Shearing an angora is an important part of its care. Without shearing, the rabbits tend to mat much more easily and they are also much more likely to get wool block and mites. Angoras are typically shorn every three to four months unless the rabbit is a show bunny then they are typically shorn at about four to six months and great care must be taken to keep their wool in good condition. I usually only shear my rabbits when I notice that they are beginning to really shed out their coats as this is the biggest sign that they need sheared. In the summer, all my rabbits that I don't plan on showing anytime soon, are sheared down with scissors so that their wool is very short to help keep them cool. Winter shearing however is a different story as some rabbits may need shearing during that time. Therefore I thought I would talk a little about how I shear my rabbits for summer and for winter. First off I set up a shearing station. I have on average about twenty rabbits so this is pretty important that i have a good set up so that both the bunny and myself are comfortable. I shear all my rabbits either in our garage or my fiber art studio where I can plug in clippers and fans if I need them. I set my rabbits on a table covered with an old piece of carpet which keeps the rabbits from sliding around on the wooden table and hurting their feet. I also set up a plastic bag and a trash can. The trash can is for any short, soiled, and\or matted wool. The plastic bag is for the nice long locks of wool which I will save for spinning and felting. Here is a picture of my shearing station.
On the plastic bag of good wool I will write the name of the rabbit, whether the rabbit was plucked or sheared, the date of the shearing, the amount of wool the rabbit produced and also the staple length of the fiber. Staple length is how long the wool is. Here is a picture of how long Amadeus' staple length is. His staple length is about five and a half inches. I typically like a staple to be between 3-5 inches for spinning.
Here is Amadeus sheared for the summer. I just used scissors to cut off all of the wool except for on his face, ears, and tail as this wool does not grow back as fast and may not grow back nearly as nice as before.
I have a somewhat odd way of shearing my rabbits for the winter. I don't like having to care for very long and thick coats all winter so I have come up with a clip that allows the rabbit to stay warm (even with the temperature below zero) yet also be very easy to manage for grooming. I used to show horses and many of the people competing would often clip their horses for winter shows. One of the clips they use is called a blanket clip. I sort of adopted this clip for my rabbits. How it works is that I will gently pull the loose and dead wool out all over the rabbit but continue to leave all the rest of the wool on the rabbit. If done correctly pulling the hair out or plucking as it is often called will NOT harm the rabbit. However not all angoras can be plucked. if you feel as though the rabbits fur does not come out easily or the bunny appears uncomfortable please do not continue and just use scissors to remove the wool. if you are able to pluck your bunny, Just go slow and remember to only pull out the loose wool as this wool isn't going to hurt the rabbit when it is removed. If you are not sure how to tell the difference between loose wool and wool still growing on the rabbit look closely at the picture below. All the lighter colored wool is loose wool while the slightly darker and shorter wool is wool that is still growing on the rabbit. the loose wool should come out very easily.
Once I have removed all the loose wool I will shear the rabbit's belly, legs, dewlap, sides, and rump (except the tail). These areas are the places where bunnies tend to mat most often, so by shearing them shorter it prevents matting while the longer wool on the rest of the bunny helps it to stay warm. Here is a picture of Delilah with a blanket clip. Unfortunately I had to cut the wool on top of her head off because it was matted.
I recently just switched over from using scissors to a nice good pair of shears and wow! am i so pleased with the difference. I get much better fiber quality and the bunnies are so much happier as the shears cut the amount of time it takes me to do a bunny in half. The shears i purchased were the Oster A5 two speed clippers. the only thing you have to be careful about with the shears is to make sure they are well oiled and not overheating. If they over heat it can damage the clippers and even burn the bunny's delicate skin. Below is a picture of chevelle mid shear. Shearing them with the clippers is also great for summer as I can get the fiber very short to help keep them cooler.
I hope this information helps and if you have any questions feel free to contact me!
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