I love using these diagrams to help me evaluate my Hollands. I can't wait until I have a shed to hang these up so I can see them on a daily basis. Mostly I am posting this blog so I can use it and find it easily for future reference. If you would like to download these diagrams for yourself, make sure you do so on Laura's website by clicking HERE. DO NOT download the diagrams from this blog post.
Proper Holland Lop type from the side and the front.
How depth and length effect the curvature of the topline.
Holland Lop depth over the HQ. This diagram is really helpful to me because I have trouble visualizing HQ depth.
Holland Lop head mount.
How to pose a Holland Lop
Holland Lop HQ - I've heard this can be evaluated as young as 4 weeks old.
I've had rabbits for 5 1/2 years now. I got my first bunny when I was 12, and so I've spent my entire teenage years - the most vital character-building time in a person's life - with these amazing creatures. I can definitely say that they have taught me so much. Here are 10 big things (not just little things; BIG things) that this rabbit-raising hobby has taught me.
#1: Nothing worth having comes easily.
In so many ways, raising rabbits has taught me that you if want something that will pay off in the long run, something to be proud of, you have to work at it. It took me 4 years of breeding show rabbits to win consistently at 3 different shows. I have used this motto towards implementing a healthy lifestyle for myself, and towards school at college. Hard work does pay off in the long run, but it might take a little while.
#2: Dedication, commitment, and passion.
I think these three things are related very closely so that's why I grouped them together. If you want to succeed or do well in something, no matter what it is, whether school, your work, or hobby, you need to be dedicated. You need to be committed to seeing that project to the very end. And in the same train of thought, to do well in something, and to be truly dedicated and committed, you have to be passionate about it. Even if your work is boring, or your school isn't fun, you can find something to be passionate about. Whether it's something little in that work atmosphere, or something big like your future career when you graduate. Have your eye on a goal and don't take your eye off of that goal until you've reached it.
#3: Money management and budgeting.
Raising rabbits is not cheap. They need food, hay, food dishes, nest boxes, water bottles, a cage, and the list goes on and on. If you want to breed competitive show rabbits, you need to save money for show entries, or to buy new cages or new rabbits to improve the ones you have. There have been countless times when I haven't been able to buy something I wanted, like a pair of shoes or a new outfit, because I needed to save money for feed, show entries, or a new bunny. I can't go with my friends to the mall whenever I want to buy a cute outfit or pair of shoes, because I might need new toys or grooming supplies for the bunnies. In addition, raising rabbits has taught me valuable budgeting skills. I like knowing how much I make (or don't make) at the end of the year, so I keep detailed records of everything I buy and all the rabbits I sell or boarders I take in.
#4: People/communication skills.
I have been homeschooled up until this past year, and as most of you know, some homeschoolers don't have the best social skills. I remember when I first started raising rabbits, I hated talking to strangers on the phone. I needed to do it for ordering in feed, or interacting with rabbit clients, so I had to learn how to do it well. I don't mind it now, and it comes easily to me. I have people that email me daily asking if I have rabbits for sale or asking a question about their bunny. I have to answer these emails quickly and professionally, because it's polite but also because I could lose a lot of my business in selling pets if I were rude and standoffish. Whenever I do have rabbits for sale, I need to interact in person with strangers and I need to be able to talk about a rabbit's strengths and faults and I want to be genuine, and kind towards them, even if they aren't that way towards me. I need to be articulate and efficient when I'm talking with bunny buyers, so they know the ins and outs of owning rabbits, or owning that particular rabbit in general. I would hate for a rabbit to come back to me because I didn't explain something well enough to the buyer.
#5: How to lose well.
Just like with any sport, showing animals teaches the importance of losing well. "Poor spots" or "sore losers" are sad; they take all the fun out of the hobby or sport. Losing well also entails understanding when you did try your best, but it just wasn't good enough yet, so doing something differently or trying even harder the next time. I've never done super well in shows until recently, and that was ok to me, because I knew that I just needed to keep trying and someday I would get there.
On another note, it's also important to remember that the people are more important in this hobby than the ribbons or recognition that comes from winning. I have some close friends that I show against in every show, but we don't let the competition ruin our friendship. We are happy for each other when the opposite person wins, and I think there is some amazing wisdom in that. Throughout our whole lives we will need to learn how to be a friend to someone who is better than us at something.
