"In My Opinion" Ideal Holland Weight

Deb Jones (IMO moderator), Wyoming, writes:

Hello fellow Hollanders!! We had a great time in Missouri at the HLRSC nationals, Margo and I really enjoyed our trip together, and my Dad was kind enough to be our "official" driver this year, so that was a special family treat. Karen and Heather Martin traveled with us, and we enjoyed the trip all the more with their company. Heather did exceptionally well, placing several Hollands in the top 10. The best we did was place one BJD 5th. Our goal was to place ONE in the top 10... and that is just what we did, guess we need to shoot for more than one in the future ;) I was really glad to get home as were the bunnies, traveling is hard on all of us, I am too much of a homebody I am told.

Just for the record, following are some of the recorded weights of Hollands that placed at a couple nationals/conventions:

Indy National 5/97 (average top 5)
SSB - 3.6
SSD - 3.12
SJB - 2.10
SJD - 3.5
BSB - 3.8
BSD - 3.10
BJB - 2.12
BJD - writers were tired and forgot to record the wts ;-)

Madison ARBA Convention 10/97 (average top 10)
SSB - 3.10
SSD - 3.9
SJB - 3.1
SJD - 2.14
BSB - 3.10
BSD - 3.8
BJB - 3.1
BJD - must have gotten tired again ;-)

Mike Avesing, ARBA Judge, Iowa writes:

I found some of the comments about the 3 pound Holland very interesting.  From a judge's point of view, there is no way that I could give any advantage to a 3 pound Holland versus a 4 pound Holland the way the standard is currently written.  Unless there were points on weight, then you could consider it.  Since there are no points on weight, if two Hollands were dead even in all respects, then I suppose the one that is closest to 3 pounds should win since that is the ideal weight. 

I have judged lots of large classes at National Holland shows and have yet to find two rabbits that were dead even.  It is almost always extremely close at the top end of the class, but there is always some difference between the two.  In large classes, the difference is often minute, but it is still there.  That is where the judge's evaluation and interpretation of the standard comes into play.

It is my opinion that the 3 pound ideal weight is more of a long term philosophy statement that was included years ago than is something to judge to.  It does seem that more and more of the very best Hollands these days are a lot closer to 4 pounds than they are to 3.


Lee Chenevert, Georgia, writes:

I have often wondered why the four pound honkers tend to win all the time when the standard says 3 pounds is the ideal weight. I have always preferred the small rabbit that has massive bone so that the small rabbit has a massive look. I believe that is what our standard intends. I do not know why the big honkers win so much, even on the national level. Yes, they usually have the huge heads, but is that preferable to the smaller bunny having a smaller head that balances to its body. I much prefer the smaller balanced bunny and have been working toward that for quite some time. Maybe the judges need to spend more time reading our standard.

Christine Feld, California, writes:

I have found that most of my typey Hollands are around 3 1/2 pounds. I think the larger ones win because they carry more bone, thus carry more "mass" and muscle. I have found that the finer boned rabbits, no matter how much they are fed or exercised, will never achieve the "broad and well-filled" shoulders and the "broad, deep, well-rounded, well- filled" hindquarters (from the ARBA standard). The typier, heavier-boned Hollands are naturally going to be 3 1/2 + lbs. Thus, changing the standard to show the ideal weight of 3 1/2 lbs. would be reflective of the standard as it is written.

Allan Ormond, ARBA Judge, Utah, writes:

The ideal holland weight should be 3.5 to 4 lbs. The reason for more large animals winning BOB so much is that the majority of judges feel the bodies on a full thicker rabbit, and it feels smoother than a smaller animal. In judging animals, a smoother more balanced animal most always wins over one that is smaller, with not as much mass, and just doesn't feel quite as good to the touch. I realize that a good balanced animal should do as well, but sadly doesn't because of the previous statement. Balance should be what is considered as much as type, but there isn't that realization when you get down to animals for best of breed, or first in their class. Smaller isn't necessarily better. No matter how much we would like to think that every judge puts the points where they belong, what wins: feels and looks good to them. To summarize, good judges in this breed, place smaller balanced rabbits against larger animals, others sadly do not. Education at every level and opportunity is the only way to countered that scenario.

