Grooming tips for Angoras, please!

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by MaggieJ, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    11,280
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
    Last time my best doe kindled (we bred her to her very promising son) two of the kits had Angora fur. Both of the parents have really nice fur, but it is "normal" length. I assume that both parents carried a recessive gene for Angora and that these two inherited it from each parent. What a surprise! But a nice one as I had been wanting an Angora or two, but have to watch my pennies these days.

    I have the two youngsters in a cage in the kitchen where they get lots of attention and they are quite friendly and getting used to being handled.

    My problem is that I am not accustomed to grooming long-haired animals, and so I am looking for tips. I like grooming them, but I know I have a lot to learn about tools and techniques. I have checked out several websites for Angora rabbits but I have not yet found the specific information I need. So I have some newbie questions :rolleyes: to ask.

    What kind of brushes work best? Can you train the bunnies to stay relatively still while being groomed? If so, how? How do you minimize matting in that area just behind the ears? Where do you start and how do you proceed? Are there definite wrong things to do :nono: that I should be aware of? What other advice can you give me that I don't know I need to know?

    I understand some people use a blower to groom their Angoras, but these are still skittish to unaccustomed noises. I hate that kind of noise myself and I wonder if it is necessary or just something people use to prepare their bunnies for shows.

    Mine are mutts, so no bunny shows for them (although they look like young French Angoras.) I want to keep them for their wool and will possibly use them for breeding since they are huge compared to their littermates and it appears to be meat, not bone.

    I would appreciate any advice more experienced people can share with me. :help:

    ~ Maggie :)
     
  2. robin19

    robin19 Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    Location:
    PA
    Hi,
    I use what I guess you would call a cat brush or a slicker brush. I got mine at walmart, it is green. It has wire teeth like a handcarder. In fact I use 2 of them to blend angora when I'm spinning. As for behind the ears I just keep it trimmed. Most of my angoras let you put them on their back with their ears between your knees to allow easier grooming of the underside. If they take after French Angora you shouldn't have to much matting problems once they lose their baby coat.

    Robin
     

  3. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    11,280
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks, Robin! I'll try a slicker brush... I was afraid it might be too harsh for the bunnies' skin. I'll go easy with it. So far their fur looks fine except for behind the ears. I'll trim that as you suggest, because it really seems to get tangled.
     
  4. holleegee

    holleegee Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,040
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    If the wool is really "thick" you will love a blower. When I started out I used a shop vac on reverse (so it blows instead of sucks) you could also use a blow dryer if it has a cool setting. Using a blower will make grooming so much easier and faster. I clip the little matts behind the ears. They also matt a little by the tail and around the legs. I also use a slicker brush, around the face and ears (english angoras) I use a flea comb.

    Never get them wet, the wool will matt like crazy (don't ask how I know.)

    If they get a messy bottom you can use cornstarch to dry up the mess and brush it out. Baby wipes also work well for this.

    if it gets above 80 outside they can die of heatstroke.

    Feed them hay, straw or birdseed to help prevent woolblock (like a hariball in cats but a rabbit can't cough up a hairball.)

    try visiting www.narbc.org or www.angorarabbit.com for more information

    Holly
     
  5. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    11,280
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks, Holly... some great pointers there! I would never have thought of the corn starch.

    Is it a good idea to keep their wool short during the summer? We do get some hot days but I can easily give them an ice bottle when it gts above 80 - and a fan.

    I'll certainly check out those links you posted. This is so cool, having "gift" Angoras.
     
  6. holleegee

    holleegee Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,040
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    My rabbitry has ac for the summer (they are show rabbits) I guess it would depend on your climate. I live in Missouri, we have hot humid summers.

    I agree, you got a great "gift"
     
  7. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,085
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Location:
    SE Ohio
    I clip my buns down in the summer, and keep a fan running. I've never used frozen water bottles, though I have heard of people who do.

