My wife used to raise fiber (wool) rabbits. Lion Heads and another breed, I can't remember. We never raised animals for meat, we can't slaughter animals that we raised. But my wife spins, crochets and knits, so we raised all sorts of fiber animals. My wife got good at crossing different fiber breeds and getting rabbits with really nice fiber. Rabbits breed like...rabbits, but you have to be careful around new mothers. If they get stressed, they can literally eat their young. Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits is a good book to learn with.
You shear them, just like you shear a sheep, but you don't need a sheep shearer. My wife got really good at it. I'm not sure how long it takes for them to grow their fleece back. I'll ask my wife in the morning and get back to you.
For larger animals, like our sheep, angora goats, llamas and alpacas, our sheep shearer came twice a year to shear them.
Some ppl just brush the rabbits (the best way) and use that fur, or you can shear them w/ a clipper, but because rabbits are small you need small dog or cat clippers w/ a surgical blade- which will clip to the skin...(which a good set will cost you $300-$400) you can't use the clippers for sheep, goats or your horse....
The best fiber rabbits are the angoras- The cream of the crop is the English angora which have mountains and mountains of fur that requires daily brushing, sometime twice daily....then there is the French angora, fuzzy w/ no head/ear fur, and the satin with shorter fur, giant angoras the weight about 10 #, that can look like a giant cotton balls, and german angora that looks like a smaller, Less fuzzy English angora.....all are a little different and require different care and grooming....the fuzzier the rabbit the more work it requires....
I raised some rabbits that were on The Livestock Conservancy priority list. The local state college asked me to do it. I agreed on the basis that I could control everything and that no experiments were to be performed on the rabbits. They were exhibition rabbits. I successfully bred them and found homes for them all where they would not be killed. It wasn't difficult to keep them alive and happy. It wasn't expensive either, but they served no purpose other than a pet. Some livestock animals are becoming endangered simply because they aren't being bred anymore. Other breeds get fatter, mature quicker, and cost less to feed and house. It's sad, but we've essentially created "mutant" animals by breeding for certain characteristics. Some people will buy a rabbit simply to keep the breed going or because it's a rare breed. I donated the money back into the group for conservation.
That is interesting Urban. I don't think we have anything like that here. I would love to donate my time to something similar. I was thinking the same thing, just pets. Rich, very interesting about the fur!
All of our rabbits were pets, too. Some lived in very large and well appointed cages in our barn, and a few lived in the house. Rabbits can be litter box trained. One of our rabbits, with the original name Thumper, used to love to chase our 185 pound Newfoundland around the house. Maverick (our newfie) wasn't afraid of Thumper, it was just a game that the two of them seemed to enjoy. Thumper never chased our other dogs (we had 6 dogs at that time),but he and Maverick used to run around the house.