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The HLRSC has permitted co-ops to compete together for its sweepstakes points for years. A recent surge in the creation of co-ops has brought the practice into question. This article will give some simple facts on the impact this trend may have.

The Value of Co-ops

The subject of co-ops within the HLRSC (Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club) has been a hot topic of late. Although the sweepstakes contest rules have permitted co-ops within its competition for years, very few breeders have chosen to take that path until this year. This year based on the ARBA nationals as many as 5 new co-ops have been formed.

Co-ops have been around for many years. Thereís no question that co-ops in and of themselves are a great thing. The pooling of not only a herd but also financial resources can only help improve our breed. Imagine for a minute that your herd is week in one area, say the crown, but very strong in bone. Meanwhile a fellow breeder has a herd that is very strong in crown yet weak in bone. Creating a co-op would allow both of you to improve your herds, which would improve the overall pool of holland lops available for other breeders. Generally itís not quite that simplistic, but that will give you an idea of the power of having a co-op.

I think most of us would say that we are limited in cage space and probably the finances to change that. Again as a co-op you would have the benefit of shared cage space. Sometimes raising rabbits can be kind of lonely. Great friendships and camaraderie is created by forming a co-op. It might be that friendship created by a co-op, as some have stated, keeps some breeders in rabbit breeding. As we dig deeper it becomes clear that co-ops benefits us all, by improving the hollands that are available.

The Impact of New Co-ops

However, the forming of co-ops is not what is at issue. What are at issue are the benefits of the pooling of points that occur when co-ops enter competitions as co-ops, rather than individuals. Does this create an unfair advantage that skews the results of competition? Would it be unfair to those that co-op, to deny them the opportunity of competing together since they work together?

I will state some facts of the impact that co-ops may have on the sweepstakes. I will not discuss my personal feelings on the matter in this article as that is not the point of the article. I will let you draw your own conclusions.

In 2004-05 there was only 1 co-op that placed in the top 100. It placed third nationally. This only affected zone standings for zones 1. What is difficult to determine is how the individuals would have placed had they shown separately.

Based on the 2005 ARBA nationals as many as 5 new co-ops have been formed. As has been stated on many message boards the best rabbit will always win. So letís assume that is the case for this comparison. Weíll take the individual points from the new co-ops, and add them together. Then see where they would each stand in the results. To avoid any concern over sharing the names of the participants, I have removed their names. The information listed on the HLRSC website is public, but I believe most people would find it less offensive.

Weíll start with Co-op A. Breeder 1 had 9,047 points in 2004-05 (20th nationally) and Breeder 2 had 16,205 (10th nationally). Their combined point total would be 25,202. This would have been enough points to move them into 3rd place.

Co-op B also formed a co-op. Breeder 3 had 26,189 points in 2004-05 (2nd nationally), and Breeder 4 had 4,235 (69th nationally). Their point total would be 30,424 leaving that combo in 2nd place where Breeder 3 already is.

Co-op C would also move up in the standings. Breeder 5 had 13,643 points in 2004-2005 (13th nationally) and Breeder 6 had 7,139 points (31st nationally). Their combined points would give them 20,782 points and move them into 6th place.

Co-op D had 10,399 points (18th nationally) and 9,883 points (40th nationally) respectively. This would give them a total of 20,282 and move them into 7th place.

Co-op E would see the largest benefit in terms of placement from their co-op. Breeder 9 had 5,018 points in 2004-05 (53th nationally), and Breeder 10 had 6,955 points (34th nationally). Their combined points would move them up to 17th place with 11,973 points.

Obviously we had to make some assumptions that again would be difficult to determine. For example, we assume that by competing together their standings in shows would not have changed. This would be true if the co-op members always showed in the same show in 2004-05.

What is interesting is when combining numbers for the co-ops; more people actually benefit from the co-op then are hurt by it. Consider this, after reranking with the new co-op, 31 people from the top 100 move up 4 spots, 15 people move up 3 spots, 12 people move up 2 spots and 5 people move up 1 spot. On the other side, 25 people drop in the standings, the most being 3 spots. Keep in mind however it is the people near the top of the rankings that are hurt the most by the co-ops.

The Future for HLRSC

One of two things could happen in the future. First, a proposal could be made that in someway alters the way co-ops compete. There is some debate on whether or not this would even be permitted within ARBA guidelines. If this happens, co-ops should continue to co-op. By remaining together you continue to improve each of your herds, which in turn, will make you stronger in competition.

Second, co-ops may remain the same. If this happens and you are not in a co-op, there are many things you can do to strengthen your position in the point standings. The simplest way is improving your herd. The Pitneys attended just 12 shows this year, yet placed 6th nationally. Compared to everyone else, they earned nearly double the points per show they attend. Why, because they have such a strong herd. You can also attend more shows. You could even find a partner and form your own co-op.

A Call for Unity

As I frequent many forums and message boards, I realize that this issue may have a large impact on many people, and that whatever may become of the debate may be taken very personally. Please keep in mind that one of the great things about our country is our right to express our views and opinions. Please express your opinions about the subject but letís keep away from personal attacks.

It is important that what ever becomes of the discussion that our club remains united. We wont always agree on every issue, but we can decide that once an issue has been resolved that we will continue to support the club and each other.