How To Purchase An Angora Goat

  

Newly discovered, never before seen photos and personal notes of

Angora Jane purchasing an angora goat 

“Selecting Angora Goats”

(Lesson #1)

By Angora Jane

Are you one of those who no longer want to be governed by the whims and perks of fiber producers?  No longer want to submit to the mediocrity of settling for fiber quality and colors someone else blatantly produced, prepared and placed before you at a predetermined price?  

Then you may be ready to strike out on your own.  Buy animals, sit back, relax in anticipation of that first abundant harvest of free mohair.  But how do you get started?

There are others, far less capable who have left a virtual wealth of recorded information of their accomplishments as well as their failures.  Some good, some bad, and some just plain silly.

 My Uncle Pete used to say “It’s not enough to know where the carrots are, if you want them you have to dig.”

Your first priority will probable be how and where you intend to get your animals.  Some recommend the local livestock auction which I personally would put off as a last resort.  My Dad came from the auction and mom said he was out the door before us kids hit the floor.  

There are plenty of reputable breeders out there so why look for seashells in your backyard when the beach is right down the street.   I guess the best advice is talk to people that are “into’ or associated with fiber arts.  Knitters, weavers, felters, spinners.  Don’t forget the people behind the scene.  Sheep shearers, fiber processors, veterinarians.  You’ll be surprised at how many of these people have the answers or at least the connections you need to make the right decisions.

 Don’t forget your local library but be cautious of out dated material or hungry writers that have never been inside of a barn let alone a flock of angoras.  One book I remember advised that when Angora goats are birthing it’s good to have several different fragrances of air freshener on hand.  

They contend that by spraying the kid when it is born will enable the mother to locate her baby if it is lost in the flock.  My mother could have found any of her babies with a sinus infection in a wind storm and I have yet to find an  Angora goat mother  less capable of identifying their offspring than any human.

Another of my book favorites advised “always select healthy, intelligent animals. ” I understand “healthy”‘ but I wondered how one could tell if a goat was intelligent, or for that matter what difference it really makes.  So I sought the truth of the internet.

Apparently there has been extensive scientific research to determine the intelligence of various species of animals.  I still can’t look at a goat and tell how smart it is but I did find out that Angora goats and Angora rabbits are relatively close to the same intelligence level.  

Being a self-righteous rabbit if I didn’t know it has to be true to be on the internet I would have dismissed it as pure rubbish.  I don’t like having my intelligence compared to an animal that thinks it’s sexy to pee on their own face.  Humans were not included in the study.(To Be Continued) Angora Jane    **********************************************************************************************

 

Newly discovered, never before seen photos and personal notes of

Angora Jane purchasing an angora goat 

“Buying Angora Goats”

(Lesson #2)

 So you’ve done your research and you’re ready to buy.  Depending on where you decided to look you may encounter anything from a few goats at someone’s house to literally hundreds of goats strewed about an acreage on an Angora goat farm.

Keep in mind that the breeding stock and environment you see is where these particular goats come from.  No matter how cute the babies are or how fast the breeder talks a walnut is always flavored by the tree that dropped it so pay attention.

Your choice should be determined by what you plan to do.  If you want to “show” goats then conformity and registration may be super important.  If you just want to produce your own mohair then pick the kind you like.  If you’re short on cash see whats available in your price range.

The point is, have a plan.  Not having a plan is like digging peanuts with a hole in your pocket.  You always find lots of peanuts just lying about the ground but you never end up with what you expected.

Health is probably the the most important issue.  Healthy Angora goats will be pink around their eyes as well as their other end , if you know what I mean.  Angora goats practically invented the expression “in the pink.”  If they’re pink from both the North and the South they’re probably healthy.  

How many do you want to start with?  I had so many brothers and sisters I enjoy being alone but goats are herd animals and don’t do well without company.

  Remember that old song about one being the loneliest number and two being just as bad, or something like that.  It’s a very little known fact that the original lyrics were actually written by an Angora goat.

Two boys are never a good idea unless you want to see which one will kill the other.  If you plan to breed goats three girls won’t be much good either. Be decisive.  There are really only 3 directions you can go from here.

