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What Do You Think?

Ask the Breeder Jan/Feb/March 2008 Issue

What are your opinions regarding the ARBA registration system and the recent fee increase? Will the fee increase change your approach to registering your rabbits? Do you register your grand champions? If not, why not? How do you feel about the value of the registration system? Any opinions why it is not used by more breeders?

From Fran Schettler:
You really know how to hit my hot button-- this question really does it for me!  It absolutely does affect how I feel about the registration system.  I was quite loud in expressing my opposition right after the Texas Convention and before the increase went into effect.  I wrote a letter to the ARBA Secretary Brad Boyce and my District Director, who said he had also forwarded it to Brad.  I didn't get a response at all from the ARBA.  
I have always registered my rabbits (22+ years) and supported the registration system by registering at least a few hundred rabbits each year.  However, there is minimal return for the cost.  The main return for me was that of pride in a pedigree that showed a lot of registrations.  That pride is not worth the additional few hundred dollars a year.  $6 per rabbit for say 200 rabbits is $1200!  For a large breeder, the $2 increase in cost is substantial ($400 in the example) and there is no additional return. I remember the increase from $3 to $4.  That's was almost too much even then.  Overall though, it's just not worth it.  People who know me are amazed at my decision on this, but the cost is just too high now.
Since the system is already very under supported by the membership, even by judges, raising the cost further suppresses participation in my opinion. I bought 5 rabbits in Texas including 3 from 2 ARBA judges.  Of all of the rabbits on those 3-generation pedigrees (75), with several breeders represented through the generations, there were only about 5 rabbits that were registered.   That's about 7% and that's not a lot of support is it?
Overall, the ARBA may find that they lose money if more people like me are dropping out.  Now I am only going to register those that grand champion out. That undermines the whole premise of the registration system though.
My feeling is that the entire membership should support the system and not just those that faithfully use it.  Now the faithful are being discouraged. I wonder how many others are dropping regular registrations?   I felt that the ARBA should raise the dues or other fees further as necessary to support the system and to encourage (not discourage) participation, assuming that additional financial support of the system is indeed warranted.  However, the ARBA apparently did not agree since no change was made.  I did note significant verbiage in the Domestic Rabbits stridently supporting the fee increases, including the registration one, but, other than that, I heard nothing back.
As far as what I've heard about why more people don't use it, in addition to the cost reason, lack of time, lack of value and too much effort in the paperwork were cited.
From Theresa Schwandt:
In response to the question regarding the recent fee increase from $4 to $6 to register a rabbit, I would say that I was not surprised.  The cost of all things eventually goes up, that is just the way it is.  The fee pays for the registrar to take his or her time to thoroughly check over the animal, weight it and tattoo it.  That fee also goes towards the personnel in the office filing the information, etc. 

The fee increase hasn't really changed my approach to registering my Dutch.  I like to register all of my herd bucks and some of my does.  I say some does, because I have a number of really nice breeding does that are not able to be registered due to marking problems, but they are excellent in overall type and color with a "balance of markings" for the most part as well as being great producers. 

I do send in the ARBA legs for the Grand Champion certificate when an animal is eligible.  Sure it looks good on a pedigree to people who think that it matters, but mostly I do it for myself.  I am just proud of my Dutch when they do well on the table which lead to the ability "grand champion" them.

I would have to guess that most Dutch breeders who don't utilize the ARBA registration system, do not because of the cost vs. the worth of a rabbit.  In my opinion, other breeds that sell for more money like Hollands, Mini Rex and Netherland Dwarfs, are more apt to use the system because in their world a "registered" animal will sell for even more.  This is not true in the "Dutch" world as most Dutch breeders know that having a registered Dutch rabbit does not necessarily make it more valuable.  The thing that Dutch breeders get is that just because a rabbit is registered, doesn't make it a good rabbit.  All it tells you is that at the time that the Registrar examined the rabbit, it was free from any disqualifications according to the breed standard. 
From Kevin Hooper:
This answer will not endear me to the powers that be at the ARBA, but I do not see the need to register a Dutch, nor many other breeds!  I registered one of my first Dutch 32 years ago, then thought, “What did that accomplish?” 
In raising Dutch, if I produce a good Dutch out of two mismarks, it is no worse than a good one produced out of all showable stock.  It would be nice if it worked that way in Dutch – breed the best marked ones to the best marked ones and get the best marked ones.  However, this does not always work.  It seems that some lines work with some and some with others, and having a paper that says the rabbit meets the minimum requirements to be shown tells me nothing. 
If I were to start breeding rabbits by only using stock that has been registered, then I would be starting with Dutch that meet the minimum requirements!  I do want Dutch that meet the minimums!  I believe you should start by going to the top breeders and seeing what they keep, and why, then get stock that you believe will fit together to produce the best Dutch.
From Allan Gerhart:
No, the fee increase won’t affect us because we don’t use the registration system.                     
There are several reasons why we don’t register our Dutch.  Probably the main reason is it takes too much time and effort, for what we get out of it.  Raising Dutch is a hobby for me, something I really enjoy, the registration process just doesn’t appeal to me as being all that enjoyable.  I would rather spend time in the barn raising rabbits than doing paperwork.  I don’t think it would help us sell that many more rabbits anyway. We don’t register our grand champions either, but we do include all the G.C. legs on our pedigrees and transfer all the winnings to any new owner so they can follow though with the process if they desire.
Since you can breed mismark Dutch and get rabbits with good marks and vice versa the registration system for the Dutch breed my not mean as much to some breeders as opposed to other breeds.  I know that it wouldn’t matter to me if the rabbit I was buying was a registered G. C. or not, I would still look it over along with the pedigree and base my decision on whether or not it could be beneficial to our breeding program.  Although I will say that I am impressed with a breeder who uses the registration system maybe not so much of the rabbits themselves but impressed with the breeder who takes the time and dedication to register their rabbits.  I would like to know the percentage of members who do use the registration system??
From Bob Bergene:
The recent fee increase for registering rabbits will certainly be welcomed by registrars, as it can be time consuming to register and process the paperwork.  For the rabbit breeder, there might result in fewer rabbits being registered, as the breeder might get more selective in registering the rabbits.  Currently the new fee still represents a small amount when considering the value of the breeding or show rabbit and the enhancement it gives to the animal.  However, some of the lower end value rabbits might not get registered as a result of the fee increase.  As for me as an ARBA registrar and Dutch breeder, I do not register a single one of my Dutch rabbits.  When I raised the big white breed 20 years ago (NZ), I took great pride in having red, white and blue pedigrees.  (This is when everyone of the three generations where registered.)  The paper would get a red white and blue sticker.  If the rabbit would have an ear cut or a missing toenail, I would not keep it for breeding stock.  If I would use that selection policy in my current Dutch herd of does, I would have to eliminate about a third of them, and these are my best producers.  You see, I would not be able to register the doe with split stop or the drag on the fore leg.  Therefore, I choose not to register my Dutch, but instead tend to select for type and disregard markings slightly when looking for replacement breeding does.  However, I would encourage breeders to register their rabbits as I believe it enhances the value of the rabbit in the eyes of the buyer.

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