Every year around this time people visit pet stores, ask to pet the cute bunnies, and consider giving their loved ones a rabbit for Christmas.  But is this really a good idea?  Rabbits are not mere curiosities: they are living animals with needs and wants and opinions — oh yes! — opinions.  They can live up to twelve years and require daily time and attention.  A rabbit owner must be gentle and patient, must have a quiet and safe place for the rabbit to live, and must be able to afford expenses like food and vet bills.
For these reasons, some people say you should never give rabbits as Christmas presents.  But I’m going to break the mold.  I’m going to suggest that sometimes, SOMETIMES, it’s okay.  Because if my mother had never given me a rabbit when I asked for a horse, then, well, this blog wouldn’t exist, and I might never have gotten to know the sweetness of bunny kisses.
I think that giving someone a rabbit for Christmas can be a great idea — in certain cases.  I would say don’t even consider it unless all of the following qualifications are met:
-The recipient must be a family member or very close friend. It must be a responsible person that you know beyond doubt will take good care of the rabbit.
-You have talked to the recipient and they agreed to care for the rabbit.  I know it’s not fun to spoil surprises, but it’s also not fun to be surprised with an animal you didn’t want!  Definitely talk to the recipient and make sure they are willing to take on the care of an animal.
-The recipient must have a quiet, safe place for the rabbit’s cage to stay.  Rabbits can live indoors or outside, but they need to have shelter from the elements and need to have a quiet, peaceful environment in order to thrive.  They must be protected from dogs, cats, and wild predators as well.  Even though everyone would love a pet rabbit, not everyone has a good place to keep it.
-Last, but extremely important: If you give someone a rabbit, you MUST also give them the right supplies to care for it.  This includes a cage, food dishes, a water supply, and more.  However, we have made this part easy for you by putting together the Supreme Rabbit Home Complete Package — all you need to care for one pet rabbit.

Rabbit Equipment on Sale – Complete Starter Package for a Christmas gift

FLASH SALE!  TODAY the Rabbit Starter Package is only $99 with FREE SHIPPING!  That’s over $25 off the original price.  FINISH YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!
This is not an ordinary rabbit cage.  It’s made of top-quality North American wire.  We sand the edges on every panel by hand, and test it against bare skin to make sure there are no dangerous edges for you or the bunny.  The door is lined with protective plastic, and the floor is reinforced to keep the rabbit secure and safe.  The cage comes with splash guards and a slide-out drop tray.  This design keeps the rabbit out of its droppings, which is essential for helping it stay healthy. This cage is so strong and so tidy that it works well in an outdoor shelter or inside the house.
The package comes with a 16oz Lixit water bottle and two plastic dishes, one for food, and one for a backup water supply.  These dishes are by far the best on the market.  They clip easily but securely onto the cage so rabbits can’t tip them over.
The starter kit goes beyond the basics to make your pet comfortable.  It provides a plastic resting mat that keeps your rabbits’ feet off the wire, along with a fun chew toy.  Lastly, the package includes a deluxe, guillotine-style nail trimmer: the only kind of trimmer that is safe for rabbits’ nails.
All of these supplies together would normally cost about $125.  But right now, Premium Rabbit Supplies is offering the entire package for just $99 on their website.  And to make your holiday shopping extra simple, the shipping is free to anywhere in the United States.
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Who won Best in Show at the ARBA Convention 2015?  Here are your answers!

The 2015 American Rabbit Breeders Convention show judging finished off today in Portland, Oregon.  It’s been a great show by all reports!

These are the results I’ve seen posted.  Breed clubs are starting to post full results on their websites, and I’ll include links when I see them.  If you know any results that aren’t listed here yet, please let me know and I’ll add it.

Best in Show was by Brad and Katie Boyce with a Havana.  This is the second time their breathtaking Havanas have won BIS at Convention!

Major congratulations to all the winners!!


BIS – Brad & Katie Boyce – Havana

Group 1 – French Angora by Charlotte Schweikart
Group 2 – Netherland Dwarf by Fred & Leslie Bond
Group 3 – Satin by Rob and Amanda Wampner
Group 4 – Havana by Brad & Katie Boyce


BOB:  Lorena Ferchaud, White Sr. Doe
BOS: Steve Shea and Valerie & Michelle Uptagrafft, Blue Jr. Buck


American Fuzzy Lop

BOB Muriel Keyes & Diana Keefe, Solid Senior DOe
BOS: Nate & Stuart Burbidge and Carol & Kendall Green


American Chin
BOB: Tex Thomas
BOS: Sarah Crocker


Belgian Hare
BOB- Jameson
BOS- Jeanne Walton


Blanc de Hotot

BOB – Konency Family

BOS – Konency Family


Britannia Petite

BOB – Krista Moe, REW Doe
BOS – Randy Shumaker & Allen Mesick, REW buck



BOB: Laura Blank
BOS: Kevin/Cherry/Luke Buttles


Champagne D’Argent

BOB: 6/8 Doe, Tracy Gouette
BOS: Jr. Buck, Annie Wilson


Checkered Giant

BOB: Milt & Dave Freeman, Black 6/8 Doe
BOS: Callie Weber, Black Jr. Buck



BOB: Helen Eden & Jacqueline Sutton
BOS: Helen Eden & Jacqueline Sutton


Creme D’Argent

BOB: 6/8 Doe, Gary & Phyllis Glisan, 6/8 Doe
BOS: Scott & Kevin Rudolph, Jr Buck


Dwarf Hotot
BOB: Patty Percy
BOS: Paula Courtney



BOB:  Shanon & Eric Mixdorf, Black Sr. Buck
BOS:  Kevin Hooper, Tortoise Jr Doe


English Angora

BOB: Marcus Rhoden
BOS: Marcus Rhoden


French Angora

BOB: Charlotte Schweikart
BOS: Charlotte Schweikart


Giant Angora

BOB: Tammy Vaughn


Satin Angora

BOB: Cody Darst, Colored Sr. Doe
BOB: Sarah Martin, Colored Sr. Doe


English Spot

BOB:  Joel Marshall/Dallas Meyer, Black Jr. Buck
BOS:  Joel Marshall/Dallas Meyer, Blue Jr. Buck


