Are Angora Rabbits Killed For Their Wool?

Maybe you have considered buying a garment made from angora wool but have heard that angora rabbits are killed for their wool, which, of course, made you rethink your purchase!

Other times you see folks who obviously care for and enjoy their angora rabbits while also using their wonderfully soft fiber.

What is the truth here? How are angora rabbits treated when the are raised for wool?

Angora rabbits are not killed for wool. Angora wool is harvested every 90 days, based on wool growth and coat condition. An angora rabbit must be alive and healthy to continue to produce high quality wool.

Pros And Cons Of Spinning Angora goes over the best uses and the challenges of working with angora fiber.

mom angora rabbit with her babies at the local country fair
This little group of darlings is a mom angora and her babies at our local county fair. Wow, are they cute!

Angoras are not killed for wool!

Angora rabbits are not killed for their wool! I’m not sure where this falsehood started, but it is just that, false.

The main purpose of angora rabbits is wool production, for which they have to be alive, well cared for and healthy!

In case you are not aware of it, angora rabbits continually grow wool, which yields sellable wool every three months. A dead rabbit does not grow more wool!

Angoras must be cared for to have nice wool

Angora rabbits must be well cared for in order to have a nice looking well grow and sellable wool, which is the entire point of having the rabbit!

There seems to be inaccurate information about angora rabbit care, as in they are not well cared for when being raised for wool.

That’s not likely because a well raised rabbit produces nice wool and wool is what is being sold, which is the entire purpose of keeping angora rabbits to begin with.

Think about it, you have to keep the rabbit well fed, to get good wool growth, you have to keep the cage clean, or the wool will stain or matt.

Angora rabbits require extra care and attention to have nice wool growth and clean wool for shearing.

Which Angora Fiber Is Best For You? gives you some direction on choosing which type of angora fiber will suit you and your project best.

Angoras are calm while being turned for shearing

Some angoras are oddly calm, compared to most other rabbits, when being clipped. Is this the source of the rumor?

Angora rabbits are very tame and will just sit there while they are turned upside down.

If you have never seen this before, this may look like the rabbit is dead, but it’s just relaxed and calm.

If you are a rabbit owner and know that your rabbit would not sit calmly while being moved around like that.

Angora rabbits have a different demeanor than most other rabbits, they are super calm, a trait selected for by breeders.

With a bit of experience, they do actually stay still for grooming and shearing.

combed cloud of ready to spin angora
This is some ready to spin angora from one of my rabbits. I did not wash it, it was combed only. Angora fiber is very clean straight from the rabbit.

Angora rabbits are expensive

Angora rabbits are pricey to get to begin with.

This is great news for the rabbits, themselves, since it means that you have to be truly interested in them and their care to get one.

Angora rabbits are priced anywhere from $100 for young, weaned kits to $300+ as an average for an adult.

The “+” is because of special genetics, like rare colors or coat qualities, that would be worth more than average.

Compared to a non angora rabbit, these are some pretty steep prices!

For comparison, if you wanted to raise meat rabbits, you could get a great trio (3 rabbits, 1 buck and 2 does) for $150 or so.

That makes an angora rabbit about 6 times the price of a regular rabbit, when you are comparing high quality adults.

You don’t spend 6 times the money, after sourcing a rabbit that is relatively hard to find, then kill it! That is absurd!

Angora rabbits are in demand

Angora rabbits are also in demand, a demand which is exceeding supply, meaning the folks raising and selling angoras can be choosy as to who gets their stock.

This alone helps keep angora rabbits in the hands of folks who love the rabbits and the wonderful fiber they provide.

However, it would be possible for a person with only profit (not love of the rabbits) in mind to get a few angoras and want to use them for making money only.

While I am definitely pro profit, this is what makes the world work, even a person thinking money only would not kill the angoras for wool.

It just doesn’t make sense! Let me show you why it would benefit the angora owner to keep the rabbits alive and healthy.

Since the main purpose of an angora rabbit is wool, we’ll be talking wool as the main source of income.

combed angora on comb
This is some of my angora fiber that I combed, only the longer length fibers can be combed. Lovely!

Wool is harvested every 90 days

Once a rabbit is off and growing, the wool it produces can and should be harvested every 90 days, which is about 4 times per year.

