Keeping Holland Lops - British Style

My name is Christine and I live in England, 40 miles to the west of London.  I have visited 2 conventions so far and have been asked to write an article about the British Holland Lop.  Please remember that this article is written purely from my point of view.  The way I keep my rabbits will vary slightly from other people’s methods and some of my views may not be that of the British Rabbit Council (our equivalent of ARBA) or the Miniature Lop Club (we call the Holland Lop, Miniature Lop).  Okay all that said, on to the more interesting stuff.

I was really surprised at how many differenced there were between the 2 countries.

Starting with basics, obviously the name is different. That has caused confusion on more than one occasion when American readers are wondering why I want to mate a mini lop, your six pound rabbit, to a Holland Lop.  Not good breeding practice.  The name miniature lop was chosen here, as several years ago there were two clubs.  The Holland Lop Club (which used only imports from Holland), and the Miniature Lop Club, who were people concentrated mainly on down-sizing our dwarf lop, (a five pound lop).  The two clubs combined and kept the name miniature lop club.

Our standard is also different.  The adult weight is 3lbs 8oz maximum, the ideal is 3lb 4oz.  Under five months, exhibits have to be under 3lbs or they usually go overweight as adults.  The general appearance of the breed is the same, a round face, short front legs  (tree-trunk legs), crown, bold round eye, short body and rounded rump!!

 The posing of the rabbit is also different.  In the US I noticed you sit them up, here they are more likely to be posed in, to my eyes, a more natural sitting position.  I can understand there are arguments for both!  At Portland one lady kindly let me demonstrate how we pose them in the UK on her rabbit – that poor thing was going up and down like a yo-yo as we both demonstrated the good and bad points.

 Colors

 From the two conventions I have visited, and the breeders I have met, I think we have a greater range of colors in the UK.  I guess the biggest reason for that, is that when a new color is created we don’t have to ‘present’ it to the governing bodies.  It can be shown right away in the AOC class and the judge then has fun deciding the color.  If an exhibitor wants a color accepted, a standard is written and can then be accepted by the club.  That means clubs can put a class on for that color.  The most common colors here are sooty-fawn (I think you call them torts), and whites (they tend to have the best type).  Black, and lastly blue, complete the ‘self’ colors.  Our standard also encompasses agoutis, chinchillas, and the “pretty colors” (my personal favorites).  These include blue, black and chocolate otters and foxes, sables, seal-points (I think you call these sable-points), marten-sables, smokes, marten-smokes, and butterflies.  Again our butterfly is different.  The markings here are very strict.  Basically the back must be solid up to the shoulder blades, no white hairs, the muzzle must be solid, not one white hair, ears solid colour and two ‘pea-spots’ of white on the shoulders.  I personally have never tried brokens here because they are so hard to get right.

 Showing

There are some broad similarities here.  Our rabbits are always penned at the BRC shows, but unlike the pens I have seen at Convention, our sides, back, and top are enclosed.

During the show the rabbits are carried to the judging table and held by stewards whilst being judged.  Any exhibitor can steward any rabbit.  Some insist on carrying their own and only appear for certain classes.  They make sure they move up and down the table with that rabbit.  Not good practice.  Identification of rabbits to the judge should be by the metal ring only, not the owner!!  The ring is put on the back leg.  There are different sizes for different breeds. A Holland Lop has the letter “K”.  So, a ring number would be BRCYRK0001 (the last digits are unique each time).  Rings are bought in packs of 6 from the BRC and registered in your name.  If the rabbit is sold the owner has to buy the right to show the rabbit by paying a $6 transfer fee to the BRC. 

We do not have judged comment cards, but prize cards are usually on the pens after lunch for the main breed classes.  The challenges such as best u/5, best doe, etc are usually held after lunch. 

The majority of our shows are held in small village halls and in conjunction with summer agricultural shows.  The big championships take place twice a year at London and Bradford.

 Keeping Rabbits

 Of course the majority of time is spent with the rabbits in the shed.  Again most show rabbits are kept in solid bottomed, wooden constructed hutches in the wooden sheds.  This is more for the comfort of the human than the rabbits – you see it rains a lot in Britain!! 

Rabbitries here are usually called ‘studs’ and on average contain 30-60 rabbits. 

 Feeding

 Rabbits here are usually fed once a day.  The majority of us feed prepared commercial mixes of some type.  Most people feed some sort of pellet, combined with a lower protein mix containing cereals, dried grass, dried peas, biscuits, oats.  Increasingly, people are feeding hay or some high-fiber supplement.

 Bedding

Bedding is commonly white shaving.  Some people also use straw.  Hutches for show animals are usually one compartment, whilst for breeding does and youngsters there is usually a sleeping compartment, with a separately solid opening door where the nest is usually built.  Straw is usually provided for the breeding doe to build with.

I hope this gives an outline, if I have missed anything out or people have more specific questions, I would be more than happy to get emails from fellow ‘Hollanders’. 


The Hollander / Summer Issue - August 2000