Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Choosing English Angora Breeding Stock - Holding Show Coats

In the United States, English Angoras need to exhibit a nice full coat when showing.  The coats will often need to grow about nine to ten months in order to begin to be competitive on the show table. Therefore, when choosing breeding stock, it is important to choose rabbits that have the ability to hold their coat.

Terri's Satin - an Awesome Chocolate English Angora.  Below is Terri's Satin, a beautiful chocolate English Angora that held  a lively coat for about twelve inches, when her wool was clipped (similar to the way that you clip the fur off of poodles) and she welcomed her first litter. She still grows beautiful wool at around four years of age. She won many Best of Breeds and was second at the National Angora Rabbit Breeders Club Show in New York in 2012 (she was showing as a senior at just about six months of age). These wins would not have been possible if I did not breed for rabbits that can hold a nice quality show coat.

Genetics.  An English Angora's ability to hold a coat requires good genetics.  If your rabbit cannot hold its coat for the first year of its life, it should not be a part of your breeding program.  Once you breed in a rabbit that only holds its coat a shorter time into your line, you will have problems.  To me, a rabbit that cannot hold it for a year will not be retained to enter a breeding program or sold to a show home.  This is one of the most important items to breed for, because once this inability to hold a coat enters your line, it will be there for many, many generations.

Quality.  Not only should the English Angora hold the coat for its first year, the coat needs to be a good quality coat.  It should have beautiful lively texture and retain its density.  Many rabbits will start to lose these qualities around ten months, which is okay.  But, if the condition of your English Angora's coat is losing quality at seven months, it is not a show quality rabbit and should not be retained for breeding. Terri's Satin always had beautiful, lively texture.  She has passed this onto her offspring.  In fact, most of my rabbits trace their lineage to her, as she was very much an ideal rabbit with a coat that was always beautiful.   (Yes, she was, and still is my favorite in case you are wondering!)

Transition Coat.  Some lines of English Angoras have gorgeous coats, but go through a transition period around five months or so.  During this period, they can become difficult to groom, as they are molting off a layer of wool in order to make room for growth.  Many outstanding specimens go through a transition period, and it leads to some beautiful texture.

I personally need easy to groom coats because of my hectic schedule, so I breed for rabbits that do not go through a difficult transition of coat - I want them to be easy to groom throughout their first coat.  In fact, I will select rabbits that need minimal grooming during all stages of its life cycle.  So, evaluate this need in your herd.  If you are like me and need them to stay easy to groom throughout the first year, then select breeding stock that stays easy to groom the entire time that it is in coat.

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