The Line Between Show Rabbits and Pet Rabbits

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RubyRed

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Throughout my reading on rabbits I've discovered that there are 3 main "parts" in the rabbit community.
The first part being the group of pet rabbit owners who strictly follow the House Rabbit Society guidelines for keeping rabbits- who strongly advocate spaying/neutering, rescuing rabbits, feeding veggies, and free roaming- who are also very outspoken when they find people keeping their rabbits differently, such as show breeders keeping their rabbits on wire floored cages, or just people breeding in general.
The second group are the show breeders, who are breeding to better the rabbit breed, and tend not to mingle with the pet community. (to avoid criticism on their rabbit care, I'd presume- things like them using wire cages, not feeding veggies, etc. seem to get lots of criticism from pet owners)
The third group are the meat breeders who breed rabbits for meat purposes. (I personally have no problem with breeding for meat as long as the breeders can handle keeping all their rabbits in fair condition before processing.) They also tend to get a lot of criticism from the pet community because they're not only breeding rabbits (according to some pet owners I know, a big no-no, no matter if it's an experienced breeder breeding for show or some byb breeding mixed breeds) but also eating them.

Focusing specifically on the showing and pet communities, which one is, or is mostly, correct on rabbit care? (how would you recommend caring for a rabbit- the "pet" way or the "show" way?) I've read articles on rabbit care that are like the polar opposites of each other- take this article vs this one. It's confusing at times, especially when you're a newbie trying to figure out proper rabbit care. I've lurked on the Rabbits Online forum for a while- it seemed like a really nice, supporting community, and I still read through old posts sometimes, but when it came to topics such as breeding or wire cages 90% of everyone there didn't seem to support it at all-- being an aspiring show breeder I just felt like RabbitTalk was a better forum for me. I wouldn't be comfortable asking breeding questions or for input on my cages on RabbitsOnline, because it doesn't seem like what the community "accepts".
I've also read every article on the Lotsoflops rabbitry website and it's been super interesting and educational even though I don't plan to breed Holland Lops in the future. I do disagree with some parts, but mostly they have given me a new perspective on things. I really wish there would be more information out there like the articles on Lotsoflops that give different perspectives on keeping rabbits. But it truly could be confusing if you were a newbie, reading conflicting information on a topic. For me, something I'm still not sure about is if offering vegetables do benefit rabbits or not. Show breeders tend not to feed veggies but pet owners certainly do. (see link vs link)

I’d love to hear everyone's opinions 🙂
 

Mutt-Dad

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The major difference between the three groups you mention is scale. I would argue each group is taking the best care they can given their desired outcome.

Pet ownership is one of those things where you get a lot out of it if you put a lot into it. You take great care of your pet and you have a loyal friend for many years. A few people I've sold pet rabbits, have allowed their rabbits to burrow in the yard and graze on grass and live a semi wild pet life. Others are paper trained and kept in a bed room at home. Both are pretty great life styles, but they would never work at the kind of scale you need for meat and show.


Breading for show quality animals is hard work, and its a numbers game. You have to be able to manage dozens of rabbits at one time. If you are just showing for fun, fine just take whatever you have. But if you are showing to win you are probably line breeding pretty intensely looking for those "perfect" genetics.

Breeding for meat (commercially) is a numbers game as well. They want the most meat for the least feed. I dont know of anyone who breeds meat rabbits like this who is giving free advice online, probably because they are too busy working. So the people who are giving advice about breeding for meat are most often a hobby farm or a homestead or something along that line.

Sure feeding fresh hay and grains is the best thing to feed a rabbit, but hay is hard to find in the city so people gravitate to veggies instead. On that diet they grow slowly and that diet isn't going to be cost effective for meat rabbits. In the second article you linked they say 10-15% of the diet should be a very select group of veggies. The first article points to people who are over feeding and feeding the wrong kinds of fresh veggies. Both acknowledge hay and pellets as staples of a rabbits diet, so i would say, even though they seem like they are advocating different diets, the authors would probably be feeding their own rabbits very similar to one another. (I feed my rabbits hay and pellets and throw in grass and weeds as treats. )

Yes some rabbits get sore hocks from wire floors, but when you have 8 kits feeding off mom for 6+ weeks the wire floor is infinitely cleaner than newspaper or carpet on the floor in a spare bedroom.