Did these 5 things apply to you? Comment down below if you appreciated this post. I had fun making it. See you guys next time!
Most of the time, a doe will be willing to breed, let the buck mount her and raise her tail and conceive and do everything right. But occasionally, you get the stubborn does - they ones that WON'T lift or will ATTACK the buck or will try to RUN AWAY like you and the buck are working together to kill her.
What causes does to do this? There are many factors. At the end of the article, I will give some ideas to help your doe get "in the mood" for her next date.
When the weather becomes cooler and fall and winter begin, some does will not breed and if they do, they sometimes won't conceive. In the wild, rabbits usually don't breed in the winter because it poses a risk for the kits - since they are born in the ground, completely naked, they are exposed to the elements and die quickly if they get chilled.
~Loss of Light
Similar to the first reason above, the loss of light during fall and winter is a major reason why does will choose not to breed. They know that the chance of their kits surviving in the winter diminishes.
~She Doesn't Like the Buck
Trust me, it happens. Some does are very particular. My first doe, Gracie, had her first litter (after her first breeding) with a broken blue buck I borrowed from another breeder. Then, after her first litter was weaned, I bred her again to a chinchilla buck. She refused to let him mount her and when he did, she didn't take. Then, a month later, I bred her to the broken blue buck again. Easy peasy, a litter the next month. After that litter was weaned, I owned my own buck. It took her 3 breedings spread out over a couple months to be willing and finally conceive a litter with him. No one compared to her first love.
~She's not Ready
Really young does might not get the hint and avoid the buck if they aren't ready to breed. Usually I will get a litter from a doe for the first time around 8 months old. With my most recent breedings, if the doe was 6-7 months she didn't take or wasn't willing to be bred.
~She's not Comfortable
I usually table-breed my rabbits, but this doesn't work for all rabbits. With one of my does, I tried table breeding her but she just wasn't having it. She wasn't lifting even though I knew she was willing. That same day, just a few minutes later, I put the buck back in his cage and put her in with him. She lifted right away.
Never put a buck in a doe's cage. Does are very territorial, and super protective of their space.
~She's Overweight or Underweight
Usually the weight of the doe doesn't cause her to want to breed or not, but it can influence the receptivity of the doe. When the doe is overweight, the buck might hit the right spot, and if he does, the doe might have complications in her pregnancy or just not conceive. When a doe is underweight, the body is deprived of nutrients and the doe probably won't get pregnant because of this.
Some people suggest force breeding the doe if she won't lift herself. This hasn't worked for me, or at least for my does. If they don't want to breed, even if they are forced, they won't get pregnant. This happens almost every time a doe doesn't want to breed. Even if I force breed her, which is difficult with a cranky doe, she won't conceive. Does dont go into "heat" like dogs or cats, and they don't have menstural cycles. They are induced ovulators, meaning that they ovulate after being exposed to the buck.
Here are some tips that are tried-and-true to increase the receptivity and willingness of your doe.
Give more light
When the days get shorter and the light dissipates, does become less receptive to a buck's advances, because she knows that winter is coming and baby bunnies born during the winter, in the wild, rarely survive. Rabbits need about 16 hours of light per day to be bred year round. If you aren't able to give your bunny extra light, you might not be able to breed year round. If there has been a long spell of dark, rainy weather, try letting the doe spend the day in the sun on the next sunny day, and breeding her early the next day or later that afternoon.
Give ACV - Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many positive uses for rabbits. It helps them stay healthy and prevents sickness. ACV also helps a doe (or buck) make the necessary changes in his or her body to want to breed and produce a litter. It smells nasty but the bunnies love the taste. Give about a tablespoon to a 32 oz water bottle.
Give wheat germ oil
I have not done this myself, but I've heard it works wonders - about the same theory as the ACV.
If she's overweight, put her on a diet
Overweight does might be receptive, but bucks can rarely hit their mark due to the excess flabbiness. Even if she does get bred, overweight does rarely conceive. When you put a rabbit on a diet, make sure you do it slowly so they aren't stressed.
