Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Maintenance Grooming of the Junior English Angora

A good English Angora between 3-6 months old should be easy to groom.  If it is not, you have either a fur mite problem, or a poor quality coat.  In fact, this is my favorite age because they are low maintenance when I take them to a show.  I usually just check them over quickly, brush the bottoms, and then spend the time preparing my big coated seniors. 

When my English Angoras are three to three and a half months old, I start by grooming once a week.  These maintenance sessions should only take up a few minutes of time.  I will start with the babies bottom.  For bunnies this age, I like to use a very very wide steel tooth comb with long teeth.   I will spritz just a little bit of leave in conditioner, diluted 50%, on to their legs and feet and quickly run the comb through the foot wool and the sides of the leg.  If the comb hits any snags, I will pull the wool apart, and then use the comb once again.  I also use the comb through the belly and between the legs one time.  Once again, when you hit a snag, you don’t pull it out with the comb, you stop and break it apart with your fingers.  Your mission with the comb is to find problems, the comb is not used to fix the problems.

After the belly is completed, I will put the rabbit on the grooming table right side up.  I will start by checking behind the ears and under the cheeks.  If there are any tangles, I will lightly spritz the diluted leave in conditioner behind the ears and use my extra wide tooth comb.  If the tangles are big, use your fingers.  Then, I will use my fingers to feel the body wool to see if there is any webbing.  If I feel nothing, I put the youngster away as I do not groom on this age of rabbit unless it is necessary.  If I find some webbing, I will pull it apart with my fingers, and try to avoid using any combs if possible on the top.  At this age, it is important to remember that when it comes to grooming less is more.  Only use brushes when necessary, as every time you brush the fiber you risk damaging it.   A rabbit of this age will be one that you want to hold the coat for some time, so it is important to be strict with limiting brushing on the coat.

I avoid blowing rabbits this age for as long as possible because blowing, while helpful, is also very drying to the coat, and one of the benefits of a young coat is that it is fresh and alive.  When I start  finding webbing in the coat, I will start to blow them, on as low a setting as possible.  Once I start blowing them, I will do it 2-3 times per week.  Blowing sessions should be quick, maybe a minute or two.  You are just checking to find webbing, and if it doesn’t quickly come apart with the blower, you use your fingers to pull the webbing apart.    Most of mine start needing a blower at 4 ½ to 5 months of age, but I do delay this as long as possible.
I also start to spray to kill fur mites, as discussed in an earlier post, at this age every other week.  Doing so religiously should keep webbing on the coats at a minimum. 

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