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hotzcatz wrote:From what I'd heard, Betty had bred in Florida Whites (years ago) to improve the body conformation. Florida Whites are mostly meat rabbits not inclined to molting as much as angoras, so that would have been a side benefit even if it wasn't the primary consideration. In any case, she selects her bunnies for much different characteristics than we do here so her bunnies are going to be different. Pretty much works with everybunny's bunnies.
Many Angora people have bred in many things. Angoras are such a created breed, probably even more than any other breed because of the fiber. Satin Angoras were created from Satins, another meat breed. That's why saying molting every 3 mos is natural and non molting is not is kind of silly, since no normal coated rabbit molts every three months. So the one's with longer cycles are actually more prevalent, more in tune with normal coated rabbits.
__________ Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:13 am __________
What characteristics do you select for, SkysTheLimit? It's always interesting to hear other folks' breeding hopes and plans. The characteristics we choose for here changes over time as we get the bunnies to suit whatever was previously chosen. The bunnies here are primarily a fiber herd so we don't select for extreme show coats. FWIW, once the coat reaches a certain level of density, the horse clippers won't work well and they must be either plucked (if they're a molting type of bunny) or sheared with scissors or snips. Fiber texture is really important for us. Easy keeping coats is important. Temperament is important. Conformation matters, but it's fifth or sixth on the list. Color matters since we're providing fiber for three different colors of Hula Bunny yarn. Hula Bunny isn't dyed, so the color of the bunny creates the color of the yarn. At the moment, I could use about five more white ones.
Honestly, I can't say I select for much. These lines are so locked in all I do is maintain. I don't have to select for a coat, it's already in the genes of what I originally bought. I could try to unselect for it, but it's harder than that might seem.
Show is more of a concern than fiber, the fiber just comes if the show coat is a proper texture, the fiber will be as well, but keeping in show condition takes work. My french grow out 6-8" coats, and I do nothing, no grooming, in between clips, unless I am going to shows. The English take more work. The Giant is going to reach 3-4" and I haven't touched him yet.
I'd say for the clippers you may need a different blade, because all my show friends with those dense coats use clippers all the time, especially with the Giants and Germans. Density is not a function of length. A 3" coat can be as dense as a 6" coat. #10 blade, but it will need sharpened frequently. I don't bother, those things are expensive, and I don't have more than 10 Angoras at one time that need clipping, it doesn't take me long to use the scissors. 20 minutes per rabbit, or not much more.
Because I show, conformation is also an issue. The french are a meat breed, and I treat them like commercial rabbits with fur. That's why they must be shake and show, what meat breeder wants to deal with fussy fur? Conformation points are very low for English, and there is a bit more leeway, but I'm a conformation freak, so no reason to let it slide.
Never have been a big worrier about temperament. I don't sell pets. I will cull a biter, but they aren't my pets, but livestock, so they don't have to be friendly. Just non violent. I don't worry too much about color either. Show rabbits are either white or colored, unless it's a DQ color, almost anything slides in the Angora world. I don't like to dye, so I try to avoid raising whites. Until I got the English I never had white Angoras in my litters.
hotzcatz wrote:The English angora fiber we get from the bunnies here is a shorter spinning fiber than some wools, but it's much longer than most cottons. (Although we now have Bleak Hall Sea Island White which at 2-1/2" to 3" is almost the length of angora.) The bunny fluff is about three to four inches when it's harvested here. The mills don't want fibers over six inches and they're quite happy with the three to four inches. What I'm starting to breed for now is crimp. That's not covered in the ARBA 'Standards of Perfection' but as a spinner, the crimpier, the better. Pure angora yarn doesn't have any elasticity to it due to the lack of crimp in the fibers. If I can get crimpy bunnies, then perhaps there will be pure angora yarn with stretch in it.
Breed standard length for English is 3.5 to 5 inches, I get that with the molting lines. Crimp is covered in the SOP, page 68. It's more in depth on the German website and in the national club handbook. The underwool should be crimped. The crimp of the French is specified to be heavier, but it's also a thicker fiber in general. In my article last fall in Spin Off magazine, I emphatically insist that saying Angora does not have elasticity is very untrue. Proper Angora with proper crimp has good elasticity. The Angora Bunny Spinners FB group has produced many items from 100% Angora, hats, mittens, sweaters, vest, which hold their shape quite well.
I can't say anything about mills, I'm a hand spinner, and besides the German Angora folks and their co-op, all the people I know hand spin their own or sell to hand spinners. With few exceptions we are spinners who raise Angoras, and either fell into showing as spinners or became spinners as a by product of showing. Skein competitions and fiber classes are a part of every show.
hotzcatz wrote:I've also been breeding for clean molting lines. If a bun will easily molt without matting up, I'll keep them and breed more of them. Some bunnies will almost slip out of their coats when they're molting. Makes fiber harvest much easier and if the bunnies are sold to someone who neglects them (I try to only sell to folks who want them for fiber, but life happens and people's interests change), they will slip out of their coat on their own and not be a pitiful bunny being brought back to me later when their coat is out of control.
There has always been a controversy over molting. Some say some breeds are supposed to molt while others aren't but if one looks at the make up of Angoras again, it's not that cut and dry. Clean molting is not natural to any rabbit, so it has to be selected for in a group. As a competitor, I prefer not having coats molt in the middle of a show season. As a spinner, I also prefer to take the whole coat off when it's time. Plucking cramps my hand, clipping is much more relaxed. It's all a matter of preference there.
I do wish I has more info about the mulberry leaves. I've never tried to preserve anything. By winter time, forage time is over, as I need to grow show coats while does are actively breeding. I have to have a more controlled nutritional diet for that.
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