Judges deliberated on the fur quality, body type and condition of hundreds of rabbits to select the best this past weekend in Hermiston.
Breeders brought more than 800 rabbits and guinea pigs to the Hermiston Conference Center Saturday and Sunday to compete in several shows.
The local Blue Mountain Rabbit Breeders Association hosted its semi-annual double show Saturday, and, to benefit the 2015 national convention in Portland, Western Frontier Rabbit & Cavy Shows had a double show Sunday.
Saturdays show secretary Stephanie Myers, who owns Echo Bike and Board in Stanfield, said there were actually eight competitions: four all-breed rabbit shows, two cavy or guinea pig shows and two Netherland Dwarf Specialty shows.
This is the biggest show weve had so far in Hermiston, Myers said Saturday. Its been a really good show for us. We have really good judges.
Judges from Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Washington and Oregon visited Hermiston for the show.
Dawna Martin, the mother of 15-year-old Hermiston rabbit breeder Rachel Martin, said the high-quality show judges were helpful.
Their judges come from all over, and they are really good about giving people feedback on their animals, as far as this is a strength of your animal, this is a weakness, she said. Its really nice to get that professional opinion because theyre very highly trained judges.
Breeders from throughout the region brought in animals, with 37 different breeds represented, Myers said.
Rachel Martin said she enjoyed the specialty breeds at the show.
Theres a lot of interesting breeds here, she said. Its always cool to look at those.
Tammy Vaughn, Roosevelt, Washington, showed several Giant Angora rabbits with fur that was several inches long.
She said the large-breed rabbits weigh 12 pounds on average and have to be sheared every three months.
Their wool is eight times warmer than any other wool on the planet, she said, adding, because of that, she appreciated the air-conditioned environment at the show.
This is one of my favorite shows, Vaughn said. Theyre very organized.
She said multiple shows taking place at one event made attending more economical, and organizers made the shows run quickly and smoothly.
Myers, who has been the show secretary before, said it was difficult at first but became easier with experience.
Myers, who is also a breeder, said breeding and showing rabbits requires dedication but can be rewarding.
For this type of showing and being competitive, you have to be able to be critical of the rabbits in your barn, Myers said. The hardest part for breeders is that culling process.
She said careful selection of the breeding stock is necessary to create show-quality rabbits.
You cant keep everything, she said. The people who are here are not backyard breeders.
Myers said she has been working with rabbits since her mother bought some home as pets in 1989. She then started participating in 4-H and competing in shows and has enjoyed doing them ever since, she said.
Working with the rabbits is kind of a therapeutic process, Myers said. You have to spend some time with them, and it shows when you dont. It definitely takes work.
For more information about rabbit breeding, visit the American Rabbit Breeders Association website, arba.net.