Here is my angora rabbit doe, Jade, a three year old sable color French-English mix. She is ready to be shed out of her long hair. Jade was mated to my albino angora buck and is due to kindle on April 20. Kindle means give birth in rabbit language. She’s shedding her fiber now and I want to clean her up so she’s ready for babies.
The first photo shows Jade before any grooming. Just the rough rabbit. I have a high pressure air blower for animals that is very handy for cleaning rabbits, but I won’t be needing it to clean Jade up this time. A simple slicker brush is sufficient. Her hair coat is mostly clean and matt-free.
Several minutes of brushing yields a rabbit ready to have her fiber removed. The coat is straight, free of foreign matter like hay and bits of food, and contains no matts. Time to start pulling the fiber.
I always hand pull my rabbits. This means I use my fingers to remove the long hair that the rabbit’s body is shedding. The full length of the hair is retained, and produces fiber with a length (or staple) of 4″-6″ on average. Perfect for handspinning.
Pulling the loose hairs from the rabbit’s coat does not hurt the animal. Actually, the bunnies like it and stretch out to rest while they are being shed. To remove the hair, I hold a small amount near the tips and gently pull. The loose hair slides out in my hand. I gather a handful then spread it on tissue paper to save. The fiber is laid on the paper with the tips all oriented in the same direction. When I am ready to spin, I just pick up a small hank of fiber from the pile and add it to the twist.
It takes as much as 30-45 minutes to fully remove the loose hair from Jade. She has a thick, full coat and lovely long fiber. The shorter hairs that grow on places like her feet and under her chin I pull, but do not save to spin. They are not long enough. I save shorter hair to add to her nest when her babies are born. If the shorter fiber is not removed when it is loose then tight, uncomfortable matts will form. All the loose fiber must be cleared from the rabbit to prevent matting.
A close look will show the new fiber growing and forming an undercoat on the rabbit. The new hairs are the black tips in the white undercoat. All the longer fiber is removed until just the short coat remains. The rabbit is left with fur about 2″ long when she is fully shed.