Out of 50 recognized breeds of rabbit, by international rabbit groups such as the BRC, Angora rabbits are the only suitable rabbits for harvesting fur. They are renowned for their soft fur which can be used an alternative to sheep wool. Scarves, socks and sweaters are some of the items that can be made from sough after Angora rabbit fur.
Angora rabbits are known for the beautiful white, blue, gray and lilac fur they produce. They grow a triple coat of fur with long guard hairs on the outside, dense, fine downy fur in the middle and a coarse, thick and wooly secondary coat beneath that.
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The Angora Rabbit is Bred for its fur
The story of angora rabbit and its fur goes back a long way. In fact, textiles made from the fur of the Angora rabbit have been around since the 17th century. Back then, only the very wealthy could afford these luxury items, as it was difficult and expensive to harvest the large quantities of fur needed to make a garment. Since then, breeders have worked to create several different breeds of Angora rabbits, each with a slightly different type of fur.
Today, the most common type is still the white Angora rabbit. This rabbit is bred for its white fur, which is about three times as thick as the fur of a normal rabbit. The excess fur is sheared from the rabbits twice a year. The Angora rabbit has become so famous for its fur that some people now use the word ‘Angora’ as a generic term to describe any type of sweater made of mohair or cashmere.
According to the The American Rabbit Breeders Association Inc, there are a total of 11 specific breeds of Angora Rabbit:
French Angora, German Angora, Japanese Angora, English Angora, Chinese Angora, Finnish Angora, Korean Angora, Russian Angora, St Lucian Angora, Swiss Angora, Giant Angora and Satin Angora.
Angora rabbits are not simply a cash machine, they need lots of care and patience and a good home. Angora rabbits, like all rabbits, are sociable and friendly animals. However, they are also very specific about the environment they live in. They require special food and plenty of attention.
They must be combed at least once every three weeks, and the combing must be done carefully to avoid damaging their fur. All of this work must be done by hand. The reason for this is that using an electrical appliance to comb the rabbits’ fur could destroy it. The fiber is fragile, and the combing must be done slowly, carefully, and with patience. The good news is the rabbits don’t need to be harmed during the process. The person who harvests the fur from the rabbit must be able to do so without harming the rabbit or its fur. This is done by plucking, shearing or combing off malting hair.
How Long is an Angora Rabbits fur?
This depends on the specific ‘sub’ breed of the Angora Rabbit, though luckily their fur continually grows. That is why since they were imported by European Monarchs from Turkey, they’ve been popular for their fluffy long coats.
What Different Types of Products Come from Angora Rabbits?
The two most famous garments made from angora rabbit fur are sweaters and hats. However, other items such as scarves, shawls, mittens, socks, blankets, and even stockings can also be made from angora rabbit fur which is seen as a luxury material. Angora rabbit fur is also used as a stuffing in pillows, comforters, stoles, and other decorative items. There are also a few different types of angora rabbit fur products. Some products are made from pure angora rabbit fur, while others are made from a combination of angora rabbit fur and another type of fiber.
Some products are made using a special process that blends angora rabbit fur with acrylic to make it more durable. Suvin and DCH 32 varieties of cotton spun to 40s count yarn. This type of angora rabbit fur is commonly used in items such as blankets and shawls. Other products are made from a blend of angora rabbit fur and a cotton. This blend is commonly used in items such as socks and mittens.
How to Harvest an Angora Rabbit by Plucking
The process of plucking an angora rabbit must be done carefully to avoid hurting them or removing too much fur. Once you have mastered it, though, you’ll have plenty of soft angora wool to spin into yarn or knit as clothing. Here’s how to pluck an angora rabbit safely and effectively for harvesting their fur.
About every three to four months their fur will begin to malt and loosen when you pull it. It should not be hard to pull off or it means its not ready. At this time, the hair will typically be 10cm to15cm; this is ready to pluck when there’s a second hair from the same follicle.The rabbit will actually enjoy it and stay relaxed as the process is like grooming as in the plucking process the rabbit will release hormones that open their pores in the same way.
Hand harvesting long angora hair – this method is suitable for small numbers of rabbits. Learn to do it using proper techniques, such as not pulling too hard on the wool as it will damage the rabbit. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently pinch the wool between them and then roll the wool in the direction of the rabbit’s grain. This will loosen the hair from the skin and make it easier to remove. Then, use both hands to grasp the wool and pull it away from the body.
The last step in harvesting angora wool from a rabbit is to pluck the coarse guard hair from their ears, face and tail. The easiest way to do this is to grasp the wool with your thumb and forefinger and roll it towards the head. This will loosen the hair and make it easier to remove. Then, slide your fingertips along the surface of the skin, grasping and pulling away the coarse hair.
How to Store Angora Fur
Store the fur in air tight containers. Make sure to properly label your products with information about the rabbit from which the wool was harvested and the date it was harvested. Store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Shearing Angora Wool
Shearing angora wool is more suited to some breeds of rabbit such as a French or English Angora breeds as matting fur can be common. The ends of the wool are blunter but the wool is still widely used by spinners. Blunt tipped scissors or a very quiet clippers that won’t alarm your rabbit are recommended. be careful of sensitive areas such as the hidden genitals.
- German Angora rabbits produce twice as much fur as English or French breeds but should not be plucked.
- Harvest the wool when the rabbit is fully grown. Angora wool must be at least 3 inches long before it’s ready to be harvested
Conclusion – Can I Harvest The Fur of my Rabbit?
Yes, I can harvest the fur of my rabbit but only if its an Angora breed. When carried out correctly and carefully, harvesting angora wool from a rabbit can be a rewarding and profitable experience. It’s important to plan ahead, prepare your equipment and keep the rabbits clean, healthy and well-maintained. When you have a healthy, happy and well-groomed group of angora rabbits, harvesting their wool for use in knitting and other crafts is a rewarding hobby or even business.
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