gift
Common Weeds And Wild Edibles Of The World (HD video)
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
Win a copy of Coppice Agroforestry this week in the Woodland forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Jay Angler
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Beau Davidson
  • thomas rubino
  • L. Johnson

Fiber: Sheep vs. Rabbit

 
pollinator
Posts: 1400
Location: Zone 6b
160
goat forest garden foraging chicken writing wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've seen some lovely stuff made from silk spun with merino wool -- people have experimented with probably every kind of fiber you can imagine.  Much of it turns out really well, you just have to try different things.  I've got a good book on learning to make and use drop-spindles:  Spinning in the Old Way, by Priscilla A Gibson-Roberts.  I've also got A Handspindle Treasury by the editors of Spinoff magazine.  I've done a little spinning on a wheel, more on a drop-spindle (but not enough to become really proficient), and like that the drop-spindle is so easy to make and carry around. 

Kathleen
 
Posts: 428
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think this could get to be real fun. I will collect all the silk this season and save until I have my own merino. I like the idea too that the drop spindle can be carried around. In the old days it was the usual thing to bring some kind of handwork when visiting but not the way now... pity. I'll see if I can get some books too. Thanks Kathleen.
 
                                    
Posts: 28
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From a Do-it-yourself standpoint; the cashmere would be easier.  All the prep to get silk from cocoon to threads ready to spin; imo; wouldn't be worth the hassle...not when cashmere goats are at hand.       

I've some some wool (somewhere in the stash ) dyed blue & purple; with white streaks of bleached Tussah silk running thru it.  One of these days, I'll get it spun into something.   

If it EVER stops storming here in mid-missouri; I have 1 last fleece to wash and get put away before I can get back to spinning.  Then the next batch in line is an intense black Romney...hard on the eyes, but nice when it's finally done. 

 
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Susan Monroe wrote:The meat from older sheep is called mutton, and is less desirable then lamb due to its stronger flavor.All my old girlfriends claim mutton is ok if ya cook it long enough!!!


I think you're out of luck for multi-purpose rabbits.  The most desirable rabbit for fiber is the Angora.  And you don't have to kill them to get it.

I suspect that comparing rabbit fiber to sheep fiber is like comparing apples to coconuts.  You would have to consider their requirements, benefits, costs, and negative aspects, as well as the likely price you would get for their fiber.

Rabbits are quiet, small, and need some particular housing. If stressed, they will kill their young.  Angoras need to be handled when young so they can be handled when older, to harvest the fiber, and this can't be blown off just because a person doesn't have the time.

Sheep can do really stupid things, and you would need to find out what kinds of sheep produce the most valuable wool, if that's your main concern.  Lower-priced wool may not be worth the effort and cost of shearing, cleaning, carding and packaging.

Don't overlook goats.  The goats that produce cashmere may be very lucrative.  Goats are smart and have minds of their own, they may eat poisonous plants, and they need very good fencing (electric mesh) to keep them confined.

And when you decide which animal you want, you'll have to educate yourself to recognize a good animal of the type. 

Any way you go, I would start with just a couple of them, and see how it goes.  Some people can't deal with sheep, saying they're brainless and stupid.  Discovering that you are one of them is not good if it happens after you buy twenty of them.

And if you have animals, it's probably a given that you will never take another vacation.

Sue

 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Emil Spoerri wrote:after labor is factored, sheep are much more productive Big call!!!
cashmere and angora is rather i don't know... for those who can afford it
not exactly fiber but... some meat rabbits have excellent and valuable pelts!

also... llamas...alpacas

 
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Angora goats are the most prolific fiber producers of all fiber animals.  They average yield is 15 lbs of mohair annually.  The kid in 2018  - 2020 sells for $10 up an oz.  If it is long it doubles so have seen it for $20 per oz for a 13 " hank of ra
w combed locks for doll hair.     Between sheep goats and angora rabbits and camelids  (alpacas and llamas ) the angora goats are the most hardy and easiest to raise.   With sheep it depends on the breed.    Angora rabbits are wonderful but you have to be on top of it as it is the most labour intensive of all fiber animals but also the finest of the fibers.  Angora from rabbits has incredible thermal properties (hollow fiber ) which distinguishes it from insulating fibers and makes it 8x warmer than wool .  So incredible that it can alleviate pain .  
 
pioneer
Posts: 354
Location: So Cal - Inland Empire
78
foraging rabbit books fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dianne Fitzmaurice wrote:Angora goats are the most prolific fiber producers of all fiber animals.  They average yield is 15 lbs of mohair annually.  The kid in 2018  - 2020 sells for $10 up an oz.  If it is long it doubles so have seen it for $20 per oz for a 13 " hank of ra
w combed locks for doll hair.     Between sheep goats and angora rabbits and camelids  (alpacas and llamas ) the angora goats are the most hardy and easiest to raise.   With sheep it depends on the breed.    Angora rabbits are wonderful but you have to be on top of it as it is the most labour intensive of all fiber animals but also the finest of the fibers.  Angora from rabbits has incredible thermal properties (hollow fiber ) which distinguishes it from insulating fibers and makes it 8x warmer than wool .  So incredible that it can alleviate pain .  



