Tag Archives: silver fox

Arizona State Convention 2017 Show Report

One of the door prizes handed out at the banquet. It's missing it's movie theater gift card in this pic!

One of the door prizes handed out at the banquet. An Arizona coffee mug, theater candy, and a movie gift card. (It’s missing it’s movie theater gift card in this pic!)

Last weekend we attended Arizona State Convention. The state convention is a wonderful time to meet new breeders, see friends, and compete against a wider pool of exhibitors. Many breeders who aren’t able to attend shows regularly will attend the state show, which is a wonderful treat.

 

We took a full carload of rabbits in six breeds: Cinnamon, Champagne d’Argent, Blanc de Hotot, Silver Fox, New Zealand and mini satin. Many bunnies. Much fur. My body is still telling me we were busy shifting those carriers around! A carton of approximately 30 lbs. is not so bad when you first move it… but when you move it over and over… yikes! Oh my achin’ bones!

 

It’s really exciting to report that we came home with a Best of Breed or Best Opposite of Breed in all the ones that we took except mini satin. (We only took one mini satin and he just couldn’t compete against the animals there. Arizona has some phenomenal animals! But we listened, took notes, and know where to work for the future!) What an encouragement that we’re doing something right!

 

I think that encouragement is pretty huge. It’s very, very easy to get consumed with the hard things of raising rabbits – the litters that don’t work out, the poop that needs to be scooped, the grumpy intermediates who scratch you and make your hands look like they’ve been through a blender… there are plenty of things about rabbit raising that aren’t at the top of the “fun” list! For us, while receiving the recognition of having a top animal is great, I’ve learned that listening carefully to the judges will help encourage me about the strongest attributes of even our worst rabbits! Encouragement is awesome!

 

The thing is, very few rabbits have nothing to commend them. If may be that this rabbit has a great head or strong shoulder or wider hindquarters. Maybe they don’t compete with the top animal, but there is always some thing encouraging to work with in the future if you’re able to see them all lined up together on a judging table. Even if it’s just validation that the rabbit I think it pretty awful is actually awful, going to a show is a great encouragement!

 

I also really can’t talk up the folks who put on the Arizona State Convention enough. They know what they’re doing and they’re kind. There’s always a bit of drama (people being people) but the show committee isn’t the start of it or spreading it. Whether it’s addressing difficult decisions or making sure the judges are able to maintain a constant flow of rabbits on their table, these people are amazing. If you’re looking for a great show to add to your routine, consider Arizona!

Best Opposite of Breed, Silver Fox, ARBA National Convention 2014

Photo by L. Fischbeck

Photo by L. Fischbeck

We are just beside ourselves tonight with excitement because we got word that the doe we entered into the ARBA National Convention was placed as Best Opposite of Breed! It is such an treat to have your animal selected for this honor and it’s not something we expected as we waved goodbye to our transporter last Thursday night!

 

This particular doe was bred by Nick’s Nibblers in California — Nick’s Nibblers had Mad Hatter stock to get started in Silver Fox and we traded for Zelos earlier this year. Since she came out of Mad Hatter lines we felt it was still ok to send her as our entry, typically we wouldn’t plan to send a rabbit we haven’t personally bred to the National Convention.

 

Boy are we feeling blessed tonight, and grateful for how things turn out! On any given day every rabbit has a serious chance at top honors. Even though we didn’t place as best of breed, we’re still feeling pretty happy about her performance and eager to bring her home, get her registered, and send her legs in to complete her Grand Champion process before we start her down the merry path of motherhood.

 

So many thank yous to so many people who have assisted with the national show! We’re looking forward to seeing how our other rabbits placed, and preparing a welcome home treat for Zelos, our very first nationally winning rabbit!

How Do You Find Starter Stock?

Asking the right questions is the first step to locating great foundation stock.

Asking the right questions is the first step to locating great foundation stock.

I loved this post over at Rabbit Ranching and got permission from Ms. Cahill to reprint it on Mad Hatter Rabbits. If everyone who contacted us for rabbits followed this advice it would be so awesome! (I have added a few thoughts at the end.)

Q&A Session #2 from Rabbit Ranching by JuliCahill

This is the first part of an ongoing series allowing readers to ask questions about the rabbit hobby. There are no rules or guidelines. Have a question? Ask away! Post your question as a comment on our blog or email oakridgerabbits@gmail.com.

Readers are encouraged to share their own ideas or opinions in the comments below.

What questions should you ask a breeder when choosing “show” foundation stock?

Ah, the age-old question. When you’re starting out with rabbits or starting a new breed, your foundation stock will ideally carry you through the first generations of creating your own line. But it’s easy to get burned by lesser quality animals or fake pedigrees if you’re not sure how to search wisely.

The best place to start is ARBA’s recognized breed page, which can be found HERE.

From this page, you can click on the photo of any currently recognized breed, and it will take you directly to the breed’s specialty club. To my knowledge, every (or at least most) breed clubs post sweepstakes standings on their website. Sweepstakes is a contest based on show wins, and only club members are eligible. Look to see who is at the top of the list and keep those names in mind.

Next, visit the registered breeder directory, which should also be available within the breed club website. Keep in mind that this will only list contact information for breeders who are currently members of their specialty club. ARBA has a more general breeder directory on their website. If you don’t find the name you’re looking for on one, check the other.

