When you think of mohair, your thoughts probably turn to a scratchy, heather-pink sweater your mom or grandma wore in the 1960s. That sweater left a trail of fuzz clinging to everything it touched! Today, though, anyone who raises Angora Goats will meet that vintage reflection with staunch debate.
Breeding a Better Fiber
In the 1980s and 1990s, producers fine-tuned the Angora breed to one that grows soft, luxurious white mohair for the goat’s entire lifetime. They effectively left behind the itchy stigma of yesteryear.
Simultaneously, a movement in the Pacific Northwest took off in the niche hand-spinner community. Avid fiber artists sought to raise a backyard animal that would produce skin-touch soft fiber in a spectrum of natural colors for use in hand-spun yarns and without a drop of chemical dye.
After years of thoughtful, selective breeding and relentless pursuits to meld the quality of white Angoras, the Colored Angora Goat was developed.
For the Fleece
Today, Colored Angora Goats bring higher prices per pound for their magnificent fleeces, which you can find in:
Still exclusively raised on hobby farms across North America, Colored Angora Goats are treasured by those who keep them. Their reasons range from fiber, show, 4-H and FFA projects or brush clearance. Some enjoy just keeping the breed as pets.
Angora Goats are considered the most efficient fiber producers in the world. Mohair grows 1 inch per month, and fleeces average between 5 to 10 pounds each. They produce fiber for two shearings per year (unlike sheep, which are shorn once).
An Easy-Keeping Breed
Quiet, docile and easy-going, Angoras are generally easy to keep. As seasonal fall breeders, they don’t possess the strong odors often associated with other goats.
Angora Goats enjoy the company of others. Keeping at least two is always the best plan. Castrated bucks (wethers) produce the softest mohair for a lifetime.
Angora Goats are typically respectful of their surroundings. A woven wire fence of at least 48 inches in height is standard. Treacherous terrain full of thorny plants poses no challenge. Rocks and boulders are seen as opportunities to play and reach for tree limbs.
A simple lean-to roof on higher ground often fulfills a shelter. This offers a place to get out from the weather. Solid walls to block cold winds, especially after shearing, will be essential.
Unlike sheep, goats thrive on brush and low-lying trees. Angoras were first introduced to the Southwest in the 1800s because of the abundance of brushlike forage that other livestock wouldn’t touch. Angora Goats are clever browsers and not terribly picky.
Learn more at the Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association.
—Allen Mesick, Eureka! Mohair Farm