New Zealand Rabbits Standard Of Perfection

Welcome to Aviarybirdsandco.com, where we focus on breeding and raising different species to the Standard of Perfection. For those who are new, you may ask yourself what is the significance of raising, and more importantly breeding, to reach the perfect standard?

As a whole, is it important to set and reach a endpoints of what experts have determined to be ‘perfection’. This allows breeders from all over the country, as well as the world, understand what a purebred animal should look like, and what characteristics that animal breed should show. It is also important to understand that different breeds are bred to exemplify certain characteristics that others should not have. For example, a rabbit raised to produce wool will have different features than a rabbit bred to be more meatier and to that of a rabbit bred to be smaller and more “pet” friendly. Usually, a rabbit breed is bred to satisfy a trait and bred to satisfy that need.

A good breeder will understand what characteristics are set for their specific breed and strive to produce and exceed those qualifications. You may ask yourself what are those standards for the breeds and who determines them? For rabbits, the answer is the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), and more specifically, the ARBA Standard of Perfection Handbook for Standard Bred Rabbits and Cavies. You can find this book at many retail locations, but the sure fire site is the ARBA’s website it self. (arba.net) I highly recommend anyone who is seeking to produce and raise any rabbits acquire this book.

As a Red New Zealand Breeder, I want to take some time and discuss the Standard Of Perfection for this breed to hopefully help other breeders who are getting into Red New Zealands and have not yet purchased the book, or maybe a new breeder who is interested in raising Red New Zealand’s but are not sure this is the breed for them.

This is not a replacement for the book, but more of a resource to help others understand what to look for as well as inform new breeder that there is a goal when producing rabbit offspring. I also want to make it clear that I am no expert nor professional, but only a breeder who is striving to produce the breed to the standard of its perfection.

So, lets get started.

For those who are new, the above image is what a typical Red New Zealand Rabbit will look like. To most it is a picture of a regular rabbit who happens to have red fur, but to others, they can see what this rabbit has great and what it is lacking. So what should we be looking at when looking at the image? What traits should we look for according to the Standard of Perfection? Well, first lets start with the sex and age of the animal, as this is a good separation in comparing like size animals.

First, senior Bucks categorized as the age of 8 months and over should weigh in between 9 to 11 pounds with 10 pounds being the ideal weight.

Senior Does, in the same age category should be heavier at 10 to 11 pounds with he ideal weight of 11 pounds. This should show you that female rabbits should be bigger and heavier than the similar aged male.

The ARBA has separate guild lines for younger classes of Bucks and Does, but as a breeder I like to focus on the senior class, as this is what I will be working with; however, it is also important to understand that Junior Bucks and Does between the ages of 6 and 8 months should be at least 6 pounds but should not exceed 9 pounds. Knowing this will help you decide which rabbits will be good to keep and add to your breeding program. It is also a good idea to keep weight records of your herd and only keep and sale rabbits for breeding that fall under this criteria.

Next, it is important to understand that the New Zealand rabbit is raised as a “meat” type and should show such features in its body. If you are looking to show rabbits, then this is the criteria that is important to understand. To save time, I will only touch on a few features in this and I highly recommend anybody looking to show to purchase the Standards Of Perfection handbook as the criteria in points and grades is extensive.

But, as a breeder, it is important to understand what to look to insure you are producing high quality rabbits that will look like a New Zealand and not a cross. First, it is important to look for a rabbit that has a broad and smooth hind quarter. The hindquarters should look just as deep as it is wide, this is a strong attribute of a meat producer. Next, the midsection should be broad and meaty on both sides of the spine and should have a strong deep section from the top to the bottom of the rabbit. Last, the feet and legs should be medium heavy showing fullness and look stout showing a nice and healthy posture.

The picture above shows a young Broken Red New Zealand Doe, that even though not properly posed, you can see she is a little on the smaller side and is lacking a good hindquarters. Preferably, I would like to see a wider and more broad hindquarter and more developed shoulders to show more “meatiness”. This is something to note when matching her with a future breeding buck. But, this doe brings me to the next topic, color.

New Zealand’s come in Black, Blue, White, Red, and Broken in each of the designated colors. Each color variation has its own criteria but I will only touch on the Reds. The Red should be a bright red and not be too dark. The color should carry down to the hair follicle as much as possible.

The Red New Zealand is permitted to have white on the underside of the tail as well as on both the front and rear foot pads. It is important that the rabbit does not have white specks throughout the body and should maintain that bright red throughout.

When looking at the Broken Red New Zealand, which has both white and red, they should have bright red color on both of the ears, eyes, nose, and should have a color over the remaining back and body, preferably having an balanced red and white pattern.

With that being said, your breeding stock does not necessarily have to meet each criteria to a T, but as a breeder, you should understand your rabbits flaws and match them with a partner that will help the offspring hopefully develop traits that the parents are lacking.

It is easier said than done and it is important to understand that not all of the kits in the litter will show the the perfect traits, and that’s okay. But over time, selecting the best and breeding the best to reach the standard is what the Standard of Perfection is all about! I hope this helped you in one way or another. I wish you the best of luck in your breeding endeavors! Happy Raising!

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