Eastern States Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders Association

The Premier Flemish Club for those interested in showing and raising the Flemish Giant


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Silver Tip Flemish, Silver Black Giants or just Tweeners?

Posted by Larry Rishel on March 17, 2014 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Silver Tip Flemish, Silver Black Giants or just Tweeners?

A Look at the History behind one of our lost Varieties

by Juan A. Pérez

Recently my son Ian and I were evaluating a litter of Steels and Light Grays, and stumbled upon a few “Tweeners.” For those of you not familiar with the term, a Tweener is usually a light gray that is too dark (usually with poor ring definition and heavy ticking), a Steel that is too light in surface color and/or dark in belly color or a Black with a sizable amount of light gray or white hairs.

Since Ian’s experience with Steels is not too vast-and mine was brief in 1999 and 2004-we decided to seek the advice of our friends and experienced Steel breeders Roger and Brian Hoornbeek (NY) and Larry Rishel (PA). Both the Hoornbeeks and Larry advised us that a Tweener ought to be kept if: 1. the animal has great type; and 2. the animal is a doe. I immediately thought of Harold May’s memorable advice about breeding Steels:

“Just a word in closing. Don’t be afraid to keep those lightly ticked Black does for brood does. They can be very useful. However, make sure that they are big, and have very good type, with a good quality coat of fur. Bucks of questionable color and fur quality should never be kept beyond weaning age.”

Harold May was obviously referring to a Tweener when he wrote “lightly ticked Black does.” The Hoornbeeks and Larry reaffirmed the advice of the greatest breeder and exhibitor in the history of the Flemish Giant breed.

I looked at the litter of Steels and Light Grays again and asked myself: is it possible that the Tweeners are descendants of the Silver Tip, also known as Silver Black Giants? I then embarked on a lot of asking, reading and theorizing.

The Silver Tip, also known as Silver Black Giant, was a short lived variety of the Flemish Giant breed. Its existence is well documented, with show catalogs having the variety included as early as 1918. The National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders’ (NFFGRB) website lists the period of 1919 to 1921 as the timeframe of the variety.

As far back as 1920, John C. Fehr covered the Silver Tip variety in his book The Flemish Giant for Pleasure and Profit. On page 38 of the chapter Color Breeding he openly expresses his opposition to their breeding, and considers the Silver Tips not a variety but a Black Flemish with equal distribution of white hairs over the entire body, head, ears, feet and tail. Fehr admits that they are beautiful but warns strongly about crossing them with blacks and light grays:

“For you may produce a beautiful black or gray out of silver tips, and he or she may in turn produce stock that is all sprinkled with white hairs, probably not in the first generation, but rest assured it will come out in the second or third generation. ”

In 1920 F.L. Washburn also presented a similar thesis about the Silver Tips in The Rabbit Book. He describes them as sports from the Black Flemish, having black fur with silver or white hairs over the body. He states that if the variety were to be standardized, it will be the source of beautiful fur.

Twenty years after Fehr and Washburn dismissed the relevance of the Silver Tips, the variety received some national attention. According to the NFFGRB’s 1940 Convention report, the variety was recognized between the 1920s and 1930s:

“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.”

Secretary Griffin did not elaborate on how the Silver Tips got here; he said “discovered the appearance.” It is plausible that the Silver Tips were animals with too much ticking, good size and type, and breeders added them to their breeding program.

I also want the reader to go back to what Harold May, Larry Rishel and the Hoornbeeks said: “Keep a doe, never a buck.” Isn’t that in line with Secretary Griffin’s statement “by discarding many fine specimens, especially bucks”?

The following reference is another example of how established this variety was between 1920 to the 1940s:

“Some believe that the Silver Black Giant was nothing more than a Black Flemish Giant with white hairs distributed through the body creating the “silver” coloring. Unlike the Silver Fox of the time, the white hairs on the Silver Black were full white hairs, not white tipped hairs and breeding between the Silver Giant and Silver Fox was discouraged.