English Lop

BOB:  Trina Carlson, Solid Sr Doe
BOSB: Helen Wartman, Broken 6/8 Buck


Flemish Giant

BOB: Jennifer Krueger, Sandy Doe
BOS: Therese Fabela, Sandy Buck


Open French Lop results:
Bob and bov solid – solid sr doe, Melissa McMullen
Bos and bosv solid – solid sr buck, Patrick, Lynn and Ross Eden

Open Florida White:
BOB: Sr. Doe, Robbie & Amanda Wampner
BOS: Sr. Buck, Rusty Westhoff

Open Giant Chinchilla
BOB: Int. Doe, Richard Civil
BOS: Int. Buck, Sonya Garcia


BOB: Chocolate Magpie Sr. Buck,

Barb Adams
BOS: Black Magpie Sr. Doe, Pam


Open Havana

BOB: Broken Buck, Katie Boyce
BOS: Black Jr. Doe, Kelsie Gomes

BOB Himalayan, Holly Bernal
Open BOS Himalayan, Suzanne


Holland Lop
BOB: SJD, Randy & Hope Blackburn
BOS: SJB Nicole Brockreide/Debra


BOB: Broken Sr. Buck, Amber

BOS: Shaded Sr. Doe, DeAnn


Open Lilac:

BOB: Luke Vickery

Open Lionhead:

BOB: Tort Sr. Doe, Mueller/Rafoth
BOS: REW Jr. Buck, Amy Schettini

Open Mini Lop:

BOB: BJD, Linda Bell
BOS: SJB, Jason M. Scott

Open Mini Rex:

BOB: Broken Doe, Sandra Neal
BOS: Blue Sr. Buck, Kari Kramer

Open Mini Satin:
BOB: Black Jr. Buck, Robbie &

Amanda Wampner
BOS: Tort Sr. Doe, Roger


Open Netherland Dwarf:

New Zealand
BOB White, Hildaho
BOS Broken, Binker

Netherland Dwarf
BOB: Silver Marten Buck, Fred &

Leslie Bond
BOS: Otter Sr. Doe, Fred & Leslie


Open Polish:
BOB: Black Doe, Jeannie Shaske

BOS: Broken Buck, Becky McCall


BOB Castor Doe, Jean and Kevin

BOS Opal Buck, Jody and Rebecca



BOB – Susan Londe
BOS – Kam Padlina
Judge Eric Stewart

Open Satin:
BOB – Broken Amanda Wampner
BOS – Broken Stacy Billings

Open Silver Fox:

Best of Breed: Junior buck, Stephanie Boeder
Best Opposite: Intermediate doe, Jessica Hoopfer

Open Thrianta
BOB: Sonya Lyons
BOS: Schmidt

Open Tan:

BOB: Black Jr Doe, Patrick, Ross, & Lynn Eden
BOSB: Black Sr Buck, Bonny Wagoner


BOB/BOS YOUTH Rabbits – 2015


Group 1: Mini Lop
Group 2: Silver Marten
Group 3: English Angora
Group 4: American Sable

Youth American Fuzzy Lop:

BOB: Gabrielle Hibbert
BOS: Gabrielle Hibbert

American Chinchilla

BOB: Hannah Poe

BOS: Kyla Addison

Youth Blanc De Hotot
BOB: Bella Stoeffer
BOS: Bella Stoeffer

Youth Britannia Petite:
BOB: Chestnut Sr. Doe, Sarah Martin
BOS Brit was also Serena Shultz



BOS: Ben Voorhees

Youth Champagne D’Argent:

BOB: Katie Frice
BOS: Kayla Bemis

Youth Creme D’Argent:

BOB: Adam Bates
BOS: Bethany Hobson

BOB Dutch- Taylor Mills
BOS Dutch- Kory White

Youth English Angora:
BOB: White, Jeffery Olson

Satin Angora

BOB: Colored Sr. Doe, Sarah Martin

French Angora

BOB: Rachel Penterman

BOS: Rachel Penterman

Giant Angora

BOB: Rachel Penterman

Youth English Lop:
BOB: Solid Jr. Doe, Jessica Larkin
BOS: Broken Sr. Buck, Lucas Gribi

Youth Florida Whites:
BOB: Jr. Buck, Stephanie Riegal
BOS: Sr. Doe, Gunner Fisher

Giant Chinchilla
BOB: Ally West
BOS: Melinda Piek

Youth Flemish Giant:

BOB: Light Grey Jr. Doe, Eddie

BOS: Sandy Buck, Cassian Starr

Youth French Lop:

BOB: Broken, Raymond Juballa
BOS: Broken, Ross Eden

Himalayan BOB youth – Colten

Westbrook, BOS Lena Magee

Youth Holland Lop:

BOB: SSB, Autumn Richardson
BOS: SJD, Emma Curia

Youth Havana:

BOB: Black Jr. Buck, Bryant Miller

Youth Jersey Woolies:
BOB: Melanie Lyons
BOS: Melanie Lyons

Youth Lilac Abigail Polasik won

BOB. There were only does entered

so no BOS

BOB&BOS went to Todd Maya in youth

mini lops

Mini Satin
BOB: Maddie Hicks
BOS: Kyle & McKenna Samuelson

Youth Mini Rex:

BOB: Broken Sr. Doe, Maya Lowder
BOS: Otter Sr. Buck, Leo Lucey

Youth Netherland Dwarf:

BOB: Black Otter, Serena Shultz
BOS: Siamese Sable, Trinity Serafin

New Zealand:

BOB – Bryant Miller
BOS – Bryant Miller


BOB: Broken Sr. Doe, Brianna Gustafson
BOS: Black Sr. Buck, James Konzek


BOB: Black Sr. Buck, Haley Carr

BOS: Black Sr. Doe, Haley Carr

BOB/BOS with Brokens: Alison


Youth Thrianta:
BOB: Torres
BOS: Bowman

Youth Tans

BOB: Black Jr Doe Raymond Erway
BOS: Lilac Jr Buck Tristan Erway


RIS: TEDDY, Steve Belcher





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Many thanks to Melissa van der Valke of www.LionheadRabbit.com for this article!

A Closer Look at the Lionhead Rabbit



Many of you might have already heard about a relatively new rabbit breed, the lionhead rabbit. This amazing rabbit breed is becoming more and more popular within the United States and therefore we provide you with a closer look. The breed was officially accepted by the ARBA as a domestic breed of rabbits in February of 2014 and already had a longer history within the United Kingdom.

