Hand Spun

Hand Spun
Rowenna and yarn

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Angora bunny shear

Well today I've been ill. So I've made birdie mash, I've napped, I've had my weight in fluid intake and I still feel blah. So I've decided to blog about shearing a bunny. I have pictures too! Licorice was shorn very recently and she received two tiny cuts from me in the process. I HATE it when I cut her skin. But I keep triple antibiotic ointment handy with lidicaine to ease the sting for her and she's always so relieved when it's over. She's now naked and will be under a small heat light for a few days while it's still chilly here. Here she is a few days before her shear outside in the bunny play pen eating grass.
Here she is next on the "shearing table" which is actually an unused bird playstand with the  "U" portion removed. It's on wheels so she can move around on it but I can position the stand to position her where I need her for shearing purposes.
Looking grumpy because she knows what's coming.
I usually start in the center of her back along her spine. I grab the fur in "locks" and cut at the base using the tiny shears you see next to her in the picture above this text. I don't cut the fur on the bottom of her feet or at the top of her ears. She needs the foot fur to cushion her feet and the ear fur just looks cute. :) Here she is after we get started.

I trim  in a circular motion all the way around her back and sides. This is the best fur for spinning and it has the longest staple length usually. Not because she grows it better here but because I'm better at shearing it here. This is only her 3rd shear since she was born. I didn't use her first shear fur because it was so downy but her 2nd shear and this most recent shear are wonderful for spinning angora single strand yarn to ply with another strand of wool or alpaca.
Almost done...
Finally she can relax!

Finally she's all done and kicking back on the shearing table. My husband helped hold her for me while I did her belly and legs. Licorice is not the most patient rabbit and she's a wiggle worm. But she was so happy to have all her fur off that she just relaxed in relief when it was all over. She got nicked twice (my fault entirely!) and she has antibiotic ointment on the cuts. I'll check them for the next couple of days but they heal really fast.
Here she is after being shorn. View number 2. :)
Looks like a kindergartner who went after her own hair with scissors doesn't she? I would LOVE to have clippers but the best kind to use on angora rabbits cost around $500.00 and that's just not in my budget. I have 3 angoras right now so hand shearing with scissors isn't too bad if I go slowly and carefully and the rabbits are patient. But any more than that and I'd be hard pressed to continue doing it with scissors. Carol, the angora breeder I get my rabbits from (Rabbit Tree Angoras in Boise, ID) shears all her angoras with scissors. Lemme just say... that takes more patience than I'll ever have. And she's much better at it. I lost a lot of good fur on Licorice's most recent shear to 2nd cuts and by the plain fact that I'm a newbie at it. I hope that over time I'll be able to harvest and save more of the fur by developing better shearing techniques. Anyway, there you have it. I have a newly naked and much relieved angora bunny out in the big hutch now and two babies busily growing out their own fur so that in a few months they get to go through this too. :)
Last but not least, here is the result of our combined hard work. Soon this will be spun into an angora single for use in yarn and a knitting project.
Phew! That's 3 1/2 months of angora fur growth and about 1 1/2 hours of shearing time. But it's well worth it!

4 comments:

  1. Wow,their fur is really thick underneath,I wouldn`t think a bunny would have that much fur.Thanks for sharing the pics!Do you give the rabbits any supplements to grow good fiber?
    We haven`t sheared the goats yet,finding a dry day here is almost impossible.I thought we were going to have to build an ark yesterday,not sure how much rain we got but it was alot.phyllis

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  2. I monitor how much pelleted feed she eats to avoid obesity but her pellets must be at least 17% protein. She gets free-fed hay to avoid intestinal block and she gets some fresh banana or dried mango at night when I change her water for night time. ;)

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  3. hi,i have an angora house bun that i just sheared today for the second time since i adopted her in march. she hates it!! in the middle of it, during one of her "breaks" i googled to see if there was anyone in my area who has a shearing table that i could pay to shear her!! but i found no one. anyway i have a lot of problems with hay getting tangled in her coat and causing matting . i wondered how you manage your litter box and hay feeding with your angoras or are they outside caged buns? thanks. love the look and name of your blog :) kari

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    Replies
    1. Kari,
      My buns were all outside caged buns. I fed them hay in deep bowls and swept their hutches out with a hand broom every other day or so in order to keep the hay out of their fur. I have mesh at the back of their hutches with squares large enough to let the droppings through to the ground. Once the bunnies were trained to the litter box as kits, I put the litter box over the mesh areas. Eventually I was able to remove the litter box and they just "knew" where to potty. It wasn't a perfect solution but it worked pretty well and I lost less fiber this way to matting and general nastiness. :)

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