Top Tips from Pro ARBA Breeders

Top Tips from Pro ARBA Breeders

Following is a list of top tips compiled from this thread on the Members of ARBA – Amercian Rabbit Breeders Association Facebook Page.


> On breeding, culling and related tips:

“Buy a related pair or trio that are the best you can afford and breed your own winners.”

“Do not breed to breed. Make sure each pair is a solid match and has good type.”

Know your breed standards inside and out. Don’t do multiple breeds until you are solid in one breed.”

Remember to do what works for you & your animals. Just because something works for “me”, does not mean that same something will work for “you.” Take it in, then use or discard the advice/recommendation based on your needs.

Know your rabbits. This includes buying and reading the SOP. Joining your State and National clubs for their informational booklets. Watching how your lines grow and develop. Each rabbit is an individual so pay attention to them and all their differences. Some need a quiet place some like more attention. Some eat less some eat more.

Don’t give up if something doesn’t go right and don’t breed for Color breed for type, Quality not Quantity.”

Yep, built your barn first … then paint it.

Breed a lot and cull hard.

Culling can be selling as a pet or selling to someone who has an alternative use for your culls, if you don’t have an alternative use yourself. For a very established selective successful breeder, their culls can be someone else’s starter stock– as others have said, culling is simply removing from your herd. There is no possible way that every rabbit you produce can help your herd– you only keep and breed forward with what will improve your stock.

“Cull anything that is vicious and/or eats their young. life is too short to deal with mean rabbits and you don’t want that in your lineage.

Be honest about your stock and don’t let emotions rule you. In the beginning, you may have to make exceptions to this rule if the stock you can afford or have access to doesn’t have everything you need. My rule in that case (actually in general) is to to never let a fault continue for a 2nd generation. So if you must use a rabbit that easily stresses, or has a chopped HQ, cross to something that is very strong in that area, and don’t keep any kits with that same fault.

Never let someone tell you that what stock you have is bad for your breeding program. Everyone’s opinion is different, as youth breeder myself, who breeds one of the most complex typed breeds, (Himalayans) I am gonna tell you right now that you will love a rabbits type, but then someone else will hate it. It’s what YOU want in your barn, not what THEY think.

Don’t outcross your stock too many times. Keep your line tight.

Put rabbits in grow out cages and let them grow. Patience.

Don’t let every judge’s comment affect you. Record all of the comments and see what the common factor is (ie: shoulders, loin, hind, markings, fur, etc). Then work on bettering those areas one by one. See if the comments improve or worsen. Sometimes you have to take some judges with a grain of salt so don’t base all of your culls on one judge’s opinion. Do an overall survey of your animals and breeding and go from there.

Don’t buy because it’s cute, cheap, or buy from everyone you see under the sun. Take your time do your research.”

The more “experienced” breeders usually do sell for more. But it also usually worth it.”

Buying something that’s older and proven producer can be worth it.. Plus some slightly older brood does breeders will let go for less as they know they are past prime production ( but ask when last litter was).”

Remember that not everyone who claims to be “the best” is the best. That even if they are winning left and right, doesn’t mean they have the best animals. Don’t let wins and legs be the reason you buy an animal from a certain breeder. Let consistency and what you need be the reason.

Culling hard will get you where you want to go with your breed faster than not culling. Only keep the best that you possibly can.

Breed the best, eat the rest.”

Don’t over pose and watch for over posing.

Breed hard…..cull harder.”



> On showing, mentors & judges:

I found that once I started predicting what a Judge would say about my animals on the table I started showing better. Ask Judges that really knows your breed for advice. Also find the best buck available for your “herd” buck.

Find you a good solid mentor who does not allow themselves to be apart of drama nor do they make drama.

Breed so rabbits mature for the shows you want to attend……never show rabbits just to get someone else’s opinion …you will be mad all the time as judging g varies wildly.”

Find a good mentor, someone who has been there done that and can share experiences. Breed for what you like, not for a judge’s opinion.

