The basics of Angora farming

Farming with Angora goats can be easy once you understand the essentials, says Roelof Bezuidenhout.

The basics of Angora farming
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Angora goats are true dual purpose animals. They produce mohair, a relatively scarce fibre that’s currently in good demand and achieving excellent prices, as well as meat, a commodity that is becoming increasingly expensive. Along with Lesotho, South Africa produces more than 60% of the world’s mohair clip. Although these goats are not adapted to all veld types or climates, many farmers make good money from them.

Shearing every five months or so, you can expect at least 4kg of hair a year from an adult goat. At an average price of about R70/kg, that equals nearly R300 per animal. Kids and young goats carry much less hair, but their fleeces are more valuable, with good hair going for over R200/kg. And the best quality clips from top mohair farmers are priced much higher than this.

While Angoras grow more slowly than Boer goats or cross-breeds and don’t become as heavy, mature goats can fetch decent prices as slaughter stock. A six-tooth to full-mouth kapater (wether) can weigh 40kg or more on the hoof and sell for R18/kg, while an old ewe in good condition could weigh 36kg and sell for R16/kg.

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Generally, farming with Angoras is not difficult once you’ve learned the essentials – and your fences and sheds are in place. Angoras do best under a single owner, but communal farmers can also run them, provided all the farmers in the group are committed and work together carefully.

Angoras are pure-bred animals and should not be cross-bred with other goats, as this would destroy the characteristics of their unique fibre. So keep your ewe flock away from ‘foreign’ rams, particularly during the breeding season from February to May.
There are two other critical times of the year for Angoras: kidding and the period after shearing.

Shear your ewes four to six weeks before they kid so they will have grown some hair to protect them against cold by the time the kids are born. The safest kidding method is to put ewes that are about to give birth in a comfortable kraal, making sure they have plenty to eat and drink. After the kid is born, give it and its mother a similar mark or number. Then keep the kids in a kraal during the day while the ewes are out grazing, and use the marks to pair the mothers with their kids when the ewes return at the end of the day.

If you do not do this, the thirsty kids will drink from the nearest ewes and some might not get enough, while some ewes will not release all their milk. This needs careful management. If the ewes are allowed to kid alone out in the veld, they should be left completely undisturbed until the kids are strong. Herding them before this will separate the mothers from their offspring and the kids may not get sufficient milk.

After shearing
For up to six weeks after shearing, Angoras are highly sensitive to cold weather. During this time, keep them on veld that offers protection from the wind, such as with tall shrubs and thorn trees. And if it looks as if it’s going to rain, bring the flock into a shed beforehand. Don’t take any chances!

Good husbandry
Always ensure that your Angoras have enough food (either in the veld or as supplements), keep them free from ticks, lice and internal parasites, and be aware of any diseases specific to your area. It’s also important to keep their hair free from seeds and debris. Mohair is exported for upmarket clothing and upholstery fabrics, so the cleaner your fleece, the higher the prices you will be paid.

The locks of kids should be soft to the touch (less than 30 micron in fibre diameter) and long. As the goats mature, their locks become flatter and coarser, with fibre thickness reaching the higher 30 microns. When classing the hair, keep clips of the different age groups apart and pack all shorter or dirty pieces separately. The best way to market your clip is through an established broker, such as BKB or CMW, and not to farm-gate traders, who are likely to pay less per kilogram.

More detailed information can be obtained from Mohair South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Tel: 041 487 1386.