To help understand the New Zealand, the breed details are divided in to the following categories:
The New Zealand is recognised by the BRC (British Rabbit Council), and the ARBA, (American Rabbit Breeders Association).
These rabbits have a breed slogan known as "The Breed in the Lead".
Note: The BRC recognises the New Zealand White, Black & Blue together, while the British New Zealand Red is classed as a different rabbit and is recognised by a separate breed standard.
You can find out more about the British New Zealand Red here...
New Zealand White, Black, Blue, (and Red & Broken in US)
British New Zealand Red
Type & Weight...40
This is the newly revised schedule of points for the Black, White & Red New Zealand rabbits:
Note: The newly accepted Broken variety splits the colour points and allocates some to colour and some to pattern.
New Zealand rabbits came from a complicated background of various breeding programs across the United States. The New Zealand Red was the first type created and the other varieties were developed from them. There are two, somewhat shaky, stories of how the New Zealand Red was created...
From the Country New Zealand?
From a booklet called 'The New Zealand Red Rabbit', written in 1918 by Mr. C.P.Gilmore, we know that some New Zealand rabbits were imported from New Zealand to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Most people suspect, although no document proof exists, that the New Zealand Red Rabbit is a blend of the popular American rabbit and the New Zealand rabbits that were imported from New Zealand.
From the Belgian Hare?
It is also commonly believed that the red colouration was the result of a cross between a Belgian Hare and a White rabbit. The Belgian Hares had been developed before the New Zealand Red breeding program started. Breeders had taken Belgian Hares and crossed them with Flemish Giants. After a few years, the offspring of such crosses were called Golden Fawns, sadly now extinct, they lent their blood lines in additional crosses back to Belgian Hares to enrich the red colour.
Apparently, according to Mr. Bob D. Whitman in his book Domestic Rabbits and their Histories, Breeds of the World,
crossing Golden Fawns, Belgian Hares, Belgian Hare sports and Flemish
Giants was the next logical step in the minds of several breeders
from the East to West coast of America.
By 1913, breeders in both Indiana and California offered several reddish-fawn-coloured, meaty rabbits, that still retained a Belgian Hare stance, on the show table. Despite the origins at different ends of the nation, all the rabbits were very similar in appearance, although the California rabbits were more agreeable from a meat producing perspective. Both strains of these new rabbits were America's first New Zealand Red Rabbits and were very successfully bred in California and Indiana from 1906 to 1925.
Documentation and records show that while most breeders were calling their new breed of rabbits 'New Zealands', some breeders favoured the title of 'California Reds', or 'American Reds', and even entered them in shows using those names.
As more of these New Zealand rabbits were seen on the show table, local and national clubs started to spring up. In 1916 a vote was taken to decide on a final name. The final contenders were the 'New Zealand' & 'American Red'. Obviously New Zealand won (in favour of 10 to 1) and became the official name.
New Zealand White
The White variety was a result of crossing numerous breeds to achieve the desired New Zealand characteristics. These breeds included the: Flemish Giant, American Whites, Angoras and perhaps a Red or two. Several strains began to emerge from different crosses across the county. The New Zealand White variety was accepted by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in the mid 1920's.
New Zealand Black
The Black variety was developed much later, through the efforts of the Californian breeders and Dr. De Castro in the East, using many crosses including the Giant Chinchilla.
New Zealand Broken
The Broken variety has been a recent addition to the New Zealand breed and was accepted by A.R.B.A. in February 2010 by David Mangione. Now broken blacks and broken reds can be shown and compete for Best of Breed and Best Opposite Sex of Breed.
Currently there is a C.O.D. out for the development of the Blue variety in the US. The New Zealand breed has been transformed over the duration of nearly a Century and is still being developed today. However, the Blue New Zealand is recognised by the BRC.
Showroom variety colours are:
For more on colours, click here...
The British New Zealand Red is a different breed. Learn more about this breed here...
