Ever heard the term “reputable breeder”? What exactly does that mean? How does one become a reputable breeder? We hope to answer some of those questions in this article.
Let me start by saying that term “reputable breeder” is very subjective. There are no standard set of guidelines that if met, makes one a reputable breeder. We should probably start with a definition. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines reputable as the following:
enjoying good repute: held in esteem employed widely or sanctioned by good writers
So by definition one would assume that being reputable is a good thing. To that we must throw in the term “breeder” so that we can determine what is a reputable breeder. So here is the Merriam-Webster definition of breeder:
one that breeds: as a: an animal or plant kept for propagation b: one engaged in the breeding of a specified organism
From this definition we must conclude that to be a reputable breeder you must actually breed rabbits. So lets lay down some basics on what a reputable breeder is.
Cant Self Proclaim
To be a reputable breeder, it must be determined by others. Either they are looking specifically for rabbits in your line, visiting your website, or writing about your rabbits/rabbitry. These are factors that all are determined by others based on the reputation you have established for quality animals and good service.
The most important part of being a reputable breeder is have good lines of your own. This is not something you can establish in one or two years. This is something that must be established over a period of years. Take a look at your pedigrees. Do you have any that have just your lines on them? or as a minimum three generations of your animals?
I remember the first time my girls talked to Brian Hartzell about a Jersey Wooly he had for sale. They asked him what lines his rabbits came from. He responded, “my lines.” Thats a reputable breeder. Here’s a question to ask: when you sell rabbits either in person or on your website, what lines do state the rabbits come from? If the majority are not your lines, then you probably are not a reputable breeder yet.
Now don’t misunderstand the above statements. That is not to say you cant trust other rabbit breeders. There are many people within the rabbit community that are reputable, but we are trying to limit this article to reputable breeders.
Interested in Advancement of the Breed
A reputable breeder is definitely going to be producing rabbits for their herd, and when at the show table, consistently placing near the top. But a reputable breeder will also be just as interested in seeing their breed maintain an excellent standard. They are often encouraging youth to participate in the breed, and will at times, take a youth member under their wings to assist and train that youth or new breeder.
I was speaking to a friend last week. His son was one of the top Old English Game breeders in the country. They would attend bird shows in several states, and often attend national shows. When he first started in the breed they were at a show in North Carolina where some of the top breeders were showing. The gentleman that won the show that day took our friends son over to the winning bird and asked him what he thought of the bird. Our friend’s son said, “I think she’s awesome.” The breeder replied, “good, cause your taking that bird home with you.” That breeders interest was in promoting the breed.
A reputable rabbit breeder will often sell trios to assist new breeders in getting their start. They will often sell their best rabbits. Because of the economics of society in general, and the costs of raising rabbits, its unusual for quality rabbits to be given away at no cost. But in talking with a rabbit breeder a few months ago, she had done just that, to help a youth breeder get started.
In addition reputable breeders are often sharing their knowledge. Often this is done by speaking directly to new breeders and giving tips on how to improve their herd. Although not required to be a reputable breeder, many reputable breeders will have a website to share this knowledge. On flip side, just having a website does not qualify one as a reputable breeder.
Reputable breeders are usually positive and approachable. They will not be criticizing other breeders in emails, personal conversations or on their websites. A reputable breeder will find that they do not need to tear other breeders down to lift themselves up. Their rabbits and concern for other breeders will push them into the reputable breeder status.
Reputable breeders are usually a part of many organizations that help promote their breed. This would include national, regional, state and local clubs. These clubs promote the breeds and reputable breeders will want to be a part of those clubs when possible.
Winning at the Show Table
A reputable breeder has to do more than just breed their rabbits. They have to produce rabbits of the highest quality. You will see that they have rabbits from their breedings consistently in the top of their breed’s top rabbit standings. They should also be consistently in their breed’s herdsman standings. Often they will be in the top in sweepstakes standings.
Again you cannot rely on standings alone. Many top breeders may only attend 4 or 5 shows in a year. You must consider the totality of their body of work. However, I will say that often their rabbits have many best of groups/varieties or top finishes at national shows. Its also possible for a breeder that is not reputable to place high in a national show. Again its the complete body of their work.
A Good Reputation Within the Rabbit Community
Because of their encouragement of others, their love for their breed, reputable rabbit breeders have a good name within the rabbit community. That’s not to say that they don’t have their critics. Those that are at the top in anything will have critics.
The reputable breeder will often be the one helping out at rabbit shows. They will often be talking with many breeders. Many times at shows, you will see a crowd of fellow breeders gathered with them to talk rabbits. Its not uncommon to see a reputable breeder serving on a committee or board for their breed.
A reputable rabbit breeder is honest in their rabbit dealings. If they are selling a rabbit, they are willing to explain its faults as well as its good qualities. They don’t release their poor quality culls to unsuspecting breeders.
A reputable rabbit breeder will work within the rules. They do not alter their rabbits in an effort to win. Claims, either in person or on their websites, do not misrepresent the quality of their animals, or their standings in things such as breed point standings. When a reputable breeder makes a comment its one that you can trust.
So here are the key elements of being a reputable rabbit breeder:
- Have established their own line of rabbits
- Are just as interested in promoting their breed as they are in promoting their rabbits.
- They often encourage new and youth breeders
- A reputable rabbit breeder often places rabbits at rabbit shows.
- They are often a part of many rabbit organizations.
- They are often placing a top rabbit in national sweepstakes standings, are a top herdsman, and often near the top in sweepstakes.
- They’ve done this consistently over a number of years.
- They have a good reputation within the rabbit community
How do you match up? Are there areas that you need to work on? Its difficult to live up to this standard for a reputable breeder. It takes years to establish. But you can become a rabbit breeder of this caliber. Keep these things in mind when you’re breeding your rabbits, attending rabbit shows, and working with new breeders. Remember, you cannot declare yourself a reputable breeder, others will do that as a result of your body of work within the rabbit community. How’s your reputation?