Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Raising Angora Goats
Has anyone ever tried to get your goat? To "get your goat" is an expression. It means to make you mad. A good friend might tell you: "Don't worry about what that person said. He was just trying to get your goat." But there are plenty of good reasons to get a goat -- and not just for milk or meat.
The animals can help control weeds. They can be friendly with children and adults. And they can make money with their hair. Cashmere goats produce cashmere. Angora goats produce -- no, not angora. Angora fiber comes from rabbits. Angora goats produce mohair. Mohair is used to make clothing, carpets and other products. The goats came from the Anatolian plains. Their name comes from the Turkish city of Ankara. The Mohair Council of America says the first Angora goats arrived in the United States in eighteen forty-nine. Seven females and two males were imported.
Today the United States is one of the world's leading producers of mohair. The other top sources are South Africa and Turkey. Ninety percent of the mohair from the United States comes from Texas. An adult Angora can produce as much as seven kilograms of hair each year. The value of the coat depends on the age, size and condition of the goat. As Angoras get older, their hair becomes thicker and less valuable. The goats need their mother's milk for the first three or four months. They reach full maturity at about two years. But even then they are smaller than most sheep and milk goats. Cashmere goats are usually larger than Angoras.
Cashmere goats can grow big enough to be kept with sheep and cattle. The outer hair of the animal is called guard hair. Behind it is the valuable material on a cashmere goat. Some farmers just comb their cashmere goats to remove the hair. But if the goats do get a haircut, it often happens when they would naturally lose their winter coat, between December and March. Angora goats generally get their hair cut twice a year, in the spring and fall. Owners do it themselves or hire a professional shearer. An Angora without a coat can get cold. So the sheared goat may need to be kept extra warm for about a month after shearing.
For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. To read, listen and learn English with our stories about agriculture and other topics, go to voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find captioned videos of our programs at the VOA Learning English channel on YouTube. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 08May2012)