Grooming Your Angoras!
The types of grooming tools needed are dependent on how serious the owner is in showing English Angoras. If one is planning on keeping the rabbit as a pet or for the purpose of growing wool, the basic tools are a steel comb with wide teeth and an "Evergentle" slicker bruch. If one shows occasionally but is not seriously competitive, the tools needed are above comb and bruch, plus a bulb-tipped stainless steel pin brush, and a strong plastic regular comb with fine teeth. If one shows frequently and seriously, in addition to the above mentioned tools, one also needs a strong blower, a heavy duty hair dryer with cool air option, a regular grooming table, and a grooming table with lazy-susan turn table at the top. The reason that there are different tool requiements is that if one wants to be competitive in showing English Angoras, in addition to having good stock, it is necessary to find ways to keep the wool on the rabbit as long as possible without matting. The additional tools such as a blower and a dryer are utlized to accomplish these goals. On the other hand, to keep an English Angora as a pet or as a wooler, one does not want to keep the wool on the rabit for a long time; thus a comb and a slicker brush will accomplish the task.
The ideal frquency for grooming an Angora rabbit varies. It depends on the age of the rabbit, the quality of the rabbit, the condition of the rabbit, and the planned purpose for the rabbit. It can be analyzed as follows:
1. The age of the rabbit: up to eight weeks of age, generally no grooming is necessary. Groom once a week between eight weeks and four months old, every four to five days between four to five months old, and twice a week between five to seven months old. At about seven montsh old, a plucking or clipping of the wool is usually necessary. Grooming after seven months usually is done once a week. Generally speaking, when the rabbit is more than one year old, it tends to have more guard hair and this has less matting and needs less grooming. It usually takes half an hour to groom a rabbit if it is done once a week, while it takes more than three hours to groom the same rabbit if it is done once every three weeks. It is far better for the owner and rabbit if grooming is done more frequently.
2. The quality of the rabbit: Some rabbits mat a lot, some don't. Some mat from the inside out, some from the outside in. The ones that mat a lot, especially from the inside out, should be groomed more often. The rabbits that don't mat as often and have their mats appearing on the surface first may be groomed less frequently.
3. The condition of the rabbit: If the rabbit is in full coat, more frequent grooming is called for. If the rabbit has been frequently plucked or clipped, one may get away with a go through every two or three weeks.
4. The planned purpose for the rabbit: If one plans to show a rabbit, one should start to prepare for a show at least two months ahead of time. It takes frequent and careful grooming to keep the rabbit in tip top shape. The grooming tips desrcibed in this article are geared toward show rabbit grooming.
If one keeps a rabbit for wool, a pet, or for breeding, it is wise to keep the rabbit in thin and short coat. By doing so the owner will have less burden of grooming and the rabbit will have less chance of being matted. With a thin and a short coat, minimum amount of grooming, once a week or ten days is usually quite sufficient.
Grooming with a Professional Grade Blower:
First of all, where does one find such a blower? How strong should the blower be? Such blowers usually can be found in veterinary supply catalogs under dog grooming section. The price range of them is between $70 and $400. The higher priced ones do not mean that they are better because the functions on them may be of no use to English Angora owners.
The requirements for English Angora blowing is strong blowing power with cool or slightly warm air. Hot air can be damaging to your angora's wool. The blowing power should be powerful enough to open up the coat - a regulare hair dryer is not comparable.
When the blower is on, look for any webbing or felting underneath the wool. If the wool is not opening up in a totally divergent way, there is webbing and felting. Blow at these spots for awhile, if these areas are not too severe, the wool will gradually open up, the ills from the webbing and felting will surface to the top of the coat, and you can take your hand and pull the loose wool away and let it fly into the air.If the felted areas are not improving by blowing, take your steel comb and comb the tangled areas away.
I repeat the blowing on the entire rabbit by gradually and gently moving the turn table into a desirable location. If done regularly, it should not take more than five minutes to blow through the entire coat of the rabbit. If the blowing is done regularly, the chance of having a big webbed or felted area is not very high. The wool moves very rapidly when the blower is on. Sometimes I may miss some small spots since my eyes cannot catch up with the speed.
All angoras have wool that must be harvested with some regularity. The English and French moult somewhere in the eight to twelve week range and the Giant who does not reagularly moult, needs harvesting at approximately ninety days. Getting that wool off can be accomplished in several ways. (pluck or shear) Plucking should be used on any rabbit that is going to be shown. If you clip a show rabbit, the wool will take far too long to grow back to a show condition coat. After a period of time, plucking can cause wool loss. If you shear your rabbit, the wool will not be ruined over a period of time. Shearing also gets the wool off quickly and easily and causes no pain to the rabbit. To shear, you can use a barber shear, or another cheaper, more efficient brand. Whatever works better for you, it doesn't really matter.
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