Purina® Ambassador Lorena Ferchaud's daughter, Elyse, received a rabbit from a friend 14 years ago. Little did Lorena know how that first rabbit, Buffalo Bob, would change their lives and introduce them to the world of show rabbits.
Lorena has always been passionate about horses, showing them throughout her life, but with three kids and a farm, taking care of them became too much. After winning with Buffalo Bob at their first show, the Ferchauds, and Elyse in particular, began to get more involved with showing rabbits. She began showing Holland Lops and later Fuzzys and Tans. As Elyse's interest grew, Lorena's did, too.
"I began to realize at this time if I was going to be hauling Elyse and her rabbits to all these shows I should get my own breed," Lorena said.
Love At First Sight:
At the 2000 California State Fair, Lorena saw her first Rhinelander and knew immediately that was the breed for her. Although raising and showing rabbits is just a hobby for Lorena, who works as a nutrition services director at a long term care and rehabilitation facility, she has experienced great success in both breeding and showing her Rhinelanders.
Most Rhinelanders are known for their white body with black and bright golden-orange spots, but in 2003, Lorena started developing a blue variety. The blue variety of Rhinelanders have white bodies with blue and fawn spots. The black and orange coloring of the original variety are genetically diluted, so the black color becomes blue, and the genetic color dilution of orange is fawn.
In 2005, Lorena took out a certificate of development and began the lengthy process of getting the blue variety of Rhinelander recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Lorena must pass three different presentations in five years. She passed her first presentation in Louisville, Ky. in 2008, presenting a senior pair of rabbits and a junior pair out of the senior pair. Lorena will have her second try at her second presentation in Minneapolis, Minn. in November with two rabbits from her first presentation and four additional animals. If she passes, Lorena will have her third and final presentation in Indianapolis, Ind. in 2011.
Lorena currently has about 90 Rhinelanders on her farm in Rough and Ready, located in the Sierra Foothills of California, half of which are the black variety and half blue.
One of Lorena's most exciting experiences with her rabbits was the 2004 American Rabbit Breeders Association National Convention in Providence, R.I. She flew into Boston, Mass. from California with her rabbits and then drove to Providence. Since it was the longest trip she had ever been on, Lorena was simply hoping the rabbits would still be in good condition. Not only were they OK, but they exceeded expectations and won three out of four classes along with Best of Breed and Best Opposite of Breed.
Although Lorena loves the competition of showing her rabbits, she also loves the camaraderie that exists between her and the other Rhinelander owners. With a rare breed and a small number of owners, they have created a close-knit group.
"I have made a network of friends that I sometimes see only once a year at the convention, but it's like no time has gone by," Lorena said.
A Mind Of Their Own:
Her favorite part about raising rabbits is the rabbits themselves. According to Lorena, Rhinelanders have great personalities and are the quirkiest, funniest rabbits.
"Everything is a game to them," she explained. "The other day I had a hammer on the running board, and one of the rabbits picked up the hammer and was dragging it down the table."
Lorena also enjoys the excitement of breeding. "You can breed them for spot placement, but until the babies are born you have no idea what they'll look like. Every time you get a litter it's exciting," she said. "You don't know when you're next winner is going to come."
Lorena keeps her award winning Rhinelanders on a strict diet of only Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Natural AdvantEdge® Show Food with no supplements.
"I like Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Feed because I'm confident that the nutritional content in each bag of Purina® Feed is consistent between the bags, and that the nutrition is scientifically formulated to be the best possible nutrition for my rabbits," Lorena said. "We don't need to feed any supplements to maintain show condition."
Lorena is both a Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Food customer and an official ambassador for Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Food since 2007. As a Purina Rabbit Ambassador, Lorena conducts research feeding trials, travels to rabbit shows, and is a local contact between rabbit enthusiasts and Purina.