Care and Management of Rabbits/Chapter 5
THE FANCY BREEDS
Three Months Old; Proper Frying Age.
New Zealand Red.
New Zealand Red Doe Aged Seven Months.
Weight, nine pounds.
THE FANCY BREEDS
It is not possible, in a discussion of this nature, to enumerate all of the breeds of domesticated rabbits and describe them in detail. Such an effort would require a volume in itself. Those breeds included under this heading are only those which do not have any ordinary value for eating purposes. Of course, many of the breeds which we mention under this classification have a value for sale as breeding animals and for fur. In fact there is hardly a domesticated rabbit that does not have some commercial value.
The American Spotted Giant, formerly called the German Checkered Giant, is a large white rabbit with black spots and markings. The bucks weigh 11 pounds or more and the does 13 pounds or over. This rabbit may have a commercial value for meat purposes, but it has not been bred extensively for that purpose as yet.
It is a very beautiful rabbit and has a very strong pelt, which makes wonderful furs. Some of the ermine you see in fashionable windows is nothing but the pelt of this rabbit. Good breeding specimens are in great demand and bring a good price on the market. I know of several sales for $50 each and do not doubt but that others have brought more than that.
The White Giant is a large rabbit of pure white color. It is likewise more or less of a fur animal, although it makes an excellent show animal. It is, of course, hard to keep clean and free from hutch stains, but it makes it all the more valuable for the purposes indicated when this is done.
The Black Giant is similar to the White Giant with the exception that it is as pure black as it is possible to breed an animal. It, of course, has a commercial value for meat, but the objections mentioned as to the other Giants applies to it equally well. Black giants are very popular in the show room and bring good prices for breeding stock. The fur is also in demand and commands a good price, although not as yet sufficient to warrant their production for the pelt alone.
The New Zealand Red and the Belgian hare are by no means strictly commercial animals. They are the most popular of all in the show room and command excellent prices for this purpose. Good breeding stock is in constant demand at good prices.
The Angora rabbit is distinctively a fancy rabbit. It is small, rounded in shape and has long fur, so long that it gives the rabbit the appearance of being a round ball of silky white fur. This rabbit is probably the most popular of the fancy rabbits at the present time. Like the Angora cats and goats it takes its name from the long, silky hair in the fur. The fur on these animals should be five inches long at four months of age.
The Himalayan is a little aristocrat being pure white with the exception of ears, feet, and tip of nose. It makes an ideal fur rabbit for smaller furs and when made they greatly resemble that made from ermine. The size of the pelt is very similar to that of ermine, hence the ability of furriers to deceive the public.
The Dutch rabbit comes in three colors, black, tortoise, and blue. It is a small, compact rabbit and has a wide white belt running around the body in stripe fashion. They are very popular for fancy purposes, as well as being good to eat.
The English Spotted Rabbit is very similar to the American Spotted only it is smaller, more compact in shape and has a wider application of black spots than is true in the American or German giant.
Among the distinctive fancy breeds there is none more curious than the Lops. They are rabbits with huge ears, it being deemed the height of perfection to breed them with the largest ears possible. The ears are often so large that the rabbit has to keep its head on the floor of its hutch all the time in order to handle them. Some have been shown with ears 26 inches long and nearly 7 inches wide.
There are many imported fancy rabbits, such as the Black and Tan, the Silvers from France, and the various shades of the Silvers.
The American Blue is comparatively new in this country. It seems to be an excellent rabbit and to have a future before it. The color is a slaty blue and it makes an excellent fur. Some of the "French" blue fox furs one sees are nothing but the pelt of this rabbit made up in fox shape.
The Polish is a small rabbit, pure white in color and greatly admired by the fanciers. It likewise has a fur value, but its small size is a handicap in this direction.
There are also varieties of fancy rabbits coming from Japan and the Far East. In fact, new varieties and breeds seem to be springing up from every quarter of the globe.
It is not attempted to give any extended information upon the subject of distinctively fancy breeds and points. If the beginner wants to become a real fancier he will have to learn the essence of the care and breeding of rabbits as set down elsewhere in this book, and by that time he wlll be joining his specialty club of breeders and be learning the points in the Standard as set down for that breed.
There is no education better than that of observation in the matter of learning how to take care of the domesticated rabbit. For that reason it is advisable to attend the rabbit shows in the community even though you are not interested in the fancy side of the industry. If you expect to sell animals for breeding purposes you will have to be up on the points recognized in the Standard and pay more or less attention to what the other breeders are doing.
So it is advisable to follow the shows in your community with interest and there is no doubt but that the rabbit breeder will profit thereby, even though he may not in fact care for the fancy rabbits at all.