Chris Zemny, ARBA Judge, California writes:

HOLLAND SIZE ... I have three favorite herd bucks, one is 2 lb. 12 oz., one is 3 lb. 5 oz, and one is 4 lbs. I find that they all win equally, so size to me is not an issue. The problem is that frequently a smaller buck will be lacking in bone, and therefore not as massive as the large bucks. My little guy(2.12 lb.) looks more like 3.5 lb. because of his bone, head and chest. He is built like a small brick.

In judging, I select the rabbit that closest fits the standard. The senior Hollands that win here in California average 3.3 - 3.8 lbs. Again, they look bigger, but that is due to structure and bone. Could it be possible that everyone thinks that 4.0 lbs Hollands are winning, when in fact they are closer to 3.5 lbs, but just look more massive due to proper structure?

IDEAL WEIGHT ... I personally like the 3.0 lb. ideal weight. When this issue came up with the HLRSC Standards Committee, it was a much debated issue. The vote was to keep the ideal weight the way it is, BUT we disagreed more on this issue than on any other. The key to ideal weight is to build a Holland that had perfect body dimensions and is still 3.0 lbs! What a challenge!!!

Elaine Diedrich, Wisconsin, writes:

Well, on the subject of the 3# ideal weight, and why the larger buns win is, to me, quite simple. The larger looking the bunny, the more impressive he seems. There are quite a few bunnies in our area that win, that are just below the allowable limit. Even though the 2 1/2 pound bunnies can have almost the exact traits of the larger bunny, the larger bunny will take the day, because of his massive looking size. Smaller bunnies next to the big guys just look wimpy. Also, it gets my goat when a good looking (and well constructed) bunny that is not tortoise, is passed over for a less well put together specimen, because of color. I've seen some impressive blues, opals, agouti's, etc, that have to wait for a judge to get the guts to put the less shown colors in the winners circle. If the color is accepted, then it should show on an even level as the others. But, consistently, the torts and blacks are moved to the top of the class and the others are left behind. Perhaps we could get some judges to respond?

Audrey Patriarche, Michigan, writes:

My personal opinion is that it's more common for 3.8 rabbits to win and it is easier to breed for 3.8 if you want good bone. It is difficult to breed a 3.0 rabbit with great bone that is smooth and full bodied...but they do exist.

Pat Vanecek, Texas, writes:

I love raising Holland Lops. I am breeding to get the perfect 3 pound Holland. This is what our standard calls "ideal". I used to raise Mini Lops and changed to Hollands because I wanted a smaller rabbit. Currently I am seeing 4 pound Hollands win consistently. It appears they are winning because they have the fuller hindquarter. I am seeing brood does, in great fur, win over smaller typier does that may seem a little pin-boney compared to their 4 pound competition. I also very rarely here the word "bone" mentioned in judges comments. I am looking for the short wide back foot and short front leg which shows massiveness. I wish I knew what we could do to help the judges understand our Standard better. I wish they could understand that we are not raising a meat rabbit, we are raising a Dwarf. I would like to see the top weight on Holland Lops lowered to 3 1/2 pounds. I think this would help us come much closer to our ideal weight. I will continue to strive for a Holland Lop that meets our standard and is the "ideal" weight.

Valerie Harrel, North Carolina, writes:

It is somewhat rare that a smaller senior Holland, even though it is of great type, will be the first place winner in its class. It is true that the standards say the ideal weight is 3 lbs. However, it also says that it should be a "massive" looking animal which may be why many judges go for the bigger ones that are pushing the weight limit. In my herd I think the most common weight is around 3 1/2 lbs. Maybe they should change the "ideal" weight to 3 1/2 lbs. and breeders would show animals from 3-4 lbs. With the ideal weight being 3 lbs. you would think that most rabbits would be within 1/2 lb. of that weight in either direction but you never see an adult animal that is under 3 lbs. being shown because they would just be too small to place well. I have won with rabbits that I have to diet to keep under the weight requirements but would like to see more smaller Hollands win.

