Goats are raised not just for their milk and meat, and their ability to control weeds and help renew grasslands. They can also be valuable for their hair.
Cashmere comes from cashmere goats and angora fiber comes from Angora -- rabbits. Mohair comes from Angora goats.
|Angora goats in Maine|
Mohair is used in sweaters, scarves, coats and other clothing, along with floor rugs and carpets and things like doll hair.
An adult Angora can produce as much as seven kilograms of hair each year. As the goats grow older, however, their hair becomes thicker and less valuable. Hair from white or solid-colored goats is the most popular, but the appeal of mixed-color mohair has grown in recent years.
The United States is one of the main producers of mohair, and exports most of its production.
Angora goats are also popular show animals. They are considered friendly and require little special care. The animals need milk from their mothers for three or four months. They reach full maturity when they are a little more than two years old. But even