An over view on Angora
The animal fibre
The Angora rabbit (Turkish: Ankara tavşanı) is a variety of domestic rabbit bred for
its long, soft wool. The Angora is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbit,
originating in Ankara (historically known as Angora), present day Turkey, along with
the Angora cat and Angora goat. The rabbits were popular pets with French royalty
in the mid-18th century, and spread to other parts of Europe by the end of the century.
They first appeared in the United States in the early 20th century. They are bred
largely for their long Angora wool, which may be removed by shearing, combing, or
plucking. There are many individual breeds of Angora rabbits, four of which are
recognized by American Rabbit Breeders' Association (ARBA); they are Englis h,
French, Giant, and Satin. Other breeds include German, Chinese, Swiss, Finnis h,
Korean, and St. Lucian.
Angoras are bred mainly for their wool, which is silky and soft. At only 11 microns
in diameter it is finer and softer than cashmere. Most Angora rabbits are calm and
docile, but should be handled carefully. Grooming is necessary to prevent the fiber
from matting and felting on the rabbit. A condition, wool block, is common in Angora
rabbits, and should be treated quickly. These rabbits are shorn every three to four
months throughout the year.
Diet and wool block
As with all rabbits, abundant and unlimited hay should be provided. The fiber the
rabbit gains from the hay helps prevent wool block (also referred to as intestina l
impaction). It is also recommended particularly for Angora and other long-haired
rabbit species that any pellet diets have at least 13% fiber. Fiber content can be found
in the nutritional analysis on the food bag additionally fecal impaction can be caused
by dehydration, which can be prevented by providing unlimited water as well as a
salt lick to encourage drinking water.
Since rabbits ingest their wool when they groom themselves, clipping their wool at
least once every 90 days is considered a must to prevent wool block from occurring.
A dietary supplement of papaya (from the vitamin section of the grocery store) in
their diet helps wool to break down in their digestive tract. The wool swallowed by a
rabbit cannot be coughed or vomited up, and will cause it to slowly starve to death
as its digestive tract fills up with ingested wool; if left untreated, wool block can lead
to death. It is widely held among serious Angora breeders that ample cage space to
exercise and feeding fresh, horse-quality hay on a daily basis will help keep the wool
moving through the system and prevent wool block. It is also widely held that feeding
both bromelain from fresh pineapple and papain from fresh papaya occasionally will
aid in breaking down the ingested wool (they are proteolytic enzymes), and aid in its
passage through the rabbits' system. Another helpful tip for loose wool control
includes giving the rabbit a pine
This breed has a big under coat. If the texture is correct, it requires less maintena nce
than other Angora breeds. Small ear tufts are allowed, but not usually preferred by
breeders. ARBA recognizes the same colors as with English Angora, plus broken.
They are shown at ARBA shows using the types "white" and "colored" (broken being
a colored). As with other ARBA shown rabbits, toenails should also be only one color.
The French Angora is one of the large Angora breeds at 7.5 to 10 lbs., with a
commercial body type. It differs from the English, Giant and German Angora in that
it possesses a clean (hairless) face and front feet, with only minor tufting on the rear
legs. The color of a French Angora is determined by the color of its head, feet and
tail (all the same color). This variety of angora fibre has smooth silky texture making
it difficult to spin. Desirable characteristics of the fibre include its texture, warmth,
light weight, and pure white color. It is used for sweaters, mittens, baby clothes and
millinery. Cone to play with. They nibble them, throw them around, and they turn
into a good wool catcher in their cage. When the pine cone is all nibbled or full of
wool, replace it.
Rabbits do not possess the same allergy-causing qualities as many other animals. The
average rabbit can live for about 7–12 years when kept indoors and well-cared for.
However, many outdoor rabbits have a shorter lifespan. Maintenance is a must. The
Satin Angora has a much lower guard hair count and their wool becomes easily
tangled. Regardless of breed, all Angoras must be monitored to prevent wool block,
a potentially lethal condition where their digestive tracts become clogged with hair.
Proper diet is also crucial in lowering their susceptibility.
There are four different breeds recognized by
the American Rabbit Breeders' Association
(ARBA): English, French, Giant, and Satin.
The German Angora is also common, but is not
recognized by the ARBA; it has its own
association, the IAGARB.
A ruby-eyed white English Angora doe.
Weight: 2.0–3.5 kg (4.4–7.7 lb.).
ARBA-accepted varieties: ruby-eye white, pointed white, self, shaded, agouti,
Rabbits of the Angora breed are adorned with "fur", growths of wool on the ears and
the entire face except above the nose, and front feet, along with their thick body, and
wool. They are gentle in nature, but they are not recommended for those who do not
groom their animals. Their wool is very dense and needs to be groomed twice a week.
