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Choosing Goat Breeds for Fiber

If you're a home spinner or want to get your own supply of fiber, consider raising fiber goats. Angoras produce the fiber called mohair, which is a silky fiber used in many products. Cashmere, produced by the cashmere goat, is an even more exotic fiber and is in high demand. It comes from the undercoat of these goats.

Properly caring for fiber goats takes a bit more work than raising some meat or dairy goat breeds. If you want meat, some of these fiber goats are dual-purpose goats:

  • Angora: Angoras have long, wavy coats, with fiber called mohair. They are usually white, but some breeders are experimenting with producing other colors and even have their own registry, the Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association (CAGBA). They have short, curved horns, which are usually left on the goat, because they may regulate body temperature. The average adult goat produces 8 to 16 pounds of mohair each year, while kids give from 3 to 5 pounds of longer, finer hair.

    Angoras may be raised on a range, but they are sensitive to cold, and wet weather can kill them. They also are not natural mothers and sometimes abandon their kids. The kids often need help to start nursing. And with twins and triplets, the bigger kids hog all the milk if not controlled, leaving the little ones nothing to eat.

    An Angora buck.
    An Angora buck.
  • Cashmere: Cashmere goats in the United States aren’t a breed but a type of goat. According to the Eastern Cashmere Association, feral goats from Australia and Spanish goats in the United States are both cashmere producers. They just need to have been bred to produce the right quality of cashmere, a measurement that is determined by the cashmere industry. (The fiber has to be less than 19 microns thick.) Most of the larger cashmere breeders originally imported high-quality fiber goats from Australia to start their herds.

    Cashmere goats are dual fiber/meat goats. Like their non-cashmere feral relatives, they are quite hardy. But like dairy goats, they don’t like rain and will run for shelter when it comes.

You can also find two different breeds of mini fiber goats in the United States:

  • Pygora: The Pygora is a cross between the Pygmy and the Angora. The Pygora is a small, easy-to-handle, and good-tempered fiber goat. These little guys are registered by the Pygora Breeders Association (PBA), which started in 1987. A Pygora can be up to 75 percent of either breed.

    Pygoras can produce up to four pounds of fleece a year, a bit less than the full-sized Angora. They are smart and can sometimes be found in petting zoos and circuses.

  • Nigora: Nigoras are a cross between a Nigerian Dwarf and an Angora . They have the advantage of producing colorful fiber as well as milk. This is still a fledgling breed, with a breed club started only in 2007. No breed standards exist on this breed as of 2009.

    You might have trouble finding Nigora goats, but you can buy a Nigerian buck and some Angoras and start your own herd!

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