Different mane types

It is obvious that the reason why this breed differs from others it that lionheads have a wooly mane which makes them unique and appealing. There are however different so called mane types. A lionhead rabbit is either single maned or double maned. This is because of genetics, for example, if your doe is single maned it means that she has one copy of the gene that produces her mane. A double maned doe has two copies. The biggest difference is that double maned lionheads are more covered with wool. In addition, the wool of single maned lionheads might diminish over time. As a result double maned are more popular.


lionhead babies

Lionhead rabbit babies at birth


Is my lionhead single or double maned?

How do you know whether your lionhead is either single or double maned? You can only find out when your lionhead is becoming full-grown and his mane is developed or at birth. It is very easy to spot whether your single or double maned babies when they are born. If you notice a v pattern at their back they are double maned. If you don’t notice a pattern at all they are single maned.




How to care for a Lionhead

When it comes to caring for lionhead rabbits it is somewhat similar to caring for other rabbit breeds. Provide fresh water at all time, make sure there is enough hay and optionally complement their diet with pellets. Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that having a good looking wooly mane also requires some extra efforts. Therefore it is recommended to groom your lionhead on a daily basis. Make sure to visit http://lionheadrabbit.com/rabbit-care/ for more information on caring for these amazing rabbits.


Thanks, Melissa!

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If Rabbits had iPhones

By Ellyn | Filed in Uncategorized

If Rabbits had iphones

What if our rabbits were tech-savvy?

At my house, we sometimes joke about what rabbits would do if they used modern technology.

As for my rabbit, I’m quite sure that he would want a smartphone. Not just any old smartphone, but the iPhone 6 Plus. And he would want it NOW.

If I told my rabbit he didn’t need the iPhone 6 when I just got him the iPhone 5S for his birthday, and when I am myself still stuck with something out of the Blackberry age, he’d just say that if the 5S was good enough for me, I could have his. But next time he went to a show, all the rich Holland Lop kids would have the 6 Plus, and he’d claim the judges really do factor this in when it comes down to choosing Best of Breed. He’d say I’m so lost in the dark ages that I might not mind using a “smart” phone with an IQ of 12, but he knew I DID care about winning Best of Breed.

If none of this would convince me, he’d proceeded to bite on his cage bars until he got what he wanted.

I believe we have good reason for not wanting bunnies to get into technology. I can only imagine how much more high-maintenance that would make them. Scenarios such as these rush to mind:

1. Watches. They’d employ their stopwatches (or smartwatches?) to make sure we came out to feed them at the right time of day. Not just on our schedule, but theirs, which means 6:30 morning and night. If we were a moment late, they’d pull out item #2: Buzzers.

2. Buzzers. They’d develop buzzers that would ring an alarm system in our homes. They’d sit on those buzzers until we brought out more food. They’d also sit on them at random times throughout the day or night when they wanted a treat, petting, or to come out to play.

3. Social networking. They’d cease communicating with the rabbit in the next cage and seek all their social interaction on www.RabbitForums.org. I guess that’s a good thing, because they’d stop chewing bald patches on each other’s heads.

4. Shopping for themselves. If rabbits could use Paypal, they would go shopping for bunny toys online. Of course they don’t make incomes, so you’d have to give them an allowance. Make sure you give them as much as your other kids. Gotta be fair.

5. Shopping for you. Sometimes rabbits would use their virtual wallet to purchase things for their devoted caretaker, you. They wouldn’t approve of your cotton sweatshirt and they’d buy you an ugly nylon jacket instead so they can scratch and bite at it. (Have you ever noticed rabbits love that stuff?) They’d think your cologne is atrocious and order a replacement, then ask for reimbursement since they blew all their allowance on you.

6. You have a garage door opener. They’d have a cage door opener. Sounds fair, right?

7. Texting. Unlimited, please.

8. Data? Let’s not even go there.

9. Selfies. They’d spend all day trying to take the best selfie for your rabbitry website. This might actually save you some time.

10. Self-diagnosis. They’d log on to “Vet MD” or some medical website, convince themselves they have snuffles, warbles, and Tyzzer’s disease all at once, order expensive drugs on your card… and then let you know about it.

BONUS: And lastly, if rabbits were technologically savvy they might write a Standard of Perfection app so we don’t have to keep referring to the hard copy. That would also be nice. But problem is the SOP would turn Wiki, because each rabbit would hack in and rewrite it to precisely describe itself.

So although it doesn’t sound like a good thing at first, I guess there would be both pros and cons to our rabbits having modern technology. But since most bunnies are too young to browse the internet by themselves, make sure you visit RaisingRabbitsBlog.com for them for lots of tips on bunny care!

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Five things about Buying Show Rabbits that I Learned the Hard Way



As show breeders, we have high hopes for the rabbits we buy. Sure, there are some people who seem to have unlimited funds and cage space, and can grab every rabbit that strikes their fancy, but for most of us, adding another bunny to our herd is a big deal.

We don’t want to mess up. We don’t want to spend $75 on a rabbit that’s going to place last in its class (trust me, I’ve been there), but on the other hand, we don’t want to pass on rabbits that could potentially boost our herd to the next level. Sometimes excitement clouds our judgment when we get the chance to purchase a certain color or bloodline we’ve been hoping for. It’s especially difficult when we are new to the hobby and haven’t quite mastered that Standard of Perfection yet.

The truth is that less is more when it comes to buying show rabbits. You’ll do better in the end to make fewer purchases, but really, really smart ones.   Everyone gets burned at some point, but since our goal at Premium Rabbit Supplies is to supply you with both equipment and rabbit raising wisdom, I wanted to share some of my experiences with you. Here are a few things I learned the hard way about buying show rabbits:


Five Top Tips for Buying Show Rabbits

1. We’ll start with my first mistake first: don’t shop alone. Join a 4-H club, or a local ARBA club, or simply mingle at shows and make friends before you go rabbit shopping. Meet people who have been in the hobby for many years and have seen success at state or national levels, then ask one of them to help you go pick out some stock. They should be able to spot health issues, attitude issues, and faults or disqualifications that you may miss when shopping by yourself. Even if you have some experience raising rabbits, it always helps to get a second opinion.

