AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ANGORA GOAT AND MOHAIR
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ANGORA GOAT AND MOHAIR
The Angora goat is raised primarily for the production of mohair, a specialty natural fiber. They have been raised in many parts of the USA, but due to climatic conditions and fluctuating mohair prices, over 90% of USA mohair in recent years has been produced in Texas under range conditions. However, with an increased interest in hand knitting, more active mohair production by the industry, a stong worldwide demand for mohair in the last 10 years, and improved health and management practices in confinement, and small flock operations, there again is much interest and capability of raising Angora goats in all parts of the USA.
Much of the literature in print is directed toward range & ranch conditions. Some of the printed health, drug, and management recommendations need to be updated or modified for your particular area, but the basic principles will still apply. Most sheep and milk goat magazines have helpful information, also, that can apply to Angora goat management. One's local veterenarian or state specialist for sheep and goats should be consulted for specific health programs in your area.
It is recommended that one gain experience first on a small scale. Goats purchased closer to your environment will usually adapt better. If one is interested primarily in hand knitting, it is usually cheaper to purchase small amounts of mohair instead of producing your own. However, because of their small size and friendly nature, you may desire to raise some Angora goats. Use high quality registered billy goats when possible to make steady improvements. Cull inferior animals and keep good records.
Listed below are some management practices that differ some from sheep or milk goats.
Following shearing of the mohair twice a year, the Angora goat can freeze to death in cold, damp weather. This can occur up to 6 weeks after shearing. This condition is usually prevented if sheds are provided and nutrition is adequate.
Adequate nutrition is extremely important especially in young animals up to 18 months of age; with females during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy; and at least the first 8 weeks of lactation. The young animal after weaning should be provided with a 16% protien ration (total consumption). Yearling does should weigh at least 60 pounds before breeding. Excess fat can impair reproduction and milking efficiency; so emphasis should be placed on body structural growth.
Angora goats have a limited breeding season generally during the months of August through November. The gestation period is approximately 145 to 150 days. Freshly born kids will freeze to death much easier than lambs; therefore, an enclosed confinement kidding barn is advised in colder climates.
Internal parasites including Coccidiosis must be taken seriously and use the most recent drugs under the guidance of your sheep and goat veterinarian. Timing of drenching is important, especially in late pregnancy or when the grass first greens up in the spring.
Lice (biting and sucking) must be controlled on a regularly planned basis to avoid the itching and rubbing. The new sprays are giving longer lasting results than Malathion. With Malathion and other sprays, repeat in 14-17 days to kill young lice hatched out from lice eggs.
Urinary Calculi causes many fatalities in breeding rams and billy goats each year. The Ca:P ratio of the entire diet should be closer to 3:1 instead of lower ratios recommended for Cattle and Sheep. In cold weather be sure that warm water is provided daily.
Enterotoxmia, tetanus, pheumonia, mastitis, pink-eye, and other diseases are to be handled the same as for sheep and milk goats.
Dogs and predators usually find young goats easier prey than lambs.
The Angora goat does well under range conditions, especially with brush. Contrary to a commonly held view, they can also readily adapt to grain fields, stubble grazing, or confinement operation with roughage added.
Tail docking is not necessary.
Goats have a peck-order system and if possible they should be divided into different size and age groups for best results.
While most states do not have an Angora goat specialist, their sheep and/or milk goat specialist should have information available. If not, they can copy material from Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, New Mexico, or other states with growing interest. Please remember that most sheep and goat organizations, breeders, extension services, or experiment stations have limited staffs and budgets. Therefore, it is usually best to send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a small fee for handling and publishing costs of any pamphlets or booklets. Better yet, if questions need answering, use the telephone.
The Texas Cooperative Extension (at Texas A&M University) is a good place to start.
With the increased interest in Angora goats and hand knitting with mohair, there are some publications that we may know about that we can recommend that you subscribe to are listed below. They will keep you informed of:
1. Field days and new research.
2. Warehouses or marketing assotiations for selling raw or processed mohair.
3. Health products and spinning supplies.
1. Breeders, auctions, and sales are also advertised - check with your
state's animal health requirements for the importation of Angora
goats back into your state.
THE RANCH & RURAL LIVING MAGAZINE, Scott Campbell,
P.O. Box 2678, San Angelo, TX 76902
THE LIVESTOCK WEEKLY, Box 3306, San Angelo, TX 76902
JUNCTION STOCKYARDS, Junction, Texas has commercial Angora goat sales each Monday and other Texas sheep auctions also sell some Angoras weekly.
The American Angora Goat Breeders' Association located in Rocksprings, Texas, established in 1900, is primarily concerned with maintaining registration records showiing pedigree of all registered Angoras and to keep records of all transfers showing ownership on all such goats. Most commercial goats are purebred but not "registered". One must be careful when purchasiing commercial goats to insist that crossbred (Angoras crossed with milk goats or Spanish goats) goats are not being offered for sale. The mohair from crossbred goats is of lower quality, higher in "kemp" (fibers that do not take dye) and usually fewer pounds per goat. If you are purchasing registered goats be sure to deal with a reputable breeder or see the registration certificate and have it transferred to you.
The Mohair Council of America is located in San Angelo, Texas and is primarily involved in the promotions of mohair useage in domestic and international markets. It does not buy or sell raw mohair "top" or yarn. North American producers markets can be reduced without a strong promotion program because South Africa and Turkey are also major producers in the world market. Argentina, Lesotho, Australia, and New Zealand are increasing their production. Mohair organizations from these countries meet with the commercial processors and manufacturers of mohair fabrics twice yearly under the umbrella of the International Association of which the MCA is a member.