The 4-H and FFA small-animal project can provide the opportunity for non-farm kids to own animals within city limits. Such is the case for Cassandra Luedtke, Beaver Dam, Leipsic 4-H Club.

“This is my fifth year in the rabbit project,” commented Luedtke. “Rabbits were one of the only animals we could have at our house, and my older sister was in the rabbit project, so it was a good fit.”

“I got started by going to a rabbit breeder and getting a starter rabbit,” added Luedtke. “I have dwarf Hotot rabbits, and they’re known for their bands around the eyes.” When meat and fur rabbits became less popular, breeders started to create dwarf breeds. The Netherland dwarf, large blanc de Hotot, and the Dutch crossed together resulted in today’s dwarf Hotot.

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Luedtke brought kit bunnies (babies) to the fair on Saturday for the public to see, touch, and hold. “I like spending time with the kit rabbits the most about being in the rabbit project.”

The three kits were five weeks old. “This is my only litter of kits at this time, but I’ve had others in the past.” As a home breeder, Luedtke has several rabbits. “I have four does and four bucks I use for breeding purposes and have sold rabbits to others.”

Luedtke had a great show day this year at the fair. “I had four firsts and was top showman in the intermediate age group. I’m also selling my senior buck in the small-animal auction, because I already have enough bucks for breeding stock.” The buyer will likely buy Luedtke’s buck for breeding, just to support the small-animal project, or to show.

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The 4-H and FFA youth projects are well-known for developing youth into outstanding citizens, and numerous leaders can be credited with making this process successful. “Our club rabbit leader was very helpful, and some of the older rabbit-project members have been great mentors. I also went back to the breeder I originally bought from and purchased other rabbits to get new genetics.”

As with all 4-H projects, the learning experience is most valuable. “The rabbit project has taught me to be responsible and make sure my rabbits are taken care of, even when I’m not around,” commented Luedtke. “When I’m gone for sports, I have to ask my parents or siblings to help.”

When attending the fair, take time to visit with the variety of youth exhibiting their animals; they all have a story to tell. The Dodge County Fair will continue through Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.

Written by Dori Lichty, farm wife, 4-H Mom, and full-time communicator