Raising Angoras: Caring For the Perfect Dual-Purpose Rabbit

Angoras are known for their wool. They’re also raised for meat and companionship. Learn how to care for these fabulous fiber rabbits.

A gray angora outdoors basking in the sun.

Raising angoras for fiber and/or meat production is one of the great reasons to bring rabbits to your homestead.

In all of our homesteading days, we have raised over 20 rabbits. Most were “dual duty” as pets, fiber animals, and/or meat. Our French Angoras are the perfect example of a double-duty animal. They have a silky coat that is great for learning how to spin and knit or crochet. This is the main reason we started our Angora herd, to be honest. I love to knit, crochet, and all things yarn related. A companion for the kids that would provide me with wool production sounded ideal.

Taking care of the fiber rabbits requires a bit more than just regular rabbits, however.

Common Types of Angora Rabbits

There are four breeds of Angora rabbits that are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA).

English Angoras

The English Angora is the smallest of the angora breeds. They usually weigh between 5-6 lbs. They are distinguished by the fur on their face and ears. The English Angora’s coat can come in a range of colors. The color of your rabbit will be will depend on what color group they are in. These groups include the agouti group, white group, broken group, shaded group, and self group. The most common colors are white, black, blue, chocolate, blue tort, black tort, chocolate, tort, and chestnut.

French Angoras

The French Angora closest resembles the original “angora” rabbit. The FrenchAngora is the second most popular angora in the United States, second only to the English. They weigh between 7.5-9.5 lbs. French Angoras have a long list of coat colors and markings.

Satin Angoras

The Satin Angora produces some of the finest and softest wool compared to any other rabbit, including other Angoras. They weigh anywhere between 6.5-9.5 lbs. The reason their fur looks like satin is due to a recessive gene that causes the casing around the pigment in each hair shaft to be translucent rather than opaque, giving their coat a distinctive sheen or luster. This gene also causes the diameter of each strand of hair to be smaller than normal wool, which makes for finer wool. The Satin Angora comes in white, grey, brown, tan, or some combination of those.

Giant Angoras

The Giant Angora is obviously the largest of the angora breeds, weighing up to 10 lbs. These angoras produce the most wool. They have three different kinds of fiber in their wool: soft underwool (gentle waves and shine), awn fluff (crimped with a hooked end), and awn hair (guard hairs that are strong and straight). Although available in the same colors as the other breeds, the only color recognized by ARBA is white with red eyes (albino).

A young angora bunny in a basket.

Managing Angora Hair

The first thing you should know is that their long hair can, and will, get matted in their cages. Our cages need to be completely emptied and cleaned at least weekly, especially during the winter. The rabbits will groom themselves, pulling their hair out, and then they will poop or pee on it, creating a huge matted, smelly mess. One way to avoid this is to keep their hair trimmed on a regular basis. We also brush their hair out each week with a slicker brush during a spa day.

It’s worth noting that like other rabbits, angoras can be litter box trained, but you need to pick a fiber-friendly litter for the box. 

Can angora wool be cruelty-free?

As with any animal-produced textile, there are significant concerns about animal welfare when discussing angoras for wool harvesting. There are people who are careful and attentive to their animal’s well-being and those that are not.

You can harvest wool through combing, plucking, or shearing. We comb weekly and shear twice a year. 

Grooming & Shearing Angoras

We normally will “shear” or cut their hair very short each spring and in the late summer, garnering about 8 ounces or 1⁄2 pound of wool from each adult rabbit each time. It’s cooling to them and useful for us. Win­-win. 

To cut their hair, we simply cut it as any human hair. They are not scared or harmed in the process. Brush it out, then hold it about 1 inch from the rabbit’s body and trim carefully. We save all the wool we can in a bag to be washed and spun later and take out the wool that is too matted to use.

The next thing to know is that monthly we give them a pseudo­-bath. This helps control some of the matting and shedding, keeping their wool nice and clean when we shear them. It’s a quick process, gently dry shampooing them by sprinkling with some cornstarch and brushing it out. We don’t water bathe them because they can get skittish and scared. If the weather gets chilly and they are wet, it could be disastrous for them. In the wild, a wet rabbit can get into a warm den or under leaves. In the barn, they don’t have that option. They are stuck in their cages.

A basket filled with gray wool from our angoras.

Angora Nail Care

You should know that their nails need to be trimmed often. This is true for all rabbits, but our experience has led us to follow the thinking that our Angora’s nails grow faster than our Lionhead rabbits. We have experienced Angoras pulling their hair and the hair getting stuck in their nails. Hence, we trim them weekly on their spa day. 

To trim the nails, use an animal nail clipper that is set aside for them. Trim carefully just the tips, being careful not to cut past the quick and into a vein. If you let them grow too long, you will need to trim them every two to three days to get them cut down gently.

