New Zealand Rabbit – information and facts about the New Zealand Rabbit Breed. Learn more about New Zealand Rabbits in this article. Breed photos are included.
Many breeders describe the New Zealand rabbits as the ‘big white meat rabbit’. Indeed, it’s the lasting impression that people have for the breed. The truth is, New Zealand rabbits are used in meat production more than any other single breed in the whole world. That must be something really interesting and New Zealand rabbits must have set the bar high on what meat rabbit should be.
But it’s not the only advantage of New Zealand rabbit breed. It is also making a name in rabbit shows. Many breeders are attracted to a tiptoe New Zealand that it can be automatically line up for the Best in Show award. During the 2011 ARBA Convention, which is one of the larges rabbit shows in the history, a New Zealand rabbit took home the coveted Best in Show trophy.
Other than these two, a New Zealand rabbit is versatile enough to be considered for pelts and laboratory uses.
New Zealand Rabbit Facts
Due to their name, it’s easy for people to assume that New Zealand rabbits came from New Zealand. Earlier accounts claim that the New Zealand rabbits we have now resulted from imported wild rabbits of New Zealand. This was refuted later on.
A well-accepted theory on the origins of the breed says that it came from a successful crossbreeding of the fawn Flemish Giants with Belgian Hares. As a result, the New Zealand Red was developed in the year 1916. The white New Zealands that we have today made its first appearances in the year 1949.
A breeder named W.S. Preshaw of Rippon, California is believed to have developed the breed indepently. In a bid to obtain a white rabbit of high commercial value for meat and fur, Preshaw bred Angoras with white Americans and Flemish Giants. Contrary to the usual direction of the spread of a rabbit across Atlantic, Europe started importing the breed from America after the Second World War on 1945. And the popularity of the breed continued to soar.
The British Rabbit Council kept most of the original features of the New Zealand, prompting for the separation of the red variety from the white, blue, and black. On the other hand, Americans have developed the breed to achieve a deeper and rounder body. The breed is considered as a prime commercial rabbit in both the UK and US.
Today, many breeders report that a mix of Californian and New Zealand is reaping successes more than either of the breed being raised on its own.
2. Characteristics and Appearance
A New Zealand rabbit can weigh from 9 pounds to 12 pounds (5 kg). It’s easily considered a large rabbit.
According to the ARBA Standards, the body of a New Zealand rabbit should be long enough to pack enough meat without losing proportion with the body’s depth. After all, balance is the most important thing in achieving an ideal breed. Following that logic, the length of the ears should complement the head and body’s length. Accordingly, the rabbit’s width should balance with the body’s depth at the shoulders, midsection, and hindquarters.
The nature of its fur is flyback. Since the New Zealand is commonly a white breed, its fur must be kept clean all the time. It should also be set tightly in the pelt. It has a dense but soft coat.
Generally, as a meat rabbit, the New Zealand should be very firm with flesh. Breeders cite the breed’s ability to grow very quickly as one of the major reasons behind its popularity as a meat rabbit.
Basically, since the white colored New Zealand is the most valuable in terms of meeting its commercial purposes, it is also the most highly developed, most commonly seen, and most competitive variety. Although it’s also important to note that white is not the first variety for the rabbit breed.
The first color of New Zealand that appeared is the New Zealand Red. Today, the American Rabbit Breeders Association has already recognized the black and broken versions of the breed. The blue variety of the breed is also on its way of acceptance to the ARBA standards. Despite the specificity of these varieties, cross breeding of the breed can result in many different mixes of the three basic pigmentations.
A bright golden red fur characterizes the red New Zealand, coupled with a ‘little harsher’ fat. And while all rabbit meat is white, the color of the rabbit’s fur tells us about the color of the meat. Basically, the darker the fur of the rabbit gets, the darker the color of the meat.
3. Personality and Traits
According to many accounts, New Zealands that have already reached the age of maturity are less aggressive compared to other breeds. But this also needs to be contrasted against the diversity of one rabbit to another.
Many breeders say that the size of the New Zealand may have a bearing on its behavior, such as it being less prone to nervousness.
The popularity of the New Zealand rabbit can never be underestimated. Indeed, because of its very high commercial value, there’s still a long future for the breed in the world of rabbitry.And it will continually set the standard high for all of the commercial rabbit breeds.