Quality not Quantity

Breed Quality not Quantity

My new year’s resolution for 2016 is to try and clean up the world of the pet rabbits throughout Australia as the quality in our true to type rabbits has fallen off, especially in the last few years. I want to help people understand the plight of rabbits, in particular mini lops as they seem to be the ones favoured mostly as pets as they do love the attention and cuddles.

Firstly, there seems to be a misconception that I am running this campaign to ‘knock out the competition’ so I can sell all my own rabbits. Well for those few detractors saying these crude and crass remarks, I have to confess that I haven’t bred rabbits in nearly 5 years, so I have nothing to gain except raise awareness of shoddy breeding practices and help to improve the rabbit fancy as a whole. Anybody who knows me knows how passionate I am about caring for and housing rabbits in a suitable healthy environment.

Any backyard breeder out there that wants or are prepared to do right by their rabbits and don’t know how to go about it, I am only a phone call away.  I am proud to say that I have shut down several backyard breeders with the help of RSPCA after I gave them advice on the proper care and housing of their rabbits and what rabbits to breed together to produce healthy babies. But they didn’t want to know and so they were shut down.  I am even prouder of the fact that three backyard breeders who were willing to listen to my concerns about their shoddy breeding practices, have now changed their breeding practices with my help and are now breeding quality pet rabbits which they can be proud of no longer like the shoddy ones pictured below.

8-shoddy-bunniesMy aim is to stop people producing shoddy rabbits when there is so much they could be doing to improve the quality of their rabbits instead of constantly throwing two rabbits together regardless of their type and size just to get babies to sell for monetary gain without any consideration for the health and welfare of the rabbits.  Rabbits being bred as many as 7 times a year and when it won’t produce any more, it is hit over the head with a hammer and put out with the rubbish.

The backyard breeders that I have shut down all had their rabbits living in appalling conditions. Mostly crammed into garages in small cages where the rabbit could barely turn around and living in their own filth, water bowls with green algae caked to the sides of them. On one particular hot day when I went to a backyard breeders property with official help to get the bunnies out, we lifted up a huge canvas that covered the doorway and after getting bowled over with the stench and then adjusting our eyes to the gloom found 7 rabbits that had died of heat stroke, three with litters who were also dead and rats everywhere, feeding on the dead bunnies. Crammed into this space were 120 rabbits. So if you know of any breeders that fit this category, they definitely need shutting down now, before they can cause any more damage to bunnies.

Really hardcore backyard breeders like that described above usually have large female rabbits of any type so they can produce large litters, and in the last few years since the mini lop craze, use mini lop bucks over them so that they will have ‘lop ears’ The only problem is that this creates health problems for the bunnies, the main one being ear abscesses followed by deafness. The second problem that this type of cross breeding produces time and time again is babies with malocclusion because of the different jaw alignment.

It is up to all responsible rabbit breeders to encourage back-yarders who crossbreed to at least use the same type of rabbits to breed together and to give their rabbits adequate housing. Below are 3 of the standard cages we make at the Rabbit Patch. Outdoor, bungalow and Breeders cages.

Standard-Outdoor-cage Deluxe Bungalow Standard WardrobeThe rule of thumb that I consider the minimum requirement for any rabbit is that the cage should be long enough for the rabbit to make at least 6 descent hops from end to end, High enough so that the rabbit can stand up on its hind feet and not be able to touch the roof and wide enough so that the rabbit can stretch out to its full length cross-ways from front to back.

Another false impression that the half a dozen detractors seem to be trying to muddy the waters with is that I am against breeders from rabbit clubs selling pet quality stock on gumtree. I have no objection to them doing this, nor have I ever had one. Mind you it does make you wonder if those breeders are over breeding their stock. I only every bred any of my Does twice a year, and sometimes only once, depending on what lines I was improving at the time, and I always had a 2 year waiting list for my stock, I didn’t have to, nor did I ever advertise my stock anywhere but on my site. The reason for this is that I was always honest with my customers, offered ongoing help and support for new breeders, gave them quality stock to work with and was never too busy to answer any concerns they might have years later.  I currently answer the dozens of emails I get each and every day from rabbit owners all over Australia asking for help with a rabbit problem or other rabbit related inquiry.

I admit that I was a tad overzealous when I started this campaign of mine regarding cross bred rabbits being advertised on gumtree, but I just get so angry about the abuse the bunnies go through.

So, to clarify, I would like all concerned people to continue to get ads of crossbred stock stopped by reporting them, but also write a short note to the breeder stating the reason for you reporting it is because they are crossbred which is detrimental to the bunny’s health and well being and ask them if there is any reason why they can’t breed rabbits of the same type together so that the babies will have no defects from birth. Encourage them to read the articles on my site.

There is no reason for them to be breeding crossbred stock when they can do so much better breeding quality pet bunnies regardless of what type be they Netherland Dwarfs, Mini Lops, Dutch, Satin, Chinchilla, Cashmere etc. But breed Netherland with Netherland, Mini Lop to Mini Lop, Dutch to Dutch etc.

gomaz gaysha and choco (11)

Lastly, I am not the enemy, I am here to help you if you genuinely want to change for the better and don’t know how. Start thinking of your rabbits that you profess to love and less of yourself and the money you think you need to make off them. If you are one of those hardcore breeders who refuse to believe that they are harming the rabbits and carry on regardless, you will be caught out in the end and unable to sell your stock, so please start treating your bunny’s right.

Trish Ratford

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