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Pa. picks best bunny

January 18, 2000

Strite and C130By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photos: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - His name is C130, he grew up in a garage in Guilford Township, Pa., he's 7 months old, his fur is satin smooth, his pedigree is long and his blue ribbon says he's the best rabbit in Pennsylvania.

His daddy is CW51, his momma is CBL8 and his proud owner is Carl D. Strite, 32, of Guilford Spring Road, a self-employed home remodeling contractor.

Strite said he's been raising rabbits since he was a boy. He's been specializing in show rabbits - mini-lop-eared ones and black satins like C130 - for the last five years.

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C130 won the best of show, competing against 400 other top rabbits in last week's Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.

Strite said he's won about 20 best of breed awards for his rabbits, but this is his highest honor.

He said he has 50 to 60 rabbits in his garage at any one time, "But I didn't count them this morning."

The prolific little animals keep him running to the Greencastle Livestock Auction every other week or so with 20 to 30 rabbits. He said he tattoos about 130 rabbits a year, those with show potential. Many more are not tattooed, and they go to the livestock auction, he said.

It takes about six months to raise a rabbit to market weight of six or seven pounds. Meat buyers at the auction pay about $1 a pound for rabbits, he said. Money from the sale pays the feed costs for his rabbit business.

Carl Strite"They're livestock to me," he said. "We eat some ourselves. Rabbit meat is healthier than chicken. It doesn't have any fat."

Show rabbits can cost from $20 to $100 or more, Strite said. His are in the $20 range, although C130, if he chose to sell him, could bring as much as $75, he said.

A 4-H leader, Strite is in charge of the rabbit club and sells show rabbits to the club members to raise as their 4-H projects.

He said he sells a few rabbits for pets. "They can be litter trained, and they're quiet and calm," he said.

Strite belongs to several breeders' organizations and competes in shows in Maryland and Pennsylvania, taking more than a dozen animals to each show.

There are 45 recognized rabbit breeds, he said, and there can be from 400 to 2,000 rabbits in regional shows.

The big show is the National Rabbit Breeders Convention, held every fall in Columbus, Ohio. More than 20,000 rabbits compete there, he said.

Now that Strite has a state winner, he plans to go to the national convention for the first time, and chances are he'll take C130 with him.

"If he keeps developing like he is now, he'll get a ride out there," he said.

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