Welcome to Blue Ridge Angoras. We're a new small family rabbitry that love and plan to breed purebred German Angora Rabbits. On this blog you will find our life with rabbits from the very beginning as we search for them, through our daily adventures, from learning to spin and felt the fiber, to finding the babies new homes. Join us for the love of Fur and Fiber!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Well..There's No Babies :(

Mabel went to the vet this morning. She was not pregnant! It was a false pregnancy, which happens...But the great news about that is she is totally healthy and there is no reason she won't be able to have a whole heap of babies in about a month from now :-D Really this the best possible outcome, I'm just SO happy she is healthy and didn't have a problem!!

And for another silver lining it'll be another month closer to spring before I head up to the wild northern winter...I'm not too upset by that ;) I don't drive in winter weather, so spring is good!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday Morning Update

Still no babies from Mabel. Sherry read that it can actually take up to 34 days, which would be tomorrow...so if she doesn't have them by then Ken and Sherry will be taking her to the vet for an Xray. We're certainly hoping and praying that isn't necessary, and that she has a happy healthy litter TODAY!!

I hope to maybe get a picture of the new french cross babies today...something to tide me over while I wait for our babies ;)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesdays Update

We are STILL waiting on Miss Mabel to deliver the babies. This must be what fathers used to feel like sitting out in the waiting rooms at the hospitals! LOL

The other doe, the French/German cross, had a beautiful litter of babies today :o) So there is some good news...but as for Mabel...we just keep waiting...and praying!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Update on Mabel

I received an email from Ken and Sherry at www.backacresangora.com letting me know that they're still waiting on Mabel. She's at 30 days as of yesterday I think it was....so everyone is anxiously waiting and it should be any time now! :o) This is Mabel's first litter...so I'm sure she's much like I was having my first baby...thinking it's about time for this to be over, but still sorta wondering exactly what's happening. lol

If I understood correctly, and please contact them to see, they also bred at least one of their French/German crosses and she is due any minute too! So there could be more babies available in the next 8 weeks or so, just in time for Spring! The French/German cross has a lovely gray/silver color fiber.

I'll keep you posted and will share a picture or two as soon as I hear they are born. Here's hoping it's today!! :-D

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ideal Conditions For Raising German Angoras

As we anxiously await the arrival of the baby bunnies from Ollie and Mabel we are preparing for them and making sure that their new home will be the best possible place for them to grow into happy healthy fiber producing bunnies! :o)

There are some characteristics about the Angora rabbit that make it different from your everyday run of the mill bunny chewing the edges of your lettuce leafs in the garden. Here I will cover basic rabbit requirements and will make special note of those things that are specific to the Angora rabbits.

Food- First let me say...Rabbits can not live off of carrots, no matter what Bugs Bunny might say. Rabbits require a high quality rabbit pellet. We will be feeding the high fiber show quality Purina rabbit pellets.

Grass Hay should also be fed to help increase the fiber in the diet. Fiber is VERY very important for the digestive health of any rabbit...but especially for the Angora rabbits. As they groom themselves they can ingest large amounts of their own fur. That fur can then cause what is called "wool block" where it literally binds up in their digestive systems and can kill them. Certainly that is a tragedy that we want to do all we can to avoid...and high fiber helps to keep that from happening by keeping everything "moving" through their systems. One tip that I have read is to take a toilet paper roll and cut it in half. Stuff it full of the hay and the rabbit will eat it from in there. This helps reduce waste, and in the case of the Angora rabbit it also helps to keep the hay out of the fiber where we don't want it causing matted areas.

Treats can also be given in moderation. A daily carrot is not the best idea...but perhaps once a week a bit can be given as well as bits of apples, black oil sunflower seeds etc.

Water- Your rabbit MUST MUST MUST have water available at all times! And it must be clean water. Rabbits will not eat if they are thirsty. Water bottles should be washed out regularly and rinsed very well to be sure there is no residue from the cleaning agents left inside of them.