Since no records exist as to the breeding lineage of the Silver Black Giant, the belief that it was a Black Flemish Giant can be neither proved nor disproved. The Silver Black Giants popularity survived from 1924 to the middle 1940s when interest in the breed began to decline. By 1950, the breed was removed from the “Book of Standards”, the official ARBA standards listing, and it has since become extinct.”

Please note that in the last paragraph, the Silver Black Giants were referred to as a separate breed, and it was apparent that it survived beyond the 1940s timeframe .

Secretary Griffin’s report underscores that the addition of Silver Tips damaged the color of the Steels and Light Grays, a setback he estimates to be 20 years. Harry Rice, one of the most respected Flemish judges ever, mentions that around the 1940 good color was relatively abundant in those 2 varieties:

“In the forties, there were plenty of good colored steels and light grays, but they were never as popular as the Sandies. Sure wish I had saved one of those light grey pelts so that I could show you young fellows what color they were then.”

Harry Rice writes in 1990 about the color the light grays were back in 1940, and it’d be

reasonable to say that he was referring to the real light gray color of the 1940s, not the color affected by the Silver Tips as described by Lewis Griffin. It is also possible that Rice was making a contrast between the light grays of 1990 and 1940. It is important to notice that he was as concerned about our colors as Griffin, Fehr and Washburn were.

As I write about this, I can’t help it but think about how important it is for us to guard the colors of our light gray and steel varieties. Not only was the Silver Tip experiment detrimental to the breed, every time we cross colors indiscriminately-even compatible colors-we have an effect on the breed.

We have work to do. As recently as the PA State Convention in February of 2013 we heard the judge admonish all of us light gray breeders for having animals too dark in color and lacking ring definition. As a matter of fact, some of us thought that the judge was evaluating Steels-and he was judging the light gray senior doe class! And it happened again at the 2014 PA State Convention! When I brought my light gray doe to the judge’s table, I saw 3 “Steel Senior Does” already there. A close friend said: “Juan, those are not Steels, those are light gray senior does. They look very dark-don’t they?”

With this in mind, I’d like to offer one final thought, also from Secretary Lewis Griffin:

“Now just a word of warning, let’s profit by our past mistakes. Our experience with the Silver Tips and German Patagonia Giants should be enough to put us on guard. Let’s 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 themselves. 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. ”

I invite all of the Steel, Light Grays and Black Flemish breeders to share their experiences on this topic. And in case you’re wondering, Ian and I didn’t keep any Tweeners, Silver Tips or Silver Black Giants-or descendants thereof.

I would be remiss not to thank and recognize the help of my dear friend Cathy Caracciolo. Cathy was instrumental in researching old Flemish documents via search engines. She also was kind enough to photocopy a series of references dating back to the 1920s. I also am indebted to the Federation’s Official Historian, Chis Stover, who added a good deal of information and gravitas to this writing via personal communication.


1. Official Catalog, First Annual Exhibition of the California International Livestock Show November 1-9, 1919.

2. Pacific Poultry Craft and Pet Stock Monthly January 1918

3. The Northwest Poultry Journal January 1922

4. NFFGRB Website, under the 1929 Club History heading http://www.nffgrb.net/ClubHistory.html

5. NFFGRB Guidebook, 1990.

6. Excerpts from The Rabbit Book, by F.L. Washburn.

7. Excerpts from Flemish Giants For Pleasure and Profit, by John C. Fehr.

8. Electronic messages with ARBA Representatives, February 27, 2014.

Upcoming Shows, Join Us!!

Posted by Larry Rishel on January 18, 2014 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I might be a little late getting this out, but I want to remind people that Spring 2014 is indeed coming. With it brings our usual shows for the ESFGRBA Community.

Lebanon, Pa. is where we will all meet on February 1st and 2nd for the PaSRBA show. ESFGRBA is hosting Flemish Specialty on Saturday Feb 1st, 2014. Entry fees are $3.50 pre-sho entry or $4.00 day of show. Cooping is available through PaSRBA. This year we will be showing Flemish in the 'Cow Palace' room which should provide exhibitors with some extra space....judging, and cooping will take place in the Cow Palace for Flemish along with Youth Open Shows.

