When ordering from Orkney Angora you are dealing with a small, family-run business situated in one of Orkney’s most northerly isles. This unusual cottage industry was originally established by William & Elizabeth Sichel, from the ruins of a derelict croft, in the spring of 1982. Following the sad loss of Elizabeth, and over 35 years of running the business, William has decided to move on. The business is now owned by Tracy Ranger, who will continue to run the operation from her smallholding, also on Sanday, and it will remain a very personally run operation.
William & Elizabeth Sichel were angora farmers themselves for 20 years (1987 – 2007) and operated under the UK government’s Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Code of Welfare for Farm Animals. They sheared their rabbits (like sheep) four times a year and in the summer they did it in public for tourists to see. No restraint was necessary and it was a stress-free process for rabbit and farmer.
Nowadays we use a Chinese spinner and supplier. Our spinner, in China, sources all his wool from the Feixian Angora Farm. William had full, unfettered and unhindered access to the whole Feixian Farm, with his own interpreter, when he visited in February 2014 and was impressed with the standards of husbandry and harvesting (all shearing) he saw.
The farm exceeded the recommendations of DEFRA’s Code of Welfare for Farm Animals in a number of areas. William was delighted with the quiet, unhurried and professional shearing-manner of the shearing teams (all ladies). They are using husbandry and shearing methods very similar to those they themselves used for over 20 years in their own angora wool production in Orkney.
We encourage customers to inquire as to the source of their angora and buy from those using responsible sources.
We believe the future of the industry lies in working with farmers, in whatever country, to produce the angora ethically. We are doing this.