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The Netherland Dwarf Show Rabbit
Helpful Tips
Getting Started
Helpful Tips

On this page you will find helpful tips that different breeders have came up with over the years. Anything from how to keep white bunnies white, to what to do with a sick bunny.



taking pictures: I have found putting your camera on a tripod has been a life saver and has helped on getting those great pictures before they move. I also try and not do it when I am heading out to feed as they are more interested in eating then having their pictures taken.

Chewing bunnies: I will give them either a cleaned off toilet paper roll with no paper on it any longer, a paper towel roll, piece of wood, apple tree branch, old plastic cup to chew on and toss around, some people even buy them bird toys to hang in their cage but be careful so they can not get caught in them and hurt.

Cage cards are a life saver: I use them and love them. I do not use the clips they offer for sale but found that zip ties work just as well on the handle for opening the door, these make it easy to move them around with the bunnies if they get moved to a new cage.

Making your trays last longer: I found that if you ruff them up a bit with some steel wool and then take a cheep spray paint made for metal and spray them on the inside and out with two to three coats that this saves your trays and they last much longer. However you have to do this before the first use and can be time consuming and only works when the weather is right for painting.

cleaning the nest boxes: I used to take a wire brush and clean them out with soap and water, then let them sit in the sun. Now I purchased one of those small steam cleaners for the house and use that, it not only takes everything off with ease but also disinfects at the same time. It can be a little noisy so you might want to do it away from the bunnies as they freak out with the sound.

Cleaning cages: I clean my trays every week and sometimes during the warmer weather will rinse them out with water, however in the spring and the fall I have purchased a power washer and will add some bleach in the soap dispenser and power wash my cages twice a year. This sure helps and make the barn fresh and clean again. Used to pack them to the local car wash but with buying a power washer it was much easier to just do them in the drive way. During the year I have purchased a small shop vac and keep thing cleaned up with that shop vac, cleans up the hair and shavings very easy. I also clean my cement floor with the vanodine. I also use a 3-4 inch mudding knife for sheet rocking to scrap my trays when I clean them, helps get most off and out of the corners. I use the metal so they last and hold up to pushing on them.

Wry Neck: I have only had two bunnies in the 16+ years of breeding and did not know of this medication for the use on wry neck at the time. However it can be used for many other things as well and is good to have on hand. We keep on hand Ultra Collidal Silver. You find this liquid at any health food store, it is a natural antibiotic and is tasteless. If you taste it, it will remind you of cold water that is it. You can use the eye dropper and put it right in the mouth of the bunny three times a day and then take the eye dropper and put some in the water dish/bottle for the bunny as well. I have heard of many success stories of others that have used it for wry neck and many other things like cuts and hutch burn as well. I have even taken it myself for colds. I am not a vet and do not claim to be a vet but like to share with other breeders what I have used or heard works.

Do I use PCN (Penicillin): I have it on hand, it needs to be the procaine penicillin G. I use it if a doe has hutch burn and I have used it on other breeders rabbits for abscess' and once on a friends rabbit that got bit by a spider and caused an infection. I have been told by my vet to give 1 cc to a rabbit every other day for three doses. Knock on wood when I have had to use it I have never lost a bunny. I do not use it very often and would never use it for more than what I have talked about above. My theory in sick rabbits is if they are sick with snotty noses, sneezing ect, they are a weak rabbit and need to be culled from your herd for good. I have been taught that from almost the first year we got into rabbits and I have to say we have had a few bunnies we bought that were sick shortly after getting them and culling them out we have had a very healthy herd losing very few older rabbits besides to old age.

Do you use oxytocin for helping does go into labor: I used to use it and have tried it off and on over the years of breeding. I have had good luck getting live babies but not so good of luck having the mom's take care of them afterwards. So I have not used it for a few years now but always have it on hand if I need it. You do have to get this from a vet.

Do you use vanilla when you foster: NO I did when we first got started and then stopped after being told it was not needed. I have never had a problem ever with a doe rejecting a baby I have fostered with out the use of vanilla. I usually just make sure the baby is clean and does not have blood left on it or sack from birth. If you feel you need to do something just take some of the fur from the foster mom's nest box and rub it over the baby to make that baby smell like hers.

