Rabbit breeder proof that age no barrier

Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian

A 12-year-old Geraldton boy is proving himself a force to be reckoned with in the rabbit breeding scene, after he claimed a range of awards at this year’s Perth Royal Show.

It’s not the first time Emmett Atkinson has tasted success, having also won awards at the 2013 and 2015 Perth royal shows, as well as other events.

Emmett, who attends Year 7 at Nagle Catholic College, said he was most proud of winning the best of breed category for his Netherland Dwarf called Joanne — a category in which he competed against adults.

He said the judges chose the winners according to strict standards originally set by the British Rabbit Council.

“They’re looking for the body to be about two tennis balls in size, and the head to be about one ball in size,” Emmett explained.

“The ears should be about 2.5cm and they are looking for clean, white feet and a strong pattern.”

Emmett also took out the awards for best junior under-17, best owner-breeder under-17, and best pet for his male rabbit Zus.

Emmett’s mother Rebecca said her son worked hard every day to care for his rabbits and keep them in prime shape.

“They need to be fed and given water every morning and afternoon, but the cleaning of the cages is probably the biggest job,” Ms Atkinson said. “He also has to train them every day because when they sit on the table to be judged they’ve got to be perfectly still.”

Emmett and his mum said they fed the bunnies a mix of rabbit pellets and goats’ muesli, which adds shine to their coat.

“We feed them oats and hay too, which they love. It also wears their teeth down and stops them from getting an upset tummy,” Ms Atkinson said.

Emmett said one of his favourites was Joanne’s father, Mouse, a veteran who won at the 2015 Perth Royal Show.

“I also like Amy, she’s a miniature lop with a butterfly pattern and she’s almost 11 now,” he said.

Emmett started breeding rabbits aged six when he caught his mother’s contagious love of the animals.

Ms Atkinson also did well at this year’s royal show, taking home the best of breed award for her miniature lop, Alleandro.

Emmett said because of his fascination with rabbits he was considering a career as a vet – or if that doesn’t work out, perhaps an astronomer.

Emmett and Rebecca said they were planning to compete at the Australian Nationals next May.

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