1.  Suddenly realize that this is far more commitment than you want and walk.

2.  Go home and think about it and/or look elsewhere.

3.  Buy now.

Me?  I’m a rabbit… We didn’t beat the tortoise by being slow.  I’m buying now.   (To be continued) Angora Jane

Newly discovered, never before seen photos and personal notes of

Angora Jane purchasing an angora goat 

“Transporting Angora Goats”

(Lesson #3)

 Some of you may not remember being suddenly pulled from a warm nest by a humongous, surprisingly un-hairy hand with a vice grip clutch on your ears.  It’s a scary experience.

Most of the animals you will encounter have spent their entire lives in one location and suddenly a total stranger is dragging them away from their mothers’ and the only security they have ever known.  This is no time to be adding additional, undo stress to the situation but some do.

Putting your goat in a large canine transport unit to share the ride with a hunting dog is like putting you in a box with a lion and being told it is probably friendly.  Not a good idea even if your favorite hunting grounds were on the way to the breeder.

 If your plan consists on two cat carriers for 3 goats you also might be in trouble. If traveling a long distance food and water should be taken into consideration.  Traveling in the back of a pickup in sever cold or rain for any distance  is not a good idea.  

Being packed in a crate in August may be even worse but failing to have adequate transportation ranks among the highest of un-common sense. Standing at your vehicle is not the time to realize the animal you just purchased doesn’t fit. Nobody makes salad without a bowl but quite frequently people are so enthused about buying they don’t consider the ride home. 

If you are particular about that “new car smell” you may not want your goat in a custom van or the back seat of a sports car.  Goats are not embarrassed about leaving their scent and the smell will settle into your upholstery for months. Even if you think you have planned ahead always expect  the unexpected.

 I once scheduled a roadside rendezvous to pick up two goats in a 5 ft by 6 ft cage made of livestock panels.  Unfortunately the bars were six inches apart and the goats were only 11 inches wide.  Side by Side.  Who would have thought? They were apparently younger than I was led to believe.  I guess size really does matter   (To Be Continued)   Angora Jane

Newly discovered, never before seen photos and personal notes of

Angora Jane purchasing an angora goat 

“Sheltering Angora Goats”

(Lesson #4)

 It’s almost mandatory that your angoras have a fenced area for their own protection as well as the rest of your property.  Contrary to popular belief, goats do not eat tin cans but they are rather fond of most ornamental vegetation.    Petunias and pansies are just a couple of their favorites and they can bring a 10 ft. crape myrtle to it’s knees in less than a season.

Angoras are very security conscious animals and will often patrol the parameters of their confine searching for any weakness in the fence.  If located they will immediately show you where it is.

 They are often suspicious of a gate left open and refuse to pass through , yet if closed they are experts at opening gate latches with their horns and will be heading to your flowerbeds  in a heartbeat.

Angoras also need shelter.  It has been suggested they require 20 sq. ft. per animal.  For 3 goats that would only be a building 6 ft wide and 10 ft long.

 But here’s where the math can get tricky. Angoras are famous for birthing twins and often triplets.  3 goats could easily have 1 set of twins and 2 singles the first year more than doubling your flock size.  Expect another 4 the second year and be ready for the youngsters to  also start producing the third.

 Theoretically within 4 years, if gone unchecked, you will now need a building the size of a jumbo jet. You think that’s impressive?  My family could have populated a small city in that amount of time.  Of course, we breed… well, like rabbits.

You can worry about the shelter expansion later.  The important thing is have their new home ready before they arrive.

 After you bring your animals home is not the time to be mending fences or finishing their house.  It’s hard enough for them to settle in without the commotion of power saws and hammers and remember contented angoras produce mohair but unhappy goats produce less.(To Be Continued)   Angora Jane 

Newly discovered, never before seen photos and personal notes of

Angora Jane purchasing an angora goat 

“Shearing Angora Goats”

(Lesson #5)

 The day of reckoning has finally arrived.  This is what it is all about.  This is the ultimate reward.  It’s time to shear.  Your pride and excitement of what you have accomplished will soon be dwarfed by the realization that the mohair is still firmly attached to the animals and you have no “real” idea how to get it off.   Here are a few suggestions I hope you find helpful.

