National Federation of
Flemish Giant 
Rabbit Breeders

OUT OF THE PAST
(ARTICLE OUT OF THE 1941 FEDERATION GUIDEBOOK)

 

25-YEAR REPORT GIVEN AT THE GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN 1940 ARBA NATIONAL CONVENTION
BY OUR SECRETARY GRIFFIN

 

     At the request of chairman Holzinger, I am including the 25-year report in our Guide Book simply as a record, and let me say this report is founded on facts from Secretaryís files, and not as a personal report from me.  However, this report is condensed somewhat from the November 1940 Grand Rapids, Michigan Convention report, owing to lack of space, simply bringing out some of the most important happenings.

    November 1940 represents 25 years  that the National Federation has operated continuously.  In 1915, our baby was born.  The real Godfathers of this organization were Akin and Akin, Bill Taylor and Lewis S.J. Griffin.

     Referring back to our first Year Book, We find four present members who were charter members:  John C. Fehr, Indiana;  Jack Villar, California;  Edward Stahl, New York, and Lewis S.J. Griffin, Colorado.

     Then  referring to our Second Year Book known as the Black Book, we fin the names of W.H. Blair and Vern Ashton, joining in 1917.

     Then the Third Brown Book issued in 1919, we find Roy Green, Ohio, and J. A. Nelson, Washington.

     Also in checking over membership we find nearly one-fifth of our present membership have been members from 1920 to 1925.  This means once a Flemish Breeder, one-fifth of them stick for life.

    Our Federation has spent for Guide Books or Year Books, consisting of 11 issues, about $2,500, ranging from 1,000 to 2,500 to the issue.  For Specials at Conventions about $1,600.  For Ribbons and Cups about $700.00; and our membership has ranged from 240 to 1,030 per year, the peak being during 1923 to 1928.  At present we have 221 members.

     Letís go back to 1915; what was the Flemish Giant at that time?  We had a standard furnished by the old National Pet Stock Association, copyrighted 1915, which covered Steel Grays and Solid Colors as one, with bucks 11 lbs., does 13 lbs., with very little descriptive  matter given as to the Standards.

     In early 1916, soon after we organized, Bill Taylor, then Secretary, and myself met one Sunday at my home and spent the entire day outlining a standard for Light Grays, Blacks and Steels.  Our suggestions were approved by the Board and in 1916 First Guide Book said standards appeared, with weights raised;  bucks 14 lbs. ; does 16 lbs. .

     Soon after this we discovered the appearance of silver tips, a Black Flemish full of gray hairs now known as Silver Black Giants.  Breeders crossed these  with their Steels and Grays, and soon our Steels and Grays were full of pure white hairs.  This was one of the biggest set-backs the Flemish had and the Federation was compelled to disown the Silver Tip, even though a standard had been provided and approved in one of our early Year Books.

     The parent body was asked to also change the name of said Silver Tip Flemish to Silver Black Giants, and eliminate this color from the Flemish classes; and through efforts of the Federation, the breeders were soon persuaded to breed this animal by itself, and by discarding many fine specimens, especially bucks, the gray hairs  were finally bred out of the Steels and Grays, and today we are practically free from this  trouble.

     In 1918 C.V. Lemon was elected Secretary and did a wonderful job.  The next two Year Books were under his supervison,  assisted by the Board.  Then in 1922 Mr. Lemonís health and work compelled his resignation, Lewis S.J. Griffin being elected to said Secretaryship, and John C. Fehr to Chairman, succeeding Griffin.   Fehr continued Chairman until 1930, then Oscar F. Schultz was elected, at Mr. Fehrís request, as he was not breeding Flemish at the time.   Mr. Schultz continued as Chairman until 1940.  Then J. E. Holtzinger succeeded at Mr. Schultzís Request as business would not permit him to serve longer.  Both Mr. Fehr and Mr. Schultz made wonderful officers, and the Federation  owe them both a lot for this efficient work.

     Flemish were imported to the United States from England as early as 1908 to 1910, all being of the Steel Gray  color, and more or less of a cobby type and 12 to 13 lbs..  England had raised Flemish (Steel Grays) and improved their color for several years prior to this time.  England also had a Flemish Club several years prior to ours.  Our first Standard was copied very closely to that of the English except more size.  Many of the American Breeders started breeding Flemish as early as 1910 to 1915.  In fact, when our club was formed in 1915, we had response from breeders from nineteen states to join, and our charter list was 86.