Some angoras, depending upon breed, will shed out their coats every so often and some angoras, like the german angoras do not shed, it must be cut.

Any angora that sheds will be plucked, this means the wool that is naturally coming off of the rabbit is gathered by hand.

It is somewhat unfortunate that the hand gathered angora is referred to as being plucked, which leads you to believe that it is pulled from the skin, like a crazy eyebrow hair! Not so!

The angora wool that is being “plucked” is naturally falling out, just like when a dog sheds it’s coat.

The hair on your shedding dog is already loose, you are just brushing it out or it falls out on it’s own and is all over the couch.

The same is true with angora wool that is plucked. It is being pulled loose from the rest of the new growth coat that is coming in, not being pulled out by the roots!

This is another source of confusion around angora wool, but once again, stop and think about it. The longer the angora wool is the better.

Longer angora fibers are easier to work with and worth more when and if sold.

Why would you pull it out sooner than you need to, giving you a shorter, less desirable fiber? That doesn’t make sense!

You want as long of a fiber as you can get, so you will let the rabbit grow her wool as much as she can before it sheds. Then you’ll gather it, but not before!

Angora wool is harvested by shearing with clippers, just like a barber uses for short hair cuts, or scissors, like are used for folks with longer hair.

Any angora that does not shed, like the german angora, is clipped every 90 days, to keep the coat healthy and reduce the chances of matting.

Angora wool math

The final thought I have on walking you through why angora rabbits are kept for years as woolers, rather than killed for their wool, is just simple math.

If you were raising angora rabbits just for the money, they are worth more alive, as woolers or breeding stock, than for the meat or skin that could be sold from them.

To show you the math, you need some background information, the first of which is that different breeds produce differing amounts of wool, as do different individual rabbits.

Wool yields vary by breed and rabbit

Wool from angoras varies by breed, in both amount and softness (less or more guard hairs). We’ll talk mainly about amount of wool.

Overall, the most wool will come from a german angora and the least from a satin angora. The french and english will be somewhere in between in wool yield.

An okay angora will produce 4 ounces of wool, a great angora 12 ounces and a not so productive angora will be more in the 2 ounce range per shearing.

Since these rabbits keep growing their coats and are shorn or shed 4 times a year, those totals need to be multiplied by four to get the yearly wool production.

Angora wool sells for $8-12 per ounce

Prices for spinnable angora range from $8-10 per ounce. You can find some for less, but it is usually the shorter fibers that are suited for felting, not spinning.

Roving, which is a cloud like rope of ready to spin angora wool that you would get from a fiber supply shop, is selling for $10-12 per ounce as well.

At $10 per ounce (for easy math) even a low producing angora has $20 worth of fiber per shearing, up to $120 for a high producer.

To be clear, not all of the fiber from each rabbit is first quality, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll ignore that for this example.

Using the numbers above:

  • your low producer can produce 8 ounces of fiber per year, which is worth about $80
  • the high producer can produce 48 ounces of fiber per year which is worth about $480

Angoras eat 135 pounds of feed per year

The feed intake for each rabbit will be for the most part the same, at 135 pounds per year.

Obviously a smaller bodied rabbit, like an english angora, will eat less per day, costing less to feed per year.

Since body size and wool production do not necessarily go together, so we’ll keep things as is, going with all rabbits eating the same amount of feed per day.

135 pounds of a nice rabbit feed, not the cheap stuff, will cost you $24 per 50 pound bag, which is $64.80 for 135 pounds.

The $64.80 does not include cage, roof, waterer, feeder or your time! This is just feed costs per year for an adult wooler.

With this feed cost in mind, a low producer would bring in $15.20 in income and a high producer $415.20 from wool sold at $10 per ounce.

The more than $400 should be enough to show you that keeping a rabbit around for it’s wool is the way to go!

Even the low wool producers are making income over feed costs!

Another aspect to consider is that the angora rabbit is dead, where do you as the producer get more fiber to sell?

The only answers are to buy more rabbits, at $300 a pop, or raise some replacements, which is doable but will take time to get them grown and producing.

Either way, it makes money sense to keep the rabbit that is already producing wool to have another shearing in 90 days.

Resources:

IAGARB The All Important Feed To Wool Ratio going over the costs of producing wool per year based on an angora rabbit’s wool production compared to feed consumption

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