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Starting out in The Fancy can be a daunting experience and one that if not observed correctly, can lead to disillusion and heartache for both the owner and the rabbit. Certain criteria apply to all forms of livestock when keeping them as a pet and which need to be observed at all times. The animals needs and wants must be observed and maintained. It's health and future supported at all times.
Some breeds need certain extra elements within their lives to make them more comfortable and happy. This may be in the form of housing, grooming etc, so deciding on what breed one wants needs careful planning.
Within this site you will find all the information and help you need to successfully keep your rabbit happy and make the hobby of rabbit keeping an enjoyable one.
Click on links below to open BRC Leaflets
Before you can show your newly aquired stock, you have to join the British Rabbit Council. Once a member you can then purchase a leg ring (sold in 6's) or submit a transfer form for your rabbit which then identifies it as yours. Once you have joined a number of useful leaflets and booklets are sent to you, all giving good advice or instruction.
To keep in touch with the Fancy and abreast with the news you need to subscribe to the Fur & Feather monthly magazine, available by subscription.
Selecting the breed of rabbit you wish to keep is the first thing that should be done. From that one can then decide on what housing would be the most suitable for that breed and also what needs and wants it requires. Do you want a single rabbit or are you considering housing several and even to the point of then breeding and showing. All these aspects have to be considered before any decision is taken.
The Rabbit Fancy has four sections within it from which to chose the breed you prefer.
The Lop section covers ALL Lop breeds, ranging from the small Mini Lop to the oldest breed of all, the English Lop. This section covers a wide range of colours and sizes to attract anyone into this section.
The Fancy section covers a range of rabbits that diversify in size, shape and colour more than any of the other sections. The Netherland Dwarf and the Polish are the smallest in this section, both coming in various colours and patterns. Most of the breeds within this section do have a choice of colour to appeal but also some rabbits within this section do need more specialist care than others. The Angora, the Swiss Fox all need extra special care for their fur, as all have long hair, making grooming a bigger part of their make up than some other breeds.
The Fur section generally contains the larger breed of rabbit, so housing becomes an important issue for this section. The British Giant can weigh up to 20lb so space and housing is a requisite, but within this section you will find the qualities of the fur very appealing.
The Rex section is more uniform than the other sections in that all , bar The Mini Rex, are the same shape and size. All carry the exquisite coat properties that are synonymous with this breed and come in various colours and patterns . Look at the different breeds and colours and decide which you fancy most. If possible visit some studs in the area that have your breed. You may be able to pick up several tips by observation. Once that decision is made you can go home and plan your rabbitry.
Rare Varieties section contains new breeds and rare breeds.
Fancy: Dutch Tri - Coloured, Giant Papillon, Rhinelander, Thrianta.
Fur: Beige, Blanc de Bouscat, Blance de Hotot, Blanc de Termonde, Deillenaar, Golden Clavcot, Hulstlander, Perflee, Pointed Beveren, Sallander, Squirrel, Sussex, Swiss Fox, Thuringer, Vienna Coloured, Vienna White, Wheaten, Wheaten Lynx
A District Advisor can be a big help here. You will need to decide the size of cages and begin either to build them or buy them. Remember you will need a few bigger cages as breeding pens. you will need to ascertain local availability of shavings, hay, straw, feed and disposal of waste.
Once that is done, you can start to find the stock for the breed you have decided upon.
More examples of the various breeds lay within the Breed Standards section.
Joining a Club
The first Club you should join is your local club. This is where you meet local fanciers and do most of your showing.
Then the National Breed club of the breed that you keep. These Clubs hold approximately 4 stock shows per year, each held at various locations in Gt Britain.
There may also be a Regional Specialist Breed Club to join. These also hold stock shows around Gt Britain so the boundries become vast and the opportunity to travel the country is open to you.
What You Need
What to look for when purchasing your foundation/breeding stock
You will need to decide which breed you would like and searching the internet for more information, looking at books and pictures can help as to giving you an idea of the wide range of breeds available. Once you have an idea of the breed(s) you are interested in, it's a good idea to get out and about at some shows and actually see the rabbit in the flesh. Get a feel for the breed, looking at the rabbits in a show is a good indication of type and size and can help you decide. You might also see a breed that you've never seen before such as a Rare Variety and this may be something to consider too. Visiting breeders of your chosen breed, looking around their studs, handling their rabbits and talking to the breeder will give you a good idea of the temperament, space and care the breed requires. Many breeders will happily show you around their stud without any obligation to buy from them.
