Shearing is one of the most important times of the year for Angora goat farmers.
The environment of animal during the fleeces growing period, along with all preparation leading up to shearing, is reflected in the final product. The animal’s environment includes the physical environment, as well as any husbandry practices of the farmer.
Factors Which Affect Mohair Value
Factors that affect the value of mohair can be classed into two distinct but related areas:
- The physical characteristics of the fibre. These are directly related to the genetics, age of the animal, and the length of time between shearing. The four main characteristics which influence the grade of fibre include:
- Fineness (micron)
- Freedom from kemp
2. Impurities or contamination which is found in the fleece. These are greatly influenced by the environment in which the animals are farmed, and the conditions leading up to and during shearing.
The fineness of the mohair fibre can be measured in microns, which are a millionth of a metre. The fineness of the fibre is largely determined by the age of the animal, with fibres the finest in kids and become larger with goat age.
It is therefore advisable to draft the heard into distinctive age groups (e.g. kids, 2-4 tooths, and mature aged goats), prior to shearing, with the various age groups shorn separately.
As shearing approaches, every effort should be made to protect the long mohair fleeces from contamination, as any contamination will depreciate the value of the mohair. Contamination of fleeces can be due to vegetable matter, dust, or pigmented fibres from nearby coloured animals. To avoid contamination, it is advisable to keep the goats in open, well grassed paddocks, to avoid vegetable matter and dust from entering the fleece. Avoid mixing mohair goats with coloured animals, as the pigmented fibre from those animals can contaminate mohair fleeces through contact.
Care must also be taken when feeding out hay to animals as Angora goats often toss hay in the air while eating. This can contaminate their fleece, along with any other fleeces of nearby goats. To reduce this form of contamination, it is recommended that hay is distributed in small patches around the paddock. This method reduces the number of animals which feed near to each other, keeping hay contamination out of fleeces.
Contamination of the fleece can also come from shed stain. Shed stain happens when daggy or muddy goats rub against one another whilst penned up, transferring the stain from the animal to other fleeces. This form of contamination can be reduced by either crutching the goats prior to shearing, or separating dirty goats and containing them in another pen.