So, Dianne, your vote is goat fiber over all the other possibilities of animal fibers? This is making me double think my own plan of attack. In a year or maybe 3, we will be moving to western West Virginia to over 30 acres of mostly wooded land straddling a hill, with high tension power lines crossing midway. We (my daughter who is already there, and I) are thinking to start with meat goats, allowing them first access to clear the brush level. I thought I had my mind made up to use rabbits for fiber. My daughter also wants to have a couple of alpaca (and peafowl) for herd protection, which then gives me the alpaca fiber to throw into the mix. I've had minimal experience with alpacas and goats, but have kept rabbits in years long gone and am far more familiar with their needs in general. I have read quite a bit about the care and frequent handling of the angora rabbits, and the methods of harvesting their fibers. I like the idea of just pulling it when it's ready to fall off anyway!! And in my limited experience with alpaca (a friend's mother raised a herd of perhaps 30 and I attended both work parties for general care and shearing) I've learned that they are a different kind of general care, but that they are a larger quantity of harvest. At one of those shearing shindigs there was a single sheep brought in by a neighbor, and several llama who were much taller. But the one that really caught my eye was something of a "brindle" alpaca who had not been sheared in perhaps 3 or 4 years. I spoke with the owner and secured the fleece for myself, only to have the friend's mother tell me that since she paid for the shearing, the fleece was hers. But I digress.

I must assume from your post that you probably have had several if not all of the animal fiber possibilities for your own to have come to this opinion. I want a fiber that is strong, warm, and will stay warm despite being wet, but from an animal that does not require constant attention, since we plan on having many sorts of animals (think full on self-sustaining sort of farm, should only need to buy toilet paper!) and I will be aiming for something of a food forest. I'll learn to process my own fibers from raw to spun to article of useful fabric. That is the plan at least. I would love to hear more from any and all who have had experience with the various fiber animals, and definately from those who have raised a few different animals, the pros and cons of each as your experience has taught you. I want everyone to try to sway me toward or away from x,y, or z!! Give me the good and the horrible! Please!
Pics are from one of the work parties at the alpaca ranch out in the desert around Yucca Valley, California.
summer-and-fall-2009-370.jpg
[Thumbnail for summer-and-fall-2009-370.jpg]
summer-and-fall-2009-373.jpg
[Thumbnail for summer-and-fall-2009-373.jpg]
 
master gardener
Posts: 5318
2640
3
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can tell you that my Nigora goats 'blow' their coats, too. So, like the rabbits, you can simply wait until their coat starts looking a bit shady, and start brushing it out. You'll get a good workout - and gorgeous angora wool. Their coats are generally one of 3 types (here's a link, to help with that https://www.newlifeonahomestead.com/fiber-goats-homestead-hustle/ ), largely depending on their bloodlines. I've had mine for about 9months, and they've all blown coat once, already, and are starting, again!
 
gardener
Posts: 1309
Location: Washington State
796
3
forest garden trees rabbit earthworks composting toilet fiber arts sheep wood heat woodworking rocket stoves homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Steve Nicolini wrote:I wonder what rabbit breed would be good for fiber AND meat... New Zealand Whites maybe? 


My experience is that New Zealand Whites are good for meat and pelts - not fiber!

Only Angora rabbits (there are five breeds) and a few smaller breeds like the Jersey Wooly and the American Fuzzy Lop are 'fiber' producers.  
Here is a post I made about raising and shearing fiber rabbits.

Of the five breeds, I prefer the German Angora (which I raised for several years) because they need a haircut every 90 days, the wool does not need much (human) maintnenace between harvests, and they have a commercial (meat) body type.  You can go bigger with the Giant, smaller with the Satin, or travel the world with the English or French.  Each breed has different qualities including sheen or shinyness of coat, quantity of fiber, body size and type, whether they shed (you pluck gently) or need a hair cut, how much maintenance the wool needs between harvests, among other traits and needs similar to other rabbits.  

I also have raised sheep for the past decade.  They need much less daily care (per unit of meat and fiber) then rabbits but need more in the way of pasture/hay and harvest day activities.  For example, I can butcher a rabbit and have it in the crock pot or freezer in under an hour but it is usually 2 half day events (and several people) to butcher an older sheep or two market lambs.

The main reason I stopped raising fiber rabbits is becuase they need a haircut four times a year and my shearing schedule does not line up well with our cold winters and a summer heat leaving them nearly 'naked' in the winter and wearing a winter coat in summer.  I bring this up for your consideration of your climate and your  willingness to alter the weather they experinece.  
o1204.JPG
a three month old German Angora - ready for shearing
a three month old German Angora - ready for shearing
o1213.jpg
Same rabbit at six months old - ready for shearing
Same rabbit at six months old - ready for shearing
 
Posts: 25
1
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know you asked about other types of animals for fiber, but alpaca is another good anmimal to look into for fiber. It is warmer than wool, and very soft. Not everyone eats alpacas, but you can also eat them as they are a staple in South America. You shear once a year and although you don't get as much fiber like sheep, you can get quite a bit. You might research them and see what you think. You should never have less than at least 3, no less than 2. Also boys are the best to have for just fiber, unless you plan to breed, then 2 females.
 
