Thursday, July 24, 2014
My English Angora are known to be able to keep a prime show coat for a long period of time. I've had rabbits, especially does, stayed in shows for more than a year. The longest record was 15 months with the doe started showing at 3 months old and cut down at 18 months old. Such was unimaginable in the 1980s when I started raising English Angora. All Angoras, English Angora and French Angora, molted every few months, some even molt constantly with bald spots on various part of the bodies. Woolblock was the regular killer of Angora rabbits. (English Angora and French Angora were the two accepted breeds of Angoras then).
As most of our readers know that my foundation rabbit was a fawn doe named Bubbling Champagne (where the BC ear numbers come from) bred by judge Bobbie Meyer. In 1984 Bubbling Champagne gave birth to a buck and a doe that I named Chu's Sexy Henry and Chu's Christina. Sexy Henry did not turn out to be "sexy", never sired a litter. Christina turned out to be a game changer for me and for the breed of English Angora.
In 2012, the American Fuzzy Lop national club newsletter editor asked me to guest write an article. I recounted my experience of creating the "non-molting" English Angora.
In the following, you will see three old photos taken of Christina in 1984 when she was about 5 months old and the article that I wrote for the American Fuzzy Lop national newsletter.
(Published in the American Fuzzy Lop Rabbit Club newsletter "Fuzzy Tales", 2012)
To Molt or Not To Molt
"My buck looked gorgeous last week when I entered him, look at him now, what a mess!"
"I am scratching my doe, she blew her coat."
"There is a big bald spot here; I don't remember seeing it when I entered it."
These are some of discussions that we often heard in shows.
A "mess" of coat, "blew her coat", "bald spot" are all symptoms of molting. Most consider molting as a natural process of animals who shed their old coat to gain a new coat. I am using the word "coat" to represent either wool or normal fur on the rabbit. Molting may be a natural process, but we as rabbit breeders can gradually change the way rabbits molt in order:
(a) to have a more predictable time line for a prime coat,
(b) to have a more durable prime coat,
(c) to improve the health of the rabbits, and
(d) to improve the cleanliness of the rabbit barn.
As most of you know, I am an English Angora breeder, not a breeder of American Fuzzy Lops. I have been asked to be a guest writer to share my journey of improving the English Angora breed and to provide some ideas that you might be able to use in your breeding of American Fuzzy Lop.
When I started in early 1980s, the prime show coat of the English Angora was about 3-4 inches; after that, rabbits would lose wool and would mat. I would use a slicker brush and a comb to work on the coat and prayed that the coat would still be around when the next show came (the blower was not a tool until 1989). When the coat was no longer viable for showing, I would pull the wool from the rabbit and the skin released the wool easily. Pulling wool, or plucking, was the standard practice for harvesting wool for almost all Angora owners at the time. In 1984 (see footnote), a chocolate tort doe was born in a colored litter, I named her Chu's Christina. She grew into a beautiful doe and won 5 legs. When the wool harvest time came, I had a hard time plucking her. The concept in the 80s was that only plucked wool was good for spinning, I spent hours trying to get her wool off and it would take several days to make it work. Most of my fellow breeders thought I had a weird rabbit. Then I found out that she was pluckable after she kindled, obviously from the change of hormone to allow her to make a nest for her babies. I bred her often to get babies with the side benefit of plucking her wool off when it's the right time to harvest. She produced very nice babies. The babies became nice show rabbits and some had the same hard-to-pluck characteristics as their mom. One day it dawned on me that I did not just have a weird rabbit, I had a great rabbit that molted very little and that some of her bunnies molted very little. After that light bulb moment, I paid attention to the duration of each rabbit and pushed for a little more duration of coat-holding in the subsequent generations.
With the aid of a blower and regular use of Ivemoc to prevent fur mites, my rabbits can hold their show coats for 12-18 months if I keep up with my maintenance.
