Angora Goats in the Midwest (Part 1)
By: "R.M. Jordan, Extension Animal Specialist, Univ. of MN"About the Author
Angora goats and the mohair they produce are not major agricultural products in the United States and certainly not in Minnesota where there are fewer than 3,000 Angora goats. Flocks are small and often are owned by those interested in hand weaving. Nevertheless, mohair finds a ready market. In 1989, raw mohair prices in Texas were: kid hair (it's much finer), $6.50/lb; yearling hair, $2.00/lb; and adult hair, $1.00/lb. In addition, mohair incentive payments have amounted to $30 to $15 per head the past two years. These high hair prices are stimulating interest in goat production among an increasing number of Midwest livestock producers.
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The United States (primarily Texas) produces about 10.0 million lb; South Africa, 15.0 million lb; and Turkey (original home) 16.0 million lb of mohair, clean basis. The United Kingdom takes 62 percent, France 9 percent, and Italy 9 percent of U.S. exports. Japan, Russia, and Western European countries are also big importers of mohair. Australia has recently imported some superior Angora breeding stock from Texas in an effort to improve the hair quality of its goats and stimulate production.
Angora goat production data applicable for the Midwest are scarce, and research from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (TAES) deals more with adult goals maintained under extensive grazing conditions. Data are lacking as to their husbandry requirements, reproductive potentials when kept under intensive conditions, and housing requirements. At one time, it was believed that Angora goats could not withstand cold weather. However, over 10,000 goals are kept in Upper Michigan, and Minnesota producers manage them much like sheep.
Characteristics of Angora Goats
- Angora goats are small in relation to dairy goals or sheep. Mature Angora nannies (does) weigh 80 to 100 pounds and, if fed adequately, produce 12 to 20 pounds of hair per year. Billies (males) weigh 90 to 120 pounds and shear 20 to 35 pounds of hair annually.
- Goats should be sheared in mid-September and again in mid-March. Shearing in September permits sufficient hair regrowth before severe winter weather and March shearing comes prior to kidding, when the nannies would normally be housed. While Angora goats with 2 inches of hair growth can tolerate sub-zero temperatures, they are not as immune to cold as sheep. Sudden temperature drops accompanied by wind and rain following shearing have resulted in high mortality (10 to 20 percent) in Texas.
- Goats require more frequent hoof trimming than sheep.
- Both sexes have horns. Texas and California producers favor horns. Under farm flock conditions, horns are a serious deterrent to management. However, attempts to "breed them off" by using polled dairy type goals has resulted in an excessive incidence of hermaphroditism. We have burned the horn buds off 2- to 3-week-old goats with success. Dehorning with caustic paste produced some mortality, possibly from licking the paste off each other. Rubber elastrator rings placed down over 1/8 to 1/4-inch of the skin at the base of the horn causes the horn to drop off in 3 to 8 weeks. This method works equally well with 6-month-old kids and a-year-old nannies. Horns may also be sawed off. Horn removal, particularly by burning, destroys the scent glands at the base of the horn and reduces the smell of billies. Goats with horns need 1.5 feet or more of bunk space. (They can be vicious to one another with their horns.) Goats without horns need about 6 to 8 inches of bunk space and don't get entangled in woven wire fences or in their own hair.
About the author: North Central Regional Extension Publications are subject to peer review and prepared as a part of the Cooperative Extension activities of the thirteen land-grant universities of the 12 North Central States, in cooperation with the Extension Service-U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.