Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to shear an Angora

*from the archives*
From:  "GERMAINE P."
Date:  Mon Aug 30, 2004  6:05 am

Subject:  Re: How to shear a French Angora

Hi Franco,

The first time you clip a bunny it is like breaking a horse. I wear a
jacket or sweatshirt to protect my person from scratches. Never reward the
bunny for struggling. Wait until he is cooperating to set him down again.

I put the rabbit on its back in my lap, with it's head tucked under my
elbow. If you cover their eyes and hold them secure they settle down. The
first task I perform is a blunt cut to the toe nails, be sure not to cut the

quick but do take away the weapons.

I start to clip at the hind legs. Tilt the rabbits hind end to the side
and begin to cut where the wool is naturally parting over the knee. Pick up
the wool in thin layers, that allows you to know where the blade is . Turn
the scissors blade away from the skin and make your cut. This should give you a
quarter inch of fur left on the rabbit and will help to prevent you from
cutting the skin.

Once you have your opening started work in thin rows
towards the tail. I hold the tail between my fingers and use them as a
cutting guide to prevent injuring the tail. I then rotate the rabbit onto
its back and gently snip away the wool between its legs and around the
genitals. Put your fingers between the blade and the tender parts to
prevent injuries to the rabbit. That completed, rotate the rabbit's back end
to the opposite side and repeat the process. When the legs are free, lift
the hind quarters toward you, hold the tail toward you and cut in rows as
far down the back as you can get. Then let the rabbit lay flat in your lap
and clip as far up the belly and sides as you can get.

I then flip the rabbit right side up and pull the fleece over its head while
I continue to cut in rows progressing to the neck area. Pull on the skin
slightly, enough to take the wrinkles out while you cut.

To get the front and bib areas I put the rabbit on its back and lay it with
its ears between my knees. If it struggles I drop it lower until it quits
struggling. When it quits struggling I let it back up. The rabbit catches
 on quickly if I lay still I get a comfortable position. Still, is necessary
when you get near the throat and eyes. I hold the front legs between my
fingers and snip away the knots.

From there just move the front legs as
needed to get access to the areas you need to cut. I will sometimes need to
shift the rabbits lower body between my knees and while I hold its head in
my left hand I can get the cheeks and under the chin.

 The first time rabbit takes a while to clip. When I am working with a
cooperative animal it takes 15 minutes to clip.

 I maintain a dual purpose French Angora herd for meat and showing and have
to keep the population within the 175 holes I have. If I count the litters
with mothers, I have an average herd of 200 to 250. Less than perfect
juniors leave with the meat man at 8 to 10 weeks and are housed in large
weanling pens until I sort out the keepers. I have to shear all the rabbits
I ship to the meat man just before they go. I ship on average 50 rabbits a
month. I can shear 25 a day using the described method. The rabbits I
sell are from my show stock and perform well because I cull aggressively.
The day I decide I wouldn't breed it, it leaves the herd. My culls pay for
the feed bill.
[end] *article used by permission for educational purposes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tray Cleaning 2.0

*from the rabbitgeek notes - update added to the bottom*
The best tip for keeping rabbits in the garage came from Barbi Brown. Usually keeping rabbits in the garage means trays under the floor wire to catch the droppings.

For years we carried trays to the waste can and dumped them there. Barbi suggested we get a bucket and use a dust pan to scoop the poop out of the tray and into the bucket. Then take the bucket to the waste can.

This is so much easier than carrying trays around. Even if you plan to power wash the trays it is easier to move them when they are empty.

We put one or two handfuls of pine shavings in the tray to collect moisture and hold down odor.

If you sell manure you can put plastic bags in the bucket first (8 or 13 gallon trash bags) and tie them off before removing from the bucket. Tied off plastic bags are also good for fly control.

If you use five gallon buckets to move manure for sales, put a plastic bag in it first then tie it off. Will keep the buckets cleaner and reduce the smell. You can put the lids on the buckets and stack them for transport to sale. You sell the bag of manure to the customer, not the pail.

Then when customer takes the bags of manure, you can stack buckets one inside the other for transport home to be filled again.

*New!* Misha Brown from FB says: I use a wheelbarrow, I push it up to the cage, pull out the tray & if it's too heavy I scoop out the front half of the tray before pulling it out all the way or I just let the whole tray drop into the wheelbarrow. When the wheelbarrow is full, if it's too heavy to push I get my hubby out there.

Thanks Misha! One could also stop halfway if the manure is heavy from being moisture soaked due to urine or a leaky water bottle/nipple. So a hand trowel or dust pan dumped into a wheelbarrow or cart with wheels is now added to the list!

Have a good day!