The classification of the Giant Angora is different than the other three breeds due to
the fact it is a 6-class animal. The junior buck and junior doe must be under 6 months
of age and have a minimum weight of 4 ¾ pounds. The intermediate buck and
intermediate doe are 6–8 months of this is the smallest Angora rabbit of the four
ARBA-recognized breeds. This breed is more common as a pet because of the facial
features that give it a puppy dog or teddy bear look. If the texture of the wool is
correct, the maintenance is relatively easy; if the texture of the rabbit is cottony, it
requires a great deal of maintenance.
The English Angora can be bred to have broken colors white with black spots but this
is not accepted by ARBA standards, and would lead to a disqualification when
showing the rabbit. When showing an English Angora rabbit, the toenails should also
be only one color, the ears could be folded over at the tips, and the furnishings on the
face may cover their eyes. The English Angora rabbit is the only rabbit that has hair
covering its eyes.
In India, these fibers are produced in very limited
quantities and there is an urgent need for improving
the production, development of new products and
creation of market for these fibers. In this article,
we look into the production, characteristics and
product development aspects of this luxur io us
fibre. Angora rabbit fibre is one of the finest
specialty animal fibers with its well-known
reputation for fineness, lightness and softness. The
Angora rabbit (Oryctolagus cubiculum) is raised
solely for its fine and soft hair, unlike other breeds
which are reared for their meat and fur. (Angora
rabbit hair is generally confused with Mohair,
which comes from the Angora goat. According to
the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, any apparel containing Angora rabbit hair must
be labeled as "Angora rabbit hair" on the garment. Today, China is the leading
producer in the international Angora fibre market. Germany, France, Chile, Argentina
and New Zealand are the other countries involved in Angora rabbit hair production.
In India, these rabbits are reared in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand,
Jammu and Kashmir, and some north eastern states. The angora rabbits are reared in
low temperature zone falling in the temperature range of 5 to 25°C. They are generally
shorn in every three months. The yield of fibre in different countries varies from 250g
to 1200g a year. The price of Angora rabbit hair fibre is around Rs. 2000 per kg. The
Central Sheep & Wool Research Institute (CSWRI) under Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR) has its regional station in Garsa, Himachal Pradesh,
where different varieties of Rabbits i.e. British, German and Russian are reared.
Fibre Production and Grading:
The Angora rabbit produces three kinds of hair:
(1) Guide hairs: They are 100 to 110 mm long; they guide and cover the growth of
the other hairs.
(2) Guard hairs: They are 80 mm long. They have rough points that lock together, lie
over the down hairs and seal it off.
(3) Down hairs: They are 60 mm long. The diameter of 1 2-141Jm makes down hair
one of the finest animal fibers used in textiles.
The down fibers are very smooth, with few cuticles scales. The Angora rabbit
produces hairs of several colors, but the strain bred for textile fibers is an albino
strain that produces white fibers only. Colored Angora rabbits are raised in India for
the manufacture of undyed artisanal fabric with muted color motifs (Franck, 2001).
It is difficult to obtain production figures across the world for Angora rabbit hair as
there is no group or association specific to the fibre. Since rabbit hair is produced on
small scale farms, actual production figures are difficult to establish, but it is
estimated that the world production is around 3000 tons (Vines et al., 2011). India
produces about 100 tons of specialty hair fibers per year (50 ton Angora rabbit hair,
10 ton yak fibre and 40 ton Pashmina wool (Karim and Shaky war, 2011). The rabbits
are generally shorn in every 3 months before the hair starts falling which causes
felting. Female rabbits produce 25 to 30% more hair than the males. More common
yields vary between 420 g and 820 g a year in China and up to 1 000 g a year in
France and 1200 g a year in Germany. In India, yield varies from 260 - 450 g a year.
As rabbit farming in India is completely unorganized and exists in small scale,
establishing production figures is in fact difficult. It is necessary to remove dust and
vegetable matter from the fleeces before the fibers are sorted, and this is done by
grooming. After the removal of this extraneous matter, the hairs do not need scouring
After grooming the fibers are sorted into 4 grades, namely
(I) Grade 1: Clean, free of felting, over 6 cm long
(ii) Grade 2: Clean, free of felting, under 6 cm but over 3 cm
(iii) Grade 3: Clean, felted, second cut
(iv) Grade 4: All dirty, discolored fibre.
