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"How to Identify a Good Breeder" by Paige Smith

Knowing the difference between a Good breeder and a not good breeder is often times very difficult for a new breeder to differentiate. Not knowing who is who in a group with thousands of breeders lined up is a recipe for disaster as often times the ones who speak the fastest are the ones who know the least. So here’s a basic guide that may help you sort through the masses and find a breeder who can help you build your herd into what you want it to be without wasting tons of money on low quality animals that people try to pass off as more than they are. The first step of this process is making sure you are an informed buyer, so we will start there.


How to be a good buyer.


  1. Become a member of the Holland Lop Specialty Club (HLRSC). They will send you a guidebook with great tips from experienced breeders on how they make their herds nationally competitve. Another member benefit is the newsletter “The Hollander” that comes out quarterly and showcases the top breeders in the country and is a great resource to learn who is showing and who is winning all over the country.


  1. Study your standard BEFORE you go shopping. Facebook is a good resource for finding pics of winning animals, but there is no substitute for studying the standard. Asking the in depth questions is a good way to know if a breeder is an experienced one, or someone whose goal is to produce pet quality animals with pedigrees.


  1. Be able to identify basic DQs. It is important to be able to recognize things like unrecognized varieties, or health conditions like snuffles or vent disease. It is also vital that you know that certain lines of hollands are prone to things like eye spots, hook spine, or malocclusion. Being able to recognize those things when you are looking over a rabbit is very important to make sure you are bringing in the genes you want to without those you don't. 


  1. Check peoples pages/websites/facebook posts before you buy. On a single comment on a single thread someone may sound like they’ve got all the experience in the world when in reality they are new or just trying to make a quick sale. If you’re trying to build a nationally competitive herd in the very stiff competition hollands are notorious for you don't want to put your bets and money into someone who only talks a big game.


  1. Torts are your friends!  Many people walk into Hollands with big dreams of having a dozen color projects because “torts are too boring for me” but those people tend to be out in a few years because colors are not nearly as developed as torts and unfortunately all those fun colors are full of people intent to use them as a cash cow. New breeders with colorful dreams often get ripped off many times over by those unscrupulous breeders who farm money off of colors they haven't even done enough research to know should never have been bred together. Theres a reason those boring torts make up the vast majority of wins across the US. Build your herd first, then once you have a solid foundation you can enjoy making those colors that you are proud to put on a table.


How to Find a good breeder


  1. Put that Hollander to use and hunt for who is doing well near you. Contact them and if they don't have anything available either ask to be on a waiting list, or ask

who they would recommend.


  1. Got to nationals or convention. It sounds insane, but so does placing huge monetary and sentimental value in an animal that sometimes feels like all it wants to do is die. Nationals and Convention are where the best of the best hang out, so if you want to make good connections go up and watch the tables. Talk to the breeders, you'll usually find them cracking jokes and harassing each other. It may be intimidating at first, but find yourself a human and introduce yourself. Holland people are like no other group, there’s a lot of love and good humor between us and we will be happy to welcome a new breeder who wants to do things right.

  2. Put Facebook down. I know it sounds terrifying, but in the modern world there are a lot of internet “experts” who will drown out the few voices of reason trying to guide you in the right direction. Once you have your wits about you and have the top five points covered, then you can have fun on the groups without risking getting led astray.

  3. Step away from the color. Notice this is brought up twice in one tips file, yep it is that important. Get your wings under you, raise your first few litters, go to shows, learn your craft. Then you can venture forth into the colors, but be warned you may just fall in love with torts because torts are not boring. Torts are just as much fun as colors and when you’re winning I promise you won’t be crying because it isn't a “fun” color.

  4. If someone refers to their rabbit habit as a business, run. Trust me if you’re doing it right there is no money to be made in rabbits. We all have jobs to pay for our hobby, because in order to turn rabbits into a business you need to be producing them on a scale far larger than a show breeder will responsibly run. While plenty of good show breeders sell pets our goal is not to produce pets, it is to make champions and better our breed.

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