National English Rabbit Club
Mr Phil Shaw
We made it, a 100 years of the London English Rabbit Society, I would hope that the founders of the society would be pleased that we made it to the centenary, although not happy that the English fancy has dwindled to a small handful compared to the numbers of members of years gone by. If you read some of the membership figures in spotlight 4. 2011, membership may be between 1000 to 1500, but the turnover is around 200 each year. Compared to our membership which was 50 on 2011, we lose two or three members each year but have gained over the last few years three or four slowly getting us to the 50 mark.
I can only go back from the present to 1980, anything past 19080 can only be gleaned from the few old yearbooks I have, any records ever kept have been lost or discarded by past officers of the society.
In the eighties at LERS shows you would have members from all parts of the country. I attended shows with John Armes and Arthur & Margaret Duerden, lovely people. The president in 19080 was Mr C Sparks, Dawn & Tony Shipperly were secretaries with Mr Reg James chairman. On the committee were such names as Franbk Bacon, Gilbert Martin, Derek Marks ad a certain Bernard Double, I remember at our spring ss Tom Joyce ad Len Heath would be in attendance handing out the National English year book, vice presidents were Eric Belding with whom I talk with all day, F Proctor, J Buttle, J Ames and our own first lady Phil Stone. Phil attended our spring ss 2008 travelling up with Eric Burton. That was to be the last time I saw Phil but she did write to me, thanking me for the work I had done for the LERS.
As the eighties moved towards the nineties some new names appeared, a new chairman with his wife on the committee, it could only be David & Pat Osbourne. David was to remain chairman and president until his untimely death, if it hasn’t been for David with the help of Pat the London English would have ceased to exist a long time ago. Pat is now the president of the society and may this continue for many years. One name that appeared on the committee in 1987 was a Brian Kettlewoood, Brian then would have had Walter Crossland travelling with him. Now Ron Sharp has the task of keeping Brain in order, Brain still helps the society along with Ron by sponsoring all the prize cards at our shows. The 1987 yearbook is the last one I have and as far as I know, no yearbook was printed in the nineties. This was the case until Bevan Spencer, the secretary in the early 2000’s, revived it. I am happy to say that we have managed to have a yearbook for some time now.
If it hadn’t have been for David and Pat and later Bevan, the society would have gone. I myself took over in 2004. I remember saying to another great English fancier, Peter Prior, “now that I’m secretary I hope with a name like Last it’s not a bad omen”.
Anyway we are still here and how are we going to celebrate our centenary? To start it’s planned that all three shows will be a 3 star even, and the support show at the young ss and adult ss will be a 2 star.
Our first show for 2012 is the centenary spring ss at Barton-le-Clay on May 7th, a Bank Holiday, it’s a long weekend and it’s a long trip for our judge to travel, one of the best young judges so I’m told by more knowledgeable members than me. Blair Gardiner is coming down to show us how it should be judged and I would hope with Blair coming such a long way he will be rewarded with a large entry. Prize money at the spring show has been increased with total prize money on the day being £100 from club funds.
The young ss where the prize money will be a total of £150. Bernard Double and Keith Last are sponsoring a large part of this with the society funding the rest. Hopefully there will be some extra goodies to offer.
This takes us up to our adult ss. where prize money is £100 to BIS. Colour classes will be 1st £5, 2nd £3, 3rd £2. Best Junior £5. This is all due to our show sponsors Gary & Ken Lees. Then it doesn’t end there, BIS will also receive a best in show pennant, an engraved centenary bottle of champagne.
Each colour class winner will also receive a pennant, bottle of red wine, slate coaster and wine goblet, all engraved with the centenary logo. Don’t be surprised if there is more on offer by the time of the show. Gary is still coming up with ideas.
Now all we need is the English to attend.
In 2010 Geoff Midwood, Brian Marsh and Julie Miller spend a lovely summer’s day with dad and myself looking through both studs of rabbits and what followed was an excellent article in the Fur & Feather magazine which I hoped benefitted the English fancy as we need all the publicity we can get. Shortly after this Alan Lakin said to me “that was a really good article, but you didn’t tell us how you do it”. “Do what?” I replied. “how do you breed your rabbits” he answered. Well first of all I’m not going to get carried away as I do realize that while I show the odd quality specimen I also show quite a few pen fillers, as I feel that without these we wouldn’t have a show.
How do you do it? What a question and it could take ages to answer. I think a large percentage of luck is involved but I also believe you have to create your own luck and blend this in with your stock management that you believe in and you might just breed that Best in Show specimen, however we all have our own ideas or fads as I like to call them – and these are mine:
I am using the same method as with the racing pigeons (well it is Fur & Feather isn’t it?) First of all I like to breed three sisters, with pigeons that would take three or four nests to achieve, in rabbits with a bit of luck you might get three does in one litter, if that means keeping two spotted and a self so be it, of course the spotted not being show rabbits should still be of fair breeding quality, you now have a mother and three daughters which now become the base of your stud of rabbits.
Now for the bucks; I will then be looking for a buck to use, now you have the choice of two, number one buck should be a full brother to the mother of the three young does so he is uncle and number two buck would be a son of the number one buck and another related doe and therefore he would be a first cousin to the three young does.
Once this easy plan has been accomplished I would then mate number one buck with all four does (his sister and three nieces) and for the second litter I would use number two buck and mate him to all four does (his aunt and three cousins). Progency from all these matings can then be used with each other to build yourself a stud of rabbits. I would ideally like to keep does out of the number one buck and a quality young buck out of the number two buck as you would then have three generations of bucks.
You will of course have bred some rabbits with bold spots, some with small spots, good chains, single chains etc. All the rabbits will have good and bad points and now it is up to you and your stock management to get all the best points on to one rabbits, what you will have got doing it my way is a “family of rabbits”.
Another fad of mine is that I like to keep only one buck each year and that is has been bred out of the previous year’s buck, this year I’m keeping four chocolate bucks – four generations, don’t forget you are trying to improve your stud.
I don’t know if it is a coincidence but I have found that quite often one of the three sisters will actually breed a good percentage of showable rabbits.
So there you are Alan, that’s how I do it!
Please don’t ask me how to breed a rabbit with thirty three spots each side, a butterfly nose with little cheek spots sitting nicely under even width eye circles and a pair of four inch ears sat on top of a nice clean head, a saddle running to the tip of its tail, four leg spots and six teat spots to finish it off. It’s not that I won’t tell you, it’ just that I haven’t mastered that yet.
Don’t forget! You breed them to show them!
GARY LEES (FIRSHILL STUD)