The fibers are very fine
and fairly regular in
diameter. The mean fibre
diameter of angora down
fibers is around 12 to 14
μm and the fibre length is
up to 60 mm. The density
of the fibre is 1.14 g/cm3,
and hence lighter than
wool (density: 1.33 g/cm3). The Angora rabbit hair is considered to be the easiest
fibre to identify under microscope than other specialty fibers. The scale profile of a
fine down hair. The fibre is oval to rectangular in cross section and has a ladder type
medulla. Fine fibers show a universal ladder-type medulla, but this became mult i-
serial in the coarser hairs. The hairs are all medullae (hollow) which decreases their
weight by nearly 20% when compared to wool and also increases their insula t ing
properties. The cuticle cells are thin and very typical, showing a single or double
chevron pattern on the fibre surface which becomes almost coronal at the extreme tip.
A number of works have been reported on differentiation of wool and other specialty
fibers like cashmere, alpaca and angora.
The moisture regain of Angora rabbit hair fibers ranges from 12.6 to 13.3% at the
standard atmospheric condition of 21°C and 65% RH (Bergen, 1959). The tenacity of
fiber is around 14 cN/tex and the breaking extension is 40%.
Product Development with Angora Fibers
Wool/angora rabbit hair blend
The fibre is very fine and smooth. This makes it difficult to spin. There is a constant
risk of fibre shedding as there is lack of fibre to fibre friction. This can be overcome
to some extent by imparting twist to the fibers during spinning and the length of the
fibers assist in making a coherent strand of yarn. The fibre is usually blended with
other fibers such as fine wool, often with a small proportion of nylon and spun on the
woolen system. The production of Angora rabbit hair and merino wool blends. The
evenness of yarn decreased with increasing proportion of Angora rabbit hair. Pure
Angora rabbit yarn showed more naps and other irregularities compared to that of
merino wool (pure merino wool yarn). They concluded that a blend of 35:65 of rabbit
hair and merino wool was found to be best for preparing woven or knitted fabric
because of better performance, aesthetic appearance and low cost.
Cotton/angora rabbit hair blend
Chattopadhyay and Ahmed (2006) studied the blending of Angora rabbit hair with
cotton fibers. Angora rabbit hair was blended with Suvin and DCH 32 varieties of
cotton and spun to 40s count yarn suitable for production of knitted garments. It was
reported that with rabbit hair content up to 30% in the blend, it was possible to spin
yarn suitable for weaving. The tertiary blend of cotton, rabbit hair and polyester
fibers with equal proportions, produced knitted fabric having better bursting strength
and lower shrinkage parameters. The production of T-shirts with a 30s count yarn in
the blend ratio of 70:30 cotton/angora was reported. The soft feel and low shrink
properties of Cotton and Angora rabbit hair blended knitted fabrics were found
suitable for women's innerwear and children's wear. The thermal comfort properties
of cotton/angora rabbit hair blended knitted fabrics. The percentage content of
Angora fibre varied from 5-25%. Results showed that at least 25% of Angora fibers
need to be added in the blend to achieve better thermal comfort properties.
Some of the commercial blends of angora knitting yarns are:
70% Angora, 30% Nylon
50% Angora, 25% Merino wool, 25% Polyester (3) 40% Angora, 50% Wool,
70% Angora, 30% Silk
50% Viscose, 25% Nylon, 15% Angora, 10% Wool
Production of 100% Angora rabbit Hair Yarn
Angora rabbit hair has excellent luster, warmth retaining properties and flexibilit y,
which makes it an ideal fibre for textile end uses. However, since it has little scales
and crimps in comparison to other animal fibers, spin ability is very poor and it is
difficult to produce a fine spun yarn. Hence, spinning a 100% Angora rabbit hair yarn
requires modification of fibre surface to introduce crimps or roughness to the surface.
A U.S Patent (Yun, 1993) describes a process for making 100% angora fibre yarn. A
mixture of hydrogen" peroxide, Sodium hypochlorite, bleaching agent and silicone
were mixed and dissolved in cold water. The solution was maintained at a temperature
of 1 0-12°C. The rabbit hair fibers were then immersed in this bath for about 50 min.
The chemical treatment dissolved and removed the core muscle from the rabbit hair,
thus making the fibre pliable. It was reported that 5 to 8 crimps were generated in
this process. The treated angora fibers were washed, and then a softening agent and
an antistatic agent were applied to prepare a grey yarn for spinning.
