Angora Rabbit Harvest

Angoras do take considerable time and energy, but so does everything in life.  For me, the key is knowing the cycle of each rabbit and keeping a schedule. Sometimes the rabbits don't agree with my schedule. 

 

The beginning of my rabbits cycles start in May/June. Most of my buns were born late fall/early winter, and I'm sure that has an impact. My entire herd are not regular molters and hold coats 5-7 mos.  I discovered their cycle by trial and error., there is a point between 5-7 mos where little neps begin to form on the ends of the wool, and if I don't collect is, instead of shedding out all around the cage, the coat begins to mat (it's the only time it every mats). If I really wanted, regular grooming could keep that coat past the time. I really can't stand to wait past 5 mos, I want that coat to spin, only show buns are allowed to go past 5. After the big Mini Convention show in May, I begin the clip down so no bunny carries a full coat in the heat of summer. They are clipped again in Sept/Oct, Jan/Feb, May/June. I get one less clipping than those who molt every 90 days, but my fiber tends to be twice as long. 

 

Every bun has a date with the blower before clipping. French wool doesn't seem to collect a lot of hay, mainly I am blowing out loose fibers, dander and a few tiny neps that form on the ends when its the obvious time to clip. Neps are helped along the way with a slicker brush (the only time I EVER brush my Angoras).  Buns are clipped by hand with scissors, either hair scissors or my sharpest pair of craft scissors. I am not against clippers, I just don't have a herd large enough yet for me to spend $200+ on a good pair (plus regular blade sharpening).  Starting with a part down the middle, small patches the thickness and length of my index finger are separated. I lay the scissors as close the skin as possible without pulling and clip. That becomes my guiding line. 

 

For the skiddish, I recommend placing a comb between the skin and the scissors to keep from cutting the skin.   No, it does not hurt the rabbit. They actually seem to enjoy the attention and grooming, and lay patiently in my lap. A number of factors determine whether I do the entire rabbit at one time or over a day or so. I tend to go from one side to another, until a little skirt is left around the bottom of the bunny.

 

To avoid second cuts, I make no more than one pass with the scissors. I still blow off the tips of the cut edges just to make sure no tiny bits find their way into the prime pile. As I move down the bunny, I sort the fibers too by length, into different bags. Wool around the neck, skirt, tail, feet and underbelly are discarded. I'm sure someone could use them to felt or stuffing, but I don't really have a use for them.

 

One thing I never trim are  the side burns or the wool cap. French are clean mostly on the entire face, and feet. I like to get some of the longer wool off the bottom of the feet, but that is all.