Housing- There are many different types of cages available for rabbits and it's best to really think of what you will need, and what will make your rabbit most comfortable.

Smaller rabbits can use smaller cages, but German Angoras and many of the crosses with German Angoras are LARGE rabbits...they need LARGE cages. A minimum size cage for a German Angora should be 30 x 36 inches and at least 24inches high. You can play around with that slightly...as I know some people who build their own cages will make them 24x48 and then the same 24inches high. German Angoras can get to 20 pounds, they need room to move around if they are going to live happy healthy lives.

The wire on the bottom of the cages needs to be sturdy to hold that sort of weight. Again, what may hold a 3 pound rabbit is not going to be able to handle one seven times that size. Holes no bigger than 1 inch by a half inch should be on the bottom to give the rabbit good solid footing and to make sure there are no inguries for feet slipping through the holes. On the sides 1 x 1 and 1 x 2 are okay.

Doors usually open in. The reason for this is there is less chance of escape by hippity hopping bunnies. German Angoras tend to be very laid back and happy rabbits and so some people reverse it so the door opens out. Either way it is important to be sure that the door secures tightly and that all edges are smooth and will not hurt the rabbit as you take them in and out.

The cages should also be hung or raised up on legs so that a drip pan can be placed under the cage. The droppings etc need to be able to fall down and not get caught up in the rabbits fur. A drop pan also makes clean up easy every other day.

If you are breeding there will also need to be nest boxes to be placed inside the cages, but I will discuss those in another post dealing with breeding.

Atmosphere- There are alot of things to consider under this topic. Some of them will make a difference in the fiber you get from your rabbit, some as to how the rabbits breed, and some are a matter of life and death...this is IMPORTANT stuff that should not be glossed over, so please read carefully!

Ventilation- Clean air makes us all feel better...rabbits are no exception. While rabbits do not do well with drafts, they do need air that is exchanged and refreshed. This can be done with doors, windows, fans, etc. In our rabbitry they will be living in a spare bedroom with two windows that are excellent for cross ventilation. Where a rabbit would not do well is a basement that has no windows, no doors, and no way to get fresh air...or in a shed that is so airtight that the air will be stale and stagnant.

Light- Sunshine is a beautiful thing...especially as I sit here on another cold overcast wintery day ;) But if you can not provide natural sunlight then it is important to provide good lighting, ideally set on a timer, for your rabbits. In terms of Angoras artificial lighting should be carefully thought out. When the days are longest and hot the rabbits will not breed, this is because of temperature mostly...but if you have the ability to keep them indoors and control such circumstances, then you may be able to get more breedings out of them than others who can not control it. If your rabbits are outside you should provide an awning or covering so that the sun does not beat down on your rabbit.

Temperature- And speaking of temperature...this is where the German Angoras really need to be thought of. One of the main reasons they are so coveted by fiber enthusiasts is because of all that long, oh so warm, fur. But that fur can be the death of them if we are not careful! The reason we have to travel so far to find good breeding stock is because most German Angoras are raised in the northern most states, where it's much cooler, and they can be kept outdoors all year long. In the South we need to take precautions to keep them cool and alive! Ideal temps are 58*-68* (which happen to be my ideal temps too...so the bunnies and I will both be very happy!) Once temps get above 75* cooling MUST be provided for them. By 85* the rabbits can die if we don't do something for them. I suspect that this is one of the big reasons that it's been so hard to find German Angoras here in the southeastern United States...but really all it takes is a little planning and some thought. Having indoor rabbits is an easy solution since most of us enjoy our air conditioning and it won't cost us any more to have the bunnies enjoy it too. Other people will put a small window a/c unit in the shed/barn where they keep their rabbits. Frozen water bottles, fans, iced treats etc can all help keep our bunnies cool and very much able to live down south. Truthfully I wouldn't live down south either if it weren't for artificial cooling methods...so I understand!

