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Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Provide a well rounded diet without commercial feed, including discussions of the methods and merits of growing fodder.
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Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:14 pm


Is it possible to have angora rabbits produce marketable amounts of fiber while on a natural diet?

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby skysthelimit » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:11 am


As a general rule I'd say no.

Most Angora breeders have theirs on 18%, to carry good coat, not including supporting body condition and coat with breeding.
I've tried it. Even with "high protein" forage I could not achieve the same amount of protein as a bag of pellets. I got coats but body condition suffered greatly. When the coat started growing back wonky, I gave it up.
Back in the day, Angora breeders fed natural of course before pellets. Our modern buns have better production rates and higher nutritional needs than back then. Or maybe they were slaves to the amount of forage necessary to equal pellets.
I'd concede you could get a coat. Just not market quanitity, or quality.
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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby alforddm » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:31 am


It should "theoretically" be possible. However, it would take alot of research to balance things correctly in the diet. Most forage items are already deficient in the sulfur amino acids for rabbits so it would take a very careful balance of forage and grains. There could also be other amino acid requirements for the wool that are different from the ones needed for regular growth which I have not researched.

I did find one article that studies the amino acids requirements of sheep and angora goats for proper fiber production. That would probably be a good place to start.

http://sanangelo.tamu.edu/files/2011/11 ... -Goats.pdf

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby GBov » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:59 pm


I did read it but am not much wiser now, I must admit. :oops:

So I guess the best thing to do is to try it eh? All angora use to be forage fed so it can be done, it just may take some time.

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby PSFAngoras » Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:39 pm


I did try to feed my angoras natural for a time too, not so much forage, but good quality alfalfa hay and a good grain mix. They did poorly. Their body condition was fine, but their coats barely produced anything and got extremely coarse. It worked fine for my non-angoras, but I wouldn't do it again. Then again, I'm after high production in my fiber buns since I'm spinningnfir sale, so that's just me.
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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby GBov » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:56 pm


I know Angora as a breed have been around MUCH longer than pellets so how long do you think it would take to breed back to naturally fed production angoras?

This is just research at the moment but I really want to do it. I LOVE felting and rabbits and natural feeding so it seems a good idea to at least try.

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:07 pm


Am I correct in thinking that the quality of wool needed for felting doesn't have to be as high as for spinning?

Years ago, I had French Angora wannabees pop up in a few litters of meat mutts. I kept the best two and grew them out to about six months. They had tons of fur on a natural diet. I found the grooming too much for me--wool was not a major interest of mine--so I sent them to camp. But wow! they were really woolly and to my eye looked like the French Angoras I saw online.

GBov, if you want to give this a try, why not start with one doe and her offspring? If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, at least you will know. If it does, you can transition others.
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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby PSFAngoras » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:16 pm


I'm with Sky, the production of today's rabbits is likely a lot better than that of their ancestors that weren't fed commercial feed, and probably due to commercial feed.

I suppose it would be possible to raise a few litters on forage and keep the kits that produce the best coats on forage to breed and create a line that has *good* (not great, but perhaps respectable given the circumstances) wool production on forage, but it would probably take two or three generations before you start noticing a trend. Since angoras aren't usually bred until they're about 7-8 month old, it may take you upwards of three years or more. Not to mention if you are choosing based on coat production alone, you may find other things like conformation going to the wayside, which may start to impact their productiveness if you are using them for meat, too.
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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby alforddm » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:17 pm


GBov wrote:I did read it but am not much wiser now, I must admit. :oops:

So I guess the best thing to do is to try it eh? All angora use to be forage fed so it can be done, it just may take some time.



Protein is made up of amino acids. Different plants and grains have their protein made up of different amounts of the different amino acids. While overall protein is important for growth, it is just as importance to make sure the balance of the amino acids is optimal for growth. In rabbits, growth is generally limited by the sulfur amino acids, and lysine amino acids.

This is the main reason, IMO, that forage fed rabbits generally don't grow as fast as pellet fed ones. Most forage items are low in the sulfur amino acids and lysine. Once you calculate the perfect mix, you have to adjust it anytime you change something in the mix.

Wool and I'm assuming angora fiber, is made up of keratin proteins which in turn are made up of amino acids. So, in order to support maximum fiber you need to get your amino acids balance as close to perfect as possible.

I hope that helps a bit.

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby SixGun » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:12 pm


Although long ago generations of Angora were fed a non-pellet diet, look up their pictures. They look nothing like today's Angora. They look more like a Lionhead. The wool production capability that we have in today's Angora is simply because we can get them the nutrients necessary with pelletized feed sources. I'd love to get away from a pellet, simply because I like to know the production of what's going into my animals, but, pellets, especially with Angora, would take quite the undertaking, especially with any more than one or two rabbits in production.

These are production fiber rabbits in Germany in 1940s... Nothing like, say Betty Chu's rabbits.

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#11  Unread postby GBov » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:22 am


alforddm wrote:
GBov wrote:I did read it but am not much wiser now, I must admit. :oops:

So I guess the best thing to do is to try it eh? All angora use to be forage fed so it can be done, it just may take some time.



Protein is made up of amino acids. Different plants and grains have their protein made up of different amounts of the different amino acids. While overall protein is important for growth, it is just as importance to make sure the balance of the amino acids is optimal for growth. In rabbits, growth is generally limited by the sulfur amino acids, and lysine amino acids.