The reality is, The setup required to house and feed a couple pet rabbits is very different from a setup to house and feed 30 - 1000 "pet" rabbits, if you catch my meaning. The best conditions are those geared toward the best outcome for you and your animals.

I hope that helps and doesn't add to the noise.
 

bighairbuns

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I kinda come from it on all sides. I have house rabbits that are pets, I keep some in cages, and others in a colony set up. I do some breeding for meat, and I breed and do a limited amount of showing for fiber breeds (I show mostly to get an outside perspective on my rabbits. Don't care so much about winning. I will breed faulted rabbits if their wool is good)

There really is no one "correct" way to keep rabbits. It really depends on what your goals as a rabbit keeper are and what your personal moral beliefs about animal rearing are. There are lots of trade offs in rabbit keeping. The thing is finding which ones work best for you.

All rabbits have the same physiological needs. Food, water, shelter, protection from predators, and a safe and sanitary environment. These are the most important things to have figured out and if you get these right you will have healthy rabbits.

For some people, this is their only concern.

Personally, I want my rabbits to be healthy and happy.

I would argue that to have happy rabbits you also need to meet their psychological needs. Things I would consider psychological needs would include variety in diet, the opportunity to take part in rabbit behaviors such as digging, chewing, and shredding things, places to burrow/hide, social interactions, puzzles/problems to solve, room to roam and run etc.

Domesticated rabbits descend from the wild european rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. I do try to look at the behaviors of the wild rabbit as a guideline as to how to feed and provide for my rabbit's psychological needs. With caveats of course. A wild rabbit's diet would not provide nearly enough protein or calories for my flemish giant or angoras for example.

So with wire cages, they meet a rabbit's physiological needs very well. They are sanitary and keep rabbits safe from harm. They are small, but they are awesome for organizing larger amounts of animals. That is a huge plus when breeding for show. Also with showing you need to keep your rabbits in top shape - can't have missing patches of fur or scratches or risk a torn ear. This is much easier to accomplish when they are isolated in their own protective bubbles.

They really aren't the best for meeting a rabbit's psychological needs though. Not a lot of room for hidey holes, or things to do inside them.

I will say that I disagree with the lotsoflops article in regards to caged rabbits being friendlier. IME friendliness is much more dependent on the genetics and early socialization of the rabbit than the type of set up they are kept in. My colony angoras race up to me and will climb into my lap if I sit down.

Diet-wise rabbits need calories, protein, vitamins, trace minerals and fiber. This can be achieved with a quality pellet alone. However, many pellets are low in fiber and rabbits are browsers by nature. They spend all day in the wild just eating. Giving a big handful of hay gives them the long stem fiber they need and gives them something to do.

Veggies aren't *needed* nutrient wise if you have a quality pellet. A rabbit isn't going to die without them but they offer a variety of different flavors and textures which are great for enrichment. They are awesome as a treat for positive reinforcement or positive associations when needing to handle rabbits. My jerk of a buck is much better for grooming when he has a nice leafy stalk of celery for example.

Also, there is a lot about nutrition that we don't know. I will admit I am a little crunchy about this stuff - I feed all natural diets to my pets, I use diet and supplements to control my dog's epilepsy etc. A varied diet can fill in any nutritional gaps that might be missing or maybe give a bit of an "edge" for health. Maybe the antioxidants in the blue berries I give as a treat may help minimize free radicals and keep cancer at bay longer than if they didn't get it. I do see a big difference in wool quality when feeding fresh food high in vitamin E and Omega 3 for another example even though they are on a high quality pellet.

My rabbits get a dish of pellets, a top dressing of supplements, unlimited hay, and a fresh meal of home grown fodder, veggie scraps, and foraged wild plants. I even forage extra in the spring and summer to dry and mix in with their hay for fall and winter.

I keep my does in a colony set up. I keep my bucks and and rabbit that I plan to show in wire cages. I do try to let them out into a run a few times a week for exercise and a change of scenery. I also have a pet rabbit in doors who lives in an x pen and gets let loose into a rabbit proofed room for free range time. All the rabbits I have had have certainly seemed to enjoy having extra space. They run and hop and explore. They binky all over the place.