The National Institute of Design (NID) in collaboration with Institute for Plasma
Research (IPR) developed a prototype plant for atmospheric pressure plasma
processing for Angora Wool Huila et al., 2009). Plasma was used to etch the fibre
surface so that the inter-fibre friction was improved. The treated fibers were then
machine spun and also hand spun into yarns. Products such as Stole, Shawl, Scarf,
Cap, Sweater, and Ponchos were developed. It was found that the plasma treatment
also improves the wettability and dye uptake of fibers. In the same article, designing
of high altitude clothing using plasma treated angora fibers was also reported. The
angora fabric can be used as a middle layer in the multilayer clothing worn by
soldiers, thereby providing the necessary warmth to the body by insulating from the
extreme cold outside environment.it is found that the friction coefficient showed an
increase from 0.18 to 0.33 by plasma treatment. Such an increase in friction is
considered necessary for improving the mechanical processing of Angora rabbit hair
Yarn and Fabric Production from Angora rabbit Fiber
Angora rabbit fiber has excellent luster, warmth retaining properties and flexibilit y,
which makes it an ideal fiber for textile end uses. However, since it has little scales
and crimps in comparison to other animal fibers, spin ability is very poor and it is
difficult to produce a fine spun yarn. For the reason of being a slippery fiber to spin,
it requires a lot of twist to hold the fibers firmly in the yarn. Owing to its fine quality
and smoothness, one way to spun yarn from angora wool is to use the hand held
spindle used for hand spinning. Difficulties arise during processing of fibers because
of intensive generation of electrostatic charges and because of the smooth surface of
the fibers. There is a constant risk of fiber shedding as there is lack of fiber to fiber
friction. Because of this reason Angora rabbit fiber is usually blended with another
fiber such as wool to improve its performance both in processing and fabric wear
ability. Due to its fibrosis, it is also extremely difficult to weave a 100% Angora
yarn. Hence, the normal practice is to weave fabrics using Merino wool yarns for the
warp and Angora yarns for the weft
The evenness of yarn decreased with increasing proportion of Angora rabbit fiber.
Pure Angora rabbit yarn showed more naps and other irregularities compared to that
of pure merino wool yarn. They concluded that a blend of 35:65 of rabbit fiber and
merino wool was found to be best for preparing woven or knitted fabric because of
better performance, aesthetic appearance and low cost.
Wool (APPAW). This plasma plant for surface modificat ion of fibers. APPAW is a
novel Plasma Technology which generates plasma at atmospheric pressure using air
as plasma forming gas. A patent has already been filed for this technology. This is a
cost-effective green process
Modification of Angora rabbit fiber surface
The plasma etching of Angora fiber surface at atmospheric pressure glow discharge.
Plasma treatment assists in increasing the friction and cohesion between the fibers.
It forms a part of the movement on promotion of non-polluting techniques for
mechanical processing of textile materials without any difficulties such as static,
End-Uses of Angora rabbit Fiber
Angora rabbit hair is used both knitted and woven outwear, ladies underwear,
hosiery, gloves and knitted millinery and felt hats.
Knitted clothes usually with a moderate fluffing effect,
such as sweaters, scarves, woolen hats, socks, gloves,
Sweater from Angora rabbit fiber
Woven material for suiting fabric and next to skin
The warm nature benefit of arthritis patients and for
thermal underwear in cold climates.
This is a non-fluffy material currently being sold as
blends of wool, Angora and synthetic to produce a
The German Textile Industry was the greatest user of
Angora rabbit hair during the latter part of the
twentieth century, with popular end-uses there being
medical and other types of underwear.
Angora rabbit fiber can be conveniently used in high-
altitude clothing, especially those used by defense
personnel deployed in sub-zero temperature regions.
Angora rabbit fiber is a specialty fiber known for its excellent thermal insula t io n
characteristics and fibers are blended with wool in production of cold weather
clothing and fashion garments. Innovative blends of these fibers with wool; cotton
and other fibers need to be explored to produce value added products with improved
functional characteristics. Modification of fiber surface by chemical treatments or
plasma treatment or by any other means is essential for improving the spin ability of
this fiber. It is also used in blends with other natural fibers for the production of
yarns for both knitwear and woven cloth for apparel. This fiber is very fine, soft hair
used principally in the production of high quality knitwear, although currently there
is a trend towards incorporating small quantities of angora in woven cloth. Angora
wool is normally mixed when knitted into clothing, with other soft fibers such as silk,
cashmere, mohair, or sheep’s wool, at a usually no more than 30% ratio. Garments
made of 100% Angora wool are undesirable as they would be too warm and the texture
too fine to provide density in knit stitches.
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Properties and Product Development, Textile Review Magazine, May, 2013.
Oglakcioglu, N., Celik, P., Bede Ute, T., Marmoreal, A., Kezdoglou, H.,
Thermal Comfort Properties of Angora Rabbit/Cotton Fiber Blended Knitted
Fabrics, Textile Research Journal, 79 (10), 888-894, 2009.
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Bulletin No. 122, 1995.
Kozlowski, R., Handbook of Natural Fibers: Types, Properties and Factors
Affecting Breeding and Cultivation, Wood head Publishing Series in Textile,
Prince, S., Bahtiyari, M.I., Karlu, A.E., Duran, K., Ozone Treatment of
Angora rabbit Fiber, Journal of Cleaner Production, 16 (17), 1900-1906, 2008.