The Standard of Perfection
The Standard of Perfection is a book that is printed every 5 years, so whatever is written stands for that amount of time. This is what the judge at a rabbit show makes his decisions based on. If it is unclear to the judge, then how is the breeder supposed to interpret it? When differences in fur or body type are interpreted differently by each judge, it causes confusion as to what to breed for. Breeders in a particular area will breed for what the judge is picking as Best. This causes a difference in type in different parts of the country.
There are contradictions, of course. When the standard says that an animal should peak at the center of the loin, but the photo in the book shows a rabbit with the peak at its hip, then when you look at a rabbit with the peak at the loin, it will appear chopped to you. We've all seen rabbits that were placed well on the show table, rabbits that were overweight or otherwise lacking in type. I still say it is in the eye of the judge. We need a clear description of each breed that creates no contradictions so there will be no mistaking what to look for and create in your herd. The key word in the Standard is PERFECTION.
The Standard for Satins
The standard satin should be an animal with a nice rise starting just behind the ears in a nice curve down to the hindquarters. Depth of the body should equal the width. The rabbit should resemble a football. NO RABBIT IS PERFECT! If you work hard and stick to a good breeding program and keep your aim in sight, you will succeed.
Fur is very important on a satin. You want to look for a good sheen (shine quality of the fur), good density and texture. You don't want the coat to be too harsh, rough, or too soft and cottony. It is sometimes very hard to tell in youngsters. Good density can be seen by blowing into the fur from the rump to the head. The farther down you can see without seeing the flesh the more dense the fur. The fur should be 1 to 1-1/8. The fur should show no molt, breaks, or stains. Satin's must have a good sheen! The eye color on blacks, chocolates, and reds should be brown.
Conditioning your Satin for Showing
Conditioning is very important in a rabbit. If your rabbit is out of condition, it will not stand a chance of winning any prizes. On the day of the show, the animal of the best condition will win. An animal in good condition will beat out an animal that may be of better quality in the long run.
According to the Rabbit Standard of Perfection, Condition is worth 5 points in showing. Often the judges will make it seem worth 50 points. The reason for this is that condition effects Type, Fur, and Color which, in the Satin rabbit, is where all the points lie. Good Condition enhances all aspects of the rabbit while poor condition detracts.
Learn how to find good condition on young rabbits, as well. When you do your first culling on 8-10 week old bunnies, the animals of choice should be well fleshed, with a nice rise and feel like a small brick with nice rounded hindquarters. The rabbit is made in the nestbox.
Place the rabbits you select in separate cages. Handle them and take note of how they develop, but do not cull them again until they are at least 4 months old and approaching their first junior prime coat, now you are looking for firm flesh with the rise starting right behind the head. Fur should have good sheen with fullness of coat. The less flesh you see when stroking the rabbit from the rump to the neck, the better the coat will be. which will occur between 4 1/2 and 5 months old.
At this point, cull again, making condition of flesh and fur your priority. Rabbits that do not get their finishing coat by 5 1/2 months should be culled, as should rabbits with coarse fur and any other poor quality.
The fur at this point should be soft. Select for the best type and fur on the rabbits. If they are in good condition then you are on the right track.
Pick a feed and stick with it. If your rabbits eat it and produce offspring that that grow well, don't change. You will end up culling your rabbits to your feed. Many breeders have culled their herds to their feed over time. Try to use a feed that is pretty consistent in its ingredients. Changing feed and ingredients will throw your animals into molt. People who change feed often are easy to beat on the show table, simply because their animals never get a chance to get used to a feed and into winning Condition.
Keep treats to a bare minimum. Use cool, low calorie additives, like some rolled or whole oats for those who have finished their pellets or an occasional piece of apple. Grass-hay will help prevent fur-block. Some use oils to help the sheen of the coat Calf-manna, horse feed with molasses, sunflower seeds (Black oil ONLY), can all speed up Finish, but they can also bring on a Molt. They are helpful if the rabbit is a while from getting its finishing coat, but if given to an animal in Prime, it will ruin the finish of the coat along with your chances for any winnings.
Water is a primary conditioner. If a rabbit won't drink, it won't eat, and finishing a rabbit that won't is impossible.
You can hold coats on rabbits that are bred for Condition. Reduce oils and hot feeds. Cut down a little on the pellets and add oats. Animals that are being conditioned should be at the feeder indicating hunger when you come to feed.
All the conditioning in the world will NOT prime a coat or hold it forever. Take notes when your young stock primes. Then you can stagger your breeding program to be ready for specific shows. Satin juniors usually prime between 4-5 months. Identify the shows you want to ready for and count backwards by those months and add 31 days for gestation. With this plan you will have a chance for a big win at a show of your choice.