On March 2nd 2014 we will be attending an open show in York Pa. This is always a well attended show and a lot of fun. Join us at the 4-H Center in York: 771 Stoverstown Rd., York. PA 17408



SATURDAY MARCH 8, 2014 9:00 a.m.

Location: Jefferson Co, WI Fairgrounds (West Bldg.)

This is a PRE-ENTRY, cooped with shavings provided show.

ENTRY FEE $4.00 PER RABBIT per SHOW includes the cooping.

The DEADLINE is MARCH 1, 2014 (before 8:00 p.m.) and maybe mailed, emailed, or phoned in.

SHOW SECRETARY Bruce Johnson at 9054 120th Ave. Bloomer, WI 54724

715-288-6887 or bejohnson@centurytel.net

On April 13 and 14 2014 many ESFGRBA members will be traveling to Taylorsville, NC for the Flemish National.

2014 Flemish Nationals

SFGRSC will be hosting the 2014 Flemish Nationals. Nationals will be held on April 12 and 13 at the Taylorsville Fairgrounds, 170 Fairgrounds Road, Taylorsville, NC 28681. Saturday will consist of Open and Youth and we will have an Open Specialty on Sunday.

LaQuinta Inn will be the host hotel. 1607 Fairgrove Church Rd, Conover, NC 28613. 828-465-1100. They include free breakfast buffet with a made to order omelette bar. Rates and cut-off dates are not available at this time.

This show is put together by Charles Bryant and his club. If you were at any of the shows down there, you know Charles always puts on a first class show...I recommend this as a show to plan to attend. I'll post more information as I get it.

There will be three shows at Cortland, NY this spring as we gather at the Cortland Fairgrounds in Cortland on April 26th and 27th 2014: 4292 Fairgrounds Drive Cortland, NY 13045-1019. The Judges for the three shows will be:

Mary Ellen Stamets - New Jersey

Mike Ross - New York

Tim Branham - Ohio

We look forward to seeing a good turnout for this show.

May 3rd and 4th we will gather at the Ohio Mini Convention, Open and Youth with a Flemish Specialty held on Saturday and an all breed show on Sunday. This will be a the Ohio State Fairgrounds. OSRBA will have more updated information on it's web page as soon as the catalog has been completed. Catalog:http://www.osrba.net/miniconvention/

Looking forward to seeing friends, family and members at these great shows

Kathy Chapin's Mother Passes

Posted by Larry Rishel on December 18, 2013 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

We have learned that Kathy Chapin's Mother has passed away after a post surgery heart attack. Kathy has taken care for her Mother for several years....and we want to keep her in our thoughts and prayers as she travels this most difficult road. If you care to send a card Kathy's address is:

Kathy Chapin

1002 Roy Truitt Road

Cullowhee, NC 28723

Letter from Anne & Reggie Murdock

Posted by Larry Rishel on December 18, 2013 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

To the Board and All ESFGRBA Members,

Thank you all so much for the Honor of receiving your beautiful award at Convention. What a huge surprise but an enjoyable one for me and Reggie. I hope you know how much we love our Flemish giants and all rabbits. We have been Blessed with meeting many others who enjoy the animals and the shows.

We thank you for whatever you each do to contribute to the whole.

Thank you to those who made it to convention. We had a nice turnout of Eastern States folks and rabbits. Our own Carlo and Fern Zappio took the BOB Honor!! Congratulations to a fine Flemish and to a fabulous couple! Wonderful! Exciting! So Hoppy for you both!

And to the newly added Master Breeder, Cathy Carrochiolo... we are all proud of you for your hard work with the Blues.

To our Youth of the Year, Elizabeth Barrett, we know and do expect great things and excellent Flemish to come for many years.

Jan van Etten was the Sweepstakes winner and congrats for her success.

