PLEASANT HILL — Colin Tackett doesn’t pass the buck — or doe.
The 13-year-old Newton seventh grader actually does just the opposite, raising a dozen New Zealand rabbits each year for show. This year, Tackett took his rabbits to the national stage and came home with a big win.
Tackett said his love of animals comes from his mom, Jane Jess of Pleasant Hill.
“My mom was born and raised on a farm and because of her, animals have always been a part of our lives. My sister started in 4-H showing pigs,” he said. “I never had much fun with the pigs, so I wanted to try something new, but yet still have something that my mom and I could do to spend quality time together.”
His sister, Kacie Tackett, 16, continues to show at the Miami County Fair as well.
Tackett, who is starting his third year as a member of the Newton Blue Ribbon 4-H Club, started his first one-and-a-half years raising New Zealand white rabbits. He now has three varieties of New Zealand rabbits, including whites, blacks and brokens.
Jess said raising rabbits to show starts with a good quality buck and doe. She said the two did a lot of research looking for reputable and successful breeders that have produced high-quality show rabbits.
Tackett’s favorite part of raising rabbits is the furry little newborns.
“The babies are my favorite part of raising rabbits,” he said. “I also enjoy the challenge of deciding which doe to breed to which buck in order to get the best show-quality rabbits.”
Tackett, also the son of Charles Tackett of Pleasant Hill, had the Reserve Champion 6 Class Rabbit with his New Zealand senior buck at this year’s Miami County Fair.
On a bigger stage, Tackett recently was honored by the American Federation of New Zealand Rabbit Breeders, receiving second place in the nation with his New Zealand white rabbits during the 2015-16 youth sweepstakes that ran from July 1, 2015, to June 31, 2016.
Tackett earned 4,980.5 points, while his show buddy, Josh Chestnut, also of Ohio, earned first place with 5,160 points.
Jess said children from all over the U.S. show their New Zealands in shows throughout the year. In each show where they place in the top five of their class, they earn points. These points accumulate throughout show season. The top three placings are given an award.
Jess said they travel all around Ohio and Indiana, with the farthest being about three hours away in Lafayette, Ind. She said at each show Tackett goes to, he shows twice and on average, he shows four times a month.
Some other award highlights from this past year for Tackett include Grand Champion Meat Pen and Single Fryer at the Allen County Fair Open Show in September; Best Opposite White at the Piketon Show out of 95 rabbits this month; and Best in Show in Piketon in October. During the sweepstakes points year, which earned him the national award, he had 11 Bests of Breed, Jess said.
In the coming year, Tackett said his goal is to lead the nation in New Zealand whites. He would also like to make the top five in his blacks and brokens.
“I would also like to start selling more meat pens to other 4-H kids to help earn money that I can put back for college,” Tackett said.
He will start showing again in January, and the two are looking forward to making a trip to Wisconsin in April for the national New Zealand show, Jess said.
The proud mom said she has seen a change in her son through raising his bunny buddies.
“As his mom, I have seen so much confidence built in my son. He has met so many friends, young and old, and has learned so much from them about raising quality rabbits,” Jess said. “This has truly been a wonderful experience for Colin and I.”
Other lessons have been learned as well, according to Tackett.
“Raising rabbits has taught me a lot about hard work, dedication and responsibility,” he said.