Deb Jones (IMO moderator), Wyoming, writes:

I hope this Hollanders IMO column has given you some food for thought, I really appreciate those of you that take the time to send me your input, and I challenge the rest of you that are reading the IMO, but not writing me about some of these subjects to sit down and email or snail mail me your opinions. Feel free to address past subjects or suggest new ones. This is a club made up of many members, and without participation you will not get anything changed, or share new ideas. So, if you feel there are issues that need addressed, let me know. This is a great forum to present ideas for discussion.

Linda Mazlin, California, writes:

While I can understand some of the pros and cons other breeders have regarding the three pound limit issue, I am looking at it from another angle.  I am the mother of a 10 year old who has been interested in showing and breeding Holland Lops for about 3 years now. Due to her young age, I have made most of the decisions regarding what stock to buy, feed and conditioning programs, which animals to breed together, etc. She has learned much along the way but is still at an age where she needs considerable guidance. There are many youth at the shows in your area. I cannot recall but one or two of them that show rabbits that fall in that 3 pound maximum. The few that do, have well known breeders as parents who undoubtedly help them with their stock. Of those shown only a small percentage are what I consider quality animals. What I am saying is that if you impose the 3 pound limit on the senior animals, you will lose a lot of youth from showing. From what I can tell, the shows would lose a great deal of income from that substantial loss in youth. That would result in shows no longer being held. In my opinion, that would be a shame. Most of these youth are 4-H kids with parents unwilling or unable to spend the several hundred dollars required to buy quality stock. The few breeders with a “lock” on the small Holland breeders. My daughter shows Hollands because she loves them and because many of her friends and other children attend the shows and that makes it fun for her. I can’t see how that would benefit anyone except those.

Deb Jones, Wyoming, writes:

I support the idea that a 3 lb Holland is our “ideal” Holland. A Holland Lop breeder’s goal should be to get a Holland with the best type in a 3 lb package. As a breeder I know you can win with lots of different “types” of Hollands, depending on judges preferences, or knowledge of the breed, different parts of the country, etc. I do feel we can produce a small, heavy boned Holland with correct type, but it takes a lot more work than producing big 4 lb Hollands. Of course those big Hollands have super heads and super bone, they are BIG everywhere. But to get massive bone, width of body, full hindquarters on a 3 lb Holland is more challenging. This, the “ideal” Holland size of 3 lb in our standard needs to be pointed out to judges choosing the BIG Hollands, and extra credit needs to be given to those small guys that are every bit as typey as the BIG guys, just smaller.

I think too much emphasis is given to hard muscling and smoothness of our Hollands bodies. The standards point distribution for our breed is pretty close to equal with heads and body. Most of the “body” type breeds, Cals, New Zealands, etc., have few points on head or crown, ears, etc. Our little breed is unique in so many ways, we have to work on heads and body, as well as the fine points of color, (white tails). Hollands are not Meat rabbits. I feel a nice smooth body is a bonus, but we are not producing a butcher animal here. The hard muscling, full loins, and other “meat qualities” that are given such emphasis by some judges when judging Hollands should be an added bonus to a Holland with super bone, head and correct topline and crown… Yet, how many of us have heard some judges comment, this Holland is placing higher because its BODY is better than the others….

I have to say I agree with those that want the judges to read (STUDY) the Holland standard. Our little breed is one of the largest entries at most shows, yet we often get judges who don’t have a clue what the competitive Holland Lop should look like. I would also like to see judges that are not Holland breeders talk to breeder judges and get some pointers… I have had suggestions that ARBA judges be breed qualified by special testing by specialty clubs, but that is another topic isn’t it….

The Hollander/Summer issue July, 1999, The Hollander/Spring Issue April, 2000, The Hollander/Summer Issue August 2000