paul has a new video  

 



visit the thread.

see the DVDs.

  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Angora rabbits for wool and meat?  RSS feed

 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anyone have any experience with raising angoras for meat and wool? How do they taste and how do you feed them during the winter? Thanks!
 
Tom Celona
Posts: 37
Location: Asheville, NC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rob,

I do not have personal experience with Angora's, but did consider the route you are exploring. Here's what I learned through my research:
- Angora's are a decent, but certainly not excellent meat rabbit is terms of feed to meat ratio. Meat should be similar quality to any other rabbit raised in the same conditions.
- Angora's need daily wool maintenance.
- Perhaps because the breed always gets so much attention, they tend to be fairly docile.

It seems to me that you can raise angora's for wool, and get a little surplus meat out of the culls, but it's sort of a waste of time to get a meat production thing going with them, because you'd be processing the fryers before they were producing any wool. If you did go the meat route primarily you'd get a bit of wool off the breeders, but as I understand it you need a bunch of rabbits to have much wool production.

The summation of my research is that it is very difficult if not impossible to do meat and wool effectively from the same herd.

TCel
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is great information, exactly what I was needing. Thanks very much for taking the time to post your findings. You make some really good points. When you say the feed to meat ratio, do you mean that you need alot more input than what you get as an output? Thanks again.
 
Lolly Knowles
Posts: 159
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tom Celona wrote:Rob,

It seems to me that you can raise angora's for wool, and get a little surplus meat out of the culls, but it's sort of a waste of time to get a meat production thing going with them, because you'd be processing the fryers before they were producing any wool. If you did go the meat route primarily you'd get a bit of wool off the breeders, but as I understand it you need a bunch of rabbits to have much wool production.

The summation of my research is that it is very difficult if not impossible to do meat and wool effectively from the same herd.

TCel


I've been reading about raising rabbits, but haven't got to the point of trying it yet. Several websites have mentioned mixing the breeds to gain better control of the final product. I'm wondering if a few Angora does throwing litters(?) that were crossed with a good meat animal would work. The brood rabbits would be producing wool, but the offspring would be freezer fodder.

Am I completely out of the ball park?
 
Tom Celona
Posts: 37
Location: Asheville, NC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rob asked:
do you mean that you need alot more input than what you get as an output?


Rabbit breeds that have been bread for meat production have been selected to produce more meat for each pound of feed input. My understanding is that the difference isn't radical, but when you're pinching pennies, every lb matters. I'm trying to get off commercial feed altogether.... but that's another discussion.


Lolly said:
Several websites have mentioned mixing the breeds to gain better control of the final product. I'm wondering if a few Angora does throwing litters(?) that were crossed with a good meat animal would work. The brood rabbits would be producing wool, but the offspring would be freezer fodder.


I think that's a pretty good idea if you can get the genetics right. As I recall, and I'm not 100% sure without looking it up, is that the angora fur gene is recessive. So if you had a bunch of angora does providing fur you could breed them to a buck with common rabbit fur and get manageable results out of the fryers. I might do some research to see what crosses do better for this purpose. someone must have tried it. if not, maybe just try on one doe first and see how it goes before getting a whole operation going.

My own story is that I got a much of mixed breed rabbits and have been trying to select for desirable traits for about a year. My experience has shown that I'm spending a lot of time trying to select for traits that are already maximized in existing breeds. so saving on the mongrels is costing me in raising way more breeders than necessary, and wasting time getting less than optimal performance. I'm now at the point where I totally support the notion of getting good breeding stock first. Many folks just get does and bucks of two different desirable breeds and take advantage of what is called "hybrid vigor". Seems to work for them, and I'm moving in that direction myself.

 
Lolly Knowles
Posts: 159
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rabbits as meat animals mean a lot more right now when a local butcher shop is offering them at $3.99 a pound.
 
osker brown
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A post above said angoras require daily wool maintenance. This may be true with extremely hairy breeds (germans), but French Angoras are quite manageable, brushing once a week is more than adequate, once every two weeks is mandatory. They also rarely get wool block. It was also mentioned that "you need a bunch of rabbits to get wool production". That seems very relative to me. Pure Angora garments are too warm, so it's not like raising sheep wool where hundreds of yards are required to make a garment. If you're trying to make a living selling raw angora fiber, then yes you will probably need lots of rabbits. If you know how to process and craft the fiber, a small number can bring a decent income with modest time input.