New Zealand rabbits are a strong, meaty, medium to large sized breed. (Ring size H)
Junior Weight: Minimum 4.5 pounds, Maximum 9.0
Intermediate Doe Weight: Not over 11 pounds
Intermediate Buck Weight: Not over 10 pounds
Senior Does: 10 - 12 pounds, ideal weight 11 pounds
Senior Bucks: 9 - 11 pounds, ideal weight 10 pounds
New Zealand rabbits have a commercial body type with balance and uniformity.
Being a meat rabbit qualities should include:
The body of New Zealand rabbits are medium in length, with good depth and with shoulders blending smoothly into the midsection. The midsection should blend smoothly into the hindquarters.
When a New Zealand is viewed from the side, the topline should start immediately at the base of the ears and rise in a continuous curve to the high point over the center of the hips and then fall downward in a smooth curve to the base of the tail.
When the New Zealand is viewed from above the sides of the rabbit should tape slightly from hindquarters toward the shoulders creating the ideal meat production animal.
All varieties of New Zealands have long perforated ears that stand straight up. Unlike the thick, snowy fur on their bodies, their ears have shorter fur that allows their skin to show through.
New Zealands are shown in four recognized varieties: Red, Black, Broken, and White.
All New Zealand rabbits have short, flyback fur. Their fur should be clean and set tightly in the pelt. A New Zealand should be very firm of flesh.
The average lifespan of a New Zealand rabbit is between 5 to 8 years. However this can vary depending on conditions such as diet, health care and housing.
New Zealand Rabbits are usually good with children and other pets, very relaxed about being handled and rarely aggressive. They are a wonderful rabbit and make a great beginner bunny as they are calm, easy-going and friendly. They are also known for their social and outgoing behaviour and enjoy being part of the family. They like everybody including other household pets, and most importantly, they are not biters.
In the beginning New Zealand rabbits were not bred to be a domestic pet. Instead they were bred for their excellent fur and meat. Fryers are slaughtered at two months of age and older rabbits are sold as roasters. The rabbits with high grades of fur are used to make fur coats and fur trimmings. The lower grades are used to make felt hats and glove linings ("Commercial Rabbit Raising"). New Zealand white rabbits are the number one meat rabbit in the United States.
Along with commercial purposes, New Zealand rabbits are also used for laboratory purposes. Rabbits react similarly to humans to diseases and medications. This reaction allows them to be used at pharmaceutical laboratories, the U.S. Public Health building, cancer research centers, and university hospitals. New Zealand white rabbits have been used to develop tests and drugs for diseases like diabetes, diphtheria, tuberculosis, cancer, and heart disease. The effects of skin creams, cosmetics, special diets, and food additives have also been tested on New Zealand white rabbits.
All New Zealand Rabbits are safe and not endangered. They are not on any 'at risk' registers anywhere around the world. Their development and breeding continues with vigour and popularity.
One of their most loveable features is that they usually love to be handled. Pick them up, set them down, or hold them in your lap. They are often likened to 'Rag Dolls' because they flop down like a rag doll where ever you plonk them, even across your shoulder!
New Zealand rabbits are comfortable both indoors and outdoors but I think because of their wonderful personalities they would make excellent indoor pets and companion rabbits.
They do like to nibble though so make sure your bunny
proof cables, wires and your favourite shoes! Also make sure they have
plenty of time to run around outside and they have access to fresh
water, hay, grass and hiding places.
The diet of a New Zealand rabbit is no different than for any of other rabbit breed. A high quality pellet feed (protein ~ 15-16%), along with unlimited Timothy hay and fresh water and exercise will maintain a healthy individual.
Here is a list of resources to help you care for your rabbits…
New Zealand Rabbits Breeders – locate New Zealand rabbit breeders using the online rabbit breeders directory, search or submit your own rabbitry.
American National Club - American Federation of New Zealand Rabbit Breeders
US West Coast - West Coast New Zealand Rabbit Breeders
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