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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm planning to go this evening to the county 4-H rabbit show to see what I can find. These are pretty much all meat-pen rabbits, and the owners will most likely be selling them after the show, rather than keeping them to breed.

We want a breeding trio of meat rabbits for the table and a little bartering.

What do I look for? What do I avoid?
 

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No mini breeds.
Cal, NZ, satins, rex, ect.
Be sure to collect phone numbers for future purchases too. In case they didn't bring any thing to sell/ or you wat to add more later.
 

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I can give a few suggestions, just to get the ball rolling...

1. Health:
Do they look bright eyed and sleek? Inquisitive and interested in their surroundings? Check to make sure there are no signs of discharge from eyes or nose, no crust of redness inside ears, no malocclusion of teeth, no splayed legs, no sore hocks, no bald spots or red, flaky patches of skin.

2.Disposition:
How do they act when you put your hand in? Friendly, frightened, aggressive, shy? You must make some allowances for them being off their usual turf, but look for a rabbit that tolerates this well and is friendly and relaxed in spite of it. It indicates a good disposition and lots of resilience.

3. Background:
You'll have to take the breeder's word for it, but ask: How many were in the litter this one came from? How many were raised out of the number kindled? Was that typical for the dam? How are the dam's mothering skills? Her disposition? I'd be looking for promising young rabbits from litters of 7 - 9 from a relaxed dam who typically kindles that number and raises almost all of them. Loss of one runt per litter is pretty normal. The does especially should come from dams with good mothering skills and enough milk to raise what she kindles.

4. Conformation:
Since most of the really good meat comes from the hind legs and loin, look for rabbits that have nice, full hind-quarters with good muscling along the spine as well. (Good front-quarters are also desirable, but less important because even the best front legs and rib sections are not that meaty.) Remember, you are looking for firm flesh, not fat.... but fat should not be a problem in young stock anyway.

Hope this helps. When you start butchering your own rabbits, remember to take mental notes of before and after appearance. It will help train your eye to imagine future purchases without their fur. :)
 

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Buy young, 1 yr or less, not older. Some rabbits are so over bred that at 2 they are breeding burn outs!
Dont believe the seller. People will sometimes lie to make a buck.
Remember they are not selling their best, they are dumping their low end rabbits.

Follow your gut and your brains, not your heart, and really look the rabbit over.
 

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I'm planning to go this evening to the county 4-H rabbit show to see what I can find. These are pretty much all meat-pen rabbits, and the owners will most likely be selling them after the show, rather than keeping them to breed.

What do I look for? What do I avoid?
Buy young, 1 yr or less, not older. Some rabbits are so over bred that at 2 they are breeding burn outs!
Dont believe the seller. People will sometimes lie to make a buck.
Remember they are not selling their best, they are dumping their low end rabbits.
Since these are meat pen fryers, you will be looking at
rabbits that are about 70 days of age and weighing
about 4 1/2 to 5 pounds. Some counties have different rules
but that is sort of the norm for Texas fairs.

Look at the highest placing pens. (It also helps to know
something about the judge's qualifications.) Ask the exhibitor if
they have the breeding stock OR did they purchase the rabbits.
(Different counties have different rules on this.) If they
purchased the pen, you will not be able to learn much about
#3 as listed in Maggie's post.

Depending upon the county involved, the exhibitor *might*
give the pen away if they don't make the sale. After the
sale and if the buyer doesn't take possession, those fryers
are often for sale or given away. I've gotten some wonderful
does and bucks from Grand Champion meat pens.

Usually the rabbits are quite gentle as they are accustomed
to being handled by the exhibitors.

Have fun! I love going to county 4H/FFA rabbit shows!

Linda Welch
 

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The only time I went to a 4-h show there were none for sale, but I did get alot of references.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Buy young, 1 yr or less, not older. Some rabbits are so over bred that at 2 they are breeding burn outs!
Dont believe the seller. People will sometimes lie to make a buck.
Remember they are not selling their best, they are dumping their low end rabbits.
In this case, because of the way this particular county 4-H show works, I think the rabbits can't be older than 14 weeks, and these are their ONLY rabbits. According to these rules, they apparently can't enter again once they've won their age division, so they generally buy rabbits a couple of months before the show (they have to have owned them for 60 days prior) and then sell them as soon as the show is over. If they're still qualified (haven't won their division), they buy more rabbits the next year and start over.

