Are you a craft-loving soul who wants to produce their own yarn, as well as weave it?
Angora goats are one of the most efficient fiber producers around producing 25% of their own weight in fiber.
If you want a docile, lovable goat that provides you with material for your yarn hobby or business the Angora goat may be the one for you.
Angora Goats are an ancient breed taking its name from Ankara Turkey, which was called Angora once upon a time.
The luxurious mohair of Angora Goats soon became a globally sought commodity and they are now found throughout the world.
In the United States, Angoras are usually raised in large range herds in Texas, Montana, and Idaho. However, their gentle personalities and small frame also make them a great addition to the 21st-century homestead.
Breed Standards of Angora Goats
The American Angora Goat Breeders Association is the main registry in the U.S. for the traditional white Angora goats.
In 2002, the American Colored Angora Goat Registry (ACAGR) was founded for black, brown, gray, silver, and red Angoras. Each registry has its own specific requirements and disqualifying characteristics, so be sure to check the individual sites.
The top three most important qualities of Angoras cited by registries are size, conformation, and the quality of fleece.
Fleece is most important of the three since that is where your profit lies.
However, size and conformation are major players in fertility, health, and how much mohair an Angora will produce. In general, Angora goats should have the following qualities:
Characteristics of excellent mohair lines include:
– Full Coverage
An Angora should be covered from head to tail, and down the legs to the knees or below.
– Beautiful Appearance
Mohair should be full, lustrous, fine and uniform in its length and quality. You want the staple to be soft to the touch and fast-growing.
Ringlet curls with a crimped look are most desirable. You also want a good weight without it being rough, as well as mohair that is neither too greasy or too dry.
2. Height and Weight
Registries do not give height and weight specifications for Angoras and they have a wide span. An Angora buck typically weighs between 180-225 lbs. and a doe about 70-110 lbs. Height for both sexes is between 25-40″.
3. Other Breed Specific Standards
Overall Angoras should have a well-proportioned appearance with a strong head and neck, horns well-spaced and pointing down and away from the head. Their bodies should be broad, with well-sprung rib-cages, a strong topline, and straight legs.
Angoras have been bred for centuries to produce the finest mohair. All their production energy goes into producing mohair meaning they aren't the best for meat or milk.
1. Mohair Production Details
Mohair grows about 1″ a month with an adult producing 12″ a year and kids producing about 8″ a year. Kids and yearlings produce the very fine and profitable mohair, with the mohair becoming more course as the goat matures.
Though fine mohair is in high-demand, the coarse adult hair is valuable for upholstery products. Regardless of age, all mohair is at its finest when the goats are in excellent health and kept clean.
As a rule, Angora Goats are delicate animals. On the open ranges, they are very vulnerable to cold and rain at birth and after each shearing.
However, on the homestead where their shelter is nearby, you shouldn’t encounter any losses if you are diligent to make sure does can kid in a warm, draft-free shelter and all the goats have free access to a warm barn or similar quarters away from cold or rain.
Angoras' long partnership with humans has made them a very gentle, docile, and curious breed. A fond tone is the universal reaction when you ask Angora owners what they like best about their goat's personalities. Some owners even share stories of babysitters being appointed by the herd to watch the kids as the other does go off to forage.
Possible Breed Defects
1. Kemp and Medulated Hair
Kemp and medulated hair are defects in Angora goats. What do these terms mean?
Kemp is the naughty twin of the pair with course, hollow, scratchy fibers that continue to stick out of yarn after it is spun.
Medulated hair is also a defect but not as bad as kemp. These fibers are still rougher than the kind of hair we're looking for and have a partially hollow core instead of fully hollow like kemp.
Wattles are considered a defect that disqualifies an Angora from being registered.
Because of their mohair, Angora Goats require more preparation for breeding than some other goat breeds.
It is recommended that Angoras be sheared twice a year: before kidding in late winter and before breeding season in late summer. After each shearing, they should also be deloused and given a full deworming treatment.
2. Nutritional Needs
Because Angoras put so much of their energy into mohair, their body condition and fertility will suffer if they do not have adequate nutrition. In fact, the hair follicles of the developing kids won’t form if the dam’s nutrition is lacking.
Several weeks before the breeding season you will need to increase both your buck and does feed (called flushing) to ensure their enter the breeding season strong and healthy.
