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Ask the Judge - July/Aug/Sept 2006

When judging, do you take into consideration and fault a rabbit that is ungroomed, for example one that has long toenails, yellow feet and/or a dirty coat?

From Ray Brewer:

OK... While I believe that "grooming" is a minimal requirement for most breeds of rabbits, stained coats or loose fur will definitely influence the way I place a class. A judge must be able to stroke a coat and feel the texture and density to properly evaluate the fur. A dirty or stained cat interferes with the process and can even affect the color. When I fault a rabbit, for example - stained coat, I feel I can deduct a considerable portion of the points allowed in that category. If the standard allows 15 points for fur and the rabbit has a badly stained coat, I might deduct 5 to 10 points for that fault. The question may arise, do you fault the color, fur, or the condition points - actually, you could make a case for deducting points in all three areas.
I appreciate clipped toenails, as there is a lessened chance for getting scratched; but I don't penalize for long nails. You soon learn which breeds to watch. In my opinion, Mini-Rex are by far the worst! Their nails grow very fast and come down to a needle-like point. They'll cut you like a razor! I don't penalize for slightly discolored feet.
Just a note on preventing stained - dirty coats:
My Dutch and Florida Whites does usually keep themselves pretty clean and require just a quick rub to remove any dead or loose fur. Bucks are a different story as almost all are sprayers! They spray each other, cage walls, and fronts of their feeders. Keeping bucks clean is a difficult herd management problem. My original plans for our rabbit barn had about 30 buck cages with solid partitions. We also have about an equal number of "grow out " cages - these have 1/2" X 1 " wire partitions. It soon became necessary to house some bucks in these cages. What a mess! The little buggers kept all adjacent bunnies well-sprayed. Here's what I did: I went down to Lowe's and bought a 50 ft. roll of 5mm X 14" aluminum roof flashing. This stuff is easy to cut and shape to fit the existing wire partitions. The 14" size fits easily through the cage door openings. I clamped the new partition addition to the existing ones with 1/2" hog ring clamps. I also covered the nasty/rusty fronts of feeders with 4" X 4" squares of the aluminum. It sure seemed like the boys missed not seeing each other; but they are all much cleaner now. Cost of project: $12.

From Kevin Hooper:

When we are judging Dutch, the grooming/cleanliness of the rabbit does matter -, as does all else. To address the three things mentioned, if the rabbit has long toenails, I simply suggest a pedicure! That usually gets the point across. I don't believe I have ever faulted a rabbit for length of toenail, unless it is grossly long, and then the rabbit has usually not been cared for properly anyway.
Yellow feet would be considered a fault, but would only come into play if the two rabbits I was comparing were equal in all other aspects.
A dirty coat/ or ungroomed coat does matter, and can be faulted anywhere from slightly to severely. Judging at the NDS in '05, I go back to the top two black senior bucks. I liked my top two. One however had been sprayed overnight and had many small matted spots in the coat. Not his fault, not the owners. But, when all else is equal................
Some may wonder what I mean when I say I start working my animals about three weeks prior to the NDS or ARBA Convention show. This mainly consists of grooming out any loose/dead hair. It also consists of trimming nails, cleaning stains, etc.............
Just remember, that tiny stain or matted bit if fur may be tiny, but when all else is equal, the one without those faults wins!

From Keith McNinch:

 I do not fault an animal for long toenails or yellow feet, but will fault an animal for dirty coat. These items will not be overly important during the class judging, but will become more important during BOS & BOB. A rabbit that has been well kept and groomed always has a better chance on the show table, and exhibitors know this, so there is really no excuse for having dirty, unkempt animals presented for judging. From my experience, there are probably a few more youth animals that could stand to have a little more grooming and cleaning before presentation on the show table.

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