2. Don’t buy sight-unseen. Okay, so it’s a well-known breeder. Okay, so the rabbit has a great pedigree. Okay, so they e-mailed you pictures, and it’s a color you really, really, really don’t want to pass up. Still, don’t buy the rabbit until you see it in person. Great bloodlines don’t always make great rabbits. Photos can easily hide faults. There will be another chance to buy that color. In most cases, it’s not worth the risk. Even if the breeder has the best of intentions, sometimes they can miss a DQ or accidentally sex the rabbit wrongly, and you’ll want to check it yourself before you had over the cash.

3. Don’t buy too many rabbits at once.   It’s been said many times, and it’s true: winners are bred, not bought. You won’t be consistently excelling on the show table until you have established your own lineand are producing your own winners. You may start with several bucks and several does, but after a few generations, you’ll find that all your keepers tend to go back to the same handful of rabbits. This is the foundation of your line. You’ll want to sell almost everything else at this point. If you start with too many rabbits, you’ll have a lot more you need to find homes for when they don’t turn out like you wanted. Plus, if the gene pool is too broad, it will take longer to find those few crosses that “click.” It always is wise to start small and build your herd piece by piece.

4. Don’t buy on show record alone. In fact, don’t buy on show record at all. Anyone who’s been around shows for a while knows that the judging can be very inconsistent. A rabbit that won several legs in one part of the country may not place well in a different area, under a different handler, or under a different judge. More importantly, it might not be what you need to fix an issue in your herd. Don’t let anyone pressure you into a purchase by flaunting a rabbit’s achievements: I’ve seen rabbits win at the national convention that I wouldn’t buy.   Instead, shut your eyes to show records and hunt down a rabbit that has the body type you need.

5. Don’t purchase without the pedigree. The seller should have the pedigree available to you at time of sale. If they say, “I’ll mail it to you later,” insist that they at least jot down the sire’s and dam’s names, colors, and ear numbers for you. Also make sure to get the seller’s name, e-mail address, and phone number before you go. Unfortunately, many buyers have been promised a pedigree in the mail and then never received it. If we were talking about pet or meat rabbits, it wouldn’t matter as much, but a show rabbit loses almost all its value when you lose the pedigree. Ideally you should see the pedigree before agreeing to the purchase. That way you can spot problems such as color genes in the background that will clash with your existing herd. One time I paid $200 for a rabbit, only to find out, once I got the pedigree, that it was five years old. Don’t waste your money like I did.

Most importantly: be patient

Although these pointers should help, still don’t despair if your first rabbit purchases turn out to be treasured pets instead of your top show bunnies. It takes time to not only learn how to pick out a good rabbit, but also figure out what you need to improve your herd. Everyone gets there if they stick with it – I’ve seen it happen dozens of times.

If I may offer one parting tip, it would be to spend as much effort picking out your rabbit cages as you do the bunnies that live in them. Not all cages – not even all wire cages – are created equal. You could buy cheap, assembly-line type cage that might have rough corners, or you could buy heavy-duty, hand-crafted cages that are individually sanded and inspected to make sure they have no sharp edges before leaving the shop. If that’s the kind of cage you want, check out the Supreme Rabbit Home. You won’t regret it.


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rabbit breeding kenya africa

All photos courtesy of Ndagwe Okeda


What is Africa really like?  Images flash through our minds, images we’ve picked up from movies and mission groups.  But unless we’ve been there, can we really know what it’s like?

Until we know, how can we build friendships with those across the globe?  How can we encourage them in their pursuits until we know what their goals and what their challenges are?  And how can we learn from their innovation, and draw from their motivation, unless we are connected to each other?  We American rabbit breeders have strong ties with breeders in Candada, Europe and Australia.  We’re fostering rabbit communities in Japan and the East Indies.  But Africa?  That’s been off our radar.  And that means we’re missing out on great opportunities.


Kenyan village girls with rabbit cages

Girls from Ndagwe’s original village project with their rabbits


Stories start with E-mails

A few years ago I got a neat e-mail.  Mr. Ndagwe Okeda, of Bituyu Village, Kenya, sent a message thanking me for the information on the Rabbit Smarties website, and letting me know that he was using it for the rabbit project he started with the youth in his village.

I’m thrilled when anyone finds my scribblings helpful.  I’m honored that members and leaders all around the US have used them.  But from Kenya?  I had never even thought about rabbit raising in Africa!  What breeds did they have there, and which colors?  Did they feed pellets?  How could they keep rabbits in the extreme heat?  I had to know more.

So I asked questions.  And Mr. Okeda has wonderfully shared many details about his rabbit project, and gently corrected my ignorance in several areas.  (For starters, Nairobi area doesn’t get extreme heat – it’s a temperate climate.)  He started a rabbit project with youth members in his village, but moved to the capital city of Nairobi in 2012.  Good news is he took the rabbit project with him and now is reaching out to youth groups to get them involved.

I think he’s on the brink of exciting success.  Ndagwe has a ton of motivation and a comprehensive management plan for sponsoring rabbit projects across his region: projects that will provide youth and their families with income, healthy food, community enrichment, and pleasure – all the reasons why we see the rabbit project is so beneficial in our country.

raising rabbits in africa

Sound fascinating?  You bet it is.  Want to join in?  Now you can!  On March 6 (at 3:00 a.m., my time) I conducted an e-mail interview with Ndagwe to share with you all.  We talked about the details of his project and how we can partner together help it thrive.

Rabbit Raising Developments in Kenya: an E-mail Interview with Ndagwe Okeda of Nairobi

Ellyn E:  To kick us off, could you introduce us to yourself and your project?

Ndagwe Okeda:  I am an organic farming hobbyist who has been gardening since childhood – but as a hobby. I got into rabbit keeping by way of trying seek alternative means of occupation for youth in my village in the year 2010.

Children were more exited with rabbit keeping and I started partnering with their parents to construct cages and I would donate two Does per child. This led to more interest but challenges arose due to safety of the rabbits. Theft and wild animal attacks were more common.

I later relocated to a county near Nairobi in 2012 and introduced the project to the residents mainly the youth who were receptive and are still pushing the project.

EE: What gave you the vision to begin rabbit projects (versus other types of projects)?

By the way, are things with the strike better today?  That definitely sounded challenging.  [Our interview was delayed a day due to a public transportation strike in Nairobi.]

NO: Many issues led me to rabbit keeping. The poverty in our villages, idleness of the youth, lack of employment and lack of good production from our farms. I saw that the rabbit could and  is able to solve these problems that surround us.