Items to have on stock: baby wipes ( just buy some cheep ones to have on hand in the rabbitry or take to a show, this is for quick clean up of yourself or bunnies), eye drops to clear out any dust or hair out of bunnies eyes, toe nail clippers, small brush, grooming table helps, piece of rug to pose them on and work with them so they do not slide around, vadodine, sharpie, pens, paper, small ruler to measure ears, paper towels, zip lock bags (small size, if I have a baby die I put them inside a bag so they do not smell), I use colored cloths pens for marking cages for nest boxes ect, cardboard for making playpens (this is talked about other area's on this site), spay bottle for your vanodine,

Peanuts: getting peanuts in a litter is telling you that both parents are caring the dwarfing gene and these babies have gotten a gene from the mom and the dad and now have what they call the fatal dwarfing gene. They will not live no matter what, you can not even force feed them as they just do not seem to be able to attach to a nipple. They will live for up to 5 days and then die. I will let them live in the box and just mark on the card on each cage on which nest box has some in so I make sure to look for the daily to take them out when they die. However they will help keep your other babies warm and that is a help to them. It is not a bad thing when you get peanuts and I do not every hesitate to breed those two bunnies together again, it is just telling you that they are both dwarfs, and the next litter they might not even produce a peanut.

Hippo Babies: they are usually always born dead, but I have heard of a few alive for a short time, they are short and fat babies with no tails, remind you of what a baby hippo would look like. I have also called them water babies.

Max factor babies: these are babies that usually have been born with their eyes open and they look solid black, no color or pupil to them, they also have deformed back legs that look like they are curled up and to the inside of the body. They usually will die after a few days but some will live and you will have to make sure they are taken care of humanly. As they get older they are going to have fur stick to their open eyes from the nest box and if you pull this hair off you are going to rip their eyes open and have a major mess and probably make things very uncomfortable for them as well. They are unable to hop as their back legs are deformed.

When is the right time to palpate a doe: I taught myself how to palpate, and I have found that doing your palpating at 12 days is the best time to be most accurate. At this time they will feel like they have large sized grapes or olives in their tummy. They are larger than fecal material at this age as well. You can not hurt those babies at this age and you are going to have to dig around the lower part of the tummy to feel them sometimes and sometimes it hardly takes anything to feel them. If you want a day or two more they are going to feel more like the bladder and are more mushy and not solid round. This is something you have to work at, make a list of who you have to palpate and the date they are 12 days along, when you feel each one of them start out by marking a + or a - so you can keep how accurate you are. Over time you will be come more and more accurate and lose less time to waiting for them to kindle or not. Once in a while you will be wrong or they may reabsorb them at some point along the preg and those are things you can not help.

Can you use Cedar around the bunnies: NO NO NO it can kill them, make sure you are using PINE.

What to use in the stacking cages trays: I use a compressed wood pellet, not wood pellets like you would burn as they say they will work but I have not heard that from breeders that have tried them. You want to get the wood pellets that are made for bedding pellets for animals. I use an pellet that is called ABM in our area but I know there are a few different ones out there. I clean my cages once a week and they seem to help keep the ammonia smells down even during the heat of the summer. In the past I have used pine shavings and even news paper too.

Do you use Vanodine in your barn: YES I do and I recommend it to everyone. I not only use it with the rabbits but also use it with the dogs and cats. is where I buy mine and have bought some extra bottles which make great gifts for your bunny friends.

Do I feed anything else: NO, I have tried so many different things as in the conditioners and feed toppers. I have not found anything that helps as much as clean water dishes, good quality feed and hay at least once a week if not more. Seems that when I started adding in the toppers and conditioners they only wanted to scrap out the feed to get to the good stuff, so they were not eating like they should have. Nothing seems to put better condition on them and make them stand out.

What feed do you use: I use Purina show formula, this is in the blue bag. Have I had problems with Purina, yes I have and I took almost 5 months to fight the battle in our area to make sure they improved the quality of our feed. They tried and could not do it so the now truck feed in from back east for us in the northwest and I could not be more happy. What I have learned is if you have problems with your feed what ever you are using, fight the battle to get it improved. Save the bag, the numbers off the bag, and even a sample of the feed, call and make the complaint and what I have found helps is to tell them if they do not take care of it that you will have the feed analyzed and they usually jump. When I fought the battle with Purina I told them I was going to do that and they finally made things right, I was also told by my feed store they were asked if they would sign a contract stating that they would not feed to me any longer, well I have used them for over 18 years and they told the purina dealer in our area to take their contract and shove it. I truly feel it was worth the fight and my bunnies are looking great and eating everything every night, no problems.

