The Netherland Dwarf Show Rabbit
Getting Started
Helpful Tips

There are many different ways to cull your herd and your babies, some of it depends on the lines you are working with and also how you view the standard of the Netherland Dwarf. Just remember it takes time and patients.
When just starting out give each baby a little more time to watch how they mature. If you have a breeder in your area that has been doing the dwarfs for some time, you might want to ask if they will look at your babies around 8 weeks old and help you with your first cut. They might also be willing to let you watch them cull some of their juniors as well.
When you get to know how the lines you are working with mature it does get easier, but it takes time, like months or even years and every litter is different as well.......

Breeding is getting started up again hot and heavy now that our weather is more like spring instead of winter. So with the new litters that are coming I will start pictures of different stages. Keep checking back for updates.

First Culling:
You will do your first major culling when you wean the babies from the mother around 6-8 weeks old. At this point you are going to compare the size difference in the same litter.
Start out with sexing the babies and placing them by their sex. With the does you are going to not always be looking for show stock but stock that could help out in the breeding area as well.
Take all the does and go over each one, thinking in your head or write on paper their faults. When we first got started I would take a sharpie pen and put numbers in the ears to keep track who was who. Then place them in an order on who is better to worse. Faults you might not want to keep are things like; hippy, narrow in shoulders, undercut (not a full hindquarter to the table), pinched in the hindquarters, bad teeth, wrong color toenails, white spots or any other DQ for that color. You pretty much can set these aside for culling, you only want to keep the best or with brood stock you only want to keep something that is better than Mom. Sometimes you are lucky out of say a litter of 4-5 to only keep two babies, sometimes you might not keep a single baby. That is OK, sometimes you are going to find a buck and doe just do not work together to make good babies.
When culling the bucks you are going to be a little bit harder on them. You only want to keep the best, no big bucks should stay for the breeding program. We always start out by measuring he ears. Our theory (and again this is ours) is that they must be 2 inches or less, anything above must go...hard one hu. They must come as close to the standard as they can, with us keeping in mind that no one has produced the perfect dwarf yet, you have to try and get as close as you can though.
When we first started out we did keep many longer than we should have, but it was a learning experience and in the long run it taught us many things. Sometimes you might get rid of an animal to soon. The longer you work with the same lines the easier it does become. Only easier, after doing it now for about 10 years it still is not always our favorite part of breeding.
One of our first litters of Himalayans we had one doe and she was not very cute at all, however we were working with a new line and knew we need to keep her at that time for breeding, so we put her on a bottom cage so we did not have to look at how ugly she was. This was late fall, in the spring we were putting together entries for the first show of the new year. My daughter grabbed her out and put her on the table to see what she looked like. She was AWESOME, man what a few months can do to some, not all. She went her first show and not only took BOB but when on to win BIS. She went on to get 7 legs, 2-BOB and 3-BOSB were included.
Not all are going to work out like that, but it is a learning experience that when you start working with a new line or add one in to your other lines you need to see what is going to happen. Some lines mature young and others mature as they get a little older. You should know what you have by the time they are around 4 months old though.

Sick Animals
What to do with sick animals. Well I had a breeder when we first got started put it to me straight forward. A sick bunny is a weak bunny and you do not want to use that in your lines, so cull it out asap.........
This is a good way of looking at it. Not only are you saving lots of heart ache in the long run but also saving your herd. If you have a sick rabbit you run the risk of spreding that thru your herd and losing some or all of your stock.
If you use it for breeding you are only going to end up with more weak bunnies and have more problems in the long run.
We have been very lucky and obtained healthy stock and seem to produce healthy stock. However we have helped some that have bought unhealthy stock and they only end up with a big mess and usually have to put most or all of the bunnies down and start over. What a waste of time and money......

When the kits are under 4 weeks it is difficult to be accurate on what size they'll be when adults. About all I can tell is whether they will have long ears, and even there I am wrong at times. The number of kits in the litter can affect the size of the young kits. I wean most of my kits from 5 to 7 weeks of age. At that time they get weighed and their ears measured. In the 15 years that I have been keeping records I have come up on some rules of thumb.
At 7 weeks I don't want a kit more than 18-19 ounces (1.2 to 1.3 lbs), generally, and I want their ears not longer than
1 3/4". If an animal is larger than 18-19 oz, but has short ears, say 1 1/2" to 1 3/4", I will keep it around for a couple of months to see whether it is just a fast-grower or a BUD. BUDs usually have the longer ears even when they are young. In my barn, any kit with 2" ears at 7 weeks is headed for the pet shop, and most of them with ears at 1 7/8" when weaned will wind up there, too! Their ears will be at 2 1/4 or 2 3/8" when they are an adult and that doesn't look much like a Dwarf to me. So don't just use weight as your criterion. Look for a balance between weight and ear length. To measure the ears, wrap the kit in a towel, put a 6" ruler between the ears, and see where the tip of the ear touches. Measure the ears when they are erect, not folded back over their shoulders.

Next Culling:
This one is sometimes easier than the first one. There is no set age or time for this culling. After you have done the first one and you wean the babies from the Mom, we tend to watch how ours grow almost daily.
Atleast once a week you should take them out and compare to the last time you looked at them. This is when things can start to change a little quicker. One time you look at one it will be just the best and then the next time it is hippy and weak in the shoulders. This is the growing stage that we call the ugly teenage times. Some of them get better and some just seem to fall apart. Anytime during this stage if one seems to fall apart it is time to cull it out and go no further with it. Again you should know by around 3-4 months what you have and if they have lasted that long you must have the best that you feel came out of that litter. At the end of 3-4 months you might have ended up culling out the entire litter. That is ok as well, because again you might have litters that the genes just did not seem to click.

Natures Culling
Sometimes culling is out of our hands. You are going to run across healthy new born babies the day they are born and doing great and then the next time you go out they are dead. Sometimes the mom sits on them, steps on them, but sometimes they just do not make it. This is natural and do not feel you are doing anything wrong. It happens to all breeders, new or experienced. The only thing you might do is if it happens often you might want to check you barn for mice, rats and whatever else could be crawling around as well.
The other natural culling process you might come across is the awsome little 4-6 week old baby that is so hopeful and you are for sure they are winners (never seems to be the ugly ones, but can happen) will all of a sudden end up dead. It is good to feel you babies often, like daily. You will come across what we call faders. For some reason, and the only one so far we can come up with is a digestive problem maybe, they just seem to go off food and of course are getting less from mom and this time and become very thin and frail. Many breeders and you will as well try and save them, we have had luck on saving one and it was a nightmare afterwards, and the little guy still ended up having to be put down.
Our theroy is that there is just something not right in the digestive area that will not handle when they start eating on their own. It seems to happen as they are getting weaned from mom and having to eat more on their own.
We go for months and never have one and then all of a sudden we have one or two. I have never had two in one litter but have heard of it happening. It seems to be mainly one out of a litter though.
When you find them starting to go down in condition and not seeing them eat it is best at that time to not let them suffer.

Out of all the things it takes to raise and show Netherland Dwarfs, I still have to say I think Culling is the hardest part. However when you do start to get the hang of it and have what they call "THE EYE FOR IT", it is very rewarding.