Conditioning Rabbits for Show 2: Troubleshooting

Well-conditioned and glossy Tan rabbitsThis is one glossy, nicely conditioned Tan Rabbit!

Conditioning Rabbits for Show Part II: Troubleshoot, solve problems with conditioning show rabbits, and delay a rabbit molt till after the rabbit show, if possible.

The following factors could limit the rabbit’s ability to get into show condition.

  • --An illness, infestation or a subclinical disease can drain away conditioning, or prevent conditioning in the first place. See Rabbit Diseases.

  • --Genetics can play a big part in a lack of condition. For example, sometimes you can do your best to condition your rabbit but the pin bones (hips) will still protrude. The rabbit does not have the genetic directions to put enough meat over those bones. 
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    Or, perhaps the shoulders are weak, long or narrow. The rabbit may have a genetic flaw in type, or a genetic predisposition to not achieve top conditioning. When the rabbit ‘should’ be conditioned, but isn’t, you might have a genetic problem. Unfortunately, the solution is to CULL the rabbit, because he can’t give you any more than he already is

    Additionally, take a long hard look at every rabbit in your show herd and cull vigorously, keeping only the best rabbits that have both excellent show quality type and the ability to achieve prime conditioning.

    If you’re serious about winning and improving your chosen breed, you can’t be feeling sorry for your favorite animals. If necessary, go and purchase a few excellent replacement animals from a reputable breeder (or two) in order to improve your rabbits’ genetic foundation. You’ll find new favorites, and it’ll be all the more sweet when they WIN.
  • --Hot weather can drain conditioning. So can wide temperature fluctuations, which are very hard on a rabbit’s condition.  They can’t decide whether to keep their coats or to blow them to smithereens.  One minute they’re cold, and the next minute they’re hot.  A hot rabbit languishes in the cage all day without hardly moving.  It is very likely to not drink enough because they don’t want to make the effort and overheat even more.

    Along with other cooling measures, ice cubes in the water can help. They cool the water making it more palatable to the rabbit and even helping the rabbit cool down a little. With less dehydration, its flesh condition will stay firmer.

  • --A molt blows the coat and the conditioning. Molting is natural and when it starts, there’s nothing you can do, that I know of!  Cut back on the feed before a show to help retain your rabbit’s prime condition. Careful management of calories may be able to prevent or delay a premature molt.

    Feed plenty of hay to your prime rabbit along with restricted pellets and a tablespoon of Roloff’s Special Formula each day.

    Don't start giving high-energy conditioning formulas too soon before the show. Most breeders start conditioning rabbits for show about 3-4 weeks before showing their rabbits.
  • --Consider cage size if your rabbit is at the lower end of weight, or is not firm enough in flesh.  We have not conducted any studies, but we feel a rabbit may be able to achieve firmer muscle tone and muscle size in a cage that offers room for 'calisthenics.'

    Once, we saved two Rex bucks out of the same litter. Because of cage availability, one of these bucks went into a regular-sized buck cage (24 x 30), and the other went into a smaller holding cage. Both rabbits made their ideal weight, however the buck in the smaller cage took longer to do it.

    If you're having trouble conditioning a rabbit for show, try putting the animal in a larger cage and let us know if that helps.

Rabbit Condition Enhancers: BOSS, Whole Oats (#ad)

Conditioning rabbits for shows does not require a lot of equipment...

...just good animal husbandry practices, good feed, good health management, and good grooming.

Good luck!

Go To Conditioning Rabbits for Show Part I

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