Samantha and Mitchell Williams spend a lot of time around rabbits. Between the two 4-Hers they will show 12 rabbits at this year's rabbit show at the fair.
Samantha, a junior at Cloverdale High School has been in 4-H for eight years and Freshman Mitchell is entering his sixth year.
The two were preparing their rabbits for Wednesday mornings show prior to the judging.
"It takes a lot of time to prep all the rabbits. They are judged on their body type, fur and ears," said Mitchell.
The pair were working on "Val," a French lop and "Mariah," a white English Lop.
Both of the Lops are large rabbits and are in the sixth class which includes other breeds like the American Sable, Beveren, Checkered Giant, Cinnamon and French Angora.
Smaller rabbits like the Dwarf Hotot, Holland Lop, Jersey Wooley and Mini Rex are considered in the four (or smaller) category for judging.
Both of the 4-Hers are familiar with many breeds. Their family raises commercial rabbits under SM Rabbits (Samantha and Mitchell) and have 300 rabbits at their home in Cloverdale. They also show rabbits nationally with their family.
Mitchell has placed as best in six class for the past three out of five years. Last year he won Best of Show at the Indiana State Fair shortly after wining the Best of Six class at the Putnam County Fair.
"It was pretty neat," said Mitchell. "It was my first Best of Show and it was at the State Fair."
Rabbits are a popular animal for 4-H exhibitors. The animals can be found in many places including animal shelters, rescue organizations, auctions, back yard hobbyists, rabbit shows, feed shows, pet stores and breeders.
When selecting a bunny breeders recommend using your instinct and picking a bunny you really. They also say the first consideration of where you buy your rabbit is cleanliness. A clean environment is a good indication of the health of the animals.
Be sure to select a breed that is appropriate for your family and the space you have available. Many people want small rabbits because of space constraints. Smaller rabbits are natural prey animals and may be more easily threatened as well as nervous and excitable. Larger rabbits tend to be more docile. Look at several types of rabbits before making a final decision.
Look for bright eyes and a healthy coat. The fur doesn't have to be shiny, just thick and resilient. Teeth should close just like peoples, top over bottom.
If you are looking for a show bunny be sure to tell the breeder so they can check for any disqualifications such as mismatched toenail color or stray white hairs on solid colored rabbits.
Female rabbits are called does and males are called bucks. A baby bunny is a kit and a bunch of bunnies is a litter. Domestic rabbits are born naked, deaf and blind. Jack rabbits are born fully furred and ready to run.
Rabbits have a very keen sense of smell and are usually sensitive to the smell of smoke, perfume and fabric softeners. Many are allergic to perfumes and dust. Heat can also be a problem as it is difficult for them to release heat from their bodies. Heat stroke can be a real problem for any animals left in the sun too long.
For more information about rabbits a good source is the American Rabbit Breeders Association available at www.arba.net