     In 1919 when we issued our Third Guide Book we added two more colors -  Whites and Blues.

     Our first Official Flemish Convention was held at Colorado Springs, Colorado, December 1919.   This was the first gathering of Flemish Breeders representing our Federation.  John Fehr of Indiana; J. M. T. Wright, Indiana; Andrew Wilson, California; C. V. Lemon, Michigan; L. Griffin, Colorado and some local breeders were the delegates.    They worked three solid days and nights formulating our Fourth Guide Book and Standards.

     In 1920 we met at Columbus, Ohio;  1922 Indianapolis; and in 1923 we held our first joint consolidated convention with American Fanciers Association at Kansas City; and the way was paved here for the big Convention at Lima , Ohio, where we had 450 entries of Flemish, supervised by Enslen and Ashton, and this convention is remembered to this day.

     This Grand Rapids Convention makes the 20th for the Flemish Federation, and we have ranged from 150 to 450 or an average of about 200 Flemish for the 20 Convention shows, which means 4,000 shown during that time at convention shows.

    Now letís go back to our first Flemish from England.  As we said before, most all were Steel Grays and bred reasonably true, except some Blacks and Light Grays would pop up in litters.  How these Flemish were bred in England, I donít know, but I do know that when we got Light Grays, they were clean Light Grays.  No Sand or brass, and some wonderful Grays were produced at the time, especially as to color.  We called them Natural Grays, but about 1917 to 1919, the California breeders imported some mammoth giants from Germany.  They had size 16 to 20 lbs., big bone, open lazy ear carriage, a big frame and poor brassy color.  Our American breeders fell for them;  size demanded big prices regardless of color, conspicuous bars on front feet and no type, just a big hunk of flabby flesh on a mammoth frame.   This is were we lost 20 years in color breeding.  Had they been kept to themselves, it would have been O.K. , but they were crossed in al four of our already established colors; and in three yearsí time our good Steels and Grays were ruined, and to this day we have not been able to overcome this brassy color.

     In 1923 the Salt Lake City, Utah, boys had developed some straight sands from these German mules and intended forming a Sandy Gray Club.  Fehr judged their show in 1920-21 and told me about these Sandies.  The next year I judged Salt Lake and persuaded the boys, through the help of Jack Reid, to allow us to work with them and make a color to be bred separately from our others.  This we did, and named them Sandy Grays and changed our Natural Grays to Light Grays.  The Board approved this plan as did the parent body.  However, the damage  had been done as Steels and Light Grays were concerned, and itís up to us all now to use very selective breeding and recover what we have lost.

     In 1921, though Whites became popular and have continued so up to the present time, the Blues were also popular back in 1920 to 1930, but for some unknown reason commenced to fall out of line, but coming back fast this last year.

     The Fawns made their first appearance at the New York State Fair a few years ago, being exhibited by our chairman, Holtzinger.  They at once became popular and , after showing three years, they were admitted a standard at the Colorado Spring Convention in 1938.

     The Flemish Rex did not prove a success, and after a few years was dropped by our Board.

 

     Now just a word of warning, letís profit by our past mistakes.  Our experience with the Silver Tips and German Patagonia Giants should be enough to put us on our Guard.  Letís guard our color, and use only very selective breeding from now on, and the only way this can be done is:  Sandies  and Fawns bred by themselves, and Steels,  Blacks and Light Grays by them selves.  So please remember a breeding takes months, yes years to undo, so watch your step.  Only breed what you feel sure will get best results.

     Now a word about Steels.  Some have disregarded the light stomach color In Steel breeding and drifted to slate bellies.  This is dangerous as it will only lead to dark heads, feet and backs almost black.  Our Standard says, they should be uniformly dark steel color throughout, except under belly and under tail, which should be light in color.  I still like our old standard that said ďbelly to be as white as possible.Ē  However, this was a compromise with some who wanted slate bellies, and I personally feel we made a mistake and a backward step.

     Another thing, in the Steel breeding, watch out for the brassy sand color.  Select those with the least brass and with white bellies and you will make no mistake.

     Possibly we are going to have to call on some of the higher genetic authorities to tell us how to free ourselves from these two evils.  Will appreciate hearing from anyone who really knows his genetics, so I can submit ideas to the Board for recommendations

 

(NOTE:  In the 1941 Guidebook two of my best friends names appearÖ. John Coon, Ind., and Keith Forbush, Michigan..    Bob Bomia)