Rabbit farming requires limited space and minimal capital investment while producing significant amounts of profit. For this reason, it can be practised by large, small and backyard farmers alike. Prior to establishing a rabbit farming business, it is essential to have an understanding of various types of rabbit breeds so as to select a breed that is ideal to the consumer market. Long haired rabbit breeds are often kept for the production of fur and fibre used in making garments among other materials. These breeds require great care and frequent grooming as a means to maintain their hair quality. Long haired rabbit breeds vary in size, coat type as well as colour. This article will therefore discuss various types of long haired rabbit breeds.
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Angora rabbits are thought to have originated in Turkey. They are among the long haired rabbit breeds in the world. Angora breed hair is used in the production of fine wool which commands a higher price in the market. The wool is highly famed for its silkiness and warmth. In fact, the world’s softest garment fibres are derived from Angora rabbits. An upside to keeping these rabbits is that they can produce more wool per rabbit on a limited dietary plan. As such, they are able to be productive and generate income even in severe environments. On average, Angora rabbits produce approximately 1.8kg of wool a year in a limited space of 3 foot cage. There are currently 4 breeds of Angora rabbits. Despite variations in size and wool production, they are all classified as long haired rabbit breeds.
English Angora Rabbits
This breed is the smallest among Angora rabbits weighing only 2.25 to 3.4kg. Wool from the English Angora rabbits covers the whole body including the face as well as the ears. Their coat is thick and silky in texture. Due to their long hair, the wool has to be groomed frequently in order to keep it clean and free from debris and mats that can appear causing the wool to lump up. The hair has to be trimmed timeously to encourage new hair growth. In spite of their small stature, English rabbits are among the long haired rabbit breeds whose wool is used to produce fine fibre. This breed comes in a range of rainbow colours including lynx, chestnut and chocolate, black, blue, chocolate or lilac. They have a gentle, docile, curious as well as calm temperament. Their lifespan ranges between 7 to 12 years.
French Angora Rabbits
This breed is slightly larger than English breeds weighing in at around 3.4 and 4.8kg. French Angora rabbits differ from the other breeds in size and placement of their wool. As such, they require lower maintenance costs. Unlike English breeds that require daily grooming, this breed is normally groomed on a weekly basis. French Angora breeds have two coats of hair; the coat can be coarse and extend past the undercoat or thick crimped. French Angora rabbits have a wool length of about 5cm to 15cm. Their wool is largely concentrated to the body. Similar to English breeds, their lifespan is 7 to 12 years. Another similarity is that they are also among the long haired rabbits breeds.
Satin Angora Breeds
Satin Angora breeds are slightly larger than English breeds, however, have a smaller stature in comparison to French breeds. They basically weigh about 3 to 4kg. Satin breeds are characterised by their long, fine and glossy appearing wool covering the whole body. Satin Angora breeds, as he name suggests, are kept for the production of very fine quality wool used to make satin materials. For this reason, not only are they known as long haired rabbit breeds but also for their ability to produce the finest wool compared to other rabbit breeds. For this reason, Satin breeds require frequent grooming to prevent tangling. Like all Angora breeds, they live approximately 7 to 12 years.
Giant Angora Breeds
Giant breeds are the largest of all Angora breeds. They weigh approximately 4.5 to 9kg. They are known for their superior ability to produce the most fibre from its dense coat. Note that wool from Giant breeds should be harvested by hand shearing. This is because they do not molt or shed hair like other Angora breeds. Giant Angora breeds have three different kinds of fibre which include soft underwool (gentle waves and shine), awn fluff (crimped with a hooked end) and awn hair (guard hairs which are strong and straight). Whilst they do not require daily grooming, similar to all long haired rabbit breeds, they do need grooming every 2 to 3 days.
Lionhead rabbits are small breeds that weigh about 1.3 to 1.7kg. They are known for their compact, rounded bodies and ion like facial features hence their name. Lionhead breeds have a mane with a length of 5cm. Their mane is usually grouped under two classes. Some Lionhead rabbits have a single mane where as others have a double mane. Single mane Lionhead rabbits have a thick fur which is soft and has a presence of crimping. Their wool covering surrounds the head area, and often times the flank area as well. Farmers should examine the rabbits soon after birth in order to distinguish between the two types. Double man Lionhead breeds have a long noticeable V form around their skirt, while single mane breeds are born with features similar to other rabbit breeds. Under ideal environments, Lionhead rabbits can live about 8 to 10 years.
Jersey Wooly are dwarf sized long haired rabbit breeds. They have a rounded compact body with easy to care wool. They come in a whole array of colours and patterns including agouti, self and shaded patterns; colours include black, blue, blue tort, black otter, chocolate, chestnut, pointed white, smoke pearl and siamese sable. Jersey Wooly rabbits weigh about 1kg to 1.5 kg. Unlike most long haired rabbit breeds, the Jersey Wooly rabbit does not require trimming to maintain their wool. They do however have fine hair that requires frequent grooming for maintenance. During the non-shedding season, it is advisable to brush the hair at least once a week. In order to maintain their health and ensure productivity, a well-balanced diet is of the essence. Jersey Wooly rabbits have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years.
American Fuzzy Lop
American Fuzzy Lop are small long haired rabbit breeds. They are often referred to as ‘The Head of Fancy” due to their superior quality hair. They have a compact body and a short, flat muzzle like that of a cat. These small rabbits have a large ‘bulldog’ face and lopped ears; they look somewhat like a Holland Lop with long fur. They are bred in an array of colours such as Agouti which is a combination of any colour with white. American Fuzzy Lop rabbits weigh about 1.4 to 1.8kg. Their coat is wool-like and can be spun into yarn despite being only about 5cm in length. The hair is coarse, similar to that of Angora rabbits and so is not prone to tangling. None the less, it is important to keep it well groomed. The grooming process includes trimming nails, brushing, and trimming the mats. Their lifespan ranges from 5 to 8 years but they can live for up to 10 years if kept in ideal environments.