If you have raised other goat breeds it might surprise you to learn Angoras don’t mature quite as fast and are often bred as yearlings. It is suggested that doelings are at least 55 lbs. when bred for the first time.
4. Mating Season
Like deer Angoras are seasonal breeders, cycling every 18-21 days from August to January. Since bucks give an odor that is nasty to us but great to the does, his presence on the property may be necessary before the does show signs of heat. That being said, it is generally suggested that bucks and does should be kept in separate pens except at mating time.
The gestation period for goats is about 150 days. In preparation for kidding, choose a warm stall or barn where a heat lamp can be available. Because Angoras don’t have as much muscle and fat as meat and dairy goats, keeping the kids warm will be your greatest concern.
Also make sure your does get plenty of feed, minerals, hay, and fresh water. Does will abandon their kids if their own needs are not being met, so keep that extra TLC going for both you and them.
Angora Goats do not have as many multiple births as other goat breeds. Singles seem to be the most common, though some breeders say the chances of twins are greater if sires and dams are receiving enough nutrients.
Caring For The Angora Goat
1. Feeding and Nutritional Needs
Mohair production is the first need an Angora’s body will see to. Because of this the best thing you can do is support both bucks and does with a high-nutrition diet.
20% protein is recommended for Angoras. In addition to grain, minerals, and fresh water, Angoras need fresh forage. Goats are natural browsing, preferring brush, trees, etc., instead of grass pasture like sheep and cattle.
A healthy diet is especially important several weeks before breeding season and during pregnancy. Miscarriages are almost always diet-related, and an Angora doe will put mohair production before her kids’ and her own nutritional needs.
2. Housing and Fencing
Angoras need the same housing and fencing needs as other goats with a few exceptions. Wet conditions are damaging to mohair and make Angoras especially prone to disease and health issues.
Since Angoras do not produce much fat, they must have shelter from the rain and cold 4-6 weeks after shearing.
Like all goats, Angoras see fences as a game – the ‘let’s-break-out-of-here' game. Choose a sturdy fence choice like cattle panels or three-strand electric wire to keep them home where they belong.
3. Health Issues and Care
Parasites are enemy number one for all goats. Angoras will need regular deworming and practices like small herd sizes and rotational grazing will help disrupt parasites' life cycle.
External parasite preventive is especially crucial with Angoras. Their long coats make it easy for lice, ticks, mites, and maggots to hide, wreaking havoc on their health and mohair loss for you.
Keep them dry and keep them clean is the key to Angora grooming. Mohair grows up to an inch a month, with it becoming as long as 6” by shearing time for adults and 4” for kids.
Between shearings, keep the mohair free of weeds, briers, seeds, moisture, and urine. Urine soaked fleeces can cause hotspots and even attract maggots, so hygiene trimming for both bucks and does are advised.
Delousing is recommended after each shearing. Lice can be a terrible problem for Angoras; diligent delousing immediately after shearing is your best preventative against these pests.
Angoras will also need occasional bathing throughout the year to maintain mohair quality. They will also need their hooves trimmed every 4-6 weeks.
Alternatives To Angora Goats
If you like the Angoras mohair qualities yet need a smaller goat, then Pygora or Nigoras might be the breeds for you.
1. Pygora and Nigora Goats
Pygora Goats are a cross between Pygmies and Angoras. Nigoras, on the other hand, are a dual-purpose fiber and dairy cross between Angoras and Nigerian dwarfs, though other mini dairy breeds such as mini Alpines also fall under this term. Both crosses have their own registries, are growing in popularity, and are super cute!
2. Cashmere Goats
Cashmere goats are another alternative to Angoras. The name Cashmere refers more to a type of goat rather than a specific breed. They produce a soft, downy coat that is highly sought after.
Did You Know?
The word “mohair” comes from the Arabic word mukhayyar which means goat-hair fabric. Fine mohair from kids and yearlings makes great material for shawls, blankets, scarves, sweaters, and other clothing, while it is the coarser mohair from older Angoras that is used for upholstery products.
Angora Goats are work-intensive, requiring time and diligence. Still, their pleasant personality and bountiful locks have made them a favorite goat for centuries. It's no wonder these sweet goats are making a come-back on the modern homestead…maybe even on yours!