How old do you sell your bunnies: the rule is not before they are 8 weeks old, my rule usually is not before they are 3-4 months old. I like to watch my bunnies mature out and see how they make those changed thru the ugly stage and back into the WOW stage. I have sold a few bunnies younger than 3-4 months and I am usually very sorry I did as they usually turn out very nice and wish I would have kept them. It also helps you not sell junk to other breedings by selling them to you.

What age to you tattoo your bunnies: When I have made the choice they are staying either in my barn or going to be sold for breeding or show stock, then I will give them a tattoo, or if I have many in the same litter I am going to keep I will tattoo them to keep them straight who is who. I would not tattoo them before they are at weaning age, but any time after that is fine. I do try and tattoo even my breeding does just in case so there are never any mixing up who is who.

Do you tattoo your pet bunnies: NO I used to tattoo them PET but people seemed to feel that if you tattooed them even PET that ment they were show bunnies. However I would hope the judge would figure out that it saying PET would tell them it was sold as a pet.

What ear do you tattoo in: you always tattoo in the bunnies left ear. Some import rabbits that have been brought into the US do have a tattoo in the right ear as well, this is the rabbitry they came from and you can usually tell their month and year of birth as well with that tattoo.

What do I use for nesting material: I use pine shavings or I will go to our local pet smart and buy aspen shavings, they are much cleaner and less dust, so you do not find the dust in your babies noses. I usually do not use hay, shredded paper but I know of other breeders that doe and have great success with these products as well. I do use both metal and wood nest boxes.

When do you put your nest box in: I used to put the nest box in 4 days before they kindle, now I put them in 2 days before they are due to kindle. If you put it in to early they only make a mess of the nest box and usually dig out all the nesting material you have put in there.

Using Big Ugly Does: I use both, I will keep some smaller show type does for breeding but I do believe if you are line breeding you are not going to be hurt with a larger doe in your breeding programs. Many of my show animals come out of does over 2.08 pounds, but I usually do not keep them if they hit 3 pounds. They are very valuable in your breeding program.

My thoughts on bad teeth: To me if you get bad teeth in a dwarf you are a true dwarf breeder. If any breeder tells you they never get bad teeth or if you get bad teeth that it is going to give you a bad reputation, which I have heard of a breeder telling a new breeder. My theory is that if you are getting bad teeth you have animals that carry the bad teeth gene and also you are getting usually bigger and rounder heads. However some times you will get bad teeth on a pointy nose dwarf as well. If they have bad teeth with the bottom teeth over the top teeth I put these animals down as they are going to have a terrible time in a short time eating and they will not get enough food to stay alive, it is only humane to take care of this problem. If they have what we call butting teeth, these are teeth that are meeting neither the top or the bottom are going over, I will watch these animals and a good chance with head growth as they get older they will either go bad or fix them self. 

How do I determine if I am going to keep a buck: All my bucks by the time they are 12 weeks old only stay if they have 2 inch ears or smaller, if they are over 2 inches I do not keep them. I do not keep any bucks with major faults or DQ's. They may not be top show quality bucks, but they best be pretty close or have a quality that I need to put back into my herd.

White Spot, to my understanding that if a judge finds a white spot that is a clump of hair of 3 hairs or more coming out of the same spot. This can be found anywhere on the body, in the undercoat, face, ears ect.

* White bunnies, I have not share with many breeders about my secret what we call "White Out", and no not the white out you buy in the office supply places. However if you can get ahold of some liquid Quick and Brite and put it in a spray bottle it works wonders on white bunnies. It is not toxic to them and leaves them soft afterwards. I had a Ruby-Eyed White go head first into the ink when I was tattooing the night before the show and after cleaning it with the quick and brite the next day at the show no one could tell. You can buy it off the internet or sometimes at Pier One.
Lisa Monk