OK, some of you at this time may say, "You are lucky to have encountered such a rabbit like Chu's Christina, others just don't have your luck." May be that's the case, but its more likely that there are many of these non-molting or less-molting rabbits around but breeders are not realizing that this can be an important trait for the herd.
Why is non-molting or less-molting good for you and your rabbits?
(a) If a rabbit has a more durable prime coat, a breeder would not have to breed more to cover shows. In 30+ years, I have never seen a rabbit breeder gone out of business due to his inability to have bunnies; I have seen many rabbit breeders gone out of business because they had too many rabbits and got overwhelmed. The human suffered and the rabbits suffered.
(b) If a rabbit has a more durable prime coat, it's easier to breed for certain important shows such as the breed national and the ARBA Convention. The window period for breeding could be several months instead of several weeks.
(c) If the rabbit molts less, there is less chance for the rabbit to ingest its own wool or fur, thus less chance of having woolblock/hairball/stasis. In the 80s, I had my share of dealing with woolblock; I had spent hundreds and thousands of dollars to have surgery done on blocked rabbits but still suffered losses. I wrote an article about how to prevent woolblock by various methods, and this article is still posted on my website. Today I don't follow my own advice anymore. Why? My rabbits no longer block, the entire woolblock issue has been bred out by having non-molting rabbits! When people ask me how to deal with woolblock, my answer is I don't deal with it because I don't see any.
(d) When a rabbit molts, the wool or the hair flies everywhere. Some would wrap around the cage wires. You can not get it out by brushing or picking; the only way to go seems to be blow torching. If you have non-molting or less molting rabbits, you will have less wool on the cage, on the floor, in the air, ... you will have a cleaner rabbitry.
Now the question is how to get to the less-molting stage. The simple answer is selective breeding. You start with rabbits that molt relatively less than the others; if your "normal" molting occurs every three months in your herd, you want to push for 3-1/2 months or 4 months molt in the next generation, etc. It'll take time and patience, but you will get there.
At this point some of you may be thinking, "Well, having good wool is nice but wool is only 15 points on the American Fuzzy Lop, the head is 30 and the body is 30, wouldn't a breeder be breeding for that 60 points instead of the 15 points?"
Before answering, I'd like to say that in the English Angora standard, the wool is 57 points and the body 15 points. Guess what? That 15 points of body is the base for the entire rabbit. Even if the rabbit had a tremendous amount of wool, without the right body, the English Angora rabbit may do well in the breed but would not have a chance on the Best In Show table.
Now back to American Fuzzy Lop, if the rabbit has a great head and great body but has bald spots and uneven wool, or the wool is all matted, it could win within the breed but I doubt there would be any chance for that American Fuzzy Lop to do well on the Best In Show table.
The goal is to achieve symmetry; the rabbit has to be balanced. I would not advise one to breed an American Fuzzy Lop with a long face and rangy body but great wool because it's not balanced. All I am suggesting is to consciously put non-molting/less-molting as a part of the goals in your breeding program.
To molt or not to molt is a choice.
(Betty's Footnote: In the original publication in "Fuzzy Tales", the year given was 1985. When looking at Christina's old photos, the back of the print date shows 1984 thus the correction.)
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Lisa and Ethan Visit Betty at Watsonville
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Betty's English Angora Featured by Websites in Hong Kong and Taiwan and more...
There are more websites featuring Betty's English Angora during the previous couple of weeks.
The following one is from Hong Kong, posted July 18, 2014.
