbits: we are rabbit people.





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