Here at Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm, we feed our rabbits a combination of sprouted barley fodder, dry grass hay, and black oil sunflower seeds. We have been off of commercial feeds for over a year now, but we also understand that not everyone has the time to achieve such a milestone. Therefore, all rabbit kits for sale are fed a diet of 50% sprouted barley fodder and 50% commercial rabbit pellets. This way new rabbit owners can choose to feed either pellets or fodder and the rabbit kit will not have a hard transition ahead.
Sprouted fodder is always our first recommendation as to what to feed our angora rabbits.
We recommend new owners feed their French Angora rabbit one cup of a 16-17% protein pelleted feed each day. This may be split into two half-cup (2 x 1/2 cup) rations fed in the morning and evening. If your rabbit does not finish one cup of pellets a day, decrease their daily pellet ration until they can completely finish it within one day. Rabbits tend to eat more in the winter than the summer so adjust accordingly never exceeding one cup of pellets.
Feeding hay to your rabbit is just as important as feeding pellets. We recommend that you do not feed 100% alfalfa in addition to pellets. We feed a 100% orchard grass in the summer and a 50/50 mix of orchard grass and alfalfa during our freezing winters. Pelleted feeds already contain a balanced amount of protein. Alfalfa is very high in protein and would throw off that balance if fed in addition to pellets. The purpose of providing hay is to provide more fiber to your rabbit’s diet. Hay also helps to prevent wool block. Give your rabbit as much hay as they will eat in a day. Appropriate hays for fiber supplement are: Timothy hay, orchard grass, and even Bermuda grass. Hay should be fresh and sweet smelling and free of mold.
Fresh water should be provided daily. Optional: add a tablespoon of natural apple cider vinegar per gallon of water to help keep down the smell of ammonia. Use caution when giving treats and be sure they are safe for your rabbit. Too many treats can cause diarrhea. Introduce new foods slowly!
Angora rabbits can die from Wool Block. This is where your rabbit has digested too much of their fur and it has not passed through their digestive system. Like cats, when rabbits groom themselves, they ingest their own fur (and wool). The difference is, that unlike cats, rabbits cannot cough up fur-balls and can become “clogged”.
The first sign of Wool Block is the size of their droppings. If their droppings are smaller than usual or if the rabbit is not eating, suspect wool block. Another sign is a loss of appetite or that the rabbit is drinking less. A good treatment is feeding dandelions (chemical/pesticide free). Feed two large handfuls per day along with all the hay and birdseed the rabbit will eat. Do not give any pellets during this time. Once his droppings are large again you can start him back on his regular pelleted feed.
Other remedies that can be helpful are: one tablespoon of pineapple juice concentrate to two tablespoons of water, papaya tablets, and “Petromalt”. You should also clip the wool as short as possible so that the rabbit does not ingest any more wool.
My grooming tools consist of a small pet grooming brush (wire-bristles), a small-tooth comb for combing out mats, a small pair of scissors with blunt ends for cutting out mats, and dog nail trimmers. If you are raising show rabbits, a blower is optional. I raise my rabbits for wool production only, therefore I give them a good brushing twice a week to keep them free from tangles and mats. Removing their loose hair helps prevent Wool Block.
I start out first by setting the rabbit on a table and brushing the top hair on its back and sides. To do the stomach and legs I gently take hold of the bottom part of the rabbit’s ears and the scruff of its neck and gently “sweep it off its feet” with my other hand. Holding the rabbit this way immobilizes it the same way it does with a cat; it won’t hurt the animal if you do it gently. If you find you cannot do this comfortably, lift up the rabbit’s front legs (as if it were standing) and access it’s stomach that way. Then brush the stomach, bib and legs. I use the comb the work out tough mats and if all else fails I cut them out. For cuts, be sure to point the tip of the scissors away from the rabbit to avoid injuring it. Lastly, check and trim toenails as needed.
It’s true that Angoras are lovely rabbits and are soft to the touch. However, some people are concerned that grooming an Angora rabbit will take a lot of work. It’s only difficult if you make it so. French Angoras will naturally shed their coat 3-4 times a year, basically every 90 days. You can easily remove the wool from their back, bib and stomach. But may clip it from their legs, ears, tail, and face as needed.
When you start seeing clumps of wool sticking to the cage or the rabbit dragging strings of wool behind it, then the wool is probably ready for harvest. It usually takes about 1-2 hours of wool harvest time per rabbit. Sometimes I split the harvest between two days. I usually harvest using a comb, which is gently pulling the loose fiber from the rabbit. This does not hurt the rabbit because it is wool that the rabbit is shedding naturally, pretty much like a dog shedding its coat. I store the wool in between sheets of tissue paper inside of a sweater box or paper bag.
If you are planning on spinning your rabbits wool, try to let it grow at least 3 inches long, 4 inches or more is better as long as the rabbit remains healthy. Groom the rabbit at 2-3 times a week to keep it clean and tangle-free.
Rabbits do better in cooler temperatures and are prone to heat stoke. Anytime the temperature rises above 80*F, provide your rabbit with a frozen 2-liter water bottle to lean against and lots of fresh water. You can also give them a food dish with ice cubes in it. Remember that Angora wool can felt when wet, so avoid spraying or dunking your rabbit in water. Another good idea for getting through high summer temperatures is to shear your rabbit before the hottest days approach.
If you keep your rabbit indoors do not place them outdoors once the temperatures cool. While rabbits can thrive in 0 to 10*F, a sudden temperature change can cause shock or even death. It is best to ease them into the outdoors in the fall when nights are not too cold.
I believe that Angoras are healthiest when housed in a wire-bottom cage. Wooden hutches can harbor bacteria and smells if your rabbit sprays or urinates on the wood. Wire cages allow droppings and urine to fall away from the rabbit (keeping all that wool clean) and can also easily be scrubbed and cleaned when needed. French Angoras require a space at least 30″ wide by 30″ long and 18″ tall (30″x30″x18″). A 30″x36″ cage is nice if you have the resources so that your rabbit has room to really stretch out.
I have had great success housing my rabbits in an open-sided shed outdoors, but they can just as easily be litter-trained indoor pets. Just be sure to provide shelter from drafts, rain, wind, direct sun, and protection from predators.
Feel free to contact me any time during the life of your rabbit with questions or concerns and I will do my best to help. Contact your vet for emergencies.
Registered Rabbitry ARBA #D1391
PO Box 133
Mountain Ranch, CA