Hopper Farms started off with mix meat breeds rabbits. When Sara and Brit joined 4-H, we found out our mix breed rabbits were meant for meat and would not qualify for 4-H. So with some research, we ended up purchasing a trio of Californians. 2 does and 1 buck. Along came with the trio was a older broken black mini rex names Alex. Alex won the hearts of us all! He helped the twins with their homework daily.
At our local 4-H show an ARBA judge was judging the meat class and then show class. We watched closely as the judge explained why each animal placed higher than the other, what to look for, and why health was so important. We were drawn in at the time. After he was done, the twins and I went over to ask him a ton of questions. He took the time to talk to us even when it was over 100 degrees outside! We left the 4-H show with a lot more knowledge than we arrived with. That day, was the day we decided, to start the adventure of breeding rabbits for show! We ended up buying 3 Mini Rex from a breeder. We went to our first show a few months later and that was it.... We were HOOKED!
Our small rabbitry was outside in a canvas carport. We hung misters and fans to keep them cool. It was a constant battle between, the wind, rain, mud, heat, more wind, and then predators! We fed the rabbits the cheapest pellets. Boy... were we clueless! It all changed after our first show! We listen to the judges every word and came home with a ton of knowledge.
I researched feed, water, housing, showing, breeding... I was addicted! I wanted to provide the best care possible for the rabbits. The knowledge I gained was priceless. Who knew there was so much into this hobby.
After were featured on Homestead Rescue, we decided to move the rabbitry into a bay in our garage. It was the best decision and ALL of our issues went away. This is when our rabbitry really improved and we started to make a name for Hopper Farms.
Armed with the knowledge of what NOT to do, we bought several more Mini Rex. We started to breed them with what we have learned. Before to long, our Mini Rex were winning! Sara started with Castors, Brit started with reds and I started with Brokens. I focused on educating the twins with the whys, what to look for, and so on.
Brit was usually the only youth in Reds at the shows. She decided to change to black. So some of the reds went to her sister and off to buying blacks for Brit's breeding program. Once she had her breeding program, she hit the tables and again... They were winning. At this point both girls decided to show in OPEN! So I supported them in their decision..... They continued to win!
At a show auction, I ended up winning 2 REW Jersey Woolies. I did it as a joke to my husband, because he said he wanted a white fluffy rabbit with tiny ears. This was the beginning of my new short lived adventure. We will come back to that later.
WHY OUR INTEGRITY MEANS SO MUCH TO US.
Right before Covid hit the US, Brit decided she really wanted to breed and show Holland Lops. She made the choice to sell her entire black breeding program. I was not thrilled about this, but I understood why. She has always loved the Holland Lops! I contacted a local Holland Lop breeder about purchasing their HL. OH BOY! I had sticker shock! I was completely clueless to the breed. Brit was doing the research about the breed, not me. I was now in love with the Jersey Woolies!
Anyway, $300 later Brit bought her first 2 Holland Lops. That soon grew to paying $300 more for a breeder doe and $250 for a breeder buck that was supposedly did really good when shown. Unfortunately, we never seen his show records nor did his pedigree show legs or a GC! Brit then bought another doe for another $200. She had her breeding program! She bought all of the Holland Lops from ONE breeder. She did end up with 2 Hollands from a different breeder, but they went back quickly! Brit was on the right path. Her dream of being a Holland Lop breeder was coming true. WRONG!
5 months after buying the "top" breeder buck from the breeder, we were off to the vets! Turns out he had syphilis! I did what I thought was right and I informed the original breeder of the issue. At this time every single Holland Lop in Brit's program was bred or has been bred. Keep in mind they ALL came from ONE breeder, ONE line. I needed them to know that since they bred the buck to many of their does, they need to have them tested. Oh My..... This went all bad real FAST!
I tried to do the right thing here. But the breeder was worried more about money than anything. Wait, WHAT! The breeder then offered to sell ALL of Brit's Holland lops for her. I could NOT allow that. Why would someone want to sell sick rabbits. I couldn't believe it! Sure thing, the breeder already had a new breeder wanting the "prized" buck! Ummmm. This isn't happening. I refused the sale and then took over the situation because now, Brit is in tears and out A LOT OF MONEY, hard work and her heart was breaking. Like any parent... I was upset. They did this to a 12 year old!
The original breeder made out like a bandit! We gave.. .YES GAVE back ALL of the Holland lops under 1 condition. They take ALL of the Jersey Woolies too. You read that right. I bought an entire breeding program of Jerseys from them as well. At this point, we wanted nothing to do with that rabbitry.
I am too scared to sit down and add up all of the money we lost in this.... Honestly, I rather not know.
This is why we preach integrity. We do NOT want anyone else to end up going through what we did. It is not fair, nor is it nice. We do not use our "years" of experience as leverage. We do not use "who" we know to back us up. We don't make ourselves seem better than anyone else just because of this or that. Everyone makes mistakes. What sets us apart from everyone else... We hold our integrity to the highest level.
At our rabbitry, you will NOT pay for a pet rabbit at a show price. If there is faults, we will point them out. If there is a DQ,, the rabbit will be either sold as PET ONLY (without a pedigree) or culled. We will NOT sell over priced rabbits! We will not make a rabbit be something it is not.
Sara and Brit, have full control of their own breeding programs. They do it all on their own. They pick, choose, breed, determine who to keep, who to sell and who to cull. They tattoo their own rabbits, clean their cages, feed and water them twice a day. You name it, they do it on their own! They keep their own records as well.
So when they place a rabbit on the show table, they did the work to get there... Not ME! I do not believe in doing all the work so they get the credit. This teaches them nothing. I encourage ALL of our clients to do the same thing. But I understand there are certain circumstances. Everyone has to start somewhere.
We rather sell brood quality than show quality. Why?
*** Doing your own work gives you the education that is needed to WIN!***
We will sell show quality to youths or for people that are just starting out, just to get the taste of showing. We also understand that some want to show, but don't have the room to start a breeding program of their own.