Tom Berger of the American Rabbit Breeders Association judged over 260 bunnies on Tuesday at the Allen County Fair, with judging beginning at 11 a.m. and continuing for the rest of the day.
Allen County 4-H board member Shawn Park helped organize and run the show. He said that rabbit judging takes into consideration a number of factors, among them sex, coloring, breed and size.
John Platt, also a 4-H board member, says he has worked with rabbits since 1956, raising 42 different breeds during his career. He explains the judging process like this:
Rabbits are first split up according to variety. Variety is the color of the animal; the best of each variety is picked and moves on to the next round.
Class is the next round, which describes the size of the rabbit. There are two classes in a show: the 4 class and the 6 class.
The 4 class contains breeds that mature under nine pounds. The four classes are Senior Buck, Senior Doe, Junior Buck and Junior Doe. Does are females and bucks are males.
The 6 class rabbits are all breeds that mature over nine pounds. The six classes are Junior Buck, Junior Doe, Intermediate Buck, Intermediate Doe, Senior Buck and Senior Doe.
Juniors are fewer than 3 months old. Seniors are more than 6 months old. Intermediates are those adolescent bunnies that aren't quite full grown.
Once the best in each class is selected, a winner is chosen. Platt notes that, contrary to common belief, not all rabbits have fur. Some, like the American Fuzzy Lop, are classified as having wool.
Breeds also vary in weight. A Netherland Dwarf is about two and a half pounds, while a Flemish Giant can be over 20 pounds.
Finally, a bunny will be chosen as Best in Show.
Platt says that rabbits are measured against a book of standards produced by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. This book gives specifications about judging specifications like body length, ear length, teeth, toenails and coat quality for what it considers ideal for each breed.
Korbin Parker, 12, said he looks for a full body on his Mini Rex breeds. “You don't want to feel any bones when you run your hand over them,” he said.
He also said that he rubbed his rabbits with baby wipes before the show to remove any loose hair in their coats.
Rabbits have two paths after the show is over: They can either be sold in the fair's auction or be kept for breeding more rabbits.