遠看一團毛 隱藏大白兔 18-07-2014
The next one is from Taiwan:
There are two in the US:
Two more from UK:
This one is from Sweden:
Monday, July 21, 2014
Ed's Delicious Peaches
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Angora Judging at Watsonville
|In open show A, judge Scott R. is examining an English Angora white senior doe.|
|In show B, judge Allen is working on the English Angora colored senior doe class.|
|In the NCAG specialty show, the young English Angora junior doe is putting a smile on judge Carol G's face as well as on Julie's face. While the matured rabbits are usually the winners in the show, the babies are the future and their presence makes people happy.|
For a complete list of Angora results, go to:
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Kendall is the Queen of Destruction Derby
|Kendall tried the "Destruction Derby" for the first time and guess what? She won her division and received a trophy and $600 prize!!!!|
For more of Kendall's adventure into the destruction derby, read the following news report:
Destruction derby a smashing success
The premise for the evening’s events was simple. Take your vehicle out and smash your opponents to pieces. The last vehicle moving amongst the remnants wins.
The evening of July 15 featured four categories. They had a truck division, an open division, a powder puff division, and lastly the grand finale a motor home division.
The women didn’t pull any punches in the powder puff event, and went right at each other. Once the green flag was hoisted the brawl was on.
Featured in the powder puff division were two local women. Recent Patterson High School graduate Haley Schilp participated in her 1976 Cordova. Haley Schilp has been racing for two years, and her derby car is a product of her high school prep project. Schilp won this event two years ago when she was just 16 in her first derby ever.
Kendall Green who is a teacher at Patterson High School decided to give the destruction derby a shot at the last minute. “We just decided to do this like two hours before the competition” Green said.
Green was given the opportunity to race by Dan Hicks who won the previous night, and decided to let Green borrow his car that was still in good condition. This turned out to be fortuitous for Green who went on to win the powder puff division in her first event ever.
After the race Green was asked what her favorite part about the event was which she replied; “Getting to hit other people”. The impulsive decision to join the event reaped a first place finish for the novice driver.
Schilp was cut short on her end when her engine gave out halfway through the grinding event after her front end was delivered some rough bashes. “Well it kind of caught on fire. My car wouldn’t start it was dead. So I couldn’t really do anything” said Schilp. Schilp was forced to waive the white flag signaling to the other drivers that she was resigning.
The signature moment of the powder puff event belonged to Turlock’s Cheyenne Cabral who rebounded from what looked like an early exit. Early in the derby Cabral’s car took a bruising blow. The front left wheel was completely tilted almost looking unhinged from the axle.
Everyone in the arena discounted Cabral’s No. 11 car. All signs pointed to her waiving the white flag, but Cabral never waivered continuing to try and resurrect her car. Miraculously she was able to bend the tire back in place after throttling her car back and forth, and jumped right back into the action.
This enduring show from Cabral immediately astonished and riled up the crowd. This stubbornness earned her a hard fought crowd pleasing second place finish behind the green hand driver of the event Kendall Green.
The crowd favorite event was saved for last. For the first time ever at the Turlock Lions Club Destruction Derby the motor home division was introduced. The division played host to the most mechanical carnage and memorable moments of the evening. These slow and heavy punchers left debris scattered all over the arena.
Parts that no other category could produce started flying off the motor homes such as couches, stoves, cabinets, and perhaps the most humorous a toilet left in the wake of their impactful collisions. Whether by design or out of forgetfulness these items were left in only to be dislodged or launched out much to the adoration of the spectators.
The last motor home standing was No. 43 Kurtis VanFoekn who outlasted the other vehicles in a slugfest. Van Foekn double dipped on the evening winning the truck category also.
In the open division category Number 54 Joe Lawrence took home first place beating up seven other competitors.
The event was hosted by the Turlock Lions Club in conjunction with the Stanislaus County Fair. The Turlock Lions Club hosts the event every year at the fair, and has been a mainstay at the fairgrounds for decades delivering quality smash filled destruction derby spectacles for locals to enjoy.
Read more: Patterson Irrigator - Destruction derby a smashing success
Friday, July 18, 2014
Chocolate vs. Chocolate Tort vs. Clean Fawn
|The Chocolate is a "self" color with extension gene E.|
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Mackie Gets Ready for the Show Table
At the California Rabbit and Cavy Shows and Northern California Angora Guild specialty show, Betty's tort buck Mackie is the winner of the Best Opposite Sex of Breed in all three shows.
