Reproduction. It's a sore subject with some. Some folks claim not to pay much attention to it. (Yeah, right!) Some say folks who are concerned with it are trying to run "bunny mills". (Yes, that got back to me, too.)
I currently have 17 cages. Most of them I keep empty because I need them when I have litters. I currently have two breeding pairs (some bunny mill!) both of which have nice litters nursing. I also have a couple young potential breeding pairs, plus a couple good friends work with me and have some of my stock.
As many of you know, I currently hold the Certificate of Development (COD) for Black Giant Angoras. Anyone who is familiar with this process knows how long and demanding it is. I will need to make three successful presentations to the ARBA Standards Committee. The make-up of those presentations is very specific:
Junior Buck and Junior Doe from the above pair being bred together.
2nd and 3rd Presentations:
The 2nd must include at least one pair from the 1st, and the 3rd presentation must include a pair from the 1st or 2nd.
So what does this have to do with reproduction? Simple. In order to meet those requirements, my animals can't just look good and produce lots of nice wool. They have to reproduce "ON DEMAND". Not once a year, not 'maybe next year', not after some missed breedings, but when I want/need them to.
ARBA has a good reason for those requirements. It's not enough to be able to meet or even exceed a standard, all that is moot if the animal cannot reproduce itself. Reproduction is something that rabbits are supposed to do exceedingly well. Few breeders want to spend a lot of time and money on a rabbit that cannot reproduce when they want/need it to.
The momma bunny (Roberts' Mopsie) pictured up there in my banner with a litter of ten cost me $25.00. She had a successful show career, and she reproduced bountifully for myself and for the nice lady I eventually sold her to. Back then my shearing skills were definitely sub-par, but she still gave me ten ounces of prime every shearing. That's my idea of a rabbit! Her daughter from that litter exceeded her mom's performances on the show table and with shearing weights, and produced many fine litters. Her daughter performed similarly on the show table and in the breeding pen, and even once got faulted on the show table for "almost too much density". The pictured litter is the first litter from her daughter, the great-granddaughter of Mopsie, who also had a successful show career and conceived her litter in September, on the first try. :)
What's interesting about this doe is that I never sheared her until right before I bred her. I have a friend who is very successful in showing Giants who doesn't shear her juniors, so I decided to give it a try. I kept her inside all summer in the air-conditioning, and never had to groom her except behind the ears and around her vent that entire time, except when I showed her for a few BOBs in the first 2 weeks of September. Her show coat gave me 15 ounces of prime, plus about 4 ounces that I chopped up and kept to use in her nestbox when I clean it out.
Anyway, I just wanted to put out there why I feel reproduction is such an important characteristic to keep track of and breed for. :)