Rabbit Showmanship

David Boldt  |  11/8/2010 9:28:13 PM

Rabbit - Image 1

Photo By: Hester, Katina M.

Rabbit shows give you and other 4-H'ers a chance to display your rabbits in public and have your rabbits rated against other exhibitors. Below are some tips to help you as you prepare for a rabbit show. Throughout the show and the rabbit project, you will learn lots and have fun.

Rabbit Showmanship Guide

1. Showing your rabbit to the judge.
The proper way to carry a rabbit is to grasp the fold of the skin over the shoulder with the right hand (include the ears) and support the rabbit’s weight by placing the left hand under the rump.

The left hand supports the weight of the rabbit while the right hand controls the rabbit. You may keep a firm grip with a right hand since a rabbit dropped from this position can easily break its back. You may want to remove your hand if you feel that you have control.

If the judge asks you to move to a different spot on the table, always pick up the rabbit for carrying before moving to the new location.

When you arrive at the exhibit table, place the rabbit on the table immediately and pose it. It never hurts to wear a smile. Remember to watch the judge. The animal will be placed with the head facing the judge. Turn the animal to the left to begin the next movement.

2. Show the ears and ear number.
Open ears so that the judge can see deep into the ears – left ear then right ear. Pick the rabbit up from the table and move it to the other direction.

3. Check neck for furmites.
Run your hand over back of neck to check for furmites.

4. Check the body for ruptures and abscesses and blemishes.
Run your hand over the chest and abdomen area to check for any abscesses, tumors or abnormalities. Run your hand over the animal to check for blemishes.

5. Show fur quality, cleanliness and quality.
Stroke fur toward rabbit’s head to show fur going back to natural position and cleanliness. Stroke rabbit from head to rear, showing your clean hand to the judge which indicates the rabbit’s fur is not in molting condition. Since Rex fur does not have the “fly back” quality, pat the fur to feel the density. Blow into fur to show density on normal furred rep animals.

6. Show the eyes.
Check each eye for signs of blindness or abnormalities, such as cloudiness or spots in iris. You may either pick up the animal and put it under your arm to check eyes, or you may turn the animal from one side to the other.

7. Show the nose.
Check the nose for signs of sniffles.

8 Show the teeth.
Pick the rabbit up, placing the weight of the rabbit under left arm. Place the thumb and index finger on each side of the split upper lip and push back lips to show teeth.

9. Show the front legs.
With the rabbit facing the judge, grasp ears and fur over back and lift so that the rabbit’s hind feet are on the table. Pull each front leg forward to see if legs are straight, crooked or bowed.

10. Show the toenails on front feet.
Show toenails to the judge by pushing thumb into center of paw. Push back fur with index finger if necessary to see the toenails.

11. Check the rear legs.
As you come to the end of the abdomen areas, force rear legs out straight by placing your cupped hand ahead of the rear legs and pushing toward the feet. Point outstretched legs toward the judge. Check the toenails on the back feet.

12. Check the hocks.
Show bottom of feet and underside of rabbit to judge.

13. Check the sex.
Show sex to judge. Clamp tail with index and second finger, place thumb below vent area and push toward front of rabbit. Check the testicles if male. Return to posed position.

14. Check the tail
Show rear of rabbit with tail showing to the judge.

15. Pose the rabbit.
Show front, rear or side in order requested by the judge so that the overall balance can be seen by the judge. Smooth down fur. Feel shoulders, rib area, loin, rump, etc. Make sure the tail is carried properly. Show markings if asked to do so. Pose the rabbit on the table. This is the most important part of showing a rabbit. Always have the rabbit showing to advantage – front view, rear view, side view. It is the most natural to show a side view with the rabbit facing to your left, but you may be requested to also show it to the right side. The animal should be picked up from the table using your hand to grasp the fold of skin over the shoulders with the ears, and supporting the animal’s weight on your left hand. Take one step back after you are finished.

Standard Guide for Judging Meat Classes

There are three factors, in the order of their importance, in judging meat pens. They are as follows:

  1. Meat type
  2. Condition
  3. Uniformity

Meat Type
See Rabbit - Image 1

A good meat pen combines the best meat type. Type, therefore, is the most important factor in judging these pens. The best meat type is found in those fryers that are compact, short, body well filled, rounded, solid flesh, smooth and well-filled hips. (Protruding hip bones, or prominent “razor backs,” are serious faults.)

  • 1st - Hindquarter
  • 2nd- Loin
  • 3rd- Forequarter

All fryers in a pen must be in prime condition. This reflects the care and management practices of the breeder. The fryers must be in firs and solid; they must not show any signs of flabbiness, softness, looseness or pottiness. The pelt must be tight over the body. The animals must be clean and show no sign of neglect or disease.

This denotes the ability of the breeder to pick three fryers for each pen. Uniformity must be present in weight, size, appearance, condition and meat type and should be as similar as possible in all respects. This uniformity applies also to the fur. The quality of the fur should only be the determining factor in the event of an absolute tie.

Meat pens will consist of three (3) rabbits -- all the same breed and variety -- and eliminated if more than one breed or variety is in the same pen. Weight limit not over 5 pounds for each rabbit. Age limit not over 69 days old. (Breed the doe 100 days before show date for proper age of a meat pen.)

If any one rabbit in the pen weighs more than the maximum weight, the entire pen is eliminated.

If any one rabbit in the pen is disqualified, the whole pen becomes disqualified.

Rabbit Terms

Elimination - One or more defects of a rabbit assumed to be curable and temporary in nature. Examples are: ear canker, slobbers, pot belly, sore hocks, showing infection, vent disease, mange, mites, fleas, illegible tattoo, tattoo not in left ear, overweight or underweight.

Disqualification - One or more defects, deformities or blemishes that render a rabbit unfit for competition. Examples are: colds, tumors, ruptures, hernia, torn or lop ears, blindness, off-color eyes, unmatched eyes, missing tooth, buck or wolf teeth, crooked legs, screw, bob or broken tail; missing or unmatched toenails.

Commercial Breeds - A breed of rabbit bred for meat type. Examples are: California, New Zealands and Satins.

Fancy Breeds - A breed of rabbit bred for fur, wool and markings on ears. Examples are: Angoras, Dutch, Dwarf, Lops.

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