The following three photos were taken by reporter Eric Louie, http://ericlouie.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/fuzzy-furry-bunnies/
|We have seen Mackie growing up from a baby to a handsome boy on|
|Betty is using a comb to smoothen out the surface of the wool, it is the final touch before Mackie is to be taken to the judging table.|
|It's almost done, Mackie now has a finished look.|
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Journalist Brad Does a Photo Shoot of Betty's English Angora at Watsonville
|The media seems to love Betty's English Angora being groomed. Brad Kava came to Watsonville and spent a couple of hours in the morning shooting Betty grooming Franchesca and her other English Angora.|
|Brad is serious about Franchesca being groomed. |
|Here is a close up of Franchesca being blown.|
|Brad left a little before noon then came back in the afternoon for more photos. On the table is 5-month-old white doe. |
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Betty's English Angora Featured by Ruptly TV
|Why is Betty's mouth open so wide?|
Ruptly is a news agency based in Berlin, Germany that has offices in 22 countries, broadcast 24 hours a day, also supplies footages to other news agencies. Their website is:
"US: Is this the world's fluffiest bunny?" is one of the featured video on July 14, 2014 on the Ruptly website. To get to the video directly, go to the Ruptly video channel on youtube:
The video will provide an answer to Betty's "Big Mouth".
|Eric Louie is a local reporter who got the assignment from Ruptly TV to go to Watsonville to film Betty's English Angora. Eric is a graduate of San Francisco State University, has worked at Contra Costa Times and many media projects.|
|Eric was not the only reporter in the showroom, Eric and Brad are filming Allen judging English Angora. On the table is Betty's colored senior doe Franchesca.|
|Another scene of the two reporters videotaping and photographing the English Angora on the judging table.|
Monday, July 14, 2014
Top Winners At Wastonville
California Rabbit and Cavy Shows hold double open and double youth shows at Watsonville on July 13, 2014.
|Judge Chris Z is the open show A Best In Show judge, the Best In Show goes to Scott W's Dutch and the Reserve In Show goes to Michelle's Rex.|
|In open show B, Judge Scott R. picks Melissa's Mini Satin as the Best In Show and Michelle's Rex as the Reserve In Show.|
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Ida Gets A Hair Cut
|Ida is sitting pretty under the sun. She is over 13 months old, cumulated 29 legs with 3 Best In Show and 1 Reserve In show wins. Though her winning record is not as impressive as McKenzie or Franchesca, she has her 5 minutes of fame.|
|Ida got to dance with Steve Harvey...|
|Ida was the major rabbit in the German TV program...|
|All good things have to come to an end, Ida is getting a hair cut.|
|Ida's wool looks like a waterfall draping from the grooming table.|
|Another view of the "woolfall".|
|Ida looks so small next to her wool cut from her back.|
|After a couple of hours working on the spinning wheel, Ida's wool becomes two skeins of yarn. If you wonders about the weight, the two skeins come to a little over 8 ounces.|
Saturday, July 12, 2014
New York Daily News Features Betty's English Angora
New York Daily News website posts a gallery of Betty's English Angora photos on July 10, 2014. These photos are different from most other news websites.
A Swedish news website also published photos of Betty's English Angora on July 7, 2014; the photos and material are mostly from the Huffington Post.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Video of Betty and Sunny Boy on Good Morning America
The producers of Good Morning America has corresponded with Betty to air photos and/or video clips of her English Angora.
With a very short notice, Betty learned that the video clip of her grooming Sunny Boy would be aired on Good Morning America on the morning of Thursday, July 10, 2014.
The video was produced by Amy Do, producer/director of Rabbit Fever.
Thank you Amy.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Black vs. Chestnut
|Black is in the self group, the color genetic code is:|