They get toys rotated throughout the week. Lots of foraging toys and shreddable ones. Everyone in my life saves their empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls for my buns. I spend a night watching a movie and making toys for them each week.

Personally, I like to hear from everyone. The show people. The pet people. The fiber people. The meat people. I take everything with a little bit of salt and just do what resonates best with me.
 
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Throughout my reading on rabbits I've discovered that there are 3 main "parts" in the rabbit community.
The first part being the group of pet rabbit owners who strictly follow the House Rabbit Society guidelines for keeping rabbits- who strongly advocate spaying/neutering, rescuing rabbits, feeding veggies, and free roaming- who are also very outspoken when they find people keeping their rabbits differently, such as show breeders keeping their rabbits on wire floored cages, or just people breeding in general.
The second group are the show breeders, who are breeding to better the rabbit breed, and tend not to mingle with the pet community. (to avoid criticism on their rabbit care, I'd presume- things like them using wire cages, not feeding veggies, etc. seem to get lots of criticism from pet owners)
The third group are the meat breeders who breed rabbits for meat purposes. (I personally have no problem with breeding for meat as long as the breeders can handle keeping all their rabbits in fair condition before processing.) They also tend to get a lot of criticism from the pet community because they're not only breeding rabbits (according to some pet owners I know, a big no-no, no matter if it's an experienced breeder breeding for show or some byb breeding mixed breeds) but also eating them.

Focusing specifically on the showing and pet communities, which one is, or is mostly, correct on rabbit care? (how would you recommend caring for a rabbit- the "pet" way or the "show" way?) I've read articles on rabbit care that are like the polar opposites of each other- take this article vs this one. It's confusing at times, especially when you're a newbie trying to figure out proper rabbit care. I've lurked on the Rabbits Online forum for a while- it seemed like a really nice, supporting community, and I still read through old posts sometimes, but when it came to topics such as breeding or wire cages 90% of everyone there didn't seem to support it at all-- being an aspiring show breeder I just felt like RabbitTalk was a better forum for me. I wouldn't be comfortable asking breeding questions or for input on my cages on RabbitsOnline, because it doesn't seem like what the community "accepts".
I've also read every article on the Lotsoflops rabbitry website and it's been super interesting and educational even though I don't plan to breed Holland Lops in the future. I do disagree with some parts, but mostly they have given me a new perspective on things. I really wish there would be more information out there like the articles on Lotsoflops that give different perspectives on keeping rabbits. But it truly could be confusing if you were a newbie, reading conflicting information on a topic. For me, something I'm still not sure about is if offering vegetables do benefit rabbits or not. Show breeders tend not to feed veggies but pet owners certainly do. (see link vs link)

I’d love to hear everyone's opinions 🙂
To start, your rabbits sound very spoiled! Haha! You sound like a very loving and responsible owner c:

I honestly stopped looking online after a PETA member attacked me for being a breeder c,: my advice for good information is, and this only applies if it's possible, talk to people you heard of or know you can trust who raise bunnies! I have a friend, my rabbit guru, who's shown, done meat, raised pets, but shes super laid back, in the beginning of raising bunnies, I freaked out if I'd accidentally clip a bunnies toenail too short. She taught me so much more than online and saved many rabbits I found on craigslist that werent in the best care! All the while she didnt hate on the people who had the bunny. I also was humbled more than I already have been just by being threatened lol, hope I made sense, if I didn't or seem snooty I apologize!

You also have permission to DM me if you have questions or want to correct me
 

HighPockets

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This thread was a great to read. While I want to primarily use the manure from the rabbits I will ensure they have a clean and enriched life as I can provide and I will enjoy them as pets. I too will be doing a combination of approaches that will benefit first the health and comfort of the rabbits and then my purpose of having them.
 

Lewis

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Loved reading this thread! I am now going to look into omega and vitamin E enriched foods for my bun. I only have one and it’s hard finding information on the care for bunnies especially for angoras.I have a mainly indoor rabbit (in the future I’d like another one) with a litter pan that has wires on the bottom (keeps his wool clean). I understand why people have wire cages for their rabbits. I also on the pet rabbit site mentioned above but I don’t go on it too much as it seems a little too dramatic and I’ve gain so much information being on here and reading old threads.
 
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