Scissors can work well if you only have a few animals.  The job is significantly easier if the animal remains still but they often don’t.  It is not unusual to dull 2 pairs of scissors per animal so keep a good supply on hand.  

Spring loaded scissors are recommended to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome and those pesky future surgeries .  Unfortunately you can still expect at least 3 hours of really intense, unpleasant labor.

You might try a sheep’s stand to help hold fidgety animals.  This one item could save you up to 1/2 hour per animal.  However allow an additional 40 minutes for pushing the animal back on the stand when they struggle and fall off hanging themselves from the head piece.

If scissors just aren’t your style you may consider purchasing professional grade clippers.  This will take far less time to shear but probably more time putting the animals back on the stand. 

The noise and vibrations of the chomping blades  immediately alert the animal that you are coming making them quite uneasy.  Remember the word “professional” on the label is in reference to the clippers and does not imply that you are professional so take your time.

 Keep appropriate ointments available for cuts and skin abrasions.  The ointment can also be used on the animals if needed.

Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable with sharp objects of any kind around a struggling animal and elect to hire an economical sheep shearer.  If they ask to use your new clippers they probably aren’t professional either.

 Also be careful if their  resume indicates they were recently fired from a place called “Poodles and Do’s”.  It doesn’t matter how much money you save planting parsley seed in the spinach patch.  You still only get what you pay for.

Additional research may find someone more skilled and preferably someone who has actually sheared goats or sheep.  However, just because they own their own clippers does not mean they are competent.  If they ask to use your new sheep stand or announce that they won’t do the whole animal because goats are shaped different than sheep you should probably keep looking.

If persistent you’ll eventually find someone who really knows what they are doing.  You’ll be amazed the first time you see your animal rolled into a comfortable ball on the floor and then  suddenly, and almost magically fall out of the fleece.  

You then also realize it took them less than 10 minutes and they stopped to trim hooves while discussing the weather.  These guys are good.

Angoras need to be sheared 2 times each year and as you may have found out it’s not like a Saturday morning trip to the barber.  A good shearer is worth his weight in gold or, at least, in mohair because if you can’t get it off of the animal you’ll never get it to the spinning wheel.Angora Jane (To Be Continued) 

Newly discovered, never before seen photos and personal notes of

Angora Jane purchasing an angora goat 

“Budgeting Angora Goats”

By Angora Jane

 (Lesson #6)

 So you finally put a pencil to it.  This is where you discover what the actual price of free mohair is.

 Originally the recommended sales price of mohair multiplied by the exaggerated estimated pounds of mohair per animal seemed pretty impressive but something ate up the profit.

Just the mention of  “free mohair” in lesson #1 got an immediate e-mail response informing me that “mohair is not free, that there is a lot of time and love that goes into raising  fiber animals.” Right you are, and along with the time and love there is also a pile of cash.  Here’s a short grocery list of  a few items that might not have been considered.

  • Fencing                   Over Eating Shots       Peroxide                    Halters
  • Water                      Probiotics                     Clippers                      Rope
  • Bedding                  Lice Control                 Mineral Blocks         Pickers
  • Hay                          Baby Bottles                Syringes                     Carders
  • Feed                        Powdered Milk            Shears                        Penicillin
  • Salt                          Heating Lamps           Stands                        Peroxide
  • Moth Control               Soaps                  Rat Control                  Fly Control

And I’m willing to bet anyone in the business can come up with many, many more. I guess I did indeed take the ” love”  for granted and after all, when you think about it, that may be what makes it all worth while.    Angora Jane (To Be Continued)

Newly discovered, never before seen photos and personal notes of

Angora Jane purchasing an angora goat

By Angora Jane

 (Lesson #7)

So, in a nut shell, this is how I ended up in the fiber business.  A.J. and I have been together for what sometimes seems like for ever.  

We’ve certainly had our ups and downs over the years but we’re still following the same trail. As for why?   I think this is just what makes us happy.

I’ve put together a little slide show and background music of where we’ve been.  As for where we’re going, we’ll just have to see where that trail leads.  Hope to see you somewhere along the way. Angora Jane 

 

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