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Further information


The French Angora Rabbit

(by René-Gérard Thébault, France)

1-Angora rabbit production in France

2-Angora production criteria

3-Fleece characteristics measurements

4- Improvement programme for angora rabbit

1-Angora rabbit production in France

Historical background:

The angora rabbit was introduced in France in 1723, from England or Turkey. Genetic selection began in the 1930's, but mainly since 1956-57. A herd book was then created, the "Angora Rabbit Book of France". In it, a French Angora rabbit type appeared, with a special wool quality due to the breed (selection effect) and the harvest process (plucking and later defleecing). By 1988, there were about 250 000 angora rabbits, more than 2000 breeders and a production of wool of 200 tonnes, exported as a raw material. In 1997, there are only 13 000 rabbits left, 100-120 breeders and a production of 12 tonnes, for manufactured clothes.

Herd book "Angora Rabbit Book of France"

Created in 1956, the herd book is run by a breeders' organisation, the "Syndicat National Angora Qualité". The improvement of rabbit is done by mass selection. The breeders send a birth registration form for each litter, the animals are individually identified at weaning (provisional number). The animals are graded prior to their fourth harvest by a qualified judge and receive a final official number (ear tag).

The breakdown of the total of 100 marks in the grading scheme is as follows:

2-Angora production criteria:

The Angora wool can have several uses:

3-Fleece characteristics measurements:

The angora fleece is heterogeneous. Over the body, there are 5 different grades, whose quality criteria are based on the bristly or woolly aspect, length, the degree of felting and the cleanliness. Inside the lock, there are three fibre types, in which quality criteria are linked with the fibre dimensions and the fleece composition.

The fleece measurements made on the farm are the total fleece weight of each different grades and the length of each fibre type (bristle, downs). In the laboratory, the measurements are from the fleece samples, and they concern the diameter of each fibre type (bristle, awns, downs) by the OFDA method, and the content of each fibre type (bristle rate), using the INRA Cross section method.

4-Improvement programme for angora rabbit:

Selection goals for fleece traits concern quantity and quality, as measured by fleece weight and the proportion of woolly or bristly fleece.

Selection decisions are based on the measurements of fleece characteristics and the selection pressure (culling). The performance data management (database, breeding value evaluation) and the reproductive programme (increase of the offspring number/selected animal) are the two selection tools used.

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