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Hands-on at the goat face

We've been farming angora goats for over ten years and can't imagine life without them now. They are fascinating animals to work with and you make money from them every six months, year after year.

If you are wondering is angoras are right for you then read on...

Firstly, a look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Angora goats are small and easy to handle. Our heaviest goat weighs 65kg and most does are around 35kg-40kg.
  • Their fleece is worth money. Even heavily stained fleece is worth $5/kg. After levies and charges we make an average of $40/goat each shear.
  • Both sexes produce valuable fleece so male kids are as welcome as females.
  • They're very friendly and intelligent. A lot of the time it's like farming hairy Labrador pups.
  • They're natural comedians and stress relievers.

Cons

  • Angora goats need to have shelter available, especially after shearing and for young kids. Once they have a week or two of fleece, they're able to cope with most weather events, although shade and shelter are always welcome.
  • Like all goats they need good fencing. In my experience, angoras go under fences rather than over them.
  • They can be susceptible to foot problems and internal parasites.
  • They're addictive!

The process

We shear in February and August and kid in September. We are lucky to have local experienced angora goat shearers. Goat shearing is not the same as sheep shearing so it's worth finding someone who knows what they're doing.

The fleece is classed by John Woodward of Mohair NZ, who is one of two mohair buyers in NZ. You can choose to attend the classing, which allows you to take notes about individual fleeces and enjoy John's stories and tips from his decades in the mohair business.

The fleece is put into the clip along with many others and sold at auction in South Africa. Once the fleece is sold, you get paid, after deductions for levies and charges. Our aim is to improve our return to clear $100/goat/year.

Breeding

We don't mate our does until they are almost three years old, however many farmers breed does younger than this. A rule of thumb is that once a doe is over 22kg she is big enough to breed from.

Angora goats are good mothers and don't usually have problems kidding or mothering. Once a doe has kidded, we take her into the shed and put her in a pen with her kid(s) so they can bond in peace. This also ensures that the kids are protected from the elements as they are very vulnerable to cold.

Most does will have single kids, although the heavier a doe is at mating, the more likely she is to have twins.

Costs

As has been said, they need shelter. We built a large goat shed which the goats can access from most paddocks. The shed consists of a plastic roof attached to wooden poles with side windows with mesh and roll-down plastic curtains. The flooring is a layer of river stones with weed matting on top then bark chips on that. It drains well which is perfect for keeping the goats feet healthy.

Our goats have access to hay all year round. We feed either feed pellets or balage to all goats in winter and the does for most of the year.

Issues

When we first brought our goats to this property we battled with feet and worm problems. These hadn't been an issue at their previous home, but they don't like moving property and it took them about a year to get settled. Like all goats, if they're not happy then they seem to be susceptible to all sorts of things.

Not many vets have experience with goats and most medications are 'off-label' for goats so it is often a learning curve for your vet too.

Internal parasites can be a problem. We drench only when we think it's needed and have the equipment to carry out our own FECs.

The long angora fleece is ideal for biting lice. Getting rid of them can be a problem as you can't use pour-on insecticide except just after shearing.

Help

Mohair Producers NZ members are happy to provide help and support to new angora farmers and their website is full of great information.

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