Evaluating Grow Outs
Hopefully by now you have a few litters weaned and are ready to decide what to keep. Until you get a good handle on how your lines develop, its best to keep as much as you possibly have room for. Some lines mature fast, while others can take 5 months and all of a sudden you have a nice balanced bun ready for the show tables. And fine bucks are like fine wine, many of them may go through a few awkward stages, not looking their best until over 2 years old!
I know I told you already but you MUST HAVE an ARBA Standard of Perfection. MUSSSSST! There is no way you can properly access your stock if you don't even know what you are looking for. It's a great tool to have open and able to read each section as you are evaluating your juniors.
Everyone will have their "pet peeve" trait that they are super picky about.
For example Head, Ear, and Crown makes up 42 points of 100. They are crucial to that well known holland look.
Body and bone are another 42.
Fur, Color, and Condition use up the small remainder of points combined.
In the beginning you obviously have to keep SOMETHING to work with. Pick a part and work on it for a generation or two. When you are happy with it pick a new part to work on. Each generation should have at least one kit that is improved of its parents type.
I do my first evaluations at 8 weeks. If its a false dwarf it will most likely get sold off as a pet at this point unless it looks very balanced for its large size. Then I may grow out for a brood animal. Once I'm looking at true dwarfs only, I usually make my first cull on pinched HQ. I want to see those back feet parallel and wide apart. I will also remove anything with long fine bone at this age. Some lines will grow into their bone as they age. Again, growing out your lines will give you a handle on this. I also don't tolerate a super slipped crown so if its a dramatic slip I will sell those off as well.
I won't look at them much besides posing practice until 14 weeks or so. By this point they should have passed the uglies stage(9-12 weeks) and molted most of their baby fur. Bucks should have a nice head pop by this age or shortly after. I check for poor top lines or shoulder dips at this stage. The ones that make it this far we usually show as juniors and young seniors. If I see some traits I like then they get to stay and join the breeding string! If not they will get sold off as brood stock at this point to help someone else herd. The harder you cull, the faster your herd will improve! It's so hard to to but if you want to succeed on the show table it's necessary to be picky. I'm attaching some super helpful diagrams to help you evaluate your herd. I do not own the copyrights to these, merely sharing for learning purposes. At the end of the day, always refer back to your SOP!