*As for weepy eye, I have better luck. I do not use an antibiotic like Terramycin or Gentocin when I first see an eye problem. I went that route with a vet a few years back, and got little results from it. Then she suggested that I make up a simple solution of Betadine (1 part) and opthamalic eye was (9 parts) in an eye dropper bottle and apply it 1-2 times a day, I thought "Why didn't we go this route before I spent $50 on antibiotics.?" But this route worked! It still works. And I don't develop the most drug resistant bacteria in California treating the occasional bunny who gets a wet eye. The secret is treating early and consistently. I treat Hollands (you know, that "other" breed) who are notorious for nest-box eye infections that become raging infections in 1-2 days. I treat Dwarfs who just have a "wet" eye to keep it from becoming a permanent condition. I treat red-rimmed eyelids from scratches and dust, etc. The beauty of this treatment is that it is cheap, can be made up fresh every week, and it does not contribute to the drug-resistance that seems to be our next challenge.
Donelle Bomben

* To palapate a doe it is easier to do this between the 10th and 12th day. At this time the babies are the size of a grape. Before the 10th day they are about the size of fecal material and after the 12th day they feel more like the bladder.

* When tattooing, instead of using vaseline to hold the ink in the holes, try using hemorrhoid cream. It helps reduce swelling that would push the ink out of the holes and promotes healing. I have found that the tattoos look much better and last much longer. Found this information on showbunny one time from Molly Covert.

* Some times your bunnies are going to pick up fur mites and it is treatable with a variety of things such as Sevin powder (normal garden variety) or cat flea powder. Treatment should be 2-3 times/week until signs of hair regrowth is there.
* Also, ringworm is not a "parasite" in the true sense of the word. It is a fungus, very similar to athletes feet. Fungii can be treated effectively with Tinactin, Micotin (not the powders!), white vinegar and even Betadine. If it is a fungus, whatever is used must be applied at least once a week for 4-6 weeks, sometimes more.
Donelle Bomben

* What to do for flies;
I use the metered spray in my barn and it kills flies, if you use the fly spray instead of the perfume one. We don't get Purge III out here (CA) anymore, but the one with the pyrethrins is what you want. It does not result in a ton of dead flies in one day, but soon after using it I noticed that I had a bunch of starved-out, hollow-bellied flies on my workbench, etc. The sprayer works best if there is not a
strong breeze through the barn. I have a 28 X 32' building, and I think two sprayers would be best, but I've had just one up by the door for about 10 years. I also use fly tapes (without catching my hair!)and stinky jars - outside. They all play a part in keeping the flies down, not erradicated! I hang the fly tapes from the rafters, from a string with a "S" hook on it, or from the front edge of the one row of
cages that does not have another row of cages below it. I do have to warn kids touring the barn - I've caught a few even with the warning, as I've caught a chicken and a cat, but such is life!
Nothing I have done has gotten rid of spiders! I just use the shop-vac or a rod to take out what I can a couple of times a year - aside from using a burner to clean off the cages when needed. Spiders own the place - I just make the payments.
Donelle Bomben

If you have a doe that does not want to make her nest in the nest box, you can always try to put two nest boxes in the cage, to one take up more room and second to give her another option to build the nest in the other box. I had heard about this and I had also had another breeder write to me and let me know about that as well, when we switched to our new computer I lost her when I find it I will add her name to this as well, as it is a wonderful idea.

Hi love your web page......Here is a new tip to
Putting 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your water, this helps breeding and reduces flies.

2 tablespoons rabbit pellets
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Metamucil
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 can Ensure or Boost - vanilla flavor

Blend all ingredients in a blender with enough water to thin for feeding with a syringe. Administer by syringe - approx. 12cc twice a day for 2-3 days until normal appetite returns. We use this bunny shake whenever we have a rabbit go off feed and have not had a rabbit yet that did not respond well to it and resume normal eating habits within 2-3 days.  They seem to actually enjoy the taste!  Of course, the rabbit should also always have plenty of fresh grass hay available to eat.  If eating problems continue, a trip to the vet may be in order.  Good luck!

Sally & Rachel
R&S Rabbitry

I read that adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla to your rabbits water reduces flies..and odor.

Click here to find what to use Vanodine V-18 for

Piperazine Wormer - Sold for use in Dogs, Cats, and Horses. Available at most pet or feed stores. We recommend worming every three months as a preventative measure especially if you rabbit spends time in the back yard or is exposed to dogs and cats which may be shedding pin worms. We us 17% solution at the rate of 4 drops per pound and give it with a dropper directly by mouth rather than diltuing in water.


If you have a tip that has worked for you and feel it is one that could help others, please send it to me and I will be glad to add it to the list.

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