Thursday, January 21, 2016

What I've Learned From Raising Fuzzy-Walking-Haystacks...

What I've Learned From Raising Fuzzy-Walking-Haystacks...
(a.k.a French Angora rabbits)

I became interested in wool-bearing animals several years ago and have never relinquished the idea of one day owning a few (OK a-lot) of woolly mammoths, of my own. As well as learning to harvest, spin, and make gloriously soft garments from their all natural fiber. What's not to like, yes? Of course yes! 

So, while visiting family up in Tennessee I was able to bring home two French Angoras that I had reserved several months before. I had planned on getting a male and female, so I could have, you guessed it, BABIES! But it was not to be and after I thinking about it, I thought it would be better to have two girls for now so they could live together in harmony and make my life I thought.

So after a miserably long car ride; we made it home and I settled my two ladies into the garage for the night.

Next morning I carried both of them out to a nice, spacious run with lots of grass-hay and playthings and oowhed and awwhed over my new fluffies, then went back to the house to let them settle in proper like. No sooner had I made it back to the yard when I heard ear-piercing rabbit screams. I thought one of them had gotten stuck or something so I hightail it back to their pen to see Anastasia (the black girlie), sitting atop Ella (buff girlie), trying to show her whose boss. I whacked Anastasia off Ella, thinking maybe it was just a misunderstanding, and left again. Well it happened again, and then it dawned on me from my few past years of rabbit raising experience that two females can rarely co-exist because they are so territorial. DUH. 

Thus my dream of having two Angora ladies keep each other company was utterly dashed against the wall. 

So Ella got her own spacious run, away from Anastasia and they lived happily ever after...until a couple days later.

I was gone for the whole day and little sis' did my chores for me. 

I went to do chores the next morning and was checking on the rabbits; I noticed Anastasia had a sack of puss underneath her neck. After looking at it more closely I determined she'd been bitten by a rattle snake, seeing as how they are the only poisonous snakes we have around here, and the only creature that could have gotten into her run. 
I thought to myself this is just wonderful, I've barely even had them a week and I'm going to loose one of them to a darned snake! I wasn't a happy momma. However, Anastasia prevailed and is as happy and healthy as ever.
I've had rattle snakes bite some of my rabbits in the past and normally, as long as they get bitten on the neck, shoulders, or somewhere on the front of their body, they will survive. But if they get bit on the back legs or stomach, they won't make it. Anastasia was lucky.  

When I got them, Ella was ready for some of her wool to be harvested, it was everywhere in a big, matty mess. I brought her inside and snipped as many matts off as I could off and then proceeded to trim as much of her wool as she would let me. It wasn't terribly hard, and I know there are lots of different methods for harvesting their wool, but trimming them every couple of months works better for me than having to hand brush them daily, and slowly saving it over a several months span. 

They came with a small amount of alfalfa pellets that they were used to eating, so I fed them that with as much fresh grass, alfalfa hay and vegetables as they would eat.
However, after doing some research and hearing from others who raise Angoras, they said they are prone to wool block. However, several homesteaders said you could prevent it by feeding them a non-GMO diet of whole grains as well as fresh produce. It sounded like a winner to me.
However, I don't have local access to bulk organic grains except through our food co-op Azure, but they are far too expensive. However, I did find a source for organic timothy blend pellets via Amazon that I have been ordering, until such a time as I can make my own homemade blend of organic rabbit food. 
They each get 1/2 C. of pellets in the morning, as well as any greens I can forage for them, and then in the evenings I give them each a chunk of alfalfa hay to munch on during the night. I tried to give them a bowl of pellets at night, but they thought it was a fun game to dump the bowl, along with the pellets, into their water bowl, thus wasting feed and a hefty chunk of my money. 

My system isn't perfected yet, but I'm learning as I go. 

And I'm having a trailer-load of fun while I do it!

And my giant, monstrously, ENORMOUS dreams of having all sorts of woolly animals on my future homestead; is growing bigger by the day. I think rabbits, sheep, angora goats, llamas, alpacas, and camels will be sufficient for now. What? You can't harvest wool from camels??? Fine then. I'll just milk them.

So, tell me dear readers, do you have any experience in raising Angora rabbits, or rabbis in general? What have you learned? I'm welcome to any and all advice as I start this venture in raising French Angoras for their beautifully soft wool.

Blessings - 

~ Aspen 


No comments:

Post a Comment