County Stock Show begins with 2nd annual Rabbit Project

Rabbit Project judge Arianne Cox reviews a number of charachteristics to determine which rabbits are bred closest to perfection. (See Photo #2 for Grand Champion)Brook Armstrong took home the Rabbit Project belt buckle for her Grand Champion Mini Rex
Alex Mann
Managing Editor

Borger's County Stock Show began on Thursday with an unexpectedly cute and cuddly opening: the 4-H Rabbit Project. Despite the critter's fluffy appearance, the animals were not shown as pets, but rather as market rabbits which serve the same purpose as other forms of livestock. As such, the animals were judged on the quality of their body type, fur, and weight. By the end of the show, a handful of students walked away with ribbons proving their animals' excellence, and acknowledging the incredible amounts of care that helped the little bunnies grow into champions.

After it's debut at last year's stock show, the Rabbit Project has steadily grown over the long months. “We have more rabbits than we did last year, and more kids who are interested in the project,” says April Curnutt, one of the program's organizers, “They'll also get to sell their rabbits this year, so that's good too.”

Perhaps one of the most shocking features of many of the market rabbits were their sheer size. Far from the palm-top baby bunnies that many might imagine, many of the rabbits judged on Thursday were larger than small dogs, and some proved to be quite a handful. “They are big, we definitely have some big breeds.” April laughs, “For a market show, it definitely helps to have a bigger breed.” Despite the size, April reveals that caring for the bulky bunnies was largely similar to caring for their smaller cousins. “It's actually pretty similar. You still have to take care of their fur and everything.” April did admit that while most of the critters were lovable fuzz balls, some are more difficult to handle than others. She says, “Some of them are, it really depends on their attitude.”

As young students presented their rabbits for judging, the animals were inspected meticulously on a variety of criteria. The animals were both large and small, fat, and fuzzy, and for each breed, set characteristics were able to distinguish which were the most ideal specimens. April explains, “She checks their teeth, the tattoo in their ears, all their toe-nails have to be the same size, bone structure, and that kind of thing.”

After first prize was awarded to each breed, judges made the final call to decide Best in Show and Reserve Champion, and ultimately only two could emerge victorious. In the end Brook Armstrong's Mini Rex breed took the crown with Jacob Boyd's New Zealand taking the reserve. As the event came to a close, Judge of the event Arianne Cox was able to explain the reasons behind her decision. “These young kids have had some very nice market rabbits out here today, they really had the wheels turning in my head, and it was a struggle, but the Grand Champion today will be the Mini Rex. It had a nice body type, and on the Mini Rex you really want to see that half-basketball shape. It was very nice over the top... and it had a very nice coat.” She continues, “For reserve, I'm going with the New Zealand. Although on the side it just had a tiny bit of a rough coat, it had a nice body type, over the top lines, strong in the shoulder, and strong in the hip. All of the rabbits we're very nice today, thank you all so much!”