The strike has fizzled out, thank you

EE: Was it difficult to find good stock to start out with?

NO: Good stocks are available but expensive. So I have been using what I can afford.

Rabbits + Weeds at Bituyu, Kenya

Rabbits + Weeds at Bituyu Village, Kenya

EE:  If I’m not mistaken, your vision is two-fold: both to help communities in a physical sense by providing a source of income and a sustainable food resource, and to help in a broader sense by building character in teens.  Let’s talk about the first part of that first, even though it’s perhaps the less important side of things.

In a physical sense, what ways does the rabbit benefit the community?  Is it helpful as a source of healthy and renewable food, or as income for families, or both?

NO: It is both. The community believes in hard work just like any other, but you can work hard and not earn enough to sustain yourself. Land is available in smaller and smaller sizes for the average citizen and calls for better production techniques to increase yields. The rabbit easily subsidizes the meat requirements for the family while at the same time providing useful products such as droppings to use as farmyard manure.  There is a growing market for pets as well.

Both the live rabbits can be sold to the next member of the community or on the general market, thus bringing income to the home. The manure can also be sold (the urine too fetched good cash) [as fertilizer].

EE: Oh, neat.  That makes perfect sense — raising rabbits is a way to be more productive with the same amount of work and land.

I know a big part of your mission is to support youth and help them be productive with their time.  This is a cause that rabbit breeders in the US are especially interested in.  Here we have strong youth programs, such as 4-H, to promote leadership skills and purpose in children as they mature.

Can you share a success story, or a moment where you knew the rabbit project was making a positive difference in a child’s life?

NO: One parent took up my idea of the son (11) and daughter (9) keeping rabbits. I constructed one cage and due to the interest of the children in grew to two cages – the girl wanted to have her own. The parents noted that their son had become more responsible – coming home straight from school to make sure the rabbits are fed with the help of his sister. Incidentally his school performance also improved – I am yet to connect this to the rabbit keeping.

The sad part, the bunnies were stolen.

kenyan rabbit breeder

One of Ndagwe’s current project does.


EE: So tell us about your current focus with the project.

NO: I introduced the rabbit project to a number of youth groups but I got mixed results.

Below is a sample of the activities;

Group 1 – This is a group of 20 youth who live in a slum (located 7 miles from my home).  Worked with them to get a government loan which they used to build cages and purchase 10 rabbits for breeding.  They worked so well for 6 months then they disagreed and the project has collapsed.

Group 2 – A family project run by their 22 year-old son (located 80 miles from my home).  This project developed from 10 rabbits to now 70 full grown rabbits and 80 kits.   However, the family is now engaged in selling meet due to financial difficulties. They have offered to sell me the rabbits and end the project. I am in the process of looking for funds to purchase them since I have other groups interested in the project.

Group 3 – A church based youth group (located 25 miles from my home).  Very encouraging team of teens who are enthusiastic about rabbitry. They love the  rabbits and are always seeking advice. We constructed a cage for them and they are taking good care of them.

I was almost giving up on introducing families to rabbitry, but Group 3 has made me to work even harder for the spread of this project.  I have incorporated a company (Phelbronn Enterprises)  to carry out this project and there is no stopping now. My current challenge is facilitating training and support since they are mainly unemployed young people.

I have now focused on church based youth groups since these are more stable and have land where they can run the project. I am also discussing with schools to introduce the project to the children for both education and fun.

I am currently using my cages for serving does so that the new members of my project receive does which are already served. I am planning to build more cages for myself since there is also a need for pet rabbits.

[Update: Ndagwe sent an e-mail on 3/27/14 saying,  “I have identified a primary (elementary) school where the management has agreed that we work with the children 2hrs per week to get them interested in rabbits and the value they bring in our life. I plan to use the videos you sent me in 2012 as a starting point. This is an urban community school based on the east of Nairobi city. This is a breakthrough that I am excited about.”

EE: That’s very exciting!  Is there anything more you’d like to share about your company, Phelbronn Enterprises?

NO: Yes. The company is the business end of the activities I am involved in. building cages, procuring rabbits, selling rabbits and my organic farm management activities. Other work like organising youth into groups and registering them with the government, training sessions and knowledge support I do it on a volunteer basis.

Why volunteer? Rabbits are not yet popular in Kenya so I opted to work with the capacity I have.

What are the challenges of raising rabbits in Africa?

EE: Wow, that sounds like a lot of work, on top of the challenges you face with raising the rabbits themselves.  You’ve mentioned theft and wild animal attacks as being the primary difficulties, but having raised rabbits myself, I know there are others.  Part of the project includes growing food for the rabbits, correct?

Cages currently being used in the Nairobi

Cages currently being used in the Nairobi project

NO: Growing rabbit food is easy in Kenya. We do organic farming for the small scale farmers and most of the weeds are food, we subsidize with hay. In the city outskirts we have rabbit pellets which can be used in place of weeds and vegetables.

However, the youth have to be trained on how to make the weeds dry before feeding. sometimes if consistency is not maintained, we lose some. The training is vital in this regard.

[In an earlier e-mail on this topic, before relocating to Nairobi, Ndagwe wrote:

“Initially, we did not have the rabbit project at our youth training center, but the idea came up when we realized that bio-intensive agriculture has a by-product of rabbit friendly weeds. So instead of using these weeds to make our compost, we decided to move them a step further in the food chain.


“At the center we have a policy of recycling whatever we can. Wild rabbits have always inhabited our village, hence the name (Bituyu Village), but the concentration is now on farms where organic agriculture is being practiced. This is what gave us the idea to start rearing them.” ]

EE: what about equipment?  If money was no object, are the proper supplies within reach?

NO: What I have been using is OK for subsistence but for a serious venture, I need real solutions. The cages I talked about were what I could afford but I have seen the results of poor equipment and I am almost through with an affordable but robust design which I plan to start producing.

Most of the cage designs available here are for secure environments. Material for construction is readily available.

baby dutch mom

EE: Excellent. If you ever need some feedback I know a number of people here that produce cages.

It sounds like you are making great strides to change the face of rabbit raising in Kenya.  When I see something innovative and beneficial like that going on, I want to know how I can be of support, and I’m sure others feel the same.  In our past conversation, you’ve mentioned sharing information as a way we can help, and we’ll talk about that in a minute.  But first I want to ask if we can be of support financially as well.  You’ve never asked for donations, but I know there is a need for stock, equipment, promotional and educational materials, and there are management costs.

