The Importance of Complete Pedigrees By Deana Thurston, OR
As a registrar, I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to turn away a registerable rabbit because the pedigree presented by the owner is not complete. Amongst the more common omissions are weights and ear numbers. The number of responses I’ve heard from original breeders leaves me puzzled. Our rabbits are bred to a standard, or at least we SHOULD be breeding to the standard. Part of that standard includes weights. Why would you not keep accurate information on weights? How do you know if your rabbit falls within the standard weights for the age of the rabbit? If your junior or senior does not meet the minimum or maximum requirements, they could be disqualified. Juniors that surpass the maximum weight for a junior, can be shown in the senior class. A senior age rabbit CANNOT be shown in a lower class if it does not make minimum weight.
Beyond showing, keeping and tracking weight in your herd is and should always be an important part of any breeding program. It can help you recognize weight issues within your breeding program and gives you the ability to recognize growth rates and maximize your feed to weight ratio. Why put more feed into rabbits that are not growing to their max potential? More feed equals more expense. If a rabbit does not make minimum weight, should it be used in your breeding program? There is genetics at play when it comes to weight! If you do not track weights on all offspring, you may never know if the weight issues with that one runt you kept because it had attributes you wanted to add to your herd (despite not making weight), were the results of genetics or simply because it was stunted due to being pushed out by larger stronger siblings.
Another common omission is missing ear numbers. Why would you not at least assign an ear number to every rabbit you breed? This is another area that should be an important part of your breeding program, especially if you sell stock, whether breeders or show animals. A permanent tattoo in the left ear is a requirement for showing, registering, and helps prevent confusion in your breeding records. If you’re selling a rabbit as a pet, you should still consider tattooing. It gives the new owner another means of identifying their rabbit should it be lost or even stolen. Not comfortable with tattooing? You have options! There are any number of breeders or registrars who are happy to help.
One more point, which goes back to how this conversation started, when you leave this important information off your pedigrees, you leave open the option of people “fudging” the information. Recording inaccurate information in order to register the rabbit they purchased. A registrar is not going to be able to recognize that information is not accurate!
Some folks may say, “Who cares about registering everything?!” Remember that registering your rabbits not only shows that you breed rabbits free of disqualifications and that your breeding stock meets the standard, but it also helps ARBA to see that people are breeding the rabbits we love and they might be more popular than they think, whether they show or not.