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    Raising Angora Rabbits

    By Samantha Johnson

    If you’re a fiber artist who doesn’t have the space or ability to raise sheep or angora goats, consider a much smaller fiber producer — angora rabbits.

    Angora rabbits produce extremely soft, luxurious wool that continually grows back after harvesting, similar to the concept of shearing a sheep. But harvesting angora rabbit wool is much easier than sheep shearing; in fact, rabbit wool is often plucked by hand rather than clipped.

    For the fiber arts enthusiasts, it’s convenient and satisfying to harvest wool from their very own animals. 

    Of course, an angora rabbit cannot produce the volume of wool that you could expect from a sheep or goat, so if large-scale wool production is your goal, you’ll want to pursue something besides angora rabbits. But it’s also worth noting that an 8-pound rabbit requires fewer resources than a sheep or goat, which is why rabbits are a popular choice on urban farms and small homesteads. 

    The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes nearly 50 rabbit breeds, but most of these breeds exhibit what’s known as “normal” fur — not angora wool.  

    Only six rabbit breeds possess angora wool: the Giant Angora, the French Angora, the English Angora, the Satin Angora, the American Fuzzy Lop, and the Jersey Wooly. Of these, the Giant Angora is the largest — more than 9 pounds at maturity — while the American Fuzzy Lop and Jersey Wooly are the smallest, at about 3 to 4 pounds.  

    But which breed should you choose? If you’re new to angora rabbits, or rabbits in general, consider starting with one of the smaller breeds while you learn the ropes of rabbit-keeping. 

    Smaller rabbits are easier to handle and can be less intimidating to the novice rabbit owner, although the smaller angora breeds produce less wool than the Giant, French, English, and Satin Angoras. 

    The larger breeds can produce anywhere from 8 to 32 ounces of wool each year, harvested every three or four months.

    When it comes to housing and general everyday care, the needs of an angora rabbit are basically the same as those of other rabbits.  All rabbits — including angoras — need an appropriately sized habitat; lots of fresh, clean water; an appropriate amount of specially formulated rabbit feed; access to grass hay; and plenty of love, exercise, and attention.  

    But there is one important distinction: angora rabbits also require extensive grooming — much more than the grooming requirements for a rabbit with normal fur.  

    Grooming an angora rabbit is actually a bigger commitment than some people initially realize; it’s a time-consuming task that needs to be attended to on a daily basis. A pristine coat of angora wool doesn’t come without effort and an angora rabbit’s coat condition can quickly deteriorate if not given proper attention. 

    But for devoted angora rabbit enthusiasts, the rewards of beautiful rabbits and beautiful wool amply outweigh the grooming commitment.