If we wanted to support in that way, what are the primary needs right now?

NO: Africa has always had donations to the Government and NGOs but this money does not reach the needy cause. I set myself to first do my experiments within my community and be a donor/partner and it has given me results to smile about.

The community is more appreciative of a partnership. This has not been done by the many NGOs that bring donor money to our continent. Why am I talking about a partnership – the people I work with first have to appreciate the idea and embrace the project, then they offer suggestions on the way forward holding the vision in mind. I guide them through this and we come to an agreement on implementation. People feel a sense of ownership in this way. They will work better and with more determination.

Where do donations come in? Infrastructure (cages) – these are quite expensive. We could create a revolving fund where each group or school refunds the donation when they sell their produce (SUSTAINABILITY) . The money can then be used to fund other areas.

Training material and facilitation is another area which needs donation but I propose it is done only in the initial phase of the project – later it should become sustainable.

Okay, so let’s talk about Partnership

EE: Ha, I totally agree with you that just handing money to people doesn’t usually help. But I love your vision.  You’re in charge.  Let’s skip the talk about “donations” and talk about a partnership.  Can we be involved in that?  (Such as your revolving fund idea?)

NO: You are welcome with open arms. Since the project is ongoing, we can give it a push with you as partners.

I sent you a request recently because the rabbits that this family want to sell off was my first breed of Californian White and I was intending to purchase them for extension of the project. We have just completed the cages but ran out of cash to purchase the rabbits. This is an ideal case for a donation – but we can also move it into the revolving fund I proposed.

Thanks for the offer to assist us.

EE: Sounds great.  Send me details or ideas on the fund whenever you are ready.  I’m excited to hear that you have the opportunity to work with some Californians, as the photos of rabbits you sent me a while ago looked like mixed breeds.

But for now, let’s talk briefly about training materials.  In the past you’ve mentioned that video is a preferred medium.  Do you still feel that way? Would materials be more accessible on a central training website, or if internet access is spotty, would it be better to distribute them in hard copies such as on an SD card?  Or most likely, both would be best.  I’m brainstorming here.

NO: Internet is OK with me. If we can find them on a webpage the better.

[Update: Ndagwe has found a young man willing to work on developing a training website, which we can help with.]

EE: I’m going to sound terribly ignorant here, but is there a language barrier?  Is English the primary language of the children you work with, or if it’s not their mother-tongue, do they learn it in school so English materials will work for them?

NO: English is our primary language (of course after colonization by the English), Kiswahili is our national language which we use more in conversation than in written communication. The children are OK with it where there is need to interpret we will manage.

kenya rabbit cages

A young man building rabbit cages

EE: Sounds good.  We’ve talked a long time, but I think we’ve covered a lot of ground and I appreciate it.  Let’s stay in touch as we develop these ideas and move forward.

NO: Thank you for that sacrifice of remaining awake so early in the morning. More so the fact that you were awake the previous night as well. Good Day!

Thanks so much, Ndagwe!

So what are the next steps?

I thought my talk with Ndagwe went great.  It gave us tons of good ideas.  But now it’s time to move beyond the talk and get to action.  Are you interested in joining in?  We’ll get more done as a team.


We need people to:

-Help develop training videos.  Video not only works best in Kenya; it works best here, too.  If you’re interested in producing some tutorial videos about any aspect of raising rabbits, give me a shout.  This could even blossom into a paid position, so e-mail if you’re interested.  Ellyn@rabbitsmarties.com

-Donate for cages and stock.  Donations would be put into the revolving fund Ndagwe mentioned.

-Be available by e-mail to interact with project leaders, sharing about our methods of rabbit keeping when questions arise.  You’d be especially welcomed if you have experience in FFA or 4-H leadership, since Ndagwe’s team is interested in developing something similar.

Pray for the rabbit project in Kenya to be successful and bless many lives.

If you’re interested in any of these things, or have ideas of your own, please e-mail me at Ellyn@RabbitSmarties.com

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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This is our winter entertainment.  Unless you live in the red squirrel’s range, I bet you’ve never seen this before.  Watch till the end to see it in slow mo.

Running Rabbits and the Squirrel Wrestling Foundation from Ellyn @ Rabbit Smarties on Vimeo.

Video credits go to my brother.  No critters were hurt in the making of this video.  Seriously.



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cute holland lop baby for sale in Tracy CA

broken orange Holland Lop baby girl

I think this is cute.

In fact, I think this is super cute.

This precious Holland Lop baby was born in Tracy, California, at a rabbitry called Floppy Lop Bunnies.  I had the privilege of putting together a website for Linda at Floppy Lop Bunnies, and based on my experience with her, I’d definitely recommend buying from her rabbitry if you’re looking for a Holland Lop for sale in the Tracy/Manteca area.

Linda was enthusiastic and patient as we worked on her website, and I know she has the same interest and gentleness when it comes to caring for her bunnies.  She and her husband enlist the help of their four granddaughters to handle their babies as they grow, ensuring that they will be friendly pets.  You can visit her website and check out her Holland Lops for sale by visiting this link or clicking the screenshot below.

And, if I may say so, I kinda like how the website turned out, too.  Don’t you?

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Can rabbits live outside in the winter?  Absolutely.  But there are a few things you should know about cold-weather rabbit care if you’re going to keep your rabbits outside in sub-freezing temperatures.

Wintery weather in Michigan - snow blowing

This is the view out my window at the moment.  I don’t think I’ll post a “selfie” right now, but if I did, you’d see I’m wearing a scarf.  In the house.  As usual.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving.  I live in northern Michigan, and if we don’t have snow by this time of November, we wonder what’s going on.  Some days I feel like I’d  welcome global warming if that meant I didn’t have to thaw frozen water bottles in November.  This year I was trudging through four inches of snow on my birthday, which was two weeks ago.  We’ve got eight inches on the ground right now.  And we’re sure grateful for our tank full of propane, because we’re burning through it fast.

I always feel for the little critters that live outside this time of year, both the wild animals and my domestic rabbits.  It seems impossible to live in an environment where the temperature doesn’t touch above freezing for weeks at a time, and yet they make it through.  Truth is that rabbits are built to handle winter weather much better than summer heat.  My rabbits often look their best over the winter.  They’re active and eager to see me rather than stretched out panting.  Their coats are dense and not molting.   Bitter cold is fatal for baby rabbits, but adult bunnies can do very well outside in the winter if you know how to care for them.

