French Angora Rabbits

French Angora Rabbits. All about the French Angora, plus additional angora-related, wool and spinning info.

The Angora Rabbit has been domesticated for their wool for over 2000 years.

See Angora Rabbits for the history of the angora rabbit, as best as can be determined.

The use of French Angoras for wool production in France dates to as early as 1845 in the region of Saint Innocent in Savoy, France. A gentleman named Monsieur Lard developed a large angora herd that provided work for many in St. Innocent. But additionally, he and his wife made it possible for others to start their own angora enterprises.


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Mr. Lard and his wife frequently gave to the village women and to the poor several pregnant rabbits. They paid by returning half the offspring at 12 - 16 weeks of age. The villagers cared for their own rabbits and reaped the benefits. They sheared the wool, spun the yarn, made garments according to their skills, and sold their products, whether wool, yarn or garment. It was a win win win situation, enabling the enterprising to support the family and the poor to rise out of abject poverty.

No wonder France quickly became the global leader of raw angora wool production, holding this distinction until 1965.

French Angora rabbits most resemble the angoras of centuries past. This is because they have fur, not wool, on their face, ears and feet. (Compare them to the English Angoras that are wooly everywhere except, possibly, on the tips of their noses.)

This is not to say that improvements in wool quality and quantity have not been made. To the contrary, breeders have indeed made great improvements in all aspects of French Angora rabbits. The wool of a rabbit in full show coat has far more height, density and bulk than did angoras of even 80 years ago.

French Angora Rabbit

French Angoras as recognized by the ARBA weigh between 7 1/2 and 10 1/2 pounds.

The ARBA Standard of Perfection awards 35 points to the body, 55 points to wool, and 10 points to color and condition, for a total of 100 points. The body type is more commercial than is the English Angora.

They can be shown in two varieties of white, plus nearly every color possible, including the brokens of these colors:

  • Pointed in black, blue, chocolate and lilac
  • Red-Eyed-White (REW)Blue-Eyed-White (BEW)
  • Chinchilla (black), chocolate chin, lilac chin, and squirrel (blue chin)
  • Chestnut (black agouti), chocolate agouti, copper, lynx, opal
  • Self (same color all over) in black, blue, chocolate and lilac
  • Shaded - Pearl, Sable, Seal, Smoke Pearl
  • Tortoiseshell (black), blue tort, chocolate tort, lilac tort
  • Ticked - Steel (black), blue, chocolate, and lilac steels
  • Wide-banded - Cream, Fawn, Red

This makes 66 total allowable varieties in the USA. English, French and Satin Angoras are accepted in all of these varieties.

French Angora rabbits are a dual-purpose breed. They have oval-shaped, commercial bodies that provide plenty of meat, plus the wool for fiber. The wool, with its coarse guard hairs protruding beyond the crimped underwool, is usually low-maintenance, requiring minimal grooming.

Expect to find no wool on face, ears (other than minor tufting on some), and feet, up to the ankle joint. Their toenails should match if you plan to show the animal.

National club representing French Angoras: www.nationalangorarabbitbreeders.com/


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French Angora Rabbit Wool

The wool on French Angoras has a higher percentage of guard hair to underwool than the English Angora. The guard hairs protrude above the underwool, which is heavily crimped. Expected wool length is 3 ½ to 4 ½ inches, though it can grow longer if not harvested.

The extra guard hairs simplify the care and grooming, as the coat is far less prone to matting or felting on the rabbit.  The fiber qualities are excellent for handspinning. It spins easily, and the yarn is fluffy.

French Angoras are fairly low maintenance. Nevertheless, if you’re utilizing the fiber, it is best if you do minor grooming regularly in order to ensure no mats, webs or felting.

  • A maintenance schedule would include using a heavy blower to blow through the coat once or twice a week as long as the rabbit is in prime wool
  • The rabbits should normally be sheared 2-3 times a year.
  • Regular grooming keeps the rabbits beautiful, maintaining the good personalities and gentleness of French Angora rabbits.

Angora wool is 7 times warmer than wool from sheep.

  • It is a natural animal fiber
  • It is clean, coming directly from the rabbit
  • It does not require washing, picking, combing or carding
  • It is luxurious
  • It is very durable
  • It is hand-washable
  • It is non-allergenic, does not irritate the skin
  • It is easy to dye
  • It blends extremely well with other fibers.

This list comes from www.joyofhandspinning.com, where you can find extensive information on handspinning angora and many other types of wool.


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Is This Your Rabbit Breed?

Do you have a great story or experience with this breed of rabbits? Feel free to share it!

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Here's a quick video on grooming a french angora rabbit, and at the same time obtaining wool for spinning:

References:

http://www.nationalangorarabbitbreeders.com/ 
http://www.planet-pets.com/rabtfrenchangora.htm 
http://www.joyofhandspinning.com/angora-care.shtml 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angora_rabbit
Domestic Rabbits and Their Histories, by Bob D. Whitman

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