Ferrite does not make good electromagnets. It's good for high frequency coils and transformers though.Actually i just found these if anyone is interested. (903) 383-7047 Monster FERRITE RODS. Plastic coated ferrite rods. OEM.
Plastic coated, good for electromagnets.
Ferrite is a standard for high frequency magnetics, but is not "the standard". It has low magnetic permeability, so it not good if you want a high magnetic field electromagnet.
For DC electromagnets a soft, high permeability material is normally used, such as iron or various nickel-iron alloys.
In normal engineering use of the term, when magnetics are referred to as ferrite, it means they are made from various magnetic iron compounds. Thus your ferrite rods are unlikely to be pure iron.You do realize that Ferrite is pure Iron don't you? That's why Iron is Fe on the periodic table. You can't get softer iron than pure ferrite.