To Stephen Trent and Bill Fergusen who worked for very long hours and days non stop for the MARCS club to get everything set up for the convention...

Thank you soooo much!

To everyone who helped in any way... thank you from Reg and me for making this a great convention... one we will never forget.

Blessings to you All!



Anne and Reg Murdock

Emily Carter, A Tribute

Posted by Larry Rishel on July 12, 2013 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Emily Carter has passed away. She and her husband, Herb have been longtime Flemish Giant breeders, known particularly for their outstanding Blacks and Blues. Together, over the years, they have won almost every award for their excellence in in the Flemish world, including the prestigious Master Breeder award. Emily battled cancer long and hard, and didn't allow it to keep her down. Even in the roughest of times, she always managed to come to the shows to see her friends and show their animals. She was a staple at the writers table, and supported the Eastern States Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders Association 100 percent.

Lynn Waters Bolyard




Kathy Chapin : I was taken by sadness as soon as I learned the news last night. But then I thought about how long she'd been ill and what a fight she'd gone through. All the pain and suffering has been taken away now, so for that I am glad. BUT without a doubt she'll be solely missed, by so many.

I'll never forget a few years back, at Convention, she and Herb gave me one of their blue bucks. I was so honored and surprised, I asked why would you want to do this? And she said that they'd heard how dedicated to the blues I had become. That they had worked for many years on their blue herd and that soon they wouldn't be here any longer. They wanted to be sure that their line carried on afterward and this was one way of doing that. I promised them, I'd do my best. It just seems like yesterday now.

RIP ~ Ms Emily Carter. We all love you so!!

South Mountain Rabbitry: Lynn, we will miss her dearly, and we're thinking about Herb here in the east. Always loved talking to Em at Cortland, both at Harold's old place and the new venue at the fairgrounds. I was sad all last night.

In the memory of Emily. You're already missed, by your Flemish family.

Ginger Walters: I am so heartbroken to hear this. She sold me my first pairs of flemish when I was 13.

Robert Bomia: A long time Breeder of Flemish Giants from PA., Emily Carter passed away this am.. Emily was a Senior Member of the Eastern States Flemish Club, and National Flemish Federation. She will be missed by all that knew her. Our condolences to Herb her husband, and family.... May God be with them in this time of need.. Barb Trone said there will not be any services.

Regards, Bob Bomia

President, NFFGRB

And many breeders and friends lifted their glass in tribute to this wonderful woman. We wish her well in eternity, and we keep Herb and the family in our thoughts and prayers. As per Emily's wishes, there were no services.

                 Our Dear Friend, Emily  

How do you really say what you feel? What are you thinking? What is in

your heart? Well, here goes! We only hope Emily is looking down on us

and hears what we want to say.

We have known Nick and Emily Carter for twenty to twenty-five years.

We were not always close friends but became close right about the time

Emily was diagnosed with cancer. We have never known anyone who had

a brighter out-look on life than she did. Even through all her hard-ships and

suffering you never heard Emily complain. If there was a show in Cortland,

New York, she always was determined that she and Nick would make the trip.

She also made a point of coming to York for our local show in March each

year. There were always donations of food items for each show. Nick would

make several dishes and no matter how bad Emily felt she would always bake

for these shows. There were also numerous visits from Nick and Emily to our

home. She enjoyed coming to our home for a visit and to go out to lunch.

Emily also enjoyed going out to dinner with a group a rabbit breeders.Although

she could not eat much she always ordered as though nothing was the matter

with her appetite.  Emily was alwayswilling to do her part at any show she went to.

If she was not writing at the judge's table she was preparing the show reports

 Every summer Emily would make endless jars of jelly. There was a great varietyof

flavors. She made this for her family and the endless line of people that shewould

see. There was always a nice tote bag full of jars of jelly to be handedout for her

friends and acquaintances.

 Many people, including ourselves, knew Emily as an experienced and dedicated

rabbit breeder. We would also like to remember her for her greatpersonality, 

kindness, and concern for others.

