Show Rabbits – How to Buy the Good Ones

Tips For Buying Show Rabbits And Breeding Stock

 by Laurie Stroupe

I am a big believer that rabbit breeding and exhibiting information should be open to everyone and that anyone who wants to put in the investments of time, money, and work should have an opportunity to do well in bunnies. But you may feel like you just can’t get your hands on good stock. Well here are some ideas.

Saynora's Katee - dam of Ox, Bear, LaForge, Geordi, Brook, Franz, Liels, Trevor and othersIdea One:  Buy a brood doe from a rabbit that is a good producer. Research lines you really like. Look at the wins and then find out which rabbit is producing the winning rabbits. That’s your focus. Request a brood doe from that producing rabbit (not necessarily from the winning rabbit).

For example, I have had several requests to buy Brook. I have a waiting list for her. But I am going to keep her until she’s 2 1/2 or 3, at a minimum. Those folks have a long time to wait (she’s not yet 1). And I have people on my waiting list for a show doe like Brook out of those lines.  Believe me, if I get another show doe like Brook, I will keep her for 2 1/2 to 3 years as well. But I also have a request on my waiting list for a brood doe out of Brook’s mother. I will likely have that within the next six months. That breeder will have her brood doe and may be producing her own “Brook” while everyone else is still on the waiting list.

Idea Two:  Buy a false dwarf buck. Most of the time, false dwarf bucks are sold as pets. And they should be, most of the time. But my best doe, The Nature Trail’s Mercedes, 14 legs, was sired by a false dwarf buck from very good lines. I purchased him for $75, got 40 babies from him and sold him for $50. He was a bargain. He gave me several nice offspring in addition to Mercedes, including Belle, Nina, Titan, and several others. Just be sure you have researched the type of rabbit the lines produce and then buy the false dwarf brood buck from that line at a bargain price. When you breed him to a true dwarf doe, you have just as much chance of producing a winner as the person breeding his true dwarf, more expensive brother (true dwarf bred to true dwarf produces 50% true, 25% false, and 25% peanuts, on the average;  true to false produces 50% true and 50% false – you get 50% true dwarfs, on the average, either way).

Idea Three:  Buy a Charlie from good lines. Did I mention that Mercedes’ father was also a Charlie? Some folks routinely pet out Charlies. That’s a huge mistake in my mind. You can read more about what I think about Charlies on the following page:  Rabbit Genetics For The Pattern Gene. You do need to breed your Charlie to a solid.  That way, you will get all brokens in the resulting litters. Charlies are often very reasonably priced because they are misunderstood, in my opinion.


Idea Four:  Buy a rabbit with good type in a non-showable color.  This idea is a bit tricky because color and good type are generally hard to come by.  Breeders are working very hard to get their colors to be consistently competitive.  But foxes (tort otters/orange otters) come to mind.  They are but one gene different from a black tortoiseshell, making it more likely to find a one with good type.  You can breed them with black or blue to make showable otters.  If the fox has only one otter gene, then they can be bred like you would a tort for at least 50% showable colors, on the average.  Bred to an agouti color, they can produce 100% showable offspring.

Click for a related article on buying show rabbits

Idea Five:  Contact a breeder frequently. Write to the breeder you would like to have rabbits from approximately once per month to see what may be coming up (be sure not to write so often that you are annoying the breeder). Breeders like for folks to like their rabbits. And you want to come to mind when a breeder has something nice to sell. Rabbit sales that never even hit the “For Sale” page are often the best ones.

Idea Six:  Ask a breeder if he or she has a waiting list. If so, put your name on the list for several things (a show buck out of x, a brood doe out of y, a Charlie out of z) to increase your odds of getting rabbits from the lines you desire. It may take a long time for your name to come up, but if you are not on the list, it never will.  I keep a waiting list and I check it before I post rabbits for sale.

The Nature Trail's Kirsten - I sold her to Dani when she came to pick up BreezyIdea Seven:  Visit the breeder’s rabbitry to make purchases. Almost every time someone comes to my barn to buy rabbits, I sell something I had not previously intended to sell. Perhaps I see that a rabbit would fill out a trio for the buyer or perhaps I sell a rabbit that I was just beginning to think I might sell. Visitors often buy rabbits that never make it to the For Sale page.

Idea Eight:  If you are already producing nice rabbits yourself, tempt a breeder with an exchange of like kind. A breeder west of the Mississippi has a buck I just love. He loves Brook. So I will be looking for a very special Brook baby to trade with him for a very special baby out of his buck.

Sure, you can go to Convention and lay out big bucks for a rabbit with several legs.  But if you can’t afford to do that for every rabbit you purchase,  you are in luck.  There are ways to get good stock.  You just have to make some smart moves.

Next Article: Pre-purchase Health exam
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