Sore Hocks

Since they are typically larger rabbits, sore hocks are something to be careful of. This is where they can develop sores on the bottoms of their feet and it can be very painful for them. To minimize the risk, make sure the pen is cleaned often and they have a resting board. This can be a wooden board or an old scrap of carpet that gives them a place off the wire to sit. If you find they develop sore hocks anyway, applying a smidgen of coconut oil on the sore spots 2­-3 times daily has helped us in the past with healing.

Feeding an Angora Rabbit

Finally, since most fiber rabbits are considered meat rabbits as well, you should know that they will eat a lot. Our Angoras could eat us out of house and home, truly. They get 1⁄2 cup of food and a treat twice a day, every day. They will eat any food you set in front of them, so you need to be careful to not overfeed them. Quality hay, a handful at a time at least 3 times a week, is also essential for helping them with digestion. Everything you need to know about feeding rabbits is here.

As you can see, raising fiber rabbits isn’t much different than raising any other rabbit, really. They are a special kind that will steal your heart and make you glad you have them.

A pinterest-friendly graphic about raising angoras.

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  1. Dominique Meyers says:

    I have an angora which is a new experience. It might not make sense in a practical way how much I have spent on my rabbits happiness, but they bring me joy. This newest rabbit is quite the character and while I understand the various positions on this post, I would like to do everything possible to provide a good balance between safety and a natural environment. It sounds to me like Jessica is doing her best to do so as well.

    Thanks by the way for posting about soft wood pellets for bedding. I will try that. My rabbit is very tired of me trying to get bedding and hay out of his lovely fur. He also loves to run free and is an expert at escaping. We now have an enclosure outside that he can run in with our company. It’s like recess and he runs free in the house. So, the next time someone asks, “what do you live in a barn?” I would have to truthfully answer, “well yes, I kind of do.”

    I am sure there will be people who disagree with any and every opinion any of us might have. I will choose what I am most comfortable with and look to others who feel similarly. I guess I can be a little interested in opinions that are different than my own because I wonder what it might take for me to feel that way. As someone I loved once said, “we all are capable of the same things it just might take different circumstances to get us to a particular point.”

    Well, anyway I hope we can learn from each other here and there and try not to be too sure we have all the answers. Questions are often more rewarding in the end.

  2. Thank you for the information. I am fairly new to homesteading and it is nice to compare what I am doing with my 6 English Angora rabbits. These rabbits are the most spoiled rabbits. Mine live in their large cages in my rabbit shed with air conditioning in the summer and heat lamps as needed in the winter. With all of the attention that they get with grooming, they are really considered to be pets, not farm animals. The lovely wool they produce is such a plus with them.

  3. I am sorry you feel that way. Our rabbits are worth approximately $200 each, and to let them “wander in the grass” where they can dig their way out of any run is asking for trouble.
    They have escaped their pens before, and it can be a dangerous thing, because they don’t understand the confines of OUR homestead, and the neighborhood dogs can kill them.
    They live in a cage so they are safe.

    1. I was thinking the same thing, why do they have to be in a cage with a wire bottom? I get that you want them to be safe, but caged with only a small thing to rest on seems pretty inhumane way to live an entire life. I appreciate your article and posts, but this does bother me as well.

      1. Our rabbits all have resting boards and carpets to get off the cages from. Risking them running off and getting killed is far more inhumane to me than keeping them safe.

  4. It makes me very sad that you keep the rabbits in wire cages
    What a crappy life for them, let them be free to wander in grass and burrow and do their natural behaviors

    1. Jennifer Drummond says:

      What you may not realize is that Angora’s are not “natural” we breed them to be this way and they can not safely exist in the “real world”. While I let my angora’s out to roam in nature on a nice day under my watchful eye, to allow them to be free and to burrow would be neglectful. The dirt and moisture absorbed by the fur would irritate the skin and sticks and even stiff pieces of grass get caught in the fur and puncture the skin. All this causes open sores that attract flies and ultimately leads to death. By tampering with nature to produce an animal more valuable for our own gain, we have signed a social contract to provide the necessities of life as Jessica has done. Good job Jessica for sharing responsible Angora rabbit procedures, so that the general public can learn more about them.

      1. Reginald SS says:

        Since Angora are not “natural” and they are breeded and grown just for monetary gain they deserve just what it’s needed for their purpose; maximize their value, not their happiness.
        If their happiness would some how increase their value that would be surely considered, but most of the breeders don’t really care if they smile or cry, if they born, live and die inside a cage. The only regard is how much they can make out of it.
        It’s really not a matter of ethic or being inhumane, it’s a fact of saving an investment, it could be a brick or a breeded baby. When it’s made and taken care for the only purpose of income, ethic is how much tax had to be paid on the sale.

        In Our farm/factory site we do not have such fancy images, we show what it really is, a place where animal are bred for the maximum gain and the lowest possible expense, we show their cages, the slaughterhouse, how we recycle any kind of sub product, So come and invest in our business.

        1. Anonymous says:

          You are so very wrong. I love my fuzzy bunnies. I take it all you care about is monetary gain?

          1. Jessica Lane says:

            I make next to nothing off my rabbits. They are pets first.