1. Have a Goal in Mind
An outstanding Holland is created piece by piece. Periodically, I look through the barn and determine what trait we need to focus on to improve the overall quality of the herd. In order to assess this, I look at the young seniors and decide what I would like to change about them. If the group lacks crown development, I put together breedings that will produce offspring with outstanding crowns while trying to maintain excellence in the traits that I have already worked to fix.
2. Complimentary Breeding
As breeders we have all come to realize that there is no such thing as the “perfect” Holland Lop. Many come close, but there always seems to be room for improvement. Since we each know our Hollands best, determine your animal’s faults and strengths. With this knowledge, I select breedings where the parents complement each other. For example, if I have a doe with an average head and but amazing hindquarter, I will breed her to a buck with a stunning head even if he lacks a little in the hindquarter. Hopefully, the genetic dice land perfectly and the kits will be an improvement over both their parents.
3. Move Forward
Don’t be afraid to cull heavily. Once you have created offspring that are better than their parents move forward. Instead of re-doing a breeding to try and replicate a specific animal, keep offspring and work to produce an even better animal.
4. Record Keeping
Record keeping can be tedious but leads to joy within the rabbitry. It can help determine which lines “click” and which ones “clash.” It makes understanding how different lines mature possible. Keep track of when
juniors “bloom.” By knowing the age of when juniors are in their prime showing age, you can plan to breed so that you have competitive juniors at large shows. I keep a calendar with my favorite shows and have dates marked to ensure that I have juniors for each show.
5. Enjoy Yourself
For most, raising Hollands is nothing more than a hobby. Hobbies are meant for individuals to derive pleasure from. Nothing is more enjoyable than watching a litter peek out of the nest box as their eyes open, or watch a home grown junior excel on the show table. Whether in the barn or the showroom, have fun! Don’t take showing too seriously; go to the shows with an open mind, hoping to make new friends. My greatest friends are those I have made showing rabbits.