Conditioning For Show
by Clyde & Doris Jones
The most important factor for good conditioning is "genetic". In other words, cull for firm flesh. You can't take a soft, smushy, eight week old bunny and condition it to be a hard, firm fleshed rabbit when it's five months old.
When these hard, firm eight week old bunnies get to be about three to three and one half months old, begin to feed a supplementary conditioning feed. We feed barley, oats, calf manna, sunflower seeds and horse and mule feed. You will need to adjust this mixture according to your rabbit's needs. There are two preferable ways to feed this mix. If your time allows, you can feed about one and one half tablespoons of the mix in the morning then about two ounces of pellets in the evening, or you can just top off your pellets at your regular feeding time.
Also, it is very important to feed hay everyday. Down here in Texas we have found coastal Bermuda to be the best. When show season is over and the hot summer time comes, we feed one half pellets and one half oats until about September, when we start to condition for fall. The condition mix is too hot for summer. Those of you who are blessed with a milder summer can feed the mix longer. Of course, a constant supply of fresh water is a must.
After good feed and fresh water the single most important factor in raising a healthy rabbit is adequate ventilation. You cannot condition an unhealthy rabbit and sickly rabbits should be quickly culled from your herd, as not to procreate sickly qualities.
When it comes to conditioning the fur - that's another story. They either have it or they don't. People are always asking us how we get such great show fur. Our reply is "We only bring those in good fur." No matter what you do when show day comes, some of your best rabbits will have blown their fur. So make sure you don't beat yourself at the show table by hauling a moulty, out of condition rabbit to the show. Even though condition carries only 5 points, those points are always important in stiff competition.
Lastly, after you've done all of the above, groom your bunnies before you put them on the show table. This always helps to show off all the hard work you've done. Good luck at the show tables!!!
HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002