Follow your gut and your brains, not your heart, and really look the rabbit over.
Will do. Thanks!
 

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I've only been to three rabbit shows in my life so far (all last year) and the one that was the most fun ... and in some ways the most educational ... was the smallest, which was a 4H/ FFA show. The kids were eager to talk, very helpful and if the leaders or parents were involved, they were helpful as well.

My friend got her first rabbit at that show ... a MiniRex, just over a year old, that had been handled a lot and was very personable. He helped give my friend a virulent case of "rabbitosis" ... which works well for me. This is the same friend that decided six months later she was going to raise meat rabbits, went to buy four seniors, came home with five seniors, plus another 5 juniors!

I think you can do quite well either buying, or making contacts to buy from breeders, at these shows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I can give a few suggestions, just to get the ball rolling...
Thanks, Maggie! I appreciate the detail. I may even print that out to help me remember everything.

3. Background:
You'll have to take the breeder's word for it, but ask: How many were in the litter this one came from? How many were raised out of the number kindled? Was that typical for the dam? How are the dam's mothering skills? Her disposition? I'd be looking for promising young rabbits from litters of 7 - 9 from a relaxed dam who typically kindles that number and raises almost all of them. Loss of one runt per litter is pretty normal. The does especially should come from dams with good mothering skills and enough milk to raise what she kindles.
As Linda said, the kids who are showing most likely did NOT breed these rabbits, but bought them two months ago just for the show. Should I get breeders' names and contact info from them and go that route instead of buying from the show?
 

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Thanks, Maggie! I appreciate the detail. I may even print that out to help me remember everything.


As Linda said, the kids who are showing most likely did NOT breed these rabbits, but bought them two months ago just for the show. Should I get breeders' names and contact info from them and go that route instead of buying from the show?
Can't hurt, but don't worry about it too much. I'm not very familiar with how these shows work or wouldn't have included #3... although I think the questions in it are useful when you are buying from a breeder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Can't hurt, but don't worry about it too much. I'm not very familiar with how these shows work or wouldn't have included #3...
Every county sets its own rules. The show tonight is actually in my county, but we're in the 4-H in the county next to us. Our club's rules are considerably different. Ours includes show rabbits, not just meat pens, and allows a child or teen to win more than once. As a result, many of the kids in our club do breed their own. We're still new to all this, so I'm just learning a lot of these things, and how the rules vary from county to county.

although I think the questions in it are useful when you are buying from a breeder.
If we do end up buying from a breeder, I'll keep your suggested questions in mind. I do appreciate your help and insight!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Look at the highest placing pens. (It also helps to know something about the judge's qualifications.)
I looked at the show information hoping to get the judges' names (so I coudl ask you about them), but they're not listed.

Depending upon the county involved, the exhibitor *might*
give the pen away if they don't make the sale. After the
sale and if the buyer doesn't take possession, those fryers
are often for sale or given away.
How and when would I find this out? (If it helps any, this is the Randall County show.)
 

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Randall County is quite a distance from me. The only rabbit
judge I'm aware of close to you would be Roy McClung in
Seymour (and that's not too close!) My closest customers
to you would be around San Angelo and Abilene (again...
not very close).

I don't always send my "best typed" rabbits
to the show near San Angelo. The judge always picks
the heaviest pen. My rabbits have won many years
simply on that basis at that show. My customer selects the
pens for growth potential. It helps to know what the judge wants
It's disconcerting to have a judge like that. The other problem with
some judges is breed bias. If they breed one certain breed, some
would rather be hanged before selecting another breed as
Grand or Reserve.

Sorry to get slightly off topic. I'm just trying to show that
the top ranking pens are not always the best when it comes
to "meat" conformation....... depending upon the judge's
perception.

I see that your show was Friday at 7 p.m. Looks like there
is also a roaster class. I hope the show was a large one
and you can locate some rabbits. Good luck!
 
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