 We love you Emily and will always think of you.

 John and Barbara Trone


An Article by Dr. Wendy Feaga

Posted by Larry Rishel on February 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Mucoid Enteritis

The following is a reprint of an article received by Dr.

Wendy Feaga, with her permission.

Wendy is a member

of the AFNZRB.


ARBA Rabbit & Cavy Health Committee

I am seeing an unusual number of young rabbits dying with a jelly diarrhea. In some cases I am loosing adults and nursing does. What is going on?

A number of rabbitries are reporting losses of 4-8 week old rabbits, some with no signs of illness, some with just a hint of diarrhea, but many with full blown mucoid enteritis with rapid weight loss (wasting), diarrhea and jelly stools. You may be lucky to lose one or two in the litter or, the entire litter may die over a period of a week.

Generally the adult rabbits are unaffected, but this time we are seeing some adults dying especially nursing does.

The first reports of unusual deaths due to diarrhea surfaced after the 2008 ARBA Convention in Michigan. One exhibitor thought that the floor boards were to blame, but I saw convention rabbits on risers which came down with the jelly diarrhea at the end of the convention, or very soon afterwards. So there was not a good correlation between the ARBA boards and disease.

Often there are complaints of illness after the ARBA convention – the convention rabbits are exposed to other rabbits, new water supplies and general stress, so illness is expected.

It appears we are seeing a new infectious agent to which the rabbits have never been exposed, and this is fairly wide spread. We are seeing deaths in adult rabbits, sometimes losing as many as half the adults, an age generally resistant to diarrhea, or at least an age which usually recovers totally in a few days of pulling them off pellets and just feeding hay.

In the 4-8 week olds, pretty much all that show signs of illness will die regardless of what you try. Rabbits over 3 months of age are more likely to survive. I have tried various medications on the babies with little success.

One that survived was given just hay and water and no medications. Subcutaneous fluids are helpful in the older rabbits, but as I said before, little appears to save the 4-8 week olds.

Fecal exams may show coccidiosis, but treatment for coccidiosis is unsuccessful leading me to believe that there is an additional disease and not simply coccidiosis.

Often I have seen clostridia in fecal samples of rabbits with diarrhea, but have not seen unusual numbers of this normal bacterium in these youngsters.

High protein feeds will aggravate the problem and should be avoided when the rabbitry is experiencing these losses. Although feeding hay is no guarantee of avoiding this current strain of mucoid enteritis, it remains the best recommendation to lessen your losses. Be sure to give fresh hay each day to nest box babies to insure their first meal is hay to establish the correct pH and microbes in their GI tract. In an out-break, I recommend giving fresh hay twice a day to does with litters over 3 weeks of age.

Instead of full feeding these does and litters, feed pellets twice a day and limit the pellets so they are cleaning up each feeding in a couple of hours.

It’s important to provide good sanitation by removing soiled bedding and cleaning the cage floors with a wire brush to remove visible manure, feeding hay on a regular basis, avoid over-crowding, and providing water in a closed water system (impossible in winter when freezing water forces us to use bowls). Before moving a new rabbit into a new cage, especially doe and litter, be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect that cage and equipment. But the bottom line is that the rabbits need to develop and immunity to what appears to be a new infectious agent.

My hope is as this disease goes through a rabbitry that the stock which are exposed and survive will have immunity so that eventually this disease will run its course in a year. Also the normal evolution of an infectious disease is to become less virulent over time because when it is this virulent it dies with its host. A successful organism does not kill its host so it can continue to spread through populations.

A note from Juan Perez

Posted by Larry Rishel on December 31, 2012 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello Friends:

As the year draws to a close, so does my term as President of Eastern States Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders Association.

Thank you for your support over the past 3 1/2 years. My heartfelt thanks to the Board and all the elected officials who worked with me during my tenure as President.

Tomorrow a new Board takes over our club. I wish them all the best, and would like to

offer my support and assistance should they need them. I encourage you to do the same as they prepare to lead Eastern States.