Wait for the doe to get a dark pink/red vent
If a doe's vent is whitish or light pink, most likely she won't want to breed that day. The color and receptivity can change from day to day, and some does just have off days. But if the doe has a dark pink/purple vent, she will most likely breed easily that day.
Try a different buck
Some does are picky and won't breed with certain bucks. It might sound weird but it happens! It happened to me with my first breeding doe, Gracie.
Try a different setting
She could be too distracted by her surroundings and not focused on the buck. If you normally cage breed, try table breeding them. If you normally table breed, try cage breeding. You could even try letting them in your yard to breed if its a nice day.
Put her in his cage overnight (switch cages)
Sometimes, the buck's smell will get the doe in the mood. When she spends the night in his cage, the next time she sees that buck she might be more receptive to him. Don't put the buck and doe in a cage together overnight. If the doe really doesn't want to breed, she could attack him and hurt him or they could rip out nails on the wire. You can't be positive they bred if you didn't see it happen. Always watch your buck and doe when they are together.
Let her hump him
My friend suggests letting the doe mount the buck to get her in the mood. Not all does will do this however, so I don't think it would work for everyone.
It's been a while....over 4 years since I started breeding rabbits....but I'm finally REALLY excited about my where my herd is going. I'm proud of my little herd so much right now, and especially the bunnies that come from my line. In today's blog I'm going to be talking about my current juniors and what I'm excited about them.
My oldest junior, Clementine, is beautiful. She's maturing better and better. She never went through an "ugly" stage. I love that most rabbits from my line don't go through "uglies". She has a really pretty big head, awesome body and HQ, lovely short and wide ears and nice bone. Her biggest faults are her weak ankles and tight crown, but all the judges I talked to told me that she's a keeper for sure. And I definitely have bucks that offset her biggest faults. Of course in the pictures below, she just did not want to pose properly. This girl has an attitude and she makes sure you know it.
I decided to sell Glenn, my little buck that I was growing out from Typhoon x Angus. He doesn't have what I really want in an upcoming buck so he's going to be moved on. My friend from Lucky Charm Lops helped me realize a big fault of his - he has a shoulder dip. I didn't know how to look for a shoulder dip and now that she has shown me, I can better evaluate my Hollands. I don't want this trait to be passed down so I'm going to sell him. All the judges at the last show we went to raved about what a nice little buck he will be (at the time he was molting and very young). Not for me, but if you have does with short bone and nice shoulders he could work for you. I think he'll show pretty well, depending on your location, and definitely would make a nice 4-H buck. He won't be ready to go until the summer. I'm still growing him out in case anything changes.
I'm torn between my two does from Typhoon x Angus. They both have really nice points and some not-so-nice points. Even judges can't choose between the two. For now I'm keeping both. This might change eventually, but I have a feeling that I'll keep both until they have litters eventually so I can see who's the better mama.
Missy, the chinchilla, is gorgeous. I love her coloring, bone, and body. She has a nice big head and width and mass all around. But her bone is long, and her ears are really long. She's definitely a false dwarf and most likely will be over 4lbs.
Beth, the cream, has a wonderful body. She has pretty much the same faults and strengths as her sister, but I like her body better because although it's not as wide, it's more rounded and she has a better topline. Her HQ is pinched though - and Missy's isn't as bad.
My next three little prejuniors from Typhoon x Zuzu are the ones I am THE MOST excited about. If they continue developing in this direction, they are going to be phenomenal.
This chestnut is the little doe of the bunch, Holly's Heidi. She's a handful, and she knows it too. Most likely she'll be a false dwarf doe as well - she's a big girl. She's not as nice as her brothers but she's promising for sure. At this stage, she has a nice head (especially for a doe), nice bone, and nice width. She does slope a bit in her HQ but this is also her first time posing, and she's so young, so that can develop with age and posing practice.
Zuzu surprised me with her two really nice little bucks. This little man, Prince Charming, is a chinchilla. He is a lover. He loves to give kisses and is just a sweetie. He has a great little body, also slightly sloped, but will probably improve with age. He has such a sweet face, big head, and width all around. I love his tiny wide ears. He also has great short bone. He's a small buck, the smallest of the litter, so he might not be a super great show buck as a senior. He also might have a tight crown although it's hard to tell at this point.
