Checkered giant hits the spot for Chesterton breeder



Jason Jones added to his trophy case by taking home championships with his checkered giant rabbits and one of his dogs. TOM KEEGAN/photo

Jason Jones added to his trophy case by taking home championships with his checkered giant rabbits and one of his dogs. TOM KEEGAN/photo

Given the prominence of their rabbit ears, it’s conceivable checkered giants could develop a sensitivity to criticism. Not to worry for one black-and-white beauty entered in the 4H rabbit project competition at the Porter County Fair.

Jason Jones, a member of the Chesterton High 2022 graduating class, took home multiple trophies from the 4A rabbit project competition at the Fair and one from a dog competition.

One of Jason Jones’ doe rabbits heard nothing but kind words for meeting so many of the breed requirements.

The rabbit not only won the checkered breed division but was named reserve grand champion in the all-breeds competition. That means she finished second among all the rabbits judged in every breed. (In a breed competition, the reserve grand champion must be a different sex from the grand champion, but in overall, the second-most impressive bunny earns the title.)

The judges who deemed that Jones had the second-best rabbit at the Fair are licensed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

This unnamed checkered giant bred by Chesterton’s Jason Jones was named reserve champion in the overall rabbit competition at the Porter County Fair. TOM KEEGAN/photo

This unnamed checkered giant bred by Chesterton’s Jason Jones was named reserve champion in the overall rabbit competition at the Porter County Fair. TOM KEEGAN/photo

“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do it again,” Jason said, noting that he has aged out. He has been doing 4H projects for 10 years.

Jones also entered his black Labrador Retriever in an obedience competition and took home a first-place trophy there as well. The female dog has a name, Billy, but the rabbits do not.

“We don’t give them names,” Jason said. “We just have so many, so it would be hard to remember all the names. Attachment is an issue, too.”

Since some of the rabbits ultimately end up on the dinner table, avoiding getting attached makes for a smoother meal.

The last of four 4H children of Craig and Rachael Jones, Jason said he believes he is a fourth-generation rabbit breeder. David Jones, Jason’s grandfather, talked about what made the 10-pound doe a champion. As a “marked breed,” David explained, the rabbit is judged on how closely it adheres to the required specific markings.

“On rabbits they are often stray spots here and there,” David Jones said. “His rabbit happens to be pretty good. Really, really good. They judge on their height, the way they run up and down — his is the only breed they allow to run like that — most breeds they judge their fur, color, body composition. With the checkered, they also make sure they have the right markings.” Which are?

“The markings on each side, they have to be balanced and even. It has a black stripe from the top of its head all the way down to its tail. They have a butterfly around their nose, two cheek spots and the eyes have a black circle around them.”

Litters range from as small as four to as large as 12.

“Some litters don’t have any showable rabbits,” David said. “This litter had three. The most we’ve ever had from one litter is six.”

The reserve champion’s markings, fur, etc. make it a prime candidate for breeding, but there is more to it than finding another rabbit that meets the required standards.

“You have to make sure they’re not related,” Jason Jones said of the biggest challenge. “So, you do have to sometimes travel to get the same breed of rabbit and then we exchange. We usually go to Ohio.”

The reserve champion in the checkered giant breed competition was a buck from the same litter as the breed grand champion/overall reserve champion. Jason Jones said it weighs 14 pounds, not surprising since bucks usually are larger than does.

In addition to dogs and rabbits, the Jones family has turkeys and chickens housed in a barn on their property.

At the fairgrounds, most of the rabbits were cleared out of the building to make room for poultry on Monday night, but the award-winning ones will stay on display in their cages all week. Jason makes periodic visits to feed them and check to make sure everything is going well for them.

Jason will head off to college soon and intends to study medical technology at Manchester University. He developed an interest in that field working at Ark of the Dunes Animal Hospital in Chesterton.

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