Rabbit judging tests 4-H’ers’ knowledge and nerves


Showing rabbits isn’t just a hobby for 13-year-old Brocker Bottorff of Seymour. It’s an obsession.

When he puts on his special white lab coat to participate in rabbit shows, he becomes a mad rabbit scientist, his family said.

Bottorff loves rabbits so much, it’s not enough to have just one or two. On Monday morning, he entered 24 rabbits in the annual 4-H rabbit judging at the Jackson County Fair in Brownstown.

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With that many rabbits, there rarely was a moment when he wasn’t in front of the judge. And he has plenty of champion ribbons and trophies to show for it.

For most kids, it would seem like pure chaos to keep that many rabbits in line and ready to show at the right times. But for Bottorff, it’s an opportunity to learn more about the different breeds of rabbits and to become the best in rabbit showing he can, he said.

“I ask the judge a lot of questions because I’m thinking about going to some open shows,” he said. “The judges are looking for quality, type, coat and breed standards. It’s a lot to learn.”

Total, there were 28 4-H members in this year’s rabbit judging.

Bottorff first got started in rabbits five years ago when he was in third grade.

“One of my mom’s friends was getting out of Holland Lops, and I bought all that she had,” Bottorff said. Holland Lop is one of around 50 different breeds of rabbit recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

Those five Holland Lops were just the beginning for Bottorff. He also shows Lionheads, English spots, Florida whites, American Fuzzy Lops and Dutch rabbits.

He said he loves showing his rabbits and taking care of them because it’s something he’s good at doing. And unlike being on a team or working on a group project, the end result is a personal accomplishment, he said.

“It gives me time to myself to prepare all my rabbits,” he said.

To show his rabbits, Bottorff said he has to watch their diet and how much they’re eating daily so they don’t gain or lose too much weight.

He also has to groom them all to keep their coats looking good and healthy. That requires a grooming schedule, he said.

“I have to groom them Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” he said.

But rabbits aren’t the only animals Bottorff shows at the fair. He also has chickens, sheep, dairy goats and dairy cattle.

As far as animals go, Bottorff said he would recommend rabbits to any kids wanting to get involved in 4-H because it’s not an expensive project.

It also has been a way for him to meet other kids who raise and show rabbits, he said.

Because of Bottorff’s interest, his younger sister, Brooklyn Bottorff, 10, also is showing rabbits, but not nearly as many as her brother, she said.

This was Brooklyn’s first year to be judged at the fair, and she was able to win some ribbons and a trophy of her own.

Her reasons for loving rabbits, however, are a little different from Brocker’s.

“They’re soft, and I like to play with them,” she said.

Although she was nervous being in her first show, she said she learned a lot by listening to the judge and knows what to work on for next year.

This year also was 9-year-old Winter Thompson’s first year to be in the rabbit show.

“I have two here at the fair, and then I have another one at home that I just won from the fair last night,” she said. “My brother won it for me.”

Thompson said she really just wanted a rabbit as a pet but decided she liked them so much she would enter them in the fair through the new Medora Makers 4-H Club at Medora Elementary School.

“I like how fuzzy they are,” she said. “And showing rabbits is really fun.”

She also entered a picture board project and projects in Legos, pottery and consumer clothing.

Thompson said she was a little worried she wasn’t going to do well at the show because one of her rabbits decided to nip the judge’s finger.

“But I still won a ribbon,” she said.

Now that she has her first show under her belt, Thompson said she plans to keep showing rabbits at the fair and hopefully doing better each year.

“I’ll keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore,” she said.

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Poor Jack Amusements kiddie day, unlimited rides from 1 to 5 p.m. with $14 bracelet

7:30 a.m.: Weigh 4-H steers, 4-H heifers and 4-H dairy beef to determine classes

9 a.m.: Judging of 4-H dairy and open class dairy, Show Arena 1

Noon: All open class dairy livestock must be removed from fairgrounds

1 p.m.: Quick Meals for Busy People presented by Schneck Medical Center nutrition services department, pavilion

2 p.m.: Open class sheep must be in place

2 to 3 p.m.: Commercial ewes weighed (will be shown by weight)

3 p.m.: Entry for pedal tractor pull, pavilion

3 p.m.: Judging of 4-H sheep, open class follows, Show Arena 2

3:30 p.m.: Pedal tractor pull contest (classes by weight) sponsored by Brownstown FFA, pavilion

6 p.m.: Registration for Jackson County cornhole pitch, horseshoe pitch area (entry fee $10)

6 p.m.: Sure Shot Turkey Dusters, antique building stage

6 p.m.: 4-H goat variety show, Show Arena 1

6:30 p.m.: Jackson County cornhole pitch, near Gate 6

6:30 to 8 p.m.: Elements of Jazz, pavilion

7 p.m.: Nightly antique machinery demonstration behind antique building

7:30 p.m.: 4-H Waggin’ Pals dog club demonstration, Show Arena 1

8 p.m.: Open forum “Strategies for Climate Change” hosted by Fleeta K. Arthur, horticulture building


7:30 p.m.: Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League (adults or pit pass for $15; $2 children 6 to 12; under 6 free)


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