Of the litter, I think Finn is the best type-wise. He also poses the best of the three. It took me an HOUR (almost) to get Prince Charming to stay in a pose long enough for a picture, and Heidi took a long time too. Finn is a good boy. Finn might have some length in his midsection, and it's a little sloped, but honestly that't the only fault I can see on him at this point. His head is round and fat, his bone is thick and short and his ears are short and wide. He has an awesome crown and his ears are already fully lopped (as well as Heidi's). He's definitely staying and reminds me so much of his uncle Wicket, Zuzu's full brother. But he's even BETTER than Wicket was at this age! I'm going to really enjoy watching this little man grow up.
I'm coming to a place in my herd where I'm happy with all of the babies in a litter. Of course, I've always been happy with every baby in every litter - I love all my babies! But from a showing perspective, I'm finally excited at seeing the type that I'm getting. I am loving the consistency that I'm seeing. In Angie's litter, she had 6 kits (2 were peanuts) and of the remaining 4, only one was obviously pet-quality. That's a big change from my first litters - where there would be one in a litter of 5 that was promising. And in Zuzu's litter, she had 5 (also two peanuts) and her remaining 3 kits are all super nice.
At this point in my rabbitry, I don't have to sell rabbits from each litter because they are pet-quality. I have to part with some really nice stock because I just don't have the space for every promising junior. Once I get a shed I will be able to grow out more babies, but for now, I need to trust my instincts. I expect the babies from my upcoming litters with Wicket x Butterfly and Wicket x Maybeline will also be extremely nice and I'll be keeping kits from those two litters as well. So this summer and fall I will have some really nice show/4-H/breeding rabbits available, and of course those can be sold as pets too.
This fall I am taking 5 classes at EvCC and that means I'll have to downsize my herd again to a manageable amount. If I have a shed, that amount will probably be more than it was this past fall and winter. It will be so much easier and more fun to clean and spend time with the bunnies in a shed, so it won't seem so much of a chore.
Zuzu's babies are overwhelmingly adorable - I know their genders now and I named them last night. Some litters have themed names - some babies just have names that they are born with ... you just have to discover them. This litter had those names that we had to discover. I wanted to name them themed names from Gilmore Girls, but after looking at them, those names just didn't fit them!
I love having fun while naming babies. So I asked my sister to come outside and help me name this trio. One of my little brothers wanted to help name them too, so he came along as well.
While we were holding and playing with the babies, their names were "discovered"! And they totally fit their little personalities!!
Holly's Prince Charming - Chinchilla Buck
Prince was the first baby we named, and his name just came to me! He is so darling! He's the smallest, and he stole my heart. He loves to be held in my hands and loves to give kisses all over my fingers. He's going to be a little heartbreaker and already looking really, really nice. This is what I like to see in a 3-week-old!
Holly's Finn - Chestnut Buck
My little brother named Finn after one of the characters of the new Star Wars movie. I thought the name was too cute and it really fits this little guy. Finn looks really wise and smart. He doesn't like to be held in your hands like Prince Charming does, though. He's crazy, and loves to binky and play in his cage. But he also LOVES cuddles on your lap. Like Prince, Finn is looking really nice already. He reminds me so much of his uncle Wicket with his tiny ears and fat head!
Holly's Heidi - Chestnut Doe
Heidi was a last little one named. We had a harder time coming up with her name, although her brothers' names came so naturally. My sister helped me come up with the name for Heidi, our only little doe! My sister was thinking of flower names and mentioned a few that we didn't think fit, then she mentioned "Hydrangea". I thought that was so cute and said that we could call her "Heidi" for short. And then my sister and I both realized that Heidi, as her full name, is a much better fit! She's so cute but is definitely the biggest! I think she's going to be a big false dwarf girl - she has longer ears and a longer body than Finn. Besides their weight difference, that's how we tell the two of them apart. She knows she's big and is very feisty - she loves looking down from the top of the nestbox, where her brothers can't get to yet because they are so much smaller. She definitely asserts her authority and dominance as the biggest in her litter! She's the craziest and has a spunky personality!
I'm in love with these babies and I'm having so much fun with them! Good job to my awesome mama Zuzu!