Care Tips for Pet and Show Rabbits Living Outside in Cold Weather

photo of domestic rabbit playing in the snow

Water matters…as usual.

Water is the most important thing you can provide for your rabbits during the hot summer season.  And guess what?  It’s also the most important thing you can give them in the winter.  If a rabbit doesn’t have water to drink, it won’t eat, and that can lead to G.I. Stasis quickly.  Provide your rabbits with fresh water at least twice a day.  It’s important any time of year, but especially when their water is going to freeze thirty minutes after they get it.

Since water freezes so quickly, it’s important to use the right watering equipment.  I always use plastic crocks in the winter  — no bottles, no glass, and no ceramic.   (EZ crock, I’m your biggest fan.)   Plastic will not crack when it expands, nor be as brittle if you drop it.  I keep two water crocks for each rabbit, so I can alternate between them well letting the frozen crocks melt in the house for twelve hours.  That’s a whole lot better than trying to work the ice cube out of each crock on the spot.

Rabbits will gnaw on the ice in their crocks, and sometimes this creates a hollow big enough that you’re tempted to just top it off with water instead of replace the whole crock.  Don’t do it.  Rabbits deserve a full dish of water which won’t freeze as fast as a little puddle on top of an ice cube.  I’m talking to myself here…

Handling your bunnies matters…as usual.

I’m always talking about how important it is to take your rabbits out on a regular basis and look them over for signs of illness.  This is especially true in the winter.  Feeding rabbits in cold weather can be tricky: you never want to let them get too fat, and yet they burn many more calories when they’re trying to get warm.  You need to watch your individual rabbits closely to make sure they are staying in good shape.  Watch them in their cages to make sure they are eating and moving around normally.  Take them out and feel their spines.  Lack of water will bring out a rough spine quickly, even if the rabbit still looks chubby under its winter coat.  In my experience, a rabbit who is suffering over winter will be very rough over the backbone.

Check your rabbits’ drop trays regularly.  If it stops producing normal-looking droppings, you have a problem and need to act fast.  (Take your rabbit where its warm, force-feed fluids, and keep it moving around, like you would a colicky horse.)  Of course, you won’t be able to know if the droppings have stopped unless you clean your drop trays once or twice a week… so make a point to clean them, even though it’s literally a frozen nightmare to do on a dark, 16-degree evening when you get home from work.

What and how much should you feed rabbits over the winter?

How much should you feed your rabbits over the winter?  Feed whatever will keep them in good condition.  That’s always the rule.  Where I live, the average high temp in January-February  is under 30 and the average low hovers around 11 degrees Fahrenheit.  It’s so cold that I want to make sure my rabbits have all the energy they need, so I full-feed.  (Full feeding means filling up the cups so rabbits have constant access to food.)  If you live in a warmer climate, you may find that your rabbits put on excess weight if you full-feed.  Or you might not.  My feeding program may not work for your rabbits, and yours may not work for mine.  Develop a plan that’s best for your own bunnies.

A lot of breeders feed high energy supplements over the winter, such as calf manna or an oat/barley/sunflower seed mixture.  I’ve never done this myself, but if you’ve got a bunny that’s underweight, those conditioners will help quickly.

Hay is always helpful for rabbits to have, including during winter.

rabbit playing in snow

Should you use electric heating devices?  Nest box warming pads, heated dishes, heat lamps and so on?

I am very, very wary of using electric heating devices around rabbits.  I strongly advise against them.  Firstly because they are unnecessary.  Barring very old and very young ones, rabbits can live outside in sub-freezing temperatures without issue.  (If you’re still not convinced, check out the paragraph on wild rabbits in the winter, below.)

Secondly, I don’t think you should use electric heating devices due to the fire risk.  Heated nest box pads very nearly killed our first two rabbits.  We had the bunnies in a wooden hutch, tucked up to the house so the cords on the heating pads would reach the outlet.  We were very careful to keep the cords out of reach of the bunnies’ teeth.  And yet something caught fire.  I thank God that we saw it from the window in time to rescue the rabbits, but they smelled like smoke for a long time.

In short, I don’t think the benefits of using electric heating devises with your adult rabbits are worth the risk.  If you want to help keep your bunnies warm, give them a nest box stuffed with straw.  Some bunnies will use it and some won’t, but at least it will make you feel like you did something.

What about a climate controlled rabbit barn?

If you plan to heat your whole bunny barn using electricity, that’s a different story.  I do think that can be done safely: I’ve used an electric space heater in the barn without issues.  There are better and worse ways to do it, but that’s a topic we’ll have to cover in another article.  For now, let’s focus on keeping rabbits outdoors.

Breeding rabbits in the winter

Again, this is a topic we should save for another article.  But I want to mention that it is totally possible to have success breeding rabbits in the winter: it’s just harder. Due to the lack of daylight, does will often be less receptive to the buck.  However, if you use an artificial source to make sure she’s got 10-12 hours of daylight, you may be able to trick her body into thinking its spring.  Once you’ve gotten a successful breeding, your biggest challenge will be keeping the babies alive in the cold.  I usually bring the doe into the house or a heated area for a week before and after she kindles.  After that I will leave the kits in the house and bring them out to the doe once or twice a day for feeding, until they are over two weeks old.

wild bunny in hole

Above photo: a wild cottontail peeks out of his hole in our yard, wondering if he should come out yet.

How do the wild rabbits get through the winter?

My family loves to watch the wild animals that live in our yard.  By day we feed the birds, and at night the wild cottontails come out to clean up the seeds that fell under the feeder.  Unlike the ground squirrel and chipmunk that we see in the summer, wild rabbits do not hibernate over the winter.  In fact, we see more wild rabbits when its snowy than at other times of the year.  When they’ve finished the leftover sunflower seeds, they’ll nibble on the raspberry canes that grow outside their holes.  During the day they stay in the shelter of their homes, cuddled up in their thick fuzzy coats.  At dusk they come out and warm themselves with activity, showing off leaps and straight-up vertical springs that no domestic rabbit can match.  I’m not sure how they make it through the winter, and yet somehow they do.  So to celebrate the hardiness of the winter bunny, I’ll leave you with a few sweet pictures of our feeder friends.  Happy winter!


bunny at feeder

wild cottontail at bird feeder

rabbit at feed plot

Midnight flashlight photo-op

 blue jay on a stick in winter

blue jay


This squirrel is convinced he owns the feeder and everything near it.  He’ll run off the jays without hesitation.