Re: winter feed. In Alaska we fed ours timothy hay and green food scrapes. The folks who bred our rabbit do the same for their whole herd and have no problems. If you're trying to get meat you might want to get them to eat more protein.
 
Tom Celona
Posts: 37
Location: Asheville, NC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you for the clarifications Osker. I'm glad to see someone is keeping my memory of "stuff I read" in check

 
                        
Posts: 66
Location: San Diego
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The term "angora" by itself is not a breed but a type of coat. Almost every country where rabbits are popular has developed an angora of its own; thus we have Englisg angoras, French angoras etc. If you want a combination meat/wool rabbit I would recommend a giant angora. They get very large. The wool is slightly coarser than the smaller angoras but quite suitable for spinning. The meat to bone ratio is not bad and the body conformation is quite good for meat. When they were first developing New Zealands the giant angora was bred into the line to add size. After a few generations of inbreeding you will often get a throwback giant angora from your New Zealands.
 
Sunny Lindley
Posts: 1
Location: Ashland, OR
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I raise Angora rabbits now after much research about wool and meat rabbits- a German (with giant genetics), 3 Satins and a non Angora blue dwarf. The reason that I went with wool rabbits was ultimately because rabbits scream like a small child when you kill them and I figured I just couldn't handle that. I would caution against raising wool rabbits for meat for only one reason: Angoras produce small litters and are not particularly good mothers. Meat breeds, however produce large litters and raise them well so you don't have to. Another thing to consider is that Angoras are impossibly cute and full of character, while the meat breeds are pretty banal, much like the way meat poultry are uninteresting and unfriendly while egg producers have soft eyes, pretty feathers and friendly personalities. I am currently on a small urban land, so woolers made sense for us, however if/when I move to a rural property we will raise 2 separate breeds for wool and meat starting with good stock for the meat rabbits. I'll just have to have someone else do the culling...I can handle everything but the screaming...
Angora fiber is going for up to $8/oz, so combined with $4/lb for rabbit meat, and $5-$8 a 5 gal bucket for manure, and $20 a tanned pelt, there is a viable market in rabbits.
 
Craig Foulds
Posts: 16
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The market for angora rabbit fur is a vile and disgusting one. Ripping fur off of a rabbit is inhumane to say the least. There is a reason why they are screaming.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Craig, they don't scream when they're plucked. The hair is collected when they're shedding. It comes out easily and doesn't hurt them at all. Some breeds don't release their coats, and those are shorn. Either way, it's not painful.
 
Kristal Childers
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I raise Satin Angoras primarily for their wool, though we do eat our culls(Any bunnies that do not sell by the time they reach butcher weight that I am not keeping back for breeding or wool production), and shortfur Satins for meat. My ultimate goal is to get my Satin angoras up to the same level of commercial type as the Satins that I have, so they can be truly dual purpose.

I'm a handspinner though, so I'm mostly in it for the wool.

And Craig, either that PETA video was staged or the people running the place are idiots. Pulling the fur out of them that way ruins the coat...most of it will grow back as course guard fur because of the damaged hair follicles. We who actually raise angoras for their wool have to be careful not to even over comb them, because the same thing can happen just from gentle brushing.

My particular breed, Satin Angoras, molt their coats out every 3 or 4 months and I comb out or gently pluck the old coat off the tips of the new coat. They do not pluck bald, as they usually have about 1/4inch of new coat already grown in when they old coat releases. I usually pluck the prime fiber off the back and then trim the sides and belly with scissors since it is a little faster for the bunny. They sit on my lap the whole time and are not distressed by anything other than boredom.

Other breeds are bred not to molt and are sheared with scissors or clippers. They are not intended to have the fur ripped out of them while tied down.

This is my favorite chinchilla buck, Sterling, in full coat.


And this is him directly after plucking:


Clearly traumatized. You can tell by the way he lounges on my furniture like he owns the place. Maybe I should get him a therapist?
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 514
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Regarding culling and screaming, my uncle raised Rex rabbits for many years. I was in his rabbit shed (he had quite a sophisticated operation) when he harvested a couple of rabbits. They never made a sound. He had a screen set up to hide the killing and cleaning area. He held the rabbit gently and kept it calm while he slowly stretched the neck then quickly snapped it.

