BREEDING like rabbits may be a common expression, but there’s much more to it than most people imagine – certainly if you have any aspirations of being a show winner.
And it’s certainly a view endorsed by Alec Hogg who recently came away with a clutch of trophies from this year’s Burgess Premier small animal show in Harrogate.
A life-long breeder of rabbits and a show regular, Mr Hogg last won there more than 30 years ago in 1976.
The show, which has been running since the 1920s, this year boasted more than 3,000 small animals including 1,700 rabbits, making it the foremost event of its kind.
‘It is really the equivalent of Crufts but for rabbits,’ Mr Hogg said.
‘Really I’m delighted about it because it is quite an achievement.
‘To win your breed class is excellent.’
‘I’ve been breeding them all my life and the secret really is in the selective breeding,’ he said.
‘We took six rabbits over so it was quite a car full. People think it’s nothing but they want to try it - one of my rabbits was on the table being judjed for two hours,’ he said.
Mr Hogg went to Harrogate with his wife Sheila and their friends Ian and Lesley Radcliffe.
The winning rabbits, which are Polish red-eyed whites, are a small variety weighing an average of just two pounds.
One of Mr Hogg’s rabbits won best of breed for the Polish red-eyed white variety. The same animal also won the best rabbit in the Fancy category and eventually finished as second Best in Show – out of all the animals in the hall.
The small animal show included a wide variety of other animals, not just rabbits but guinnea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, mice and rats.
Another of his rabbits won the St Ledger Stakes class for being the best in that group.
‘I’m delighted because really it is a once in a lifetime thing to achieve,’ he said.
Entrants flock to the show from far and wide - not just from the British Isles but a number also come across from the continent.
‘It’s one of those shows that really attracts the cream of the cop – all the best exhibitors go to it. It’s a difficult one to win – or even do well in.
‘It’s the reason why you do it in the first place. My wife says I’m going to be out in the rabbit shed for weeks on end now!
‘The appeal of it is in the breeding and striving for perfection.
‘You want to get the best - I certainly do – but you have to put the work in to it,’ he said.