This is the main reason, IMO, that forage fed rabbits generally don't grow as fast as pellet fed ones. Most forage items are low in the sulfur amino acids and lysine. Once you calculate the perfect mix, you have to adjust it anytime you change something in the mix.

Wool and I'm assuming angora fiber, is made up of keratin proteins which in turn are made up of amino acids. So, in order to support maximum fiber you need to get your amino acids balance as close to perfect as possible.

I hope that helps a bit.


Oooo well done clever clogs, you translated pages of (to me) nonsense, into something actually understandable! Thanks for that! :D

So, if one choses feedstuffs high in those things they need and culled for stock that did well on forage, one should get a strain that produces AND does well. With luck and perseverance, that is.

What happens if I supplement my soil with sulfur? Will that boost the sulfur amino acids? When I plant onions, ANY kind of onion, I get sweet onions. So I know that sulfur is almost totally lacking in our soil. But I don't know if that will be the case where we - fingers crossed - will be moving to.

The tentative plan is to get a trio and, while still giving them the feed they are use to, introduce them to everything available to me to feed them. That way they can give all the gut flora to their kits to be able to eat it all. Then use the kits to breed for forage based production. The best of both worlds, the trio to give wool and marketable kits and the first generation from the trio to breed for my ultimate goal, totally free fiber.

All of this hinges upon the road block to my moving being removed but its looking more likely now than ever.

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#12  Unread postby alforddm » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:54 pm


GBov wrote:Oooo well done clever clogs, you translated pages of (to me) nonsense, into something actually understandable! Thanks for that!


You made me blush. Your welcome.

GBov wrote:So, if one choses feedstuffs high in those things they need and culled for stock that did well on forage, one should get a strain that produces AND does well. With luck and perseverance, that is.

What happens if I supplement my soil with sulfur? Will that boost the sulfur amino acids? When I plant onions, ANY kind of onion, I get sweet onions. So I know that sulfur is almost totally lacking in our soil. But I don't know if that will be the case where we - fingers crossed - will be moving to.

Well for one thing if you add very much sulfur your going to acidify your soil. Sulfur is something I put around my blueberries to decrease soil ph.

Because the sulfur amino acids are proteins, I'm not really sure how the plants make them. I'm not even sure they actually use sulfur to make them. I may do a little research no that one, if I remember. Hubby says he's going to come home from work one day and I will have forgotten who he is. :lol:

Selecting for those that do well or forage and trying to balance their foraged items will absolutely help. I just have no idea how long it would take to actually reach your goal. I would suggest that oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds, and either peas or soybeans will be important additions. Oats, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are high in the sulfur amino acids. Soybeans and peas are high in lysine.

I would suggest that http://feedipedia.org/ is a great website. It will help immensely. You may also consider purchasing Keeping Poultry and Rabbits on Scraps and also maybe
Rabbit Feeding and Nutrition (Animal Feeding and Nutrition) The first one is an old book and it's good a ton of good info. I first saw it recommended by Micheals4Gardens. You can get the kindle edition for $6.54. The other one is pricey but very helpful in understanding rabbit nutritional requirements.

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#13  Unread postby hotzcatz » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:29 am


Not sure if a comparison of a show angora (Betty's bun) to a fiber bun is quite fair. Fiber buns get about three haircuts a year whereas Betty's don't, so they've had a lot more time to grow a lot more hair. I've been told that she bred some non-molting genes into her angoras so they will hold more coat longer than the type of angora that molts. So, it's likely more than just the feed that makes the difference in the pictures. Although the fiber rabbits in the picture are most likely much bigger than the show rabbits.

Hmm, I'd planned on switching the herd here to almost entirely forage fed, I should anticipate a drop in fiber production? They've always had a lot of forage in their diets, but they've been fed some pellets since those are easier. They started out almost all forage fed and still produced fiber but that's when I was new with angoras, so I wasn't tracking size of fiber harvest at all. As the herd size increased, they went to a more pellet based diet. Now it's about three quarters pellets and one quarter forage, but litter size has dropped dramatically and now the litters aren't showing up at all. I'm suspecting the RoundUp Ready alfalfa that was legalized in 2011 has now become the normal farming method and there may be some residue on the alfalfa affecting rabbit fertility? If that is so, then wouldn't there be larger litters on forage fed buns?

I'm preparing a garden to grow bunny forage, I'll have to do some research before planting, I guess.

Well, did a little googling and found: http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/T0554E/T0554E16.htm They talk about tropical forages and keep mentioning things that would be nutritious, but then they mention toxicity levels of the same 'nutritious' plants. ???? Arrgh! Well, sweet potatoes, bananas and sugar cane seem good prospects for forage. Add in mulberries and what else? Sunflowers? Do soybean plants have the same amount of protein as the beans?
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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#14  Unread postby GBov » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:27 am


I have no idea about the alfalfa but that is one of my concerns about feeding pellets anymore. That and how much it was costing me to feed my then herd! Gosh, it was going up all the time.

Are you tropical? Have you looked at spineless prickly pear cactus? And Canna Lilies as well. Your list plus those two are what I am mainly planting for the buns but no buns until the plants get well grown. I am being really strong, really really strong! Says she who keeps looking at pictures of rabbits online. :lol:

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Re: Angora wool production on a natural diet?

Post Number:#15  Unread postby alforddm » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:39 pm


You might want to try Moringa (Moringa oleifera). http://feedipedia.org/node/124

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