The German Angora is known for its calm demeanor and ease of maintenance when compared to some other Angora breeds. German Angoras are also excellent wool producers and are known to be easy to sheer.
Because German Angoras are very calm and gentle, it helps to make them easier to shear. Although you will need to make a commitment to shearing them every three months, German Angoras require little grooming. Generally when feeding German Angora Rabbits, a well-balanced pellet ration and hay are the recommended diet. Hay is given easily to babies and mature adults.
Alfalfa can also be given, though it should not be given in unlimited quantities, as this may be fatal for the German Angora. Alfalfa may also not be good for babies because it is too rich and may cause diarrhea. Alfalfa should generally only be given in small quantities. Straw is sometimes recommended by breeders, however it contains little to no nutritional value, though it does make good bedding.
German Angoras range in weight from 6 to 12 pounds. Pure German Angoras are albino, which means they have pure white fur and red eyes. German Angoras that are not pure white are actually called German Hybrids. German Angoras have a medium body size, but they might look bigger because of their wool.
The German Angora’s wool is very dense and has plenty of guard hair and awn fluff, so its wool will generally not mat. This means that the grooming requirements of the German Angora are not as stringent as some other Angora breeds. German Angoras are prolific wool producers so they will need to be sheared every three months.
Their tubular body shape and firm flesh makes it relatively easy to shear them and all you need are embroidery scissors. German Angoras will produce anywhere from two to four pounds of wool a year, about four times what other Angoras produce. Also, another nice thing about German Angoras is that they don’t let go of their wool as much as some other Angoras, so they are less prone to wool block.
The wool of the German Angora is generally considered to be stronger than that of other Angoras and will stand up to machine carding without pilling. Perhaps the greatest advantage to German Angoras is that they do not need anymore feed and cage space than other Angoras.
German Angoras originated in Germany as their names implies, where breeders followed a strict standard for over 60 years. They bred the German Angora for wool production and body type. Any rabbits that didn’t meet their criteria were not bred. When German Angoras were first introduced to America, breeders were surprised at the amount of wool they produced.
Although less common in German Angoras, than other Angoras, they still can get wool block. Wool block is what can happen when wool is ingested after the rabbit has groomed itself. The wool can get mixed with undigested food, which will cause the German Angora rabbit to think that it is full, thus it will not eat.
It can be serious, as in some cases may be fatal if left untreated. The propensity to this disorder seems to vary among individuals. Colace is very effective against wool block. It should be given a cc at a time up to three or four times a day until the rabbit begins to pass the ‘string of pearls’ type of stool which indicates the rabbits digestive system is passing the wool blockage.
German Angora’s toenails should be clipped about twice a month. Not only does this make the rabbit look well groomed, but it also reduces the danger of it hurting itself or other rabbits with long claws. German Angoras sometimes chew on their wool.
This behavior could be due to a drop in temperature, not enough protein, or not enough fiber, or they need something to chew on. However, no one knows exactly why Angoras do this, and may very well be that different rabbits have different reasons. In addition, they may be more inclined to chew their wool when they have itchy skin.
Breeding German Angora rabbits should only be done with quality purebreds. It may be necessary to perform some grooming on both the male and female. For the male, it is usually as simple as making sure his genitalia are not wool bound.
It should be noted that unlike other Angora rabbit breeds, Germans have been bred to NOT release their wool; therefore shearing is the only way to remove the wool. When checking the nest box, all wool should be clipped into very small bits to avoid the babies getting tangled in the long fibers.
These small bits can then be mixed with bits of straw to keep them from spinning around baby extremities. Does ready to kindle do not usually need great amounts of wool trimmed from their tummy/chest areas. They may need a bit just to shorten the wool the doe needs to pull. The doe’s vent ought to be bright pink and somewhat swollen.
If this is not the case, watch her until she is, and then put her with the buck (the doe must always go to the buck’s cage) and watch them while they are together. The doe may run around the cage, chased by the buck. If the doe is ready to breed, it should be unnecessary to hold her steady for the buck. In spite of this some breeders recommend using the restrained breeding technique.
This will also save the buck’s energy. Hold the doe’s ears against her shoulders and hold her shoulders with your right hand while putting your left hand, palm up, underneath the doe’s belly. Then gently push her vent up to the buck with your fingers and that will cause her tail to lift up and out of the way.
Eager does will usually lift their tails on their own so this step should not be needed in most cases. If you choose to use the restrained breeding technique it is very important to hold the doe firmly since she could break her back or her leg if she is held improperly. The buck will then mount her and fall over backwards when he is done (usually just a few seconds). Make sure to put the doe back in her cage and always mark each breeding attempt on a calendar.
The most important thing is to check the nest box on a regular basis to make certain the kits have not tangled their legs or their necks in the wool. A day after kindling is a good time to cut the wool into short lengths and replace it in the nest box. It is also a good time (if not already done) to check for dead babies or afterbirth and excess bloody material that has not been attended to. (A dead baby in the nest box increases the chance the doe will not go into that box.)