Sixteen year old Heather Fitzgibbon has raised rabbits her whole life. Though she started out by just helping her dad, by the age of eight Heather began caring for them all on her own.
Heather's dad raised New Zealands, but her first purchase was a black Dutch doe rabbit and a buck soon after. In 2007, Heather began raising show rabbits. This was the same year she started Amity Angels Rabbitry, her personal, small rabbitry in Amity, Pennsylvania. She usually keeps around 50 rabbits during the warmer months, but downsizes to about 30 in the winter. She predominantly raises Californians and Himalyans. But every now and then, Heather will include a different breed as a pet or as she calls it, a "show pet."
"Raising rabbits is a lot of fun, and it's hard not to get attached to all the bunnies!" Heather said. "Showing rabbits is a lot of fun, too, and if you win a best of breed or place well, it's a great feeling! You feel proud and happy, and it makes you want to spoil the rabbit that won."
But for Heather, it's not all about winning. One of her favorite parts about raising rabbits is the opportunity to meet all kinds of people with the same interests.
"Whether it's at a show, having people come to my house to buy rabbits, going to people's houses to buy new rabbits, or even just through 4-H or the county fair, I love meeting new people," Heather said. "Also I, of course, enjoy the rabbits and all the fun and hard work that they are. Because in the end, it pays off."
Though Heather, who is a member of 4-H, ARBA, CRSC, OCRSC, AHRA and WCRBA, attends shows in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, she also enjoys trying out new breeding combinations and always loves the outcomes.
"Sometimes I mix breeds together, because I like to see what comes out for fun and to experiment," Heather said.
Looking back, Heather realizes how much she had to learn along the way and continues to discover many new things.
"What surprised me the most about showing rabbits when I first started is how much there is to learn," Heather said. "Something I recently found out that surprised me is how domestic rabbits also make tunnels as nests for their young like wild rabbits do. Some of mine prefer making their own tunnels over nest boxes. Their tunnels are amazing to look at."
Heather feeds all her rabbits Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Show Formula Natural AdvantEdge® rabbit food from Ruff Creek General Store in Prosperity, Pennsylvania, keeping herself and her rabbits happy.
"I like the results I see through my rabbits by feeding them Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Show," Heather said. "It's a great quality feed and the rabbits like it, too! Also, it always smells nice and fresh!"
For other young, or old, people interested in getting started with rabbits, Heather's advice is to have fun and not worry about following all the rules at first.
"If you are just starting out or if you're a 4-H'er and don't want to spend a lot of money on rabbits, you don't always have to. Yes, it's better to buy a pedigreed rabbit if you're going to show, but I have bought a lot of nice rabbits without pedigrees and they have actually done better than some of my pedigreed stock," Heather said.
To learn more about Heather and Amity Angels Rabbitry visit amityangelsrabbitry.weebly.com.
Heather took the Purina® See the Difference 60 Day Challenge, putting Purina® Rabbit Chow™ rabbit food to the test and saving a little money by doing so. By signing up your rabbits, you'll get $3 off your purchase when you buy one bag of eligible of Purina® Rabbit Chow™ rabbit foods. Visit www.purinadifference.com to learn more and get started!