Lastly, may the new year bring peace and happiness to you and your loved ones.

Most Sincerely, Juan

Bob Shaftoe, Rest in Peace

Posted by Larry Rishel on December 24, 2012 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Most of us knew and admired this stoic British ARBA Judge.  He was a friend, mentor, advisor to so many over the years.  His passing leaves a  void that is not easily filled.  He was one of the 'old timers',  a judge from 'back in the day' and he could tell you stories about people, shows, conventions, times and places.  And we would listen.....  He judged with professionalism and integrity.  Behind the show table, he not only judged, but taught as he went.  We learned so much from this Judge, with the staunch British accent, and the easy smile.  We say, not only Rest in Peace Bob, but a Giant Thank You!! 

Ronald “Bob“ Shaftoe ARBA Judge Bob Shafte

SHAFTOE, Ronald “Bob“ - Bobby Shaftoes gone to sea To sail for all eternity Peacefully at Victoria Hospital on December 22nd, 2012, Ronald “Bob“ Shaftoe of Ingersoll in his 81st year. Beloved husband of Sheila Shaftoe. Loving father of Robert, Susan, Christine, Jacqueline and Julie. He will be missed by his several grandchildren and great grandchildren. Dear brother of June, Eunice, Robert and Harry. Predeceased by his sisters Alma and Iris. Private arrangements entrusted to NEEDHAM FUNERAL HOME. In memory of Bob, contributions to Childhood Cancer Research at L.H.S.C. would be greatly appreciated. Condolences may be left at www.needhamfuneralhome.com 12181984


A message from Jim Richards

Posted by Larry Rishel on December 18, 2012 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The following are thoughts and/or opinions of one person and do not necessarily reflect those of ESFGRBA or its' members.

Recently on another web site a discussion arose that colors that were mixed indiscriminately together didn't matter so long as they were going for pets or meat. As usual I had to stick my two cents worth in and upset a few people, but I explained why I said what I did (for some it still fell on deaf ears, but their loss).

The litter in question had blues, white, a fawn and what to me looked like a black. Both parents were steels. The person did say she was having them fixed and I applaud her for that, but she couldn't see where she had done anything wrong.

The point I made, mainly, that down the road any of those youngsters could have been purchased by somebody interested in breeding or showing and right away they were headed for disaster color wise.

For the beginner these are the colors that can be bred together.

Fawn can be bred to fawn or sandy but if the fawn has smut then stick to a fawn to fawn breeding and the fawn should have no smut.

White can be bred to white, light grey, steel and even black if the background is all white, steel or light grey. Bred to a black with blue in the background is not a good idea as the blues can come with white hairs and toenails. All of these colors can be mixed but the light grays and steels will have varying shades ,some too light or too dark. Too much black in the background of a steel can produce animals with dark heads and feet. Blue obviously can be bred to blue, and black if the blacks background is blue/black.

Above all type comes first, then breed for color, improve one point at a time

Election Results

Posted by Larry Rishel on December 3, 2012 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)


The results of our election are in, congratulations to the new Board! Here are the


A total of 70 ballots were received by the Election Committee.

President - Wayne Bechdel - 68, Vice President - Chris Stover - 66, Secretary Treasurer -Ginger Walters - 60,

Directors - (The top 4 candidates get elected to the Board):

Brian Hoornbeek - 65,

Larry Rishel - 62,

Bill Bechdel - 59,

Carlo Zappia - 42,

John Curk - 37

The question on the ballot giving the Board authority to split the Secretary-Treasurer position passed, 54 votes YES, 14 votes NO.

The new Board becomes effective January 1, 2013.

Many thanks to Barbara Trone and Emily Carter for counting the ballots and reporting out the results despite many pressing commitments. Thank You, Ladies.

I also want to thank the current Board and all the members for your continued support during my tenure as President of this fine organization.

Last but certainly not least, let us work together with the new Board to ensure that Eastern States remains the best regional Flemish club in the entire continent.

Sincerely, Juan