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What Do You Think?

Recipe for Success or failure....

by Rick Billups

Many new breeders today are unsuccessful when they first adventure into the task of trying to raise competitive Dutch rabbits. The biggest piece of advice I can give from years of trying to raise Dutch is to start off with animals that are somewhat related. For instance, let's say someone buys two does from a breeder but has to purchase their herd buck from a totally different breeder whose bloodline doesn't match at all. To me the new breeder would be better off to purchases the does and pay a little extra to have the does bred to a buck that is related and then keep the best two bucks out of the litters for future use. Breeding these young bucks back to the does will tell you if you have the foundation of a good strain of rabbits. This scenario plays out so often at our Sells Class when animals are purchased by potential Dutch breeders for a minimal investment. They walk away with animals from several breeders with the hopes of breeding a winner or being competitive on the show table but often find nothing but discouragements in the next box.
How important are markings when buying breeding stock? A well marked rabbit without type is no better than a rabbit that should end up in the frying pan. I personally believe it is of the utmost importance that you start with foundation stock that has the best Dutch type possible. The body type has been greatly improved over the past 10-15 years and is now consistent throughout all of the varieties. I look at color and fur next and then eye color to ensure the color meets the description set by the standards. Many times a light colored eye or portions of the eye having different shades could indicate an undesirable cross somewhere in the background.
I feel the herd buck is the most important investment a breeder will make when starting their Dutch herd. A good herd buck should have ideal body type, color, and markings free from any disqualifications. I will normally keep a buck that has ideal body type unless it has two or more of the following marking faults;
1. Very long stops
2. Very biased saddle
3. Jagged undercut
4. Hooked cheeks
There are several things to watch for when buying breeding stock, I just hope these few sentences will give you something to think about. Always seek out the advice from an established breeder and someone you can trust when looking at breeding stock. I've always found it easier to get a 2nd or 3rd opinion from friends for they may see something I've overlooked.


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