The first aim of Angora rabbit (in Turkish, Ankara tavşanı) breeding is wool production. Although it originated in Ankara (historically known as Angora), it became extinct in Turkey. Strong demand of producers about Angora rabbit breeding necessitated breeding this animal as a gene pool and focusing on breeding countrywide. Angora rabbit wool which is used in textile industry is imported. Recently, Angora rabbit farming has begun again by these imported animals. However, Angora rabbit farming has been performed throughout the world for long years. Angora rabbit was taken to French and England from Anatolia by English seamen in 1723. In Germany, Angora rabbit firstly reared in 1777. The main countries which produce angora wool are China, France, Hungary, Argentina, Chili, Germany and Brazil. The main countries which process angora wool are Italy, Japan, Germany, France, India and Chili. It is estimated that Angora rabbit wool production all around the world is around 8000-12000 tons. China is the main source country for raw Angora wool with the production of 90%. The price for Angora wool changes with regard to the length, softness, cleanness, thinness of the hair.
The wool which is extracted from Angora rabbit is defined as “Angora wool”. It is blended with sheep wool in order to increase elasticity, to prevent fluttering around and to decrease production expenses. Angora wool which is soft, thin with isolation ability is commonly used for manufacturing of gloves, hats, hats, blankets and fabrics, etc. the length of fiber of Angora wool is 10-15 cm. the thinness of it is 12 micro meters in female ones, and 11 micro meters in male ones. There is loss at the rate of 6% after being purifying from dirt. The loss is at the rate of 50% in sheep.
Angora rabbit has a short neck, a round head with medium size. Its ears are erected, two sides of them are open and they have tufts. The inner parts of the ears are covered by thin, short and rare hairs. The outer part of the ears is covered by silky long thin hairs. White rabbits have red eyes. Their legs are thin and long and covered by long hairs. The bones are thin and strong. Average live weight is 3,5-4 kg. Live weight of mature females is more than male ones. These animals reach up to sexual maturity when they are at the age of 3-4 month. However, the most suitable period for mating is the age of 7-8 month. The average size of the litter varies between 5 or 6 baby rabbits. On an average, 3 baby rabbits remain alive during weaning period. The babies wean at the age of 6 weeks. The average life span of Angora rabbits is 4 years.
Angora rabbit has some breeds such as English, German, Russian and Tanghang. Also, it has 12 different colors. However, the most preferred one is white Angora rabbit which is albino. When comparing with other breeds of rabbits, Angora rabbit needs more attention, therefore wool production is higher in the countries where labor force is low.
When the rabbits reach up the sexual maturity, they have to be taken in personal cages. In small cages, the rabbit has to continuously stand up on its hind legs within the same position, because there is no much comfort for it in the cage. As a result, foot wounds occur. Felting of the wool increases in small cages. The suitable size of the cage is 70-90X60X45 cm. If there is no bedding/litter in the cage flooring, wooden grid must be used in order to avoid wounds resulted from flooring. Optimum width of the grid is 25-30 mm, the distances of grid bar is 10-12 mm. The flooring of the cage must be formed in order to keep animal away from urine and excretion. The hairs which stick around the cage must be cleaned by flame thrower. However, galvanize of the grid bar is corrupted by the impact of the temperature. The ambient temperature for rabbits must be 15-20 centigrade. The amount and quality of the wool decreases if the temperature reaches to more than 30 centigrade.
A rabbit consumes average 170 grams of feed in a day. The keratin within angora hair is rich in sulfurous amino acids. Therefore, the amount of sulfurous amino acid must be high in the rations of Angora rabbit. The content of the rabbit feed must contain 16-17% of raw protein, 16,5% of raw cellulose, 2-3% of raw fat and 2750 Kcal/kg digestible energy. The amount of sulfurous amino acids is 0.7-0.8%.
Angora rabbits are reared for their wool producing ability rather than their reproduction capacity, so their breeding and lactation conditions are lower than other rabbits. The hand-mating method is used in rabbits is and the reproduction efficiency of them are lower than (50%) other rabbit breeds. Long hairs cause increase of embryonic deaths in females, decrease in lactation and feed consumption, decrease in the sexual activity of males and spermatozoid deformations. The ovulation in rabbits occurs as a result of arousal. The rate of conception increases when the females are mated in shearing day and also the rate of embryonic mortality decreases. In summer; fertility, sperm volume and motility decrease. Hormone (HCG, PMSG) can be given and artificial insemination procedure can be used in order to increase reproduction capacity. Also, break for mating can be taken in considerably hot days of the summer. After the age of three, wool production and reproduction ability start to decrease quickly. There is a reverse relationship between the amount of wool production and reproduction performance.
Angora rabbits firstly start to be sheared at the age of 2 month. Then, they are sheared quarterly. After an annual four shears, 800-900 grams of wool are provided from one animal. There are many environmental factors which affect the wool productivity. These factors are as follows: gender, age, live weight, season, pregnancy, shearing interval, etc. The wool productivity of the female rabbits is higher than male rabbits by the rate of 15-20%. Pregnancy and lactation minimize wool productivity by 1/3. The wool productivity of castrated male rabbits increases by 15-20%, their feed consumption decreases and they become quiet and calm. Therefore, they have to be sheltered within groups.
The hairs which have the best quality are provided during the third shearing when the rabbit is 9-month. The female rabbits have to be used in production period as long as possible and their breeding efficiency must be decreased. The number of parent male rabbits must be 5% of total animal number. Wool productivity during summer is lower than the productivity during autumn and winter. The rabbit can be shorn by an experienced person within half an hour. The wool is provided by shearing scissors, electrical hand shears or by only hand. The reasons for preferring shearing equipment are as follows: The animals do not get stressed. These kinds of equipment protect against cold better. Breeders need less labor and time. More wool is provided. The disadvantage of shearing performed by shearing scissors is to need more time and to have more clipped wool. The animal is naked while it is shorn by hand, so its resistance against cold decreases. 3-5 mm of hair must be untouched while shearing by shearing tools. Also, the method of shearing by hand is banned in some countries for animal welfare. Recently, depilatory remedies have been used instead of shearing by hand. In this method, these kinds of medicines are natural plant extracts (logodendron), they are given to animals in the form of feed additives. The wools are grouped in terms of their quality and stored and kept away from the moth. The lengths, thinness, softness, felting of the wool are main factors which determine the quality of it.
The shearing protects the rabbits against the cold. After shearing (5-6 weeks later), increase in the length of the wool avoids excessive metabolic temperature. If ambient temperature after shearing is lower than 20 centigrade, it results in a shock period, and then feed consumption increases suddenly. It forces the metabolism and causes blood circulation disorders. Some chronic diseases become acute and deaths occur. 50% and more of the deaths seen in Angora rabbits occur during the first week after shearing. Therefore, the shearing of the rabbits must be programmed properly in the regions which struggle against hard winter conditions. Also, gastrointestinal disorders resulted from Trichobezoar/hairballs are widely seen in the rabbits. The animal swallows its own hairs and it causes accumulation of hair. These animals cannot eat enough feed, so they cannot protect their body temperatures. Also, the accumulation of hairs blocks up the stomach and generally causes the death of the animal. No feed must be given to animals once a week and they must be fed by only dried grass and water in order to avoid accumulation of hairs. Also, it is known that pineapple juice and papaya are effective for Trichobezoar/hairballs.