Angora fiber should be harvested about four times each year. Which is about every 13 weeks. I do this seasonally: spring, summer, fall and winter.
By shearing time, angoras will have grown two to three inches of wool.
I use a six inch stainless steel pair of scissors to shear my bunnies. When using scissors there is more of a chance of cutting your angora. But this scissor tip will help eliminate that danger:
Put the blade of your scissors under the wool you are going to cut. Make sure you see both ends of the blade. Tilt your scissors slightly up. You are now safe to snip.
It's okay if you held your breath the whole time. It's also okay if you do cut your rabbit. Every angora owner has in his lifetime. They have tough skin and if you are following my tip the wound should be superficial. Put some antibiotic ointment on the wound and carry on shearing.
Angoras have been bred to be docile bunnies. They seem to enjoy being sheared. Spend time loving up your bunnies daily or a few times a week and they will be friendlier come shearing day.
Using a bathroom rug with rubber backing on a table will give your bunny a comfortable place to be during shearing. Work while standing on the back of your rabbit.
Next, you'll need to sit and place the bunny on his back on your lap while you shear the underside. Bunnies usually relax in this position. Holding them like this as babies helps them learn to relax and trust you.
It is important to be in tune with your bunny. By this I mean be aware of the rabbit's movements. If he wants to roll over let him, he is trusting you to handle him. Be loose and allow some movement and support his little body as necessary. You don't want your rabbit to break its neck or back. These are big rabbits and although unlikely, twisting wrong or suddenly could result in an injury.
As you shear, have two containers, one for the firsts and one for the seconds. Throw the bad cuts, guard hair and mats, into one container and the good cuts into the other container. With a firm grasp on the ends, shake the firsts into the seconds container to get any short hairs off before putting it into your firsts container.
I can shear one bunny in about an hour. While I am shearing, my sister is spinning wool...
After prepping the wool...
Spinning angora wool is as easy as 1-2-3! All the material needed are:
For an even easier spinning experience, you should use a pair of hand carters to make all the fibers go the same direction. The carders that you use should be for fine cotton. The comb is finer than that used for sheep wool.
Spindles come in two styles: the spinning wheel, and the drop spindle. Both do a fine job spinning but for beginners I recommend using the drop spindle.
Factoid! Male Angoras produce less guard hair than females.
If you love spinning wool and fiber as much as we do, you'll want to begin an Angora breeding program of your own. Get started by reading this article about breeding angoras.
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