Also, stay out of drama. A lot of youth breeders will accidentally bump right into it, it just causes more stress.

And a couple more things, if you ever go to Convention, they hold classes for beginners, GO TO THOSE!! They teach you a lot. Never lose your confidence in your herd, but at the same time, never expect to win.

Don’t let the negative people get to you. There are good people and bad people. Just keep on doing what you do and breed/show for yourself and the love of the hobby, not for all the other people.”

Don’t get discouraged by one judges opinion cause that’s all it really is.”

Find a true breeder and only listen to them. Not all the wanna bee’s who are just in it cause they think they will make money and pretend to know.

Remember one judge’s opinion on one day.

Before you show a rabbit for the first time, examine it one more time…especially the sex check.

Tag your carriers to identify the ear number and class of the occupant so you can quickly get the right rabbit on the table. That helps a lot if you have two breeds called to the table at the same time and need to have someone else put them up.

Do not take one judges opinion, get many.”

Ask to feel rabbits not just in your breed. Table write and ask the judge to feel faults. Talk to top breeders and feel up their rabbits. Listen more than you talk and don’t look outside your herd for every answer. Think big picture not a single win or goal. And finally, keep it professional. Maybe personally you detest that person but if you need their stock don’t let your ego stop you from getting it.



> On getting started:

The very first thing I would do is go to a couple of shows and talk with the breeders that raise the breed you are interested in. Most will go out of their way to help you and answer your questions. There is nothing worse then getting into a breed just to find out you are not compatible with the other breeders.

Have a plan and stick to it.

Prior to breeding, research your breed. Get informed about breeding, housing, what a kit needs to survive and how to do it. Don’t have a litter and not how how to successful raise it as a breeder.

Win, lose or disqualified if your not having fun at a show your doing something wrong. And when buying new stock think of it like buying a scratch off lottery ticket. You might win big, might break even, or you might end up tossing it in the trash. But don’t invest more on the gamble than you can afford to lose, because it’s always a gamble, never a sure thing.

Starting off I took my brood does to a few shows to make sure I wasn’t missing a huge fault or dq. It was sorta my insurance policy.”

Never buy a rabbit you can’t afford to eat.

Read and learn the ARBA Standard of Perfection. It’s a wealth of information.

Talk to lots of breeders and attend shows. While you are there ask for opinions by the judges before you buy anything.”



> On maintenance & sanitation:

There are many ways to breed, feed, cage, house, groom, etc. Just because it works for others, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your practices!

Keep good house keeping in the barn. Keep cages and equipment sanitized.

This is on the lighter side but if you hose your cages out keep your mouth closed while hosing.

Here is a tip I tell every new breeder: when putting your rabbits back in their cages, put them in tail first. If they don’t see where they are going they won’t jump/scratch trying to get into their cage.

Ease of maintenance for your set-up and sanitation, this can be continuously improved. You can start out with used equipment mostly and then over the years buy the stuff you really want and think will help you and your rabbitry grow. Know your diseases, parasites, genetic defects, how to evaluate a rabbit for critical issues or concerns both structurally and internally such spinal issues, teeth, vent, gastrointestinal, eyes etc. Instilling good habits in regard to health and upkeep are the best things you can do to improve your herd and betterment in the hobby. Know how to keep feed stored, clean dishes, disinfecting cages properly. Herd health practices such as quarantining new intakes, preventive deworming, and the most important clean fresh water every single day. It’s easy to slouch and skip something that seems so much of a norm like not cleaning out a dirty feeder or water dish, or not quarantine a new intake, skipping things like that can be so costly and completely preventable the consequences you could face. People get so focused on breeding and buying this rabbit or that and forget the basics of maintaining your herd health.

If you use stacking cages, keep the bucks on the lower level..preferably below eye level.. Nothing like getting sprayed in the face while doing chores. Also..make sure you can reach to the back of your cages/hutches..and that there is full and easy access for cleaning.”

If going out and feeding and watering rabbits becomes a dreaded chore, you have too many.”

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