In other news, there will be new litters on the way soon, Lord willing! I will be breeding Butterfly and May this week, to Wicket and Typhoon, respectively. When they have their litters (depending on how many kits they each have), I will breed Angus to Wicket. I'll be showing Clementine as a senior my upcoming July shows, and after that I will breed her if she doesn't do very well. Because of her ears, she might never show as well as I would like her to. But she'll make awesome babies.
I am so thankful for today's results at the rabbit show in Monroe!
I still don't think it's completely sunk in yet. But as I'm typing this, I'm so amazed at the results and comments and I had so much fun talking to friends.
The trio of young juniors, who were all blowing their coats did good. Holly's Missy got 1st place in two of the shows and 2nd place, behind her sister Beth, in one of them. Holly's Beth got 1st place in one show and 2nd place in the other two, behind her sister Missy. Holly's Glenn got third and last place in all three shows but that's okay. The judges had good comments and he's still just a baby.
The numbers were small today, which is sad for the class winners since they don't get a leg. Youth shows are often small in WA unfortunately, we need more youth breeders around here!!
Holly's Butterfly and Holly's Clementine were the does I was most excited about. Clementine and her crazy ears were promising, but I wasn't hoping for too much because of her ears. She was DQ'ed in the first show because they stood straight up. In the second and third shows, the judge posed her and let her relax before evaluating her ears, and she got 1st place out of 2.
I was really hopeful Butterfly would do well, but tried to keep my expectations low because I didn't want to get disappointed.
I wasn't disappointed.
There were a lot of amazing rabbits there today in youth. During the first show I was sure the highest placement she would get would be 1st. Nope, Butterfly had her sights set on something bigger. I was over the moon when the judge, Cliff Dick, announced that she was Best Opposite of Variety. Then when I heard him announce best opposite of breed - "The broken doe" - I was astonished!
In the second show, Holland Lop specialty, Butterfly got BEST OF BREED. It still hasn't quite sunk in yet, but her pretty ribbon reminds me that it really happened - and it wasn't a dream. This is only my second time getting a placement this noteworthy. The first time was with a junior, Holly's Saige, who is Butterfly's aunt.
In the final show, Butterfly didn't do AS well, but still got a leg with Best Opposite Sex Variety.
Butterfly is the fourth generation of Holly's Hollands line on her mom's side. I couldn't be happier with where my line is going. Butterfly won 3 legs today which puts her total up to 4. The perfect time to breed her again and expand my herd. This is the first time I've done so well in a show so consistently. What a great day. I feel so blessed and thankful for this.
Thank you so much to anyone who helped me out with my rabbits in any way. Whether you gave me a constructive comment on a rabbit, sold me my foundation stock, or congratulated me, I thank you. I wouldn't be breeding rabbits if it weren't for you - the amazing people and friends this hobby so much more fun and enjoyable.
At the show, I also bought a new 4-hole carrier for all the rabbits I plan on showing this summer and fall. I also bought some new crocks for the carriers. I bought a few tickets for the raffle to support an ARBA youth club, and surprisingly, I won a J-feeder! I have been needing more J-feeders so that's exciting!
I hope you guys enjoyed seeing a little bit of how my day went. See you next time :)
At the beginning of the year I always have some goals that I try to complete throughout that year. In the middle of the year, I will usually have smaller goals that I want to accomplish within the next couple months or so. One of these smaller goals is to produce a broken buck.
Right now I only have two broken does, Butterfly and Clementine, and my herd is quickly being taken over by solids. At the moment I have two agouti senior bucks (Wicket and Typhoon), and one chestnut agouti buck growing up (Glenn), who will certainly stay here for a while. I'm thinking Glenn will take Wicket's place in my herd, I love Wicket to death, but he sprays, and I can't show him because of it. He's also really small and wouldn't place well in a large senior buck class. I will be breeding him throughout the summer to all my does.
Glenn is also Typhoon's baby, so if I wanted to replace Typhoon, Glenn would be the perfect buck to do it with. I know I will be selling Ty at some point this summer, which I'm really sad about, but as soon as I get a litter out of him and Maybeline I wouldn't be breeding him again for a long time - since all my next litters will be with Wicket and eventually, Glenn.