He had a buyer for the pelts but ate or gave away the meat, as selling it was overly complex and a local market for rabbit meat was all but non-existent. He made enough money off of his operation to meet the minimum income requirements for agricultural status for tax and fuel purposes. All his vehicles were diesel (an Olds, a Cadillac and an Isuzu pickup). He had an underground tank installed under a parking pad next to his house which he topped off with Ag diesel once or twice a month.

He was a podiatrist. The rabbits' value for him was far more than the price of the pelts and the savings on meat. I suppose he could have raised exotic animals, which has been a popular tax dodge with professionals, but he was raised on a ranch and chose a more conventional approach.
 
Niele da Kine
Posts: 49
Location: Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
6
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


That's Trinity, she's an English angora. She's got about three month's worth of wool on her. She's not really been brushed or groomed much prior to her coat harvest since she's got a pretty maintenance free coat. She is not a typical English angora in that respect, though, most of them will get a few mats on them here and there unless they get an occasional grooming. The buns here are a fiber herd, not a show bunny herd. They get their wool harvested, then they don't need any grooming for two or two and a half months. Three months after a haircut, they could use a bit of combing in spots but not usually too much. By four months, it's time for another haircut. If you're keeping them as show bunnies, then you need to do every other day if not daily grooming. For a show coat, you don't comb it, you blow it out with a blower or a vacuum on reverse. Combing removes too much wool.

If Trinity was to be a show bunny, then this would just be the beginnings of her coat and she'd not get a haircut for six to nine months.



When the coat is ready to come off, it can be combed off with a steel toothed comb. Trin doesn't mind, especially if she's bribed with something tasty while she's getting combed. The light gray fiber is the coat that she is shedding, the darker fiber below is the new coat growing in.

In the upper right corner of the picture, you can see the little embroidery snips which are great for trimming the wool off the bunny.



The best spinnable fiber is from the back of the bunny. In this picture most of the good stuff has been combed off, but there's still some left on the sides. I call this the Hula Bun stage, since it looks like she's wearing a hula skirt.



Well, there's your tortured screaming bunny that had all the wool removed. In this particular instance, most of the wool was combed off. Sometimes we clip them with either the little embroidery snips - which look like old fashioned sheep shears except they are bunny sized. Or we occasionally use a pair of horse clippers with a very fine blade.

Although we're not a large scale commercial operation, here's a video of how they do it in China:

Commercial Angora clipping in China

Other than holding them by the scruff and restraining them by the ears while clipping ( which is a bit on the rude side although I don't think it's painful to them) I don't see any injury to the rabbits. No screaming, no restraints (other than fairly gently holding them with their hands), no excess snipping off of bunny parts, etc. When growing rabbits for commercial wool production, you don't want to do anything which will hurt the rabbit since that decreases the wool production. The Chinese produce about 80% of the world's angora fiber and most of the bunnies they use are a large white commercial strain which is fairly specific to China. I forget if their rabbits were bred from the Giants or Germans?

As far as having angoras for a meat herd, IMHO, you'd do better to have a few angoras as fiber producers and keep meat bunnies as meat producers. Angoras don't grow out fast enough to still be as tender as you'd probably prefer by the time they get big enough to eat. Although, I've only had the smaller English angoras, not sure if the larger German, Giants or Chinese angoras would work as a dual purpose bunny. An angora litter is typically about half the size of a meat bunny litter, too.

The length of angora wool is a double recessive so crossbred to a meat bunny won't have the long wool. Even crossbreeding different angoras together isn't such a good idea since each of the different breeds has a different type of coat.
 
Raine Hogan
Posts: 28
Location: Salt Lake City
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great thread!

I've been working with angora mix and lionheads for about 2 years now to get experience with rabbit care and breeding. I've spent $80 and had 5 rabbits, two portable cages along with feed, hay, litter boxes and toys.
Two of my does are french angora mix, and one is englich angora mix. The 2 french, Midnight and Blackberry are big like a FA but not as wooly (more like big lionheads), are great moms and produce quite a bit of wool. The EA mix, Aurora, won't breed and has been a challenge to time her grooming to get wool - I get some, but not a lot, then she suddenly blows her fur and I find it sticking to cage wire and fan blade guards.

With all of that being said, I'm leaning towards French Angoras for our future farm acreage, since I'm more interested in the wool for hand spinning and can use our culls for meat. When we get property I can get a couple of fiber/milk goats, since rabbit wool has no memory and benefits from mixing with other fiber to help minimze stretching.

Maybe someone can come up with an American Angora that has the FA size with the EA wool properties.
 
This will take every ounce of my mental strength! All for a tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!