Northern California Angora Guild

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Motherboard Magazine in Germany Features Betty's English Angora


Betty says,
My rabbits have been featured by numerous new media websites, videos and even TV appearances.    Some of the websites asked for permission to use the photos but some did not.    The German magazine Motherboard asked for a more in-depth interview and sent me a bunch of questions.    I answered them in as much detail as I could; some of the questions and answers are posted in the article.   
In the past there were issues of the non-Angora people questioning the method of wool harvesting methods after the PETA video.  I feel it's important to get the words out that we cut our rabbits' wool just like a human getting a hair cut, no harm will ever be done to the rabbits.   I am happy to report that this piece of information is included in the article.  Another concern from non-Angora people was that whether the English Angora could hop.   I provided photos of my rabbits exercising on our lawn, they definitely can hop and even run.    
Needless to say that the article is published in German, the date of publication is July 25, 2014:

If you wish to read it in English, use a translation service on the Internet.  Such service provides a word-by-word translation so the expressions and grammar may be a little awkward.

Friday, July 25, 2014

American Fuzzy Lop National Show Winners

In the "To Molt or not to Molt" post yesterday, there was discussion of the point distribution in the American Fuzzy Lop breed standard.  The points assigned to wool is no where near the Angora breeds while the general type carries 75% of the total points.  The head and the body each carries 30 points thus these two count 60 points out of 100 points.   
The following are the four open winners in the American Fuzzy Lop national show in May 2014.   Thanks to the American Fuzzy Lop club, we are given the chance to see the good representation of the top animals. 
Broken senior buck, Best of Breed,  the AFL National Show.

Solid senior doe, Best Opposite Sex of the Breed,  the AFL National Show. 
Broken senior doe, Best Opposite Sex of Variety,  the AFL National Show. 

Solid senior buck, Best Opposite of Variety,  the AFL National Show.



Thursday, July 24, 2014

To Molt or Not To Molt

Betty says,

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 parts of their 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
Betty Chu

"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

At the Watsonville show, Betty has an unusual visit from Lisa and her family.  Photo shows Betty with Lisa and her son Ethan.   This is the first time that Lisa and her family was exposed to a rabbit show, everything is a first especially for the curious 7-year-old Ethan.   She is a senior V.P. at the Charles Schwab brokerage company.   Lisa's family name is the same as Betty's but no relation.

The rabbit in the photo is handsome boy Chu's Mackie.

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:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ed's Delicious Peaches

These are the best peaches in the world, beautiful, juicy, sweet, ripe on the tree.


Here is the proud daddy of these peaches, Ed is an engineer but his passion is to produce the best peaches on his farm.    His wife judge Melissa's produces the best Mini Satin rabbits but Ed produces the best 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: