Bunny Care

Grinlow’s Dozer

The bunnies here at Hillside Farm are all English Angora.  They are a fairly small sized rabbit although they can look huge because most of them is bunny fluff.  An adult English angora will weigh between five to seven pounds, although most of ours are in the five to six pound range.

Bunny fluff in the angora world is generally referred to as ‘wool’.   Each English angora will produce approximately a pound of wool each year.  Which is a lot of bunny fluff!  The best reason to have one or more of these bunnies is because you’re planning on doing  something with the wool.  If you’re not, well, then collect it and sell it back to us.

To harvest the wool from an English angora bunny, it can be gently plucked or cut off using scissors, snips or a clipper.  Not all breeds of angoras can be plucked and not even all English angoras can be plucked but the ones here at Hillside can.  Angora fiber used for spinning needs to be as long as possible, so when shearing the bunny, cut the wool next to the skin.  Bunny skin is delicate and loose, so be careful not to cut the bunny.  This can take some practice and will be slow at first, so expect to spend several hours when harvesting  your first wool.

The basic bunny care for angoras is very similar to caring for any other rabbit once you factor out the coat maintenance.  They do like more protein if they can get it because of the amount of hair they grow.   We provide the bunnies here with either regular bunny pellets or high protein bunny pellets.   The brand doesn’t really matter, but get the kind that are just the pelletized grasses and not the one with all sorts of other oddball things thrown in.  Bunnies don’t need weird treats, they get pretty enthused over a ti leaf or a sprig of parsley.  Skip the sugary fruits and grains, they don’t need the sugar or the concentrated nutrition unless they need to gain weight.  Feed your bunny enough that you don’t feel any bumpy backbones.

The bunnies here also get a lot of forage in their diet so the pellets are augmented with leaves and grasses.  We start them on grasses as soon as they’re eating solid foods.

Bunny diets are a high fiber low calorie sort of diet.  They need a lot of roughage to keep things going through them.  They can’t hack up hairballs like cats can and due to the quantity and length of their wool, they need to eat a lot of roughage to move any ingested hair through their system.

Angoras can get ‘wool block’ from ingesting too much hair and then they can die of starvation since they can’t gt anything else in their system.  That’s usually more of a problem with show angoras, since they have a much longer coat on them.  The bunnies here at Hillside are primarily a fiber herd to produce fiber for Hula Bunny yarn.  They get three haircuts a year which keeps down the amount of fiber they ingest while grooming their coats.

They should always have fresh water available.  We’ve found it much easier to install a water system that provides water to each bunny hutch and each bunny condo than to fill water bottles.  This works for us since we are in a location that never freezes.  Should you be in an area which freezes, there are some water warming methods, but I don’t really know what they are since we’ve not had to use them.

The water system here starts with a garden hose going to a stock tank shut off valve in a five gallon plastic bucket.  That’s set on a shelf at the top of the bunny hutch so the water all flows downhill from there.  There is 1/2″ PVC piping going from the bucket along the back of the hutches at a convenient level for the bunnies to drink.

Bass Equipment Company has these handy brass valves which are great for the bunny watering system:   Brass Bunny Water Valve .   They fit in these PVC fittings which are also sold by Bass Equipment Company:  Water Valve PVC Fitting.    Should you not want to use the bucket option, there’s also a low pressure valve available, but we already had the stock tank valves and the buckets so we used those.  Should we want to medicate the entire herd, we will be able to just put the medicine in the bucket, but we’ve not had any reason to medicate the whole herd yet.

Bunnies never really need baths, but sometimes angoras need extra trimming on their undercarriage to keep the bottom side tidy.  They also need their nails trimmed, we usually do that when they get haircuts.  A pair of cat or dog trimmers will do.

The best way to keep angoras clean is to keep them in wire bottomed hutches.  The wire we use is 1/2″ x 1″ squares and it is installed so the 1/2″ wires face up.  We also add in a tile or two for them to rest on when they’re tired of the wire.  They do have big woolly feet so they don’t get sore hocks from the wire.

Sometimes the bunnies will get wool mites.  As far as I can figure, wool mites spontaneously appear out of thin air.  When they show  up, a tiny dab of Ivermection apple flavored horse wormer in their ear clears it right up.  The dab is small, about the size of three grains of rice.  You can tell when they have mites from either dandruff in their wool or crustiness inside their ears.