The first thing you need to do before you farm goats is having your fences stock proof. There is a fencing act, which explains your legal requirements. It is difficult to be explicit, as the contour of your ground will dictate the type of fence you require. It is particularly important that your boundary fences are goat proof especially if you border on bush. This may be a 9-wire post and batten or upgraded existing fence. If using electric be aware that for various reasons supply may be interrupted, so your fence should still be stock proof. With modern genetics the Angora is a lot easier to contain than the old upgraded goats. Internal fences again should be stock proof with 7-8 wire or netting which should have 300cm droppers to prevent their heads being caught.
Considered opinion endorses the desirability of rotational grazing to keep our pastures evenly eaten down to a length which will recover more quickly, and again produce grass of the highest nutritional value. We should all aim at maximum rotational grazing management, whether we have just a small property, stud or larger runs requiring weed and scrub management. For those who do not understand the term ‘rotational grazing’, it can be from paddock to paddock on a regular basis in a rotational manner so that when they have finished the last paddock, the first paddock has again produced enough grass to be of use for the stock. It is the most effective way to save some pasture for a special period, such as for when your Does are in the last few weeks of their pregnancy, and must have optimum nutrition both then and even more importantly over the lactation period. When they are feeding Kids, and here I must point out the Angora’s tendency to twinning, the Doe’s body is under maximum strain, and plentiful grazing coupled with supplementary food such as good hay, haylage, nuts, grain, etc., is essential if you want live Kids and a good percentage at weaning time.
Having mentioned the Angora’s frequent twin kidding habit, it seems a good time to talk about one of the most important priorities for these animals, and that is shelter. Your goats are very vulnerable to cold wind and rain after shearing, especially at the early Spring shearing, and at kidding time – a notoriously fickle weather period, usually in August, September, October, according to how far North or South you farm. Many of you will already have very adequate shelter in the form of existing woolsheds or some other reliable types of building, if you are just going to add Angora’s to your other domestic stock. However, for those folk who are on smallholdings, shelter may be a problem, but it need not be too costly to obtain.
Kiwi ingenuity can be brought to bear. We constructed a few portable A Frame shelters initially, when our stock numbers were few, and as these were made of mainly second-hand materials, they cost very little. However, our Does loved to take their Kids to them, or quite often kidded in them. It was lovely to see the little curly Kids cuddled up together in the sun at the open-fronted A frames. Old water tanks are suitable also, with one end cut out and laid on their sides. Warm straw bedding adds to their usefulness and warmth.
The other main type of shelter is of the growing variety. The Angora Doe seems to kid quite easily in nearly every case and sets about cleaning the first Kid born, even as she is straining to deliver the second Kid. Usually in clement weather, she has plenty of time to clean up both Kids, and get them to the udder for that first vital drink of colostrum. She seems to stay with her Kids for quite a long time, before perhaps going off to get a drink or graze for a while. The Kids meanwhile, stay exactly where she has left them, as she rarely does this unless they are first cuddled down asleep.
This is where shelter is very desirable, for if forced to Kid in cold driving rain, etc., with no shelter, the newborn Angora is at grave risk. At birth, they are not as maturely formed as lambs, and even the coat of birth hair is not as thick initially. Here I should explain that the Angora Kids birth coat is not true Mohair. It is rather curly, but rather harsh to touch. At approximately six to seven weeks of age this birth coat sheds and one can see the true shining lustrous soft Mohair beginning to grow in its place. Out on the hills, one can leave it to the intelligent Doe to select a suitable kidding site, but on a small holding, usually made up of flat paddocks, hedges to keep out Southerly wind, or sheds of some type are essential at kidding and shearing times. Shade in Summer is equally important, no animal should be exposed to ultra violet rays. Goats get cancer as easily as any other animal. Shelter can be in the form of trees or sheds.
If planting shelter belts for your Angoras, please select them with care. Any tree or hedge, which periodically drops messy seeds, or saw edged leaves which stick in the Mohair should be avoided. From our own experience, I would suggest quick growing subjects, and if you want any results at all, you must fence the growing specimens off from your Angoras. Another thing to check before you plant is that the proposed specimens have no history of stock poisoning.
You will probably have heard that Angoras are very prone to chills, etc., and get pneumonia at the drop of a hat. Now, from our own and many others practical experiences, I strongly refute this belief. Ours are amazingly hardy and although shelter is always available during winter, on freezing cold frostiest nights, where are the Angoras? Why, out in the frost of course, betrayed by their steaming breath in the beam of torchlight. They will never move inside if a rain is reasonably warm. In fact they seem to enjoy it. Only when freshly shorn do they dislike rain and then only if it is of a southerly type and wind driven. They can stand dry cold winds quite well but hate wet cold winds and look for shelter under the latter conditions. However, as said earlier, at kidding time they do need to have shelter available if the weather is really cold and I strongly advise that the Does near kidding be brought to where the best shelter is and preferably near enough so that you can keep an eye on them at all times.
Like any other type of domestic animal, Angoras require to be yarded from time to time for drenching, foot trimming, drafting, dipping, etc. Those already experienced farmers will have yarding facilities available but for those folk just starting out with a small property and a few Angoras only, some form of yarding will be necessary. There are many types of yards available, including the portable variety which would be very suitable in most cases.