The Hempstead County Cooperative Extension Service hosted a 4-H Rabbit Clinic on April 24th.   Eight youth from Hempstead County participated, and Bethany Barney from Little River County Extension led the workshop presentation which was organized and facilitated by Betty Winfield and Kim Rowe from Hempstead County.
During the clinic, Barney presented a lot of factual information, including info on a closed Facebook group for children and a useful guidebook, the American Rabbit Breeders Association called the Standard of Perfection, often referred to as the “Rabbit Bible”. She encouraged everyone to join the American Rabbit Breeders Association and said that if the participants wanted to do more shows and fairs there are many that they can go to. The Association has 52 breeds listed in alphabetical order.
Barney then went into things to look for when purchasing a rabbit such as making sure that the birth dates make sense based on the development of the rabbit, and to request the pedigree of the rabbit. She talked about doing a basic health check which included checking for signs of ear mites, checking to see if the tattoo matches the pedigree, and making sure that the eyes are clear and the same color.
The purchaser should touch the nose and look for spots and discoloration. The teeth should be checked for malocclusion or over occlusion. There should be five toes in the front and four in the back and the toenails should be the same color as the fur, depending on the breed. The toes should curl in when the foot is pressed, indicating a healthy bone structure. The purchaser should also rub down the abdomen and look for bumps and abnormalities. The tail should come to a nice point and not lay to the side or down.
Barney showed a blue tort Dutch rabbit which she stated was not showable despite being a beautiful rabbit. She also exhibited junior rabbits and compared two rabbits. The larger one of these which she called a “big ugly doe” which are good for breeding but not showing.
When handling a rabbit, it should first be put into it’s pose to teach it how it should do it and then afterwards the rabbit can be played with, dressed up, etc. The handler should accustom the rabbit to being upside down, since that is not something they would normally do since they are prey animals.
Barney went on as to how to keep the animals comfortable in hot temperatures, such as using ice packs in cages, having a piece of tile in the cage, or having them inside during the day and outside at night.
Gracie Goodwin, a Pike County 4-Her, also attended and spoke to the youth about showing rabbits using her Dutch rabbits as an example. Attendees were given squares of low-loop carpet provided by Maverick Floors & More to take home and use as a base for working with their own rabbits.
For more information on Hempstead County 4-H, contact agent Betty Winfield at bwingfield@uada or call (870) 777-5771. 4-H is free to join and open for anyone ages 5-19.