Why Is Angora Rabbit Wool Expensive?
When you are looking around for a cool fiber to use or buy, you’ll notice that some are significantly more expensive than others, especially angora rabbit wool.
Why is that? What is going on with angora wool to make it cost more than most other fibers?
Angora rabbit wool is expensive because the rabbits are expensive to buy, require additional care to keep their wool in good condition and require shearing or brushing out 4 times per year to harvest the wool, which is done by hand.
Are Angora Rabbits Killed For Their Wool? explains the economics of angora rabbits raised for fiber, spoiler alert: no, they are not killed for their wool!
Angora wool is more expensive fiber
Angora wool is a more expensive fiber to raise, harvest and use, so it will be more expensive to buy, as well.
The reason angora is higher priced than most other spinning fibers is that it is incredibly soft, making it highly desirable and is clipped from rabbits that are raised individually.
Angora wool is also a bit harder to handle than less fine fibers, it tends to fly away when being worked with and is easy to felt, making gentle handling a must.
Cost of angora rabbits and wool
The main reason why angora wool is expensive is that the rabbits themselves are expensive!
Angora rabbits are harder to find than meat rabbits and high quality angoras are costly to buy.
Angora is also harvested from rabbits individually and by hand. A very productive angora will have 12 ounces of wool to be sheared at a time.
Contrast that 12 ounces of angora wool with the 10 pounds or so of wool you would get from a sheep!
Shearing is a high labor activity and will be one of the more expensive aspects of getting fiber off of a wool animal.
Pros And Cons Of Spinning Angora goes over the high points and the challenges of working with angora rabbit fiber.
Cost of angora rabbits
Angora rabbits are higher priced than most other rabbits to start with and highly productive lines of angoras will be higher priced than the average angora.
Most angora rabbits are $250-300. You can find angoras for less and you can easily find them for more based on specific genetics or high demand.
I have seen younger rabbits advertised for less, more like $100, but these are more of a lower production line or pet quality animal.
Remember that the purpose of an angora is wool, so paying less for a low producer is not money saved, it is money wasted in feed and time.
To get a nice, high quality rabbit, you’ll need to be looking for great rabbitries raising great angora rabbits, all of which costs them so it will cost you, as well.
Differences in angora wool
There are differences in angora wool, mainly length, amount of guard hairs and amount of wool on the rabbit.
French angora rabbits tend to have more guard hair than other angora rabbits, this makes them easy to care for, since they are less likely to matt.
The guard hairs also make the fiber less soft for spinning since the guard hairs are not as soft as the rest of the wool.
Satin angora rabbits have a bit of a different fiber, it is super shiny.
Satin angoras have a much lighter wool yield than other angoras, per shearing, so they will also have a higher priced wool, since there is less of it per rabbit.
English angoras are the angoras where you can hardly see their faces! These angoras have less guard hairs, so the wool is softer but requires grooming.
English are also the rabbits that have a higher wool yield for their weight than the other two angoras listed above and a lot of halo.
German angoras are more of a production type angora, these are the ones you want if you are using the fiber and want the most spinnable fiber per rabbit.
These angoras have been selected to produce high yields of high quality wool and will give you the most bang for your buck as far as feed costs per ounce of wool.
The final type of angora is a giant angora, which, as you may have guessed, is a large bodied angora.
These rabbits are only accepted in ruby eyed white, commonly written as REW, meaning they will have the pink eyes and all white wool.
Of course, there would also be hybrid angoras, which would be crosses between two of the above breeds.
Care of angora rabbit
An angora rabbit takes more care than most other rabbits, mainly the extra care is related to their wool.
Some angoras need to have their wool brushed or even blown out with a dog grooming blower every few days to keep it from matting.
While this is not the case with all angoras, for any rabbit with a coat that needs care, this adds to the time it takes to care for the rabbits.
Wool is hand harvested
The wool from an angora rabbit is hand harvested, by clipping, brushing or plucking (pulling off loose hair with your hands).
Rabbits that shed can be brushed or plucked. Rabbits that do not shed, like the german angora, must be clipped.
Even if a rabbitry has a large number of angora rabbits, the wool is still harvested by hand, from all of the rabbits every 90 days!
Angoras must be kept clean
Angora rabbits must be kept clean! All rabbits need to be kept in clean housing and this is especially true for angoras, since a dirty cage will stain the wool.
This means that angoras need individual cages, including feeders, waterers and resting mats, all of which must be paid for.
Also, when all of the rabbits are in individual cages, it takes more time to do daily care tasks like feeding and watering, which increases labor time.
Even if you are taking care of your own angoras, you still need to take your time and effort into account when pricing the fiber.
Feeding angoras costs more
Since angora rabbits are growing wool constantly, they also need to be well fed to keep producing high quality fiber.
High quality feed costs more than lower quality feed.
This makes an angora more expensive to feed per day than another rabbit of the same size, age and reproductive stage.
Also, most angora raisers would be feeding their rabbits some sort of wool block prevention, which is most likely a fruit like pineapple or digestive enzyme tablets.
While neither of these is high cost, it is an added cost and added time to give it and make sure the rabbit ingests it.
This article, also linked above, Are Angoras Killed For Wool? goes over the feed costs as well as the fiber income potential of angora rabbits.
Angoras need climate control
The final reason that angora fiber is more expensive than most other fibers is that angoras are temperature sensitive and must be kept cool.
This means that while angora rabbits do just fine in the winter, they require care in the hotter parts of the year to keep them in a comfortable temperature zone.
While rabbits, overall, do not care for the heat, it is an especially important consideration for angoras, which also will add to the cost of keeping them.
The IAGARB (International Association of German Angora Rabbit Breeders) has an easy to read standard of care section on their site.
Click around and be sure to read through the menu, this site has lots of great angora rabbit information.