    I also use a slicker bruch to groom them. You are not going to get close enough to the skin to worry about it being too harsh.
    Sit the rabbit sideways on a flat surface about waist height on a piece of carpet so they have good footing and won't slide around. Then on the side oposite you, lift the wool up and start gently flicking the wool around the "skirt" (all along the bottom edge of the wool), teasing it open. This is what gets rubbed and sat upon, and where most all the mats form. Pay special attention to the area above the tail, and around the "elbows". Be sure to brush out the ruff under their chin. I teach my bunnies to roll them over, sit in my hand, and lay them along my arm with the head tucked under my elbow to brush the belly.
    The blower is used to open up the prime wool on the back, getting air to the skin and blowing out dust, VM, and dead skin. You can use a hairdryer on cool to do this. Using that same carpet square, hold the rabbits head and cover the ears with your left hand to steady them. Then turn on the blower, and slowly blow out the entire coat, holding the dryer back so it opens up the coat to the skin, but does not blow the wool back in on itself. The rabbits soon get used to the noise and the feeling, but I always have a hand on them to steady them when I turn on the noise. :rolleyes: The more you brush the prime areas of the coat, the more wool you brush out, and the less wool you will have to spin. Also, the less finshed, even and attractive the coat will look. When that prime wool starts to web and mat, its telling you its time to harvest the old wool, and let the new coat grow in.
    If you are not going to show the buns, you can keep the area around their vent clipped shorter so it will stay clean. Some rabbits are very clean, and some are not by nature. Same way with the fur behind their ears - just clip those little mats that form off.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  8. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    11,280
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
    This is great, Somerhill.... You explain things very well. I imagine I will get the hang of it but it really helps to know where to start and what to watch out for. Thanks, Lisa! (BTW, I just visited your website. What a lovely place you have - and gorgeous animals.)

    Holly - We don't use air conditioning here. We do get summer humidity because of our proximity to Lake Ontario, but we also get great breezes. Our temperatures do get into the 80s sometimes, but I will be able to keep them cooler than that... fan, ice bottle, burlap cooler, as needed.
     
  9. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

    Messages:
    1,508
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Location:
    Virginia
    Thanks for the tips...I just got a trio of English Angoras (FREE!) last weekend at a show, so I appreciate the grooming tips. We already clipped the junior doe since her coat was getting iffy anyway...now to wait until it grows back.

    By the way, would anyone be interested in EA babies in a few months? I'm thinking about breeding, but since they're so high-maintenance, I'd like to have a few homes lined up first. The parents are show quality/pedigreed and come from good lines: Wooley Boogers, Under the Dark Star, etc. The offspring will probably be lilac pearl or pointed white (white or off-white body wool).
     
  10. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

    Messages:
    1,658
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    Central NY
    I prefer to comb my rabbits instead of brushing. I just use a metal dog comb with a handle, and I save all the combings for spinning. (Mine are german crosses and can't be "plucked".)

    Areas that are too dense or matted to comb through, I clip with scissor or clippers.
    I put mats in a separate "junk" wool bag. When I save enough of it, I stuff it in the toe of a sock and chuck it in the washing machine.
    Out comes a little felted ball that can be used as a bunny toy, or as a starter
    for other felted projects -

    I've tried the blower technique and found it makes 'tornado knots' that drive me nuts - so I gave it up.
     
  11. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,085
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Location:
    SE Ohio

    I bet what you've done is hold the blower too close to the rabbit. It took me a while to figure that out, too. I hold the nozzle at least 2 feet from the rabbit's body. You want the wool to open up in a fan or starburst all the way to the skin, then just keep moving the air slowly around the lower part of the bunny. I do the prime area (across the shoulders, spine and hips) last. In a French or Satin Angora, I finish up by blowing the wool from the head back to the tail to make sure the wool is back in its normal position when I finish blowing. Not sure if that is true with English Angoras, since your goal is to lift the wool and make them appear round.

    Best
    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  12. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,085
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Location:
    SE Ohio
    Sally and Charles have very nice stock!
    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com