I been thinking about buying some mohair, angora, and cashmere fibers, to hand spin, from fellow Etsy vendors who are raising these animals in the USA. So as is my habit I did the research to see what the living conditions might be for animals that produce these wonderful fibers. I found the information so interesting that I thought it was worthy of documenting my findings in an article.
Mohair fiber comes from Angora Goats, Angora goats are a specific breed of goat, and only Angora goats produce Mohair fiber. Angora Goats don’t produce Angora fiber; Angora fiber comes from Angora rabbits, and Angora Rabbits are a specific breed of rabbit, only Angora rabbits can produce Angora fiber. Cashmere fiber comes from Cashmere Goats. Cashmere goats are not a specific breed of goat, any breed of goat can produce cashmere, except the Angora goat; the Angora goat can’t produce cashmere fiber.
I downloaded the two publications from UC Davis Cooperative Extension Service for your convenience, click here to open:
The Angora Rabbit excerpt is from the UF IFAS Extension 4H – I converted the webpage to a PDF and linked here for convenience. Market Rabbit Industry – Fiber Production
Below is excerpts from all three of these publications and the website links to follow to see the excerpts as well as the rest of the articles.
“USDA Department of Agriculture
Cooperative State Research Service
Office for Small-Scale Agriculture
Angora goats may be the most efficient fiber producers on Earth. These makers of mohair came from and were named after Ankara (Angora before 1930), the Turkish province where they have thrived for centuries. Turkey guarded these goats against exportation until 1849 when seven does and two bucks were imported into the United States. Later, more were imported from Turkey and South Africa, the two principal mohair producers in the 19th century.
But now the United States has become one of the two biggest producers (along with South Africa) of mohair — the long, lustrous, wavy hair that goes into fine garments. The other primary fiber from goats is cashmere (see “A Small-Scale Agriculture Alternative, Cashmere Goats”, December 1992). But crossing Angora with cashmere goats results in a fiber called cashgora, with very limited use and characteristics of neither fine fiber.
The two goat types also differ in temperaments. The angoras are relaxed and docile, while cashmere and/or Spanish meat goats are often flighty and high strung. Angora goats, which do produce mohair, do not produce Angora hair. Only rabbits can produce Angora hair.
Although Angora goats are somewhat delicate, they grow their fleeces year-round. This puts considerable strain on the animal, and probably contributes to their lack of hardiness.
About 90 percent of the U.S. mohair clip originates in Texas, but the goats are raised across wide areas of the United States. They adapt well to many conditions, but are particularly suited to the arid southwestern states. Central and southwestern Texas have all the major mohair warehouses.”
The excerpt above is from the UC Davis publication on Angora Goats, see the entire article at: http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/pubs/brochures/ANGORA/
Angora Rabbits produce Angora Fiber
The following excerpt is from the UF IFAS Extension 4H website (see website link following the excerpt)
“Quality of wool
The quality of the wool is determined by its cleanliness and the length of the fiber. Different areas on the rabbit’s body have different fiber length, and hence varying quality of wool.
Premium: Premium quality wool is taken from the back and upper sides of the rabbit. This is usually the longest and cleanest fiber on the rabbit. To qualify as premium, 70% of the coat must be over 6 cm in length and be free of dirt and any vegetable matter.
Secondary: Second quality is collected from the neck, belly and extremities of the rabbit. To qualify the hair must be clean and it will be much shorter than premium (less than 6 cm). Second quality is worth about 20% less than the premium wool.
Lowest quality: This wool is found in the buttocks and other areas where short felt is seen. A good length and quality fur can also be poorly graded if it becomes soiled. Though this wool is often too low in value to make a notable profit, it does have use in certain crafts and projects. It can be washed and used for stuffed animals or pillows, and it is perfect for lining a bird nest. You can place the wool along with other nesting materials in a mesh bag and hang it out for birds to use as they construct their nests.
Other characteristics of Angora hair
Angora hairs are hollow, which makes them lighter than wool and a better insulating material. Angora hair also has a high capacity for water absorption and a very good dyeing quality. Angora rabbits groom themselves quite frequently which gives a much cleaner fleece than sheep, whose fleece is only 50% pure. Angora wool can go straight into processing without pre-washing as long as the producer maintains a high standard for the hygiene of the rabbits.”
The world is beginning to give goats-nature’s best herbicide-more attention. Leafy spurge-poisonous to some animals-is causing even people who laughed about goats to take a more serious look. When some Nebraska goats were taken on a demonstration tour people could hardly believe the sight of goats walking through high brome grass to select out spurge heads!
But while most goats go for spurge, only cashmere goats also have the fiber of kings. And their owners now know better than to cross them with Angora-producing goats. (Angora hair is another important fiber.) Australia and New Zealand breeders experimented with a cross to try to develop heavier fleeces. It proved to be a mistake. The crossed goats produced-cashgora-with limited uses and characteristics of neither cashmere nor mohair.”