Traveling to Convention
by Marylouise Cowan
When packing our rabbits for air travel, we use our regular show carriers to fly our rabbits. They are 28" L x 16" W x 10" H. We strap two carriers together and put a top on to protect the rabbits from the weather if they are left on a runway between flights or if something should shift and fall on the carrier during the flight. The single carriers are either four holes or six holes depending on what bred we are taking (Hollands or Dwarfs). Some airlines will ask if they have food and water containers available for each animal; some won't. To be on the safe side we put two small travel dishes in with each rabbits. After we put a small amount of hay in each hole, the rabbit, and the feeders, we hog ring (2 rings are enough) the top of the carrier in case they come apart during shipping - so the tops can't open. We also hog ring the springs to the carrier, so they don't get knocked off and have the pan come loose.
We make a list of items we expect to need at Convention. Some things we always have on hand include: hog ring pliers, wire cutters, wheat or oatmeal, cable ties, nail cutters, clipboard, pens and markers, "Do Not Feed" cards, Quick Stop (blood clotter for broken toenails, it happens!), combs and brushes, and waterproof colored tape to quickly identify our rabbits' locations.
We bring a clipboard and write down the coop number of each rabbit. We make a little "Daily Checklist". After each rabbit is fed, watered and cleaned, he is checked off. We do this for each rabbit, every day. If you bring a large number of rabbits or several varieties or breeds, it's easy to forget someone.
While the actual traveling to the show seems to be the most stressful for the animals, check-in time seems to be the most stressful for the exhibitors. When you arrive at Convention, take your animals to your breed booth or to the other designated area of check-in. Be patient and courteous, and you will get your rabbits cooped. If it's your first convention or you are just plain lost, don't panic. There is always someone to help.
We put all the rabbits in their coops as soon as possible, checking the quality of each cage. Once they are in, we go back to the first one and start to feed and water. The Convention Committee supplies you with food and water "cans" to use. We bring our own bottles and use the plastic cups for food we had in the carriers. We don't use the cans, sometimes they are not clean, they usually have sharp edges, and the rabbits tip them. We use water bottles so they will have clean water and dry coops. If the cages are too close together, we will put cardboard in between to prevent the rabbits from biting each other.
After they are fed and watered, we clip them in with hog rings or plastic cable ties just in case the door is accidentally left open or the rabbit figures out how to open it himself! Make sure all cages are unclipped the day of judging so the carriers can get to the animal. Otherwise, it might not get to the judging table.
We bring our own feed and hay, even it it's the brand offered by the Show Committee. If it's milled in a different part of the country, it may not be exactly what you r animals are used to. The same goes for the hay. If you don't want anyone else to feed and water your rabbits, there are usually "Do Not Feed" tags available, or you can make your own and bring them with you. We also bring some treats like shredded wheat or oatmeal, in case we have a rabbit or two that just won't eat.
We know a lot of people attend convention as their vacation and want to see the sights the area has to offer. That's fine. Enjoy yourself, but don't forget your rabbits are your responsibility. You have to keep them clean. Some breeders bring their rabbits and never change the bedding once during the convention. If you don't want this job, don't bring the rabbits. Just come by yourself and have fun!
On the last day after you have packed up your animals, please remove any signs, dishes, bottles, etc, that you have attached to your coops during the week. The Clean-up Committee will really appreciate this.
Checkout is usually the reverse of check-in. You take your rabbits to the designated area, where they are all checked out. They will check each ear number against your entry, then seal your carriers. Please start early if you have a flight to catch, as checkout can be slow.
Good luck and have fun at the conventions!
HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002