Downsizing in the Animal World
Barbara Gaul, a nurse who lives near Buffalo, New York, had a good time breeding, raising, training and showing Arabian horses. She also raises layer chickens and turkeys. Then, a back injury, age and a major car accident put an end to raising large animals. Still longing to have animals around, she realized she could work with a small animal that took up less space but nevertheless involved regular hands-on care. After lots of reading and conversations with rabbit breeders and her county 4-H leader, she eventually settled on French Angora Rabbits.
Why French Angoras? “They have a sweet disposition, apparently enjoy human company, and of course are a dual-purpose rabbit,” Barbara says. “Their wool is highly desirable and, with a growing interest in handspinning, is a marketable product.
“Grooming is not difficult. You can find most of the equipment in the drugstore or the pet store. You do really need a grooming table, but they are easy to make with simple tools and basic skills. The tabletop should be about 2-feet square. The top should be about waist-high. Grooming, which includes combing and blowing with a small electric blower, is fun, easy, and it must be done regularly. Just lay a folded bath towel on the tabletop — so the rabbit can get a grip with its toenails — to groom the top of the rabbit. It’s easy to do the underside and trim nails if you put the towel on your lap and gently position the rabbit on its back.”
Barbara is adamant about the need for wire cages. She says that good air circulation is especially important with Angoras for overall health and so you can see all your rabbits easily. She clips them for comfort at the beginning of summer, reminding me that rabbit wool is nine times warmer than sheep wool. Two oscillating tower fans and a window fan cool the rabbits when needed.
“Housing the rabbits in an attached garage helps keep the rabbits cool,” she says. “Also, they are close at hand for all care. It’s easy to keep them safe. Washtubs are nearby for frequent washing of all the equipment.” Then she adds, “The washtubs are also for washing your hands.” Spoken like a nurse.
Moxie Meadow Rabbitry
Location: Buffalo, New York
Average Rabbit Population: 20
Goal: Breed to Standard and Best of Breed at National Show
Breed: French Angora