Q & A: Get To Know Your Crowns!

get to know your crowns

What do you know about Holland Lop crowns? Wish you knew more? Find them confusing…or frustrating?

That’s because they are.

I know, super helpful, eh?

Well, here’s a Q & A just for you all about Holland Lop CROWNS.

Does how soon a Holland Lop kit’s ears drop have any correlation to how good of a crown it has?

Yes, there is a correlation. I have found that the ones that drop ears later have smaller crowns.

Narrow crowns do not drop as easily. Wide crowned kits drop their ears at 3-4 weeks of age, though some take a bit longer. There are two parts to the crown: width side-to-side and placement on the head – slipped back or just behind the eye – and both effect when the ears drop.

Yet another influence is ear size. Small ears take up to 3 months before they completely drop. Longer ears tend to drop sooner.

get to know your crowns!

Will a buck pass on poor ear carriage and bad crown placement?

Yes and no.

Breed him to a doe with the same faults and you’ll get more of those faults.

Breed him to a doe with good ear carriage and crown placement, and you’ll have kits that have those traits as well.

Bad crowns and poor ear carriage are inheritable traits – does this mean you should pass up on a great buck simply because he’s lacking in that area?

Depends on the faults in your herd and the strengths of the buck.

Case in point: buck has a great body, bone, width, etc and has some ear control or a slightly slipped crown. Doe has great crown/ears but lacks in the body. That’s a good pairing. They balance each other nicely and you should get some good, balanced kits out of the deal.

Tight crowns are not hard to fix, just pair that rabbit with one who has a great crown.

At what age should a Holland Lop be lopped by?

I have had Hollands lop as late as a year old, but it is best if they lop early on in their life.

A few notes:

  • The crown can take a while to develop.
  • A little ear control is one thing, Fully erect ears is another.
  • When teaching them to pose, hold the ears down. Start teaching young.
  • Ear carriage is determined by the crown, which is the ridge of cartilage on the top of the head, between the ears. The crown develops in different ways and at different rates depending on the genetics of the line, as well as the type of the individual parents.
  • The ideal crown is wide, both from side to side and from front to back. That width is what makes the rabbit eventually lose control of the ears.
  • Really tight crowns or very slipped crowns that compromise overall ear carriage and presentation should be culled.

Generally, the ears will drop most of the way by 4-6 months old, some Hollands maintain some ear control until their head fully develops (2-3 years old).

tri color holland lop doe

Do really excellent Hollands (with a wide crown) tend to lose ear control at an earlier age? Can the age at which the ears drop can be used to help select a good crown?

Not really. Hollands with really excellent crowns take a little longer to develop. Usually, if the crown has correct placement and the ears are the correct length, they take longer to lose total control. A theme some breeders have noticed is that the best heads take longer because they mature more than a narrower head or crown, which is done developing a bit sooner. Every line is different though.

Early ear dropping isn’t always desirable; a fellow breeder once commented, ” with mine, those that drop super early have an overly wide crown. Those that drop later seem to have a more desirable crown width.”

Another theme, or pattern, noticed is that the non-dwarf kits’ ears drop quicker and the dwarf-gene carrying kits take longer to drop.

Non-dwarf ears lop fast, usually by or before 6-8 weeks old.

With true-dwarf kits, it’s a toss-up. Don’t give up on them simply because they didn’t drop at 8 weeks of age.

So, how do I even select for a good crown?!

I know, it’s pretty vague then as to how to select for a good crown!

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about straight-up-in-the-air-Netherland-dwarf-like-ears, but airplane ears or ears with some ear control.

Laura Freeman (the gal who made all those amazing drawings of Holland Lops) once said: “A good guide for deciding if an HL has the proper crown width is to see where the ear is “sprouting” from the head. The top of the ear should be in line with the eye, not above which would indicate a tight crown.”

I don’t measure crown width with fingers. As with most parts of a Holland, it’s more about balance than a specific measurement. A 2″ wide crown may look great on one rabbit, but horrible on another. It’s more about visual evaluation and overall balance.

I’ve bred bad-crowned does to bucks with great crowns, and repeatedly got kits with great ears and crowns. It all comes down to genetics and what you cannot see and who you mate them to.

get to know your crowns

Would you ever keep and breed an animal that has an amazing head and ear but only a mediocre body type?

Hard question!

It would depend on the gender, what I needed, and colour. ( Color? Yes! Because I specialize in tris & Harlequins. What good would it do if I kept a great typed rabbit that didn’t work with those colours?)

