The Place Where Animal Lovers Come Together - Fall 2008
Even champion rabbit enthusiasts have to get their start somewhere. Debbie Ernst’s introduction to the challenges and rewards of raising rabbits occurred at her local fairgrounds. “I saw rabbits being shown at the fair and it looked like a fun, competitive activity for me,” she recalls. “Unlike raising cattle or pigs, I knew raising rabbits wouldn’t cost a lot. Plus, I’ve always loved rabbits.” She embarked on her new hobby with 28 rabbits, a small shed, some outdoor hutches and high hopes. But she soon encountered an obstacle that would forever change the way she raised her rabbits.
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|Purina Mills® Rabbit Chow® Fibre3™|
She embarked on her new hobby with 28 rabbits, a small shed, some outdoor hutches and high hopes. But she soon encountered an obstacle that would forever change the way she raised her rabbits.
“At first, I was feeding a locally produced feed,” recalls the Lubbock, Texas native, “but I learned quickly that the true test of a feed is the health and growth of offspring. Many of my kits were being born dead or deformed.”
Ernst immediately bought a textbook and started looking for answers. The book contained pictures of kits like hers and claimed the defects could be caused by both too much or too little Vitamin A. As she began her search for a reliable feed, one name kept coming up again and again in ads, in trade show booths at conventions and in conversations with other competitors: Purina Mills.
“They’re good, all-around feeds. The nutrients are precisely balanced, not changed on a whim based on what ingredients are available that day, like my old locally produced feed,” she says.
“With rabbits, digestive tract health is critical,” Ernst continues. “Purina includes a lot of extras that other feeds don’t. I’m a big believer in the role healthy bacteria plays—without it, rabbits can’t survive. Purina includes Lactobacillus Acidophilus in most rabbit feeds. They also use vegetable oil and extra nutrients for flesh and coat condition. And their formulas are all natural. Purina Mills® feeds have been wonderful for me. Good flesh and fur condition, so why would I change?”
Why indeed, when you consider what Debbie Ernst has accomplished since she took up her hobby 15 years ago. She eventually moved outside the city limits where a 20-by-30-foot barn now houses her 80 English Lop rabbits, some of them national champions.
“I’ve won Best of Breed at three national conventions,” Ernst says proudly. “Last year at ARBA in Grand Rapids (aka, the American Rabbit Breeders Association championships, which Debbie describes as the Westminster Dog Show of rabbits), out of 400 English Lops, I had four in the top 12. When they whittled it down to the top four, three of them were mine. Of the top two, both were mine. Their coats were just wonderful, just perfect.”
She feeds a mix of Purina Mills® Advanced Nutrition Show Formula, Rabbit
Chow® Complete Blend and Rabbit Chow® Fibre 3™ to keep her animals in prime
condition year ‘round. She believes she’s helped convert nearly every rabbit
breeder in Lubbock to Purina Mills. She’s even traveled to Purina’s LongView
Animal Nutrition Center near St. Louis to learn more about how the feeds are
formulated and produced.
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