But, if I sold both my bucks and kept Glenn (of course I wouldn't sell them both until I know Glenn breeds and produces nice babies), I would only have one buck, a chestnut, that might not have traits that work with everyone. So this is another reason why I really want a nice broken buck. I don't really care specifically what color this buck is, although I would like a non-chestnut broken, I definitely wouldn't turn down a nice broken chestnut! Yes, I do have a thing for chestnuts ;)
Some of you might be asking...why don't I just buy a broken buck? Why wait months for the perfect broken buck when I could buy one next week? Good question(s).
I don't want to buy any more rabbits from other breeders, unless it's a really, really nice rabbit with a price tag I can afford, and if it's from a friend. But I don't think I'll go out and search for a new buck, unless I can't produce one myself by the end of the year. I don't have anything against other breeders. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE all the breeders I've met at the shows I go to, especially the ones that are my personal friends or my mentors. This year I am really striving to develop my own line of beautiful Holland Lops that can be competitive on the show tables in a different, exciting color than you'd usually see.
Along the same train of thought, I don't plan on buying any more does for a while - at least this year. Next year is it's own can of worms. I've had bad luck buying does from people I didn't know personally. Examples: Hazelnut ate her babies (she was a junior so original breeder had no idea what she would be like as a mom), and Maybeline had a high price tag but hasn't produced live kits for me yet, and she has a bad attitude. I've had some great luck with does from close friends of mine as well, but I want to stick with my own line for now and work on perfecting it.
Raising rabbits is not easy. It's not all bunny cuddles and crazy binkies. There's loss, lots of tears, and some heartbreak on the side. But it's worth it, most of the time. It's exciting. But to be successful in this breed, you have to be dedicated. You have to have what it takes to raise rabbits for the long haul. Winners aren't produced over night. It took my 4 years to get anything I'm truly, truly, excited about. And with only one more year as a youth breeder left (2017), I hope this year will be awesome. I want to produce super duper nice rabbits that can stand a chance in open against the "big boys". But honestly, I'm not that scared of open. I've shown in open before, in large classes, and my rabbits have done pretty well. Youth classes here in WA are exceptional. It's been more than once that a judge has said the rabbits in youth were superior to the rabbits in open on that particular day.
I'm dedicated. I hope to be in this breed for the long haul. And I can't wait to see a pedigree with my line as the only line on it.
I rambled a lot in this post. If you stayed around until the end, I applaud you. It was just some of my thoughts; some random ramblings like the title suggests.
I'm sure most of you know that I have a Youtube channel, and you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPO6Aq5yuw4uACwhfCmNXSg/videos
On my channel, I post one or two videos a week about updates in the rabbitry (upcoming shows, babies, new breedings, etc), and informational videos. My most recent informational videos were Rabbit Toys and My Rabbit's Diet.
Lately, I've gotten SO MANY requests for videos centered on showing, such has how to find a show near you, how to tell if your rabbit is showable, stuff like that, as well as lots of videos on how to clean a nestbox, how to breed your rabbits, and other topics related to breeding rabbits. So I've decided to start two new series called Showing Rabbits 101 and Breeding Rabbits 101 and include everything you need to know in several different videos on each topic. Since there is so much information on both of these topics, it would be information overload to try and include all of the information into one video. Not to mention it'd be way to long - probably an hour or longer!
Here's a little outline of some ideas I have for Showing Rabbits 101.
~Part 1: How to Find a Show Near Me?
~Part 2: Entering a Show | Tattooing
~Part 3: How to Get the Rabbits Ready for a Show
~Part 4: How to Get Yourself Ready for a Show - What to Pack
~Part 5: Rabbit Show Vlog | Show Day
This may change throughout the next couple weeks but I hope to keep this within a 5-part series.
I will also eventually post a video about how I choose rabbits to keep for showing and breeding, as well as how to tell your rabbit is showable or show quality.
If this series goes well, and I get good feedback, then I hope to post another series on breeding rabbits. How to breed your rabbit, care of the pregnant doe, kindling day, care of the newborn kits, weaning, and marketing & selling, as well as more, would be topics I would like to talk about in the breeding rabbits 101 series.
Let me know what you think about these upcoming videos - any questions, concerns or comments would be greatly appreciated!
My name is Holly.
I'm glad you're here! Don't be a ghost; leave a comment every once and a while! Let's talk ;)