Be super careful about doing those though, because good bodies are hard to achieve, I’ve found.

I would be more willing to keep a doe with an amazing head/ear and poor body than a buck with that. A buck can influence 50% of your herd. A doe is one doe, with one litter.

Breeding rabbits is a puzzle, and only you know what piece you need and what pieces you have. If I needed a great head but not the body, then I would use that rabbit. If not, then I wouldn’t. It’s all a puzzle that you have to figure out. It’s what makes breeding rabbits a challenge and fun!

get to know your crowns

Is it true that warmer weather causes longer ear length?

Dwarf breeders say no…some Holland Lop breeders say yes.

I don’t breed too much in the winter, but have noticed I get smaller ears and tighter crowns in the winter the few times I did have does kindle in the winter.

Here are few thoughts from other breeders:

L.R. “I agree that in most cases FINAL ear length is genetic, but with my Holland Lops I have absolutely seen a correlation with faster ear growth, lopping and crown development in warmer weather, and slower ear growth and delayed lopping and slower crown development in the winter– my rabbits in outside with NO climate control, so they are often exposed to 90 degrees in the summer and 0 degrees in the winter, or whatever mother nature dishes out… so they are truly raised with and their development was observed with wide temperature variations between seasons.”

I do not believe in summer ears. Because their ears help them cool off I believe their ears can want to grow to full potential quicker and the rabbit will catch up. Weather cannot change genetics.”

J.K. I have noticed the same thing as L.R. I tend to see much slower crown development and lopping in the winter than I do in the spring/summer, when ears lop by the time the kits are weaned. So temperature does seem to affect development, but not the mature length of the ear or width of the crown.

L.B. “I’ve raised flemish for 4 years and I have consistently had problems with lazy ears (sometimes one, sometimes both) on some of the kits when the weather has been very hot. The same breeding has NO problems with ear carriage if they went thru the 6 -12 week age in cooler weather. Flemish have large ears and I very much believe the greater blood flow (weight increase) in the ears can interfere with the good development of the ear base. I’ve seen the problem in my lines with weaker ear bases as well as the lines with thicker ear bases. I haven’t noticed a difference in ear size. That’s what I consider “summer ears”.

K.R. “With the Beverens, I have found that the ones with the best ear thickness and length were born between March and June. However, if you do not have good genetics it does not matter when they are born. Poor genetics gives poor ear carriage, length, substance, and furring in general.”

L.B. “I agree with K.R. but it’s much hotter where I am. When the temps are 85 and below, I don’t see the problems, but above that (May thru Sept here) is when the heat takes its toll. Even our nights often don’t drop below 80. The constant cooling function of the ears never gets a break.”

T.O. “In my experience, I have way more slipped crowns and long ears in temps over 85. All that heat relaxes the muscles too soon and causes slips. I put in industrial fans to keep the cool air on them in summer. I love breeding in winter and spring, better crowns, shorter ears. But yet some breeders say it’s all in the genes.”

Do you think it’s a myth? Fact or fiction?

As another breeder put it: “We get as many long-eared ones in the winter as we do in the summer, but we have more babies born in the summer, so it seems like there are more long-eared ones.”

Genetics. No matter what you do, you’re gonna have some ugly kits with bad crowns no matter the season. You will also have great kits with great ears…no matter the season. Do you want a good crown? Breed for it. Same with ears. Want nice short ears? Breed for it and keep the best results.

get to know your crowns

Is a slipped crown dominant?

Genetically speaking, anything you see is a dominant trait. It can be bred into and out of a line by being super selective.

Watch your lines, learn how they grow and mature. Just because they look super ugly at 4 months doesn’t mean they will look like that at 8 months.

Some brood rabbits can easily outproduce themselves, it depends on the genetics behind the rabbit as to what they will produce. Good recessive traits are equally important to the dominant ones because they are what will make or break your future rabbits.

Will and can rabbits grow into their ears?

Going back to the ‘summer ears’ question, Holland Lops can grow their out ears faster in the summer than in the winter. So they can have their ‘adult’ ears at a young age, and grow into them.

Slipped crowns make ears start farther back and lower on the head, making ears appear longer as well. Not a desirable trait.

Phew! That was a lot of info.

I would love to know if you enjoyed this post and if you would like more like it. Comment below and let me know!

Stay tuned for the next post…we’ll be doing crown pictures!

Till next time,


Q & A: Get To Know Your Crowns!

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