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Preparation for the National Dutch Show

by Theresa Schwandt (Kortbein)

For those of you that have attended the NDS before, this article may not be any news to you, but for those of you who have never attended and are interested, it may be beneficial. The National Dutch Show is held every spring in April or there about. Not only is this show an honor to exhibit in, but it also is a great time to network with fellow breeders that have the same interest in that special little belted rabbit, the Dutch, that we are all so passionate about. The NDS is an excellent way to find quality breeding stock for purchase from breeders across the country that maybe you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to buy. I look forward to the NDS every spring to catch up with all of my Dutch Friends from all over the country, as well as meet new friends to talk "Dutch" with. This year the NDS is in Kalamazoo, Michigan and is being put on by the Michigan Dutch Rabbit club. The show runs from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning. On Friday evening you can bet on a number of fun classes that provide for a good time, as well as the fur class judging. Saturday is when the breed judging takes place. The showroom is full of the hustle and bustle of running rabbits, taking remarks, and watching the judging take place. The judging is followed by the Dutch Auction and then the Banquet where awards are handed out, recognition given, and good camaraderie is enjoyed by all. So now that you have the general description, here are some things that you should keep in mind when planning to make the trip.
I am writing this article late January, so by this time you should have your hopefuls already out of the nestbox. Ideally you want your juniors to be about 4 or 5 months old at NDS so they should have been born late November or early December. Personally I am happy with litters born thru early January too. Keep an eye on those hopefuls, watch how they develop, cull as needed throughout the process and keep the very best.
When I attend NDS I always bring the following items with me and have found them either useful and/or necessary during my trip.
  • Feed and water that the rabbits are currently used to at home. It is important to maintain the same feed while on the road with your Dutch. Some people will just use the feed and water that the sponsoring club supplies at the show, but this can cause your Dutch to go into a molt or even worse go off of feed and stop eating all together. Try to keep things as normal for your rabbits as possible. On that note rabbits can go off of feed due to the stress of it all, so I like to bring along good grassy hay and other "treats" like rolled oats, whole grain condition, etc. Bring what works for you and your rabbits.
  • Feed and water dishes for your rabbits. Most times at national shows the sponsoring club will supply dishes for the rabbits, but I recommend that you bring your own because you never know what you are going to get. It is safest to bring enough dishes from home that you know are clean and this way you will have them when you need them.
  • Bring cardboard. Yes, cardboard....you may be wondering why....well, dividers of course. In addition to the cardboard, bring a utility knife to cut it with. After being cut to the proper size, the cardboard will work nicely to block spray from another buck, also gives a sense of security to your Dutch, and provides added protection from the terribly feared "nose bite" from another Dutch that somehow got too close. Basically an all around protective barrier.
  • Cage cleaning equipment - since the cooping usually has solid flooring and shavings are utilized for bedding, you will need to bring something to clean out the cage. I like to use a dustpan and a small scraper. The shavings are usually supplied by the hosting club so you shouldn't need to bring any, but while your rabbits are there, it is your responsibility to clean out the soiled bedding and keep the cage clean.
  • Cage signs or cage markers - There will be a lot of Dutch rabbits at the show and it is always nice to have some sort of marking on your rabbit's coop to distinguish it from others. The Dutch are all cooped according to variety, sex, and age, so if you are exhibiting different varieties you can bet that your Dutch will not all be in the same area. Signs also come in handy if you are planning to offer any animals for sale during the show. Signage can provide for good information for the prospective buyer.
  • Wire false flooring - Many exhibitors will bring false flooring for their rabbits which will keep the rabbit off of the solid floor/shavings and keep them cleaner. This is not necessary, but I have used them and they work well. I do like to utilize them if I have room to pack them along. If you plan on using these find out from the show officials the size of the cooping that will be used at the show. It does you no good to bring false flooring that is too large for the cooping provided.
  • Grooming supplies - This would include at the very least a carpet or grooming table (if there is room), a brush, nail clippers, cloth/towel, and some type of stain remover. The brush and nail clipper are a given, as far as the stain remover, this goes back to the fact that Dutch bucks are notorious sprayers and sometimes your show rabbit gets hit. Personally I like to use Listerine with a cloth. Just blot the area until it appears clean and then blot and brush dry. Works pretty good. I stay away from the eyes though. Before showing, go over each rabbit and do any needed grooming. Make sure that toesnails are clipped. It is a shame when a rabbit catches a long toenail and rips it out during judging. Something that could have been prevented with proper clipping.
  • Cable ties - I like to bring the plastic cable ties to secure the cage door closed and also if there is a loose top or divider in the cooping it can be secured as well using cable ties. If you are going to use the cable ties make sure to bring scissors or wire clipper to remove them prior to judging and after the show is over.
  • If you plan to sell any of your stock make sure that you bring the pedigree for that rabbit. Most times a buyer will like to see this before a purchase. Also when donating an animal to the Dutch Auction a pedigree is required.
  • Long sleeves - As mentioned earlier in this article you will be handling a lot of rabbits during the course of the weekend especially if you volunteer to carry and run rabbits which is always needed and greatly appreciated. The long sleeves will protect your arms from scratches and mishap. Be sure to bring some hand sanitizer if you do handle other peoples rabbits or be diligent in hand washing.
  • Raffle donation - each year at the NDS they hold a raffle and donations are always welcome. Many people will bring something from their home state, maybe a basket of goodies or Dutch related items, something along those lines. The profit from the raffle supports the American Dutch Rabbit Club. Don't forget to buy your tickets!
  • Bring a camera too - there are always good memories to be captured and also the pictures that you take of the National Dutch Show are always a welcomed submission to the Dutch Reporter. The members that are not able to make the trip do appreciate seeing the photos and the people that did attend NDS usually get a kick out of seeing themselves pictured, especially when they didn't expect it!
So their you have a few of my recommendations, I may have missed something, but I hope that this helps your planning and also makes your National Dutch Show a fun and well organized trip. Remember if you have more specific questions, contact the show officials for this year's NDS or for general NDS questions contact a fellow Dutch breeder that has attended past National shows. See you in Michigan!

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