By Sandra Zunino
The Delmarva Rabbit & Cavy Breeders Association (DRCBA) wants more people to learn about rabbit and cavy breeding on the Eastern Shore and the 6th Annual Double Open and Double Youth Show on Saturday, September 26 at Easton’s Talbot Agricultural Center is just one avenue to accomplish that goal.
A group of local breeders who wanted to create an organization to support rabbit and cavy breeding on the Delmarva Peninsula founded the DRCBA in 2001.
A chartered club of the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA); the objectives of the DRCBA are to encourage education, promote and improve breeding of rabbit and cavies and provide a focal point for Delmarva Peninsula rabbit and cavy breeders to accomplish their goals in raising and exhibiting their animals.
Rabbits and cavies, also known as Guinea Pigs, are bred for several purposes, according to Karen A. Callahan, DRCBA Show Secretary. Whether breeding rabbits for show stock, pets or commercially for meat, the DRCBA is open to everyone; however, the majority of the members are interested in showing rabbits and cavies.
There are 47 recognized breeds of rabbits and 13 breeds of cavies listed in The Standard of Perfection, which is the guidelines put out by ARBA for judging rabbits and cavies. Depending on the breed, a rabbit can weigh anywhere from two pounds for Netherland or Polish Dwarfs up to 20 pounds for Checkered or Flemish Giants. Cavies are shown similarly to rabbits as they are judged on breed, color and classification.
Rabbit and cavy show judges endure a time-consuming schooling to earn credentials. “You must start as a registrar, learn about the different breeds, look for any disqualifications and register so many rabbits during a time period,” explains Karen. “To apply for a judge’s license, you must pass a written test and work with and be evaluated by eight other judges for hands-on proficiency.”
Rabbit and cavy exhibitors earn prizes for best breed, sex, variety and class. Prizes can be trophies, plaques, pins and occasionally, monetary awards. Through showing, breeders can earn sweepstakes points toward Best of Breed. A rabbit achieving Best of Breed can earn the title of Grand Champion, allowing its owner to register the bloodline thus increasing breeding value.
For the most part, rabbit breeding and showing is a hobby. With shows all over the U.S. and oversees, enthusiasts can visit many places to exhibit their animals. “The 2009 ARBA National Convention will be held in November in San Diego,” says Karen who had raised rabbits for 28 years. “Everyone is getting ready for that.”
While this is the sixth show hosted by the DRCBA, this will be the first year for the show to take place in Talbot County. “If numbers are good, we will do the next five years here,” says Karen, “then maybe go to another county to generate more interest at a new location.”
An official ARBA sanctioned show, currently, Karen expects 1,100 rabbits. The show room will open at 7:00 a.m. and judging begins promptly at 9:00 a.m. Additionally, there will be several specialty shows. The New Zealand Specialty Show is in memory of Sam Rizzo, a prominent New Zealand rabbit breeder.
For more information on the DRCBA, the 6th Annual Show or a show catalog, visit www.drcba.com. For more information on ARBA, visit www.arba.net.