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Rabbit Breed Profile - Havana

"The Mink of the Rabbit Family"


**Property of JakeM; Picture of 4 month old black Havana doe**

History: The Chocolate Havana was first discovered in a litter of a common Dutch doe at Ingen, Holland in 1898. The breed was simply known as Havana for no apparent reason other than the nice rich chocolate color may have been associated with the color of Havana [Cuba] cigars. They obtained rapid recognition and great popularity, and were soon bred extensively in France, Switzerland and Germany. Havanas of widely different types were soon seen at various European shows. They were exhibited in 1905 in Switzerland, in 1907 at Leipzig, Hamburg, and Chemnitz. In 1908 England imported some and they were exhibited at Cambridge in 1909. The National Havana Club was found in England in 1920. They were taken up by America in 1916 and at one time was also bred in heavyweight variety. Lee Owen Stamm is generally given credit originating the Blues in 1965. The blacks were accepted in 1980.

General Description: The Havana is a smaller, compact, meaty type animal. They desired type is that of a shorter and close coupled animal with meaty shoulders tapering from slightly higher and broader hindquarters. The fur is to be soft, dense, and lustrous, with medium length.

Show Requirements:

Seniors: Bucks and Does: Over 6 months of age and weighing 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 pounds. Ideal weight of 5 1/4 to 5 1/2.
Bucks and Does: Under 6 months of age and weighing 2 1/2 to 5 pounds.

Show Schedule of Points:
General Type - 45
[Body - 25
Head - 5
Ears - 5
Eyes - 4
Feet and Legs - 5
Tail - 1]
Fur - 20
Color - 25
Condition - 10
Total - 100

Black (accepted in 1980) - Uniform jet black, very glossy, carried as deep as possible. Brown eyes.
Blue (accepted in 1965) - Dark blue surface color, very glossy, carried as deep as possible. Blue-grey eyes.
Broken (accepted in 2008) - White in conjunction with an accepted color. The 25 points allocated to "Color" are to be divided as 20 points to color and 5 points to pattern. No preference as to blanket or spotted pattern, but prefers a balanced pattern. Both ears, around the eyes, and around the nose are to have color. Color is to cover between 10% and 50%. Eyes to correspond to variety.
Chocolate (accepted in 1916) - Very dark, very glossy chocolate brown, so dark as to the color of bittersweet chocolate. Color to be carried as deep as possible. Brown eyes showing a ruby pupil in subdued light.

Havanas are a generally mellow breed. While some to most may not be as willing to be cuddled as perhaps a Holland Lop, they generally accept being pet and other forms of affection. As with any animal (people included), you will encounter a wide variety of individuals, some may be more akin to want to sit in your lap all day and just rest, others may be a bit aggressive. Breeders over the years have bred out the more intemperate ones, but they still pop up every now and then; the key (as is with any living creature) is to handle them with care, preferably when young, and show them you are a friend and to trust you. Overall, a very gentle breed and quite calm.

For a small to medium sized breed, Havanas can be quite prolific. As with most breeds, it is best to breed does when they are younger, around 6 months, depending on growth rate and maturity (physically and emotionally). Havanas generally have 6-8 kits which are easily cared for, but may have as many as 12 or as few as 1. Some lines are more prolific than others and depending on what the line is being bred for, they may have larger or smaller litters. Weaning for Havanas generally occurs at 6-8 weeks. Some people may choose to wean sooner, or even later; all depending on breeding schedule, size of kits, weather, and nutrition.

Havanas are able to do well on a 16% protein ration, provided they have the appropriate amount of fiber, fat and access to at least 5 ounces of water (preferably more).

The main use of Havanas in modern days are for showing. They are an eye-catching breed if bred well (as with all breeds), and it is not uncommon for Havanas to do very well at multiple breed shows (for example: a broken black Havana won open BIS at the 2015 ARBA National Convention in Portland, OR.). Havanas have and are also used for meat production as their bodies are quite solid and are built on finer bones. Pelts are a by-product of this.
A final use for the Havana most people don't realize is they have been used as a puzzle piece for other breeds. The Lilac breed is a sport of the Havana, keeping that common Havana type, but on a larger frame. They have been crossed into American Sables to improve the Sepia color. Satins (and by extension Mini Satins) are also developed from Havanas, the hair shaft of the Havana mutated* and become hollow and more glass-like producing the sheen quality you see in Satins. Havanas have also been used in backyard meat projects.

The Havana rabbit is a medium-small breed of rabbit coming in broken and solids of three different colors. They are a versatile rabbit and may be used in a variety of ways with a generally mellow temperament.

History and General Description came from the book "Official Guidebook: Raising Better Rabbits an Cavies" by the ARBA.
Show Requirements, Schedule of Points, and Varieties came from the ARBA Standard of Perfection (SoP).
Temperament, Breeding, Nutrition, Uses, and Summary are from personal experience of raising this breed for 9 years (almost exclusively) and any information in aforementioned sections are to be regarded as an opinion. Feel free to disagree; this is what works for me and my herd.
"Puzzle Piece" portion came from portions of the Official Guidebook.

*Mutation- a sudden genetic change
Do not confuse mutation with changing over time (evolution) or changing after one has gone through becoming a being (i.e.becoming a superhero). This mutation occurs when the sperm and egg meet and the resulting DNA does not code for the correct protein which may cause a change in appearance or function. Mutations happen all the time; most are not noticeable, some are beneficial, and some are harmful.

Link to the Havana Rabbit Breeders home page is included for further reading.
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