Angora Projects

Angora Projects

Post by Jon Charles Gilli » Fri, 07 Jul 1995 04:00:00


>>They came with 3-inch coats, and after reading everything I could get my
>>hands on, I decided to clip, not pluck them.  You should have seen us --
>>inexperienced groomer trying to scissor equally inexperienced bunnies!

   I started out plucking my bunnies, as the first reference I read
suggested that method.  However, it seems every other reference I find
takes a different position!

   From my own inexperience :^), prime angora wool whether plucked or
sheared is good stuff ... the sheared can often times benefit a bit by
preparation with hand cards to open up the sheared end, but this isn't
always necessary.

   I haven't found yarns spun with sheared prime wool to be noticably
different from the plucked, although in theory the sheared end (being
blunt with 'sharp' edges) can make a yarn more scratchy.

   One thing that most of the references I've found agree on is that
plucking can, over time, damage the hair folicles of the bunny and reduce
the 'harvest,' as much as a 30% reduction in wool production.  This
added to the fact that plucking can be more traumatic for the bunny, as
well as taking about 3 times as long as shearing, has convinced me -- I
now mostly shear, only plucking the best & longest prime wool.  

   If you're looking to market your wool, being able to label it as 'hand
plucked', because of the perception among many hand spinners that plucked
wool gives a nicer yarn, should entitle your wool to a premium price --
after all it is quite labor intensive to harvest that way.  On the other
hand, if you're harvesting for your own spinning, spin some plucked and
some shorn, and compare the yarns ... then you can decide if the extra
effort involved in plucking is worth it.

   The jury is out regarding which is safer, plucking or shearing, in
regards to wool block.  Some references say that plucking leaves more of
the shorter undercoat exposed, and that this is more likely to be a problem
as the bunny grooms itself.  Others say that the second cuts and stray snips
from shearing will remain in the coat where the bunny is likely to ingest
them.  I try to brush all of this out as good as I can after shearing.  Also,
after plucking or shearing, I restrict access to pelleted food, and provide
fresh greens (dandelion) and lots of straw/hay/alfalfa -- all insurance
against wool block.

   If it's winter time, some argue that plucking leaves all the under
coat to keep the bunny warmer, but if it's too cold, I'm thinking I'll
just keep any bunny that has to be shorn in the ba***t until it gets
a good coat back to go back outside.

   Of course, shearing does open the possibility of nicking the rabbit.
I'm using a pair of pet shears that have an upturned nose ... this makes
it more difficult to nick the bunny with the tip.  A rabbit's skin is
very loose, and as you pull up a lock of wool to snip, the skin pulls up
with it.  It's best to pull up thin locks so that you can easily tell if
the resistance to the shears changes if you start cutting skin (so you can
quickly stop the snip).  Also, this helps you avoid second cuts.  Use the
tip of the shears to move the short, previously cut fiber out of the way
before you begin the new cut.

   If you're shearing a female, be extra careful around the ***s.  A
***, once cut, will no longer be of any use to the kits.  It's good to
locate each *** first, and, placing your finger over it, shear a circle
around it.  'Completely Angora' suggest keeping a written record of the
number of ***s each of your females has, although I haven't done that.

   I keep a bottle of 'bleed stop' handy ... apply this stuff to a bleeding
nick, and it clots it up almost immediately.

>>I understand that an Angora's baby coat is pretty much unusable, but I
>>couldn't resist the temptation to play with it.  I thought that perhaps a
>>hat or pair of mittens that wouldn't mind the felting might be best, but
>>I don't think I have enough.  Does anyone know of something I could do
>>with this?  All suggestions welcome!

   Baby angora is thought of as 'unusuable' because it is short, fine, lacks
guard hairs, and
felts very easily ... which makes it great for making angora felt!  If you
don't have enough, card it in with some merino or alpaca shorts and felt
with the blended batt.

   Because of the felting problem, yarn made from baby angora wool
probably won't make good sweater yarn.  Maybe if it was blended in
smaller amounts with some other fiber, or spun as one ply of a 3 ply.

   I spun a 3-ply this weekend: One ply white angora, one ply white cotton,
and one ply white wool with some lustre.  I really like it!  The cotton and
angora make it soft, the cotton helps it breathe and keeps it from being
too hot, and the wool give lustre and elasticity.

Bright blessings,


   When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is
   time to stop and reconsider.
   -- Mark Twain


  "With a few exceptions, business has been slow to recognize the problems
   of the 'time bravado' culture -- the stress that is caused and created
   by a culture of presenteeism (the workaholic equivalent of absenteeism;
   you are always at your desk no matter how little you accomplish)."
   -- Helen Wilkinson, 'The Idler' Jan. 1995

  "With a few exceptions, business has been slow to recognize the problems
   of the 'time bravado' culture -- the stress that is caused and created