When you are sure which breed you would like and are ready to purchase your first rabbits, you should go for the best available stock that you can find and invest in two good proven does and a proven buck from related lines. This will give you a good start. Or you can purchase a young doe, proven doe and buck combination. This is known as purchasing a 'trio' and is the conventional and most recommended way of doing things. From these three foundation rabbits you will be able to start your line and then bring in outcrosses as needed.
Beware of where you buy your foundation stock! Just because a breeder is a member of the British Rabbit Council, this doesn't mean they are breeding for show, producing show quality stock or selling good foundation stock! The BRC is made up of many members, both pet and exhibition that advertise in the BRC Year Book. A good place to look is in the Fur & Feather magazine or ask other breeders/exhibitors for their recommendations. Join the National or Regional Specialist Club for your chosen breed and not only will the year book have breeder's adverts but the Secretary will often be only too helpful in pointing you in the right direction. Your Local club or District Advisor can help here too. When you find a breeder, ask questions and find out what their breeding objectives are? Do they show, if not, why? Have they sold rabbits for show, if so, how well have these rabbits done? There are many good questions to ask, but recommendations are a very good and reliable guide to a breeder's reputation. Don't be afraid to ask around, most breeders would not be offended if they have nothing to hide and you will get a feel for general opinions and constructive advice as to their stock and reputation. Even if they no longer show for whatever reason, they will still have that experience and be breeding towards the Standard of the breed.
Also beware of buying stock from shows. They may look good in the sale pen, but you will need more information than looks alone before buying the rabbit. If there is something that you really want to buy, ask around for who bred the rabbit, talk to other breeders and source their opinions on the rabbit. Talk to the breeder and get more background, why it's for sale and will it be any good for what you want it for. Examine it thoroughly when possible. You will not know where this rabbit has come from, will not have seen the parents and relatives or the conditions they are kept in. You could maybe exchange numbers with the breeder and visit their stud, they may be willing to take a deposit on the rabbit for you to collect it at a later date or have other more suitable stock for sale at home. But of course they may not, so think carefully. Be sure of what you are buying and get all the information you can before you part with your money. It's much better to actually visit a stud when you are starting out and purchase stock from your chosen stud after you have viewed the rabbits and talked to the breeder.
If you are lucky, you may find someone local to you who will be willing to not only supply you with good foundation (solid & proven line bred stock with which you can continue with) stock, but may be able to help you with choosing your matings, going through litters with you and helping you to look for the qualities you want in your litters and what to keep to continue breeding with, all with the sound knowledge and experience of knowing their line. They may also be willing to take you along to shows with them, introduce you to people and help with questions and support. A good breeder is invaluable in the first few months, even years of your breeding and can be the start of a very good friendship.
If a local breeder can't help you with stock, they can still be invaluable and offer a friendly face at shows, they may also be willing to come along with you to help you choose your foundation stock and show you what to look for and how to examine the rabbits before purchase. Also helping you with litters and matings in future.
Also remember there is good stock and better stock. A breeder will never be able to sell you their best, because of course, this is what all their hard work has gone into producing and would defeat the purpose of it all! You can't expect to be producing winner's overnight; it takes some hard work and dedication. They will however be able to supply you with good quality stock to work with and normally stock that is related to their best lines at reasonable prices. You may even be offered to mate a doe to a suitable buck of your choice, either included in the price (as previously agreed) or for a small additional stud fee. You may also be able to return to the breeder later on for an additional stud mating rather than buying in another outcross from an unrelated line or having to purchase another buck. These are all options that are open to you and can be discussed with the breeder. Some breeders may be reluctant to allow their bucks to be used by a doe of unknown origin that may unwittingly bring something into their stud and to their rabbits, so you should be aware of this.
Most of all, don't rush things! No matter how eager you are to get your rabbits and get started, rushing out and buying the first rabbits you see can be waste of time and money, along with heartache down the line. Everyone makes mistakes and it is what helps us to learn, but if you take your time, source a good breeder and don't rush into buying then these mistakes will hopefully be minimal and you can get on with enjoying your rabbits and hobby to the fullest.
You also don't have to start off with a shed full of rabbits. A trio for each line or colour would be sufficient and then you can keep some hutches spare for what you breed from them.
Going to Shows