Angora rabbits are a great investment for today’s micro-farming enterprises. Their cages require very little space and, as they are a renewable resource both in fibre and breeding, can be a very profitable investment. The care and upkeep of the breed is fairly minimal, however, grooming and wool harvesting is labour intensive.
The labour necessary for raising Angora rabbits may be subdivided into five categories:
- feeding – usually rabbit feed is in pelleted form which can be distributed easily via accessible feeders
- fibre harvest and collection – is the most time-consuming operation where fibre is removed by frequent shearing, cutting, or plucking
- cleaning and disinfection of the cages – includes complete litter removal, sweeping, and disinfection procedures
- health care – is basic with vaccinations unnecessary and precautions taken to prevent wool block
- reproduction – includes handling breeding animals, clipping the does wool prior to kindling (birthing), checking gestation times and dates, kindling, sexing newborn rabbits and weaning
Rabbits are best kept in wire cages usually stacked two across and two high which can be placed indoors or outdoors. Angora rabbits are sensitive to extreme temperatures especially after their fibre has been harvested which should be a consideration if living in a cold-weather area. After harvesting some rabbits are kept indoors until the fur begins to regrow at which time they are relocated outdoors. If the animals are maintained outdoors their cages should be sheltered from the weather and able to prevent predator attacks. Alternatively, cages can be set up in garages, basements, or even in a spare room in the house. Rabbits have sensitive paws so cage floors should be made of something other than wire, for example, slatted bamboo(1). If you plan on breeding your rabbits make sure you have an adequate number of cages for the increase in stock population.
The average Angora rabbit has a life span of five years and begins reproducing in their first year and continues until around the age of three. Generally a doe (female rabbit) will birth an average of 15 kits (baby rabbits) each year. Depending upon the breed, prices for a rabbit average fifty dollars. Breeders will keep a higher ratio of does to bucks (male rabbit) as one buck can service many does. The gestation period is approximately one month resulting in 3-5 kits. If rabbits are raised for their fibre it is recommended to keep breeding at a minimum as gestation and lactation reduce hair production by one third(1).
If raising Angora rabbits as breeding stock make sure detailed records are maintained. Register the animals with accredited breed registries, attend exhibits, fair, and shows to build your breeder reputation.
The adult female produces more fur than the male – averaging 1 kg against 700-800 g(1). The hair is collected every three months otherwise it will begin to fall out on its own and felt which would reduce the value of the fibre. Rabbits shed, or molt, their coats every ninety days which makes harvesting simple with a gentle tug producing 3-4 ounces (85-113 g) of wool, 2-3 ounces (56-85 g) premium quality. The German Angora does not naturally shed its coat and is usually shorn with clippers or scissors.
- the lightest known natural fibre with anti-static qualities and repels dirt
- absorbs moisture while allowing the skin to breathe thereby maintaining a steady body temperature
- seven times warmer than sheep’s wool
- odour and grease free
- durable and hand washable
- many natural colours
Generating an Income
Selling Breeding Stock
A minimum investment of approximately $200 for three does and one buck would start your Angora rabbit enterprise. If the does are breeding age you could see your stock increase to fifty in the first year alone.
Selling Raw Fibre
Spinners buy raw Angora fleece, roving, and slivers in a wide array of colours. Quality fleece can retail at around $10 per 50 g.
Angora fibre is usually mixed with another sturdier fibre, such as silk, cotton, or wool. A garment made entirely from Angora wool would be far too warm to wear thus the ratio of angora to other fibre is usually 10:90 which makes it go a long way. Producing your own name brand of Angora skeins or yarn can be done in-house or out-sourced to a local woollen mill. A 3.5 oz.(100 g) ball of mixed Angora yarn could retail for around $20 and a skein for $95 (depending on the yardage).
Selling Finished Items
Luxury garments are made from Angora wool, such as sweaters, shawls, baby blankets, mittens,socks, caps and underwear. As the yarn is knit loosely on big needles it goes a long way. 100% Angora hats can retail for around $200 and sweaters upwards of $400.