I would choose about five names of people local to you (or within the distance you’re willing to travel). There is usually an email or phone number listed for contact.

Now…what to ask? …

How should a newbie, who wants to show their favorite breed, approach a show breeder to purchase stock?

Tell them them exactly what your goals are:

Example: “I want to show and raise Holland Lops.”
Example: “I am looking for two Satins to keep as pets and show locally.”
Example: “I want a pet Dutch.”

The breeder needs to know exactly and directly what you want the rabbits for. If you just email asking, “Could you send me a list of rabbits for sale?” you’ll probably find few who take the time to respond. Everyone has rabbits for sale at some point in time, but they need to know exactly what you’re interested in.

Other information to include:

– The number of rabbits you’re interested in buying.
– The time frame in which you’re looking to buy.
– Your location.

Example: “I would like to start with one buck and two does. I am hoping to find my starting stock this spring, and I’m located in Dallas, TX.”
Example: “I want to find two bucks and three does before September. I’m located in Trenton, NJ.”

This is all of the information specifically needed to get you started, and I recommend leaving the rest up to the breeder. If they have other questions, they will ask. Mentioning other specifics (wild, unusual colors being a common one) not only narrows your search, but also makes most serious breeders question your intentions.

Instead, ask the breeder whether they have rabbits available that meet your criteria. If you are unsure of which color, group, or variety is strongest and most developed – just ask! This is what you will want to start with, and an experienced breeder can guide you directly to it.

So, how do you know you’re speaking with someone reputable?

Ask everyone within your original inquiry – “I am new to this breed. What lines do you recommend working with?”

This is the golden question because it will reveal the authority in the breed of your choice. Like it or not, the success of every breed is strongly influenced by a handful of very dedicated, very successful breeders. They are the names you’ll see over and over again on pedigrees all over the nation. If you ask five breeders this question, you are likely to find out quickly which lines are “go to” in the breed.

If you can (whether they are local or whether you have to arrange transport from a national convention), try to purchase stock directly from those people. If you can’t, try to find someone who has used their rabbits to build their herd.

A name doesn’t mean everything, but it does mean a lot. A reputation is something that’s built by word-of-mouth and personal experience. If people, in significant numbers, speak highly of someone in particular, they are likely to be a trustworthy source. If it’s someone no one has heard of or mentions without prompting, it’s generally not a good starting place.

I could talk more about this topic, but I think I’ll save that for another day. This is where I recommend starting. From there, many reputable breeders will be interested in helping you learn more.

 

A few thoughts from Mad Hatter:

I completely agree about the recommendation to follow breed sweepstakes… and I don’t. We have six different breeds here and are members of the national clubs of only three. Some national clubs have far too many politics for us to want to get too involved right now… or it just isn’t the right time for us to have many memberships… what not. So, while I believe sweepstakes points are one factor in determining a reputable breeder, I would consider it with other knowledge as well.

Another research option is to check the Domestic Rabbits publication from ARBA for those owners who have Grand Champion rabbits in their breeds.

Being completely clear about your intentions is important! For us, since we raise mostly dual meat/show rabbits this is especially significant around here. If you tell us you are going to show rabbits we will set you up with the best-typed rabbit we can. If you tell us your entire purpose is for meat we won’t put as much emphasis on show promise as your desired outcomes will likely have more to do with production, making weight by a specific age, and mothering abilities than the length of shoulders or whether their body is conformed to the Standard of Perfection!

Our Silver Fox Friends

We’ve decided to put our trampoline to another purpose lately – the large space and netted enclosure has been perfect for doubling as a rabbit run.

The rabbits are on a rotation and it’s fair to say they love their time in the trampoline, bounding, hopping and generally frolicking about.

Because I was tired of holding the baby I did some analysis and decided to pop our 10 month old son, who’s a very able crawler, into the tent with the rabbit. Within minutes he’d located Fennel, our white Silver Fox, and was giving him loves.

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This is why I love our Silver Fox rabbits! They are laid back to the extreme. It’s a little bit like what I see in Saint Bernard or Great Dane dogs – they’re huge, they have nothing to prove, and they can just be cuddle bugs!

We have black, blue, and white Silver Fox at our house. The only recognized color for showing right now is black – although blue is under development and will likely be showable in the next year. They are all sweet, but our white SF have really stolen my heart. Their fur is amazing and their personalities are gentle.

Rare and Heritage Breeds

Credit Devon Mary Ward / The Whimsy Dog Studio

Credit Devon Mary Ward / The Whimsy Dog Studio

As our rabbitry evolves, we find our attention shifting to those breeds classified as Rare or Heritage.

 

A “Rare” breed is self-explanatory. These rabbits are extremely difficult to find and in danger of extinction. The “heritage” breed classification is monitored by the American Livestock Breeds Conservatory and designates the animals were developed in the United States. These classifications make note of animals that offer something special to the rabbit world and to the United States.

 

We raise Silver Fox and Cinnamon rabbits and are very proud to do so. Additionally, the Champagne d’Argent is a breed that has flirted with the rare breeds list over the years, although it is very common in Europe. We love the personality of these rabbits and their usefulness as a multi-purpose animal, both cuddly, showable, and nutritious!