To help understand the British red version of the New Zealand, the breed details are divided in to the following categories:
The British red New Zealand is recognised by the BRC (British Rabbit Council) but not the ARBA, (American Rabbit Breeders Association).
Note: The British New Zealand Red is recognised as a completely different breed than the American version which recognises the red as a colour within the New Zealand rabbit breed. The British version is a lighter red colour and weighs a full 8 to 10 lbs less.
You can find out more about the American Red New Zealand here...
British New Zealand Red
The BRC show standard points for the New Zealand Red are as follows:
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 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 NZ Red Rabbits and were very successfully bred in California and Indiana from 1906 to 1925.
The New Zealand White first appeared in 1917 in America and was imported into the UK after the Second World War (1945).
How the British NZ Red came about from there is unclear. If anyone can shed any light on the history of the British New Zealand Red, I'd be fascinated to know. Just jump to the bottom of the page and type away!
The BRC recognises just the one variety - the red one!
The British NZ Red is classed as a medium sized rabbit as it is a little smaller than the American version. (Ring size E)
An adult's ideal weight is 8 lbs (3.62 kg) but type proportions and overall condition are more important than their actual weight.
The head should be medium in size, full and shapely. The NZ Red should have fairly broad shoulders, a slightly arched back and a broad, medium length body. The legs should be straight with a medium with medium bone and good firm flesh.
A snipy head, narrow shoulders, weak bones, long and narrow bodies or excessive dewlaps in does, are all considered serious faults in the breed standard.
The ears are of medium length and held upright. Slightly dark ear tips or ears with any white hairs or ears being lighter in colour than the body would be considered a fault in the breed standard.
Heavily black laced ears are considered a serious fault.
The British Red New Zealand is lighter than the American version.
It is a bright golden red or reddish gold with a sheen. The colour should be carried well down to the skin and only shading slightly lighter on the flanks and to the belly with a reddish tint.
The eye circles are to be white and as small as possible.
Ears, face and feet should match body colour.
A few white hairs or slightly lighter face or feet, white belly colour or slightly darker tops are all considered faults in the breed standard.
Profuse black or white hairs in the coat or black ticking are classed as serious faults.
The coat should be dense, harsh in texture, 1.90cm (3/4in) in length, lying close to the body and with plenty of guard hairs.
Poor condition, long or soft coats and a lack of guard hairs are serious faults in the breed standard.
Even silvering over the body (as distinct from white hairs) or an unduly soft coat would be a disqualification.
The British New Zealand Red has an average life span of between 6 and 10 years, with the correct diet, care and housing.
Watch their weight, they can get fat easily and are quite greedy!
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. British New Zealand Red rabbits were bred for their meat only. Their fur wasn't really used as it is too course and rough.
All New Zealand Rabbits, including the British Red, 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 Reds 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 Red Rabbits Breeders – locate New Zealand Red rabbit breeders using the online rabbit breeders directory, search or submit your own rabbitry.
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