Vote in our Winter poll!

[poll id=”6″]


If you liked this article, please do me a favor and share it on your favorite networks.  Thanks!

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Web Design for Rabbit Clubs

By Ellyn | Filed in Websites


Just finished this website design for the Heartland Polish Rabbit Club.  Although it’s based in Indiana, the HPRC is a regional club, so members can — and do — join from all over the country.  They put out a bi-monthly newsletter, hold an elaborate sweepstakes tournament, and host several Polish specialty shows.  They’re even hosting the Polish National show next spring!  If you’re a fan of “the Little Aristocrat,” the Polish, you should check out this organization.

They wanted a website design that was new and different.  So this is what we came up with (screenshot below).  What do you think?

Does your rabbitry or rabbit club need a website?  Let us know and see how we can help!

Click to visit the Heartland Polish Rabbit Club website:


web design for rabbit club

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Rusty Sun Rabbitry has Lionhead and Holland Lop rabbits for sale as pets or for show or for 4-H projects.  Located in Washington State.

Rusty Sun Rabbitry — isn’t that a cool name?  Felicity from Washington gave me the chance to help her design a website for her rabbitry, and I love it when I get a creative theme to work with.  She has Holland Lops and Lionheads available.  If you’re in pacific northwest and looking for bunnies that have been well cared for, I’d recommend her rabbitry without hesitation.  Check it out by clicking the screenshot below.
Holland Lop rabbits for sale lionheads washington

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If you couldn’t make it to the ARBA Convention this year, here’s a bit of news that might cheer you up.  Juli LeeAnn Whitehaus did a wonderful job photographing the event, and is sharing her photos so all of us can enjoy them.  She’s even given permission to share them as long as you don’t alter them.  Thanks so much, Juli LeeAnn!

View the albums by clicking this link 

Pictured: the Best in Show-winning Florida White. Photo by Juli LeeAnn Whitehaus

ARBA Convention photos BIS florida white

ARBA Convention Results 2013

I haven’t been collecting results this year like I did in past years, sorry.  So I don’t have complete results by any means, but here are a few things I’ve heard circulating around the web.  If you have any to add, please contact me!  The official results probably won’t go up on the ARBA website for a few days yet.

Top Open Winners

Best in Show – Flordia White  (need the owner’s name)

Best of Group – Jersey Wooly (Amber Henderson)

Best of Group – English Angora (Betty Chu)

Best of Group – Havana  (Julie Spier)


American Chinchilla – BOB Anita Trautwein, BOS Crystal Krienke-Bonkoski

American Sable – Results available for download here: http://www.americansables.org/portal/?p=292

Dwarf Hotot – BOB Veronica Hurtado, BOS Thomas Rowland

Dutch – BOB Billy Bounds, BOS Billy Bounds

English Angora — BOB- Betty Chu.  BOS – Betty Chu.

Jersey Wooly — BOB – Amber Henderson.  BOS – Timmy Bauer

full results here: http://www.njwrc.net/2013convention.htm

Havana – BOB Julie Spier.  BOS Julie Spier

Mini Rex  — BOB Kathy Tellechea/Pam Renfro    BOS – Amanda Byron & Daniel Crook

(More Mini Rex results here)

Mini Satin – BOB Don Sheets, BOS Todd Naragon and LeAnn McKinney
more results here: http://www.asrba.org/ARBA13-OPEN-MS.php

Netherland Dwarf — BOB – Gary and Susan Smith.   BOS — Melody Champion

(More ND results here)

Satin – BOB Gordon, Lynette, Samantha, Mitchell WIlliams, BOS – Brian Coates
full results here: http://www.asrba.org/ARBA13-OPEN.php

Silver – BOB Charlotte Ford, BOS Barb Adams & Kathy Mannweiler

Thrianta – BOB – Danny Long.  BOS – Susan Pohto & Abby Stask


ARBA Convention Harrisburg Youth Results – UNOFFICIAL

Top Youth Winners

Best in Show – Dutch (need owner’s name)

Best of Group – Britannia Petite

Best of Group – Florida White

Best of Group – Champagne d’Argent

Melissa of Fuzzybutts rabbitry posted some footage of youth BIS judging on her blog here.

Youth BOB/BOS Winners

American Sable –  Results available for download here:

English Angora – BOB Brock Meanor

French Angora – BOB Meghan Kane

Giant Angora – BOB Rachel Peterman

Satin Angora – BOB Maddie Shaw

Blanc de Hotot – (none shown)

Checkered Giant – BOB Kaylie Krueger & Clayton Schwendiman

Dwarf Hotot – BOB Makenzie Kline, BOS Kristen Morris

Dutch – BOB Macallister Bengston, BOS Alexus Grecoe

English Lop – BOB Melody Miller

English Spot – Paul Weikel

Florida White – BOB Andrew Hicks

Giant Chinchilla – BOB Kitty Peririck

Harlequin – BOB Jessica Deitrich

Havana – BOB Kersten Zimmerman, BOS Bryant Miller/Miranda Tolsma

Jersey Wooly – BOB Melanie Lyons, BOS Lindsay Aversa

Mini Satin – Kaleigh Salzman

Mini Lop  BOB- McKenna Lynch

Mini Rex – BOB – Otter Senior Doe – Parker While.   BOS – Black Senior Buck – Mary Williams

(More Mini Rex results here)

Netherland Dwarf –   BOB – Kristie Abrams.   BOS – Ashlee and Shawna Olah

(More ND results here)

Polish  BOB- Mitch Campbell  (Go Mitch!!!)

Palomino – BOB Zora Brewer

Satin – BOB Devin Lawrence

Silver – BOB Madelyn Fee, BOS Madelyn Fee

Thrianta – BOB Amanda Grove.  BOS Courtney Pape


Youth Royalty Results

You can watch the whole youth banquet online at this link: http://bit.ly/HhHRbi 


New Breed/Variety Presentation Results

Here’s the list.  In short, Lionheads passed.

new breeds arba convention 2013 lionheads


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