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What Do You Think?

Raising those Champion Dutch

by Kevin Hooper

Most of you know that to produce the Dutch with the best markings, you never use Dutch that have markings that are major faults, let alone ones with marking disqualifications, right?
Well, any of you who know me know how often I say things in jest. that was one of those things! There are breeders who have had great success by following the above statement. While this may work, I want to share my thoughts on this and will back it up with the evidence to show the results.
My theory has always been to keep those animals, especially does, that possess superior traits. Dutch type, color, coat, and proper body shape and structure receive the most consideration, then markings. This will help you build a strong foundation on which to build those markings. Then of course, I consider markings. I want those animals who have ideal markings on as much of the Dutch as possible. Since we are talking Dutch here, we all realize how difficult it can be to produce those markings on the whole animal. So what we often end up with is a Dutch with outstanding traits, and great markings, except for one thing! That may be a spot in the middle of the saddle, a split stop, a tied front leg,.........
Now, while producing those mentioned above, we also get those that are showable, no tied legs, split stops, or spots in the saddle. They may have the desired traits of Dutch type and color, but may be off in blaze and cheeks, and/or saddle, and/or undercut, and/or stops - but we can show it! Now what do we go for, a nice rabbit we can show that has a few marking faults, or the super animal with great markings, except for the spot in the saddle, tied leg......
I know which ones I choose! I have no issue with keeping an animal with a marking DQ such as a tied leg on a breeding animal, as long as the parents did not have the same trait. Same goes for spots in the saddle, neck or undercut.
Will you then get more tied legs than if you have not used one with a tied leg? Probably.
However, you will also get more of those with very nice markings that don't carry the marking DQ.
Many Dutch breeders cull their mismarks at birth. They do so to either make the litter smaller, or to enable the doe to raise only those with the better markings. While this may be effective for some, I do not choose to do this. My culls go to either the pet market, or I give them to someone for meat when they become too large for pets.
Now, what if I would have been culling all of my mismarks at birth? Then I would not have had the 2008 Best Dutch from this years' National Dutch Show. She is out of a gray buck who is very tied on his right leg!
I have used many Dutch over the years with major marking flaws, or marking DQ's, as long as it was their only fault, and they carried other superior traits. These animals have produced as well or better than those with no marking DQ's or faults.
So, try whichever way you believe works for you!

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