Grooming- Most people raise German Angoras for their fur. Either they are collecting it...or they want it to be perfect for showing. Grooming for the German Angora is as simple as brushing them a couple times a week. Every 90 days or so you can then shave them to collect all that fiber. Shaving may be the wrong word to use. Many people do use clippers to shave them, but from what I've read and seen most people use plain old blunt tip scissors. There are tons of videos on Youtube for this and as I get to that point with our rabbits I'll be posting more about it. German Angoras are the only angora that do NOT naturally molt their coats. The other three angoras all require more grooming and will lose their coats by themselves if you do not harvest the fiber.

Love- BinBins need love :o) They don't necessarily need it to survive...but if you want a happy healthy bunny it needs to feel the love. Spend some time with your rabbit. Take them outside to an enclosed fenced area and let them get some excersize. I have seen people use cat leashes on their German Angoras so that they can take them for a walk. Cuddle with them on the couch while brushing them.

With a little thought and a little planning it is very possible to raise these wonderful rabbits in any area of the country and still have happy healthy productive rabbits, for the love of fur and fiber!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

7 Reasons to Raise Rabbits

I'm still a bit surprised by how hard it was to find a German Angora breeder in the southeastern United States. There certainly seems to be a hole in this part of the country and I hope to be able to fill that some. There are many good reasons to raise rabbits...let me share some of them with you :o)

1) If you are a spinner you probably already know and understand how great the fiber is from Angora rabbits. The white fur of the German Angora is great for dying any color in the rainbow. There are other types of Angoras that come in natural colors as well.

2) Rabbits are great pets to have inside the home, which makes them just as easy to keep in the city as in the country. The cages should be cleaned out every other day, but other than that rabbits are not an overly smelly animal or very expensive one to keep. Many people even train their rabbits to use a litter box just like a cat and then the rabbit can have free run of the house or apartment.

3) Rabbits are quiet pets. You'll hear some jumping around the cage, and some bumping of the water bottle...but you won't hear barking all night, or cats meowing in your ears, or birds screeching with the morning light when all you want is some peace and quiet. Again another plus for people who live in the city ;)

4) Rabbits are an excellent way for children to get involved with groups such as 4H without having to get involved in larger, more expensive, and more time consuming animals. It can very much become a great social outlet with a purpose.

5) Breeding rabbits can become a helpful source of extra funds for a family. I don't know anyone who has or is going to become rich with rabbits, but every little bit helps. There are rabbits who are raised for meat, either for the families use or for sale to the public. There is the "pet" business that deals with pet stores etc. The droppings from rabbits make great material for people who raise worms and worm farmers will pay for what many owners clean out of the bottom of the cages. Other rabbits are raised for show: they are raised and entered into competitions etc where winnings may be earned. And finally there are rabbits who are raised for Fiber, for their wool, such as the German Angora.

6) Rabbits have very few extra costs. There are no yearly vet visits, no shots, no heartworm medicines, no flea and tick meds. etc. Rabbit feed if fairly inexpensive ($16 for 50 pounds at our farm store for the good stuff)

7) Rabbits have great personalities and can become cuddly lovable parts of the family :o) Their cute wriggly noses and twitchy ears can brighten any persons day!!

Rabbits make a great addition to many homes...ours certainly wouldn't be the same without a BinBin to love!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm SO Excited to Introduce You!!

I just received an email from Ken and Sherry at www.backacresangora.com with a picture of Ollie and Mabel for me to share with you!! Now you can see why we are SO excited and just how stunning these Rabbits are!!

This here is Mabel :o) She is STUNNING as far as purebred German Angoras goes!! Look at all that Gorgeous fiber!! Mabel is in her full fiber length here. This is what she will look like when it is time to shave her.

And this is Ollie :o) Such a dashing young rabbit with excellent breeding and already producing beautiful beautiful offspring!! Ollie is not at full fiber here...he's about midway through growing out his coat...which is nice because you can see how big these rabbits really are, and just how cute!!

Ken and Sherry have also bred some very German/French Angora crosses and I think they may have a few of those available right now...so if you're interested in a colored rabbit who is a bit smaller but still full of lots of beautiful fiber click the link and visit their site :o)