By ZAC TAYLOR
Fluffy may not have been all that fluffy, owner Tyrell Nickelson, 9, said but the black-and-white flecked rabbit played his part, laying on his back as Nicholson discussed anatomy and living conditions with the judge.
“You have to know how old he is, what breed it is, what gender,” he said, ticking off some of the many answers he needed to come up with while petting his rabbit atop a square of carpet.
Nickelson, with the Meeteetse 4-H club, showed his rabbit for the first time Friday morning at the Park County Fair, along with more than a dozen other youths.
The barn may not have been nearly as packed as usual – typiically there are 40-60 youths showing rabbits in a greater variety of classes – but for those there showing market rabbits, it was worth the effort.
Rabbits are, after all, a popular entry point for youths looking to get into 4-H and animal showing.
“There kind of an easy animal for kids to get started on,” said Shannon Visocky, the fair’s superintendent of rabbits. “They’re good in the market sale, sometimes selling for up to a couple hundred dollars.”
First the rabbits have to make weight, tipping the scales at between 5 and 8 pounds.
Darci Shuler of Powell, almost 11 years old, was worried her rabbit was a bit underweight. That wasn’t the first unknown with the white bunny.
“I like to call him Mystery,” she said. “At first we didn’t know his gender.”
Father Jared Shuler built two hutches for his children’s two rabbits and said he was happy to see a project his children could handle well.
“You just have to give it pellets,” Darci said, “make sure it’s healthy.”
Josh Serr and his children were also worried about making weight at the other extreme. So, when their rabbit came in at 7 pounds Hayden Serr, showing for the first time this year, was thrilled.
The George family, including teenage brothers experienced in the art of rabbit raising and sisters following in tow, have a simple method of ensuring their rabbits make weight.
“We feed them rabbit pellets, some oats and hay and give them water,” said Kellon, 16.
The family generally sells its rabbits in the show to a rabbit breeder who then helps the family out by providing them with rabbits, and the cycle continues.
Kellon said they got these rabbits in May, just after they were weaned, and quickly set out to teach them to sit still and be comfortable lying on their backs.
Aside from that there’s the matter of making sure the rabbits grow properly.
“You want a good mixture of muscle and fat, mostly muscle,” Kellon said. “Keep them looking nice, feed them the right stuff and keep them in a good environment.”
Nickelson appeared to have passed those tests with Fluffy as he left the judge’s table – Fluffy had earlier passed the weigh-in.
So he held his rabbit and his piece of carpet and went to a cage to put Fluffy away, giving the rabbit one more pat.