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Ask the Judge - Oct/Nov/Dec 2006


If a junior matures early, is it better to move it up to the senior class? Do you fault a rabbit in a junior class if it looks like a senior?

From Ray Brewer:

If a junior matures early, is it better to move it up to the senior class?

I can see no legitimate reason to bump a junior up in class. Most of us know that our Dutch hit their show prime (bloom) at 5 to 6 months. As there is no max weight limit on juniors (other than the max wt. for any class of 5 ½ lbs,) why not just show the rabbit in class based on age? OK, OK, sometimes an exhibitor owning a junior who has won several legs may bump it up to get that sometimes elusive senior leg before the bunny starts to slip. I don’t guess I have a serious problem with that practice.

Do you fault a rabbit in a junior class if it looks like a senior?

Oh boy! This one is a real “can of worms” and a sore spot with me! There are lots of stories out there about those “toy” Dutch who never reach senior weight and yet get shown as juniors year after year. Our standard allows a judge to deem any animal obviously a senior and being shown in a junior class “unworthy of award”. I’ve sent off a few that I thought were seniors and put even more down at the bottom of the class.

From Kevin Hooper:

The answer to this question depends a lot upon the breed. Since we are talking Dutch here, there are a couple of ways to look at this.
First, maturity does not necessarily mean size. Many times a junior may have the size to be shown as a senior, but if it has not matured, it will not do as well. A young senior will have started to thicken up a bit, usually more than a large junior who is five months old or so. The head will be more developed - USUALLY - and the mature rabbit will have a better feel than the large junior will.
On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see a mature junior who has not yet hit the size or age for the senior class. Those juniors who show the traits of seniors usually do quite well on the table.
If I see a large, mature looking animal in the junior class, it is placed accordingly based on the competition, with the comment being made that they should bump it up to senior, based on its' development. I have faulted a few for being too large in the class, but that is rare, especially now that most breeds have maximum junior weights (not the Dutch).
Now sometimes, that junior you bump up will do well against good competition to a certain point. They will be sleeker in coat, and usually have better color than some of the veteran seniors. If they have the maturity along with the sleek coat and color, then they will do quite well.

From Jan Coffelt:

I feel an animal should be placed in the class in which it will best compete. I have never faulted an animal for being too young or too old looking for the class it is placed in.
I tend to have a group of rabbits in my own herd that sometimes just make senior weight being just close to four pounds. It has annoyed me that judges will make remarks that the animal looked like a junior, or faulting it for not being a good sized Dutch. As far as I am concerned, as long as the animal is within the limits of the weight requirements for the class, it is not a concern. I proceed to judge on the merits of the animal in type, markings, fur, and color.

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