Anderson's rabbits receive national awards

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By Christian Marnon

 Most 5-year-olds would struggle to spell the word rabbit.

When Sarah Anderson was that age, she bought her first trio of Holland Lops from professional breeders.

Six years later, her rabbits are placing among the best of their respective breeds in the country.

In October, Anderson, now 11, and her mother, Grace, attended the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association Convention in Indianapolis with four Holland Lops in tow. Three of those four placed in the top 10 nationally in their class.

There are eight total Holland Lop classes, two of which are senior solid buck and broken solid doe. “Solid” denotes a rabbit with a homogenous coat color. “Broken” coats have one color in conjunction with white, which should be arranged in a spotted or blanket pattern. 

Anderson’s broken solid doe and broken solid buck both placed eighth in the nation.  Her senior solid doe placed sixth.

“For the Hollands, [judges] look for good head placement,” said Anderson, who attends Anderson County Middle School. “They also look for thick bones, or heavy bone structure, and good coats. If they’re molting, they won’t place well.”

Sarah's mother, Grace Anderson,  also showed the Jersey Wooly breed at the ARBA Convention. Her senior shaded buck won best of its group.

Developed by crossing French Angoras with a Netherland Dwarf rabbit, the Jersey Wooly is a domestic rabbit known for its docile disposition.   

Grace earned the high distinction of donating a Jersey Wooly doe to the Golden Fleece Auction this year.

“The Golden Fleece Auction is a benefit auction for the National Jersey Wooly Club,” she said. “They usually ask people that placed in the top 10 nationally in one of the sweepstake contests.”

Sweepstakes contests, she said, compile the number of best of breeds and best of opposite sex breeds over the course of a calendar year. There are different sweepstakes contests for separate national breed clubs. Grace placed in the top 10 for the National Jersey Wooly Rabbit Club; Sarah placed in the top 10 for the National Holland Lop Rabbit Club last year.

Grace said she knew “next to nothing about the rabbit world” when she first started in 2004.  She was no stranger to animals, however.  In addition to being a decorated equestrian, showing Saddlebreds and Quarter Horses at the local and national level, she completed a degree in animal science from the University of Kentucky.

Sarah said her mother “definitely” passed on lots of helpful information about proper animal care. Her brother, Will Halmhuber, now 20, also met success showing rabbits and poultry before her.

Sarah purchased her first Holland Lops as a 5-year-old, but she got her start with the Mini Rex breed.

“I bought my first rabbit when I was 3 and I started doing Mini Rex after my brother [when I was 5],” she said. 

She soon moved on from Mini Rex to show Holland Lops and Himalayans.

There are approximately 70 rabbits of varying breed on the family farm in Lawrenceburg. Only choice rabbits are designated for show, while others are sold to pet stores or friends. On average, Sarah said she spends 45 minutes every day after school feeding her herd. Days designated for breeding or evaluating show prospects take several hours. Grace said there isn’t much money in rabbit breeding, but Sarah enjoys the extra funds in her pocket.

“I have my bunny money jar,” she said.