Posts: 187
21
2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From what I understand, having been  interested in natural fibers for over 20 years now,  having an angora rabbit, or rabbits, means at least twice a month grooming for best health. because the hair is so long, they need to be groomed to make sure that they don't get hairballs; yes, like a long haired cat can get hairballs; except a rabbit  may not be able to throw  the hairballs back up.   We raised meat rabbits, one thing my dad though would 'make us a lot of money'.  I will not ever  do that again!  If I had it to where I could  have meat rabbits, I would be doing the New Zealands or Flemish Giants just for our needs.
 
Posts: 86
Location: Willamette Valley, OR
23
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just saw this from the daily ish.

I have had alpaca, pygora goats , and angora goats. Intended to get sheep, but moved.
I never bothered with rabbits. Too little fiber, too much time.

In the sheep v rabbit debate (I did not read all of the posts - just the first half dozen),

There are 2 fundamental questions:
How much fiber do you want?
What do you want to do with it?

Rabbit fiber feels wonderful, but it does not behave well in garments. It sheds copiously. Typically it is blended with wool (sheep!).  Although angora sweaters were a thing some decades ago, it was fairly short lived. You need a lot of rabbits for a sweater, even a fine one, and they are hot. And messy. And hard to clean.

Currently I see rabbit blended with other fibers and made into batts and rovings for hand spinners. I have bought these. Typically they are no more than 20% angora by weight, usually less. The blends are dreamy and soft and fun to spin. The yarn is usually used for hats, scarves, cowls. Not everyday ones. Things that don’t see heavy use or abrasion. Because yes, even with blending, it will shed. On your clothing, your coat, etc.

Cashmere (from goat) is more practical for softness. It can be spun with a higher twist than rabbit without turning it into wire, so it doesn’t shed like crazy. Goats take more space, but are easier to care for. And a lot more fun to watch. They will crack you up.  

(Except for angora goats. They just stand there looking beautiful.  They rarely will make you laugh out loud.).  

Another choice are pygora goats- a cross between the ever comical Pygmy goat and the angora (mohair) goat. They are nice and small. Some give fiber similar to regular mohair, some give fiber very close to cashmere, and some are in between. All of the fiber is nice. And, they are personable and like to have their bellies rubbed.

In my experience, if they have enough space they won’t challenge fencing. My horse fencing was fine (the horses and pygora shared a large pasture but the pygora also had their own pen that the horses couldn’t get into).  Just make sure the grid is smaller than their heads if your vegetable garden is on the other side.
And, as a bonus, you will never have invasive blackberry again. They eat those first.

Given my druthers, I would take pygora over rabbit for luxurious softness. And even though rabbit fur can be harvested more often, it’s still not going to add up to a pygora fleece.

But sheep still win for versatility. With so many breeds, you can get whatever fiber characteristics you want — whether softness,  or durability, or color - whatever.
And, in my opinion, sheep are not dumb. They know what they need to do to have the best chance of staying safe and being fed, and they do it. Not as fun as goats, but if you’ve ever seen lambs frolicking, it’s darn close.

A final note on sheep: the amount of care they need, common health problems, etc, varies a lot by breed. If you don’t want a lot of trouble, the so called primitive breeds are a good bet. Jacob. Icelandic. Shetland. Among others. These are sheep historically  left to their own devices for months on end in harsh conditions. And they give lovely wool. And meat too, if you want that.

Just make sure that whatever animal you choose, be sure that it will thrive in your climate.
 
Carla Burke
master gardener
Posts: 5318
2640
3
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Like L Anderson, my preference is the cashmere from goats. But, instead of the Pygora, I breed & raise Nigora goats. They're both smaller breeds than the Angora goat (or pretty much any sheep), and come with their own bonus plans: Pygora are a dual purpose goat - fiber/meat. Nigora are also dual purpose - fiber/dairy.

All goats, as far as I've been able to tell, are great at controlling brush overgrowth, though they're not as fond of grass. Goats - even the fiber goats, after shearing or rooing - can also be trained to pull a cart &/or carry a pack, as long as their individual size determines how much weight they can carry or pull. And, they don't need daily or 2/3x weekly grooming, though they can benefit from it, particularly in the area of bonding with you. Their hooves are also much easier to trim than rabbit claws. I've shed too much blood, trimming rabbit claws, and not a drop, trimming goat hooves. Goat milk is easier to digest than bovine milk, and Nigora milk is rich, sweet, and very mild - I've actually come to like it better than cows milk, and it makes great soaps, yogurt, ice cream, etc.

One other thing I've discovered is that it's far easier to get someone to temporarily care for animals that live outside, than for those that live indoors - and Angora rabbits need to be indoors, if you want their fiber to be nice. So, since we still like to travel, plus all the other stuff and more (goats really are very sweet, and utterly hilarious little characters - but house rabbits can be, too), we prefer goats.
 
yeah, but ... what would PIE do? Especially concerning this tiny ad:
Work Trade for the 2023 Garden Master Course
https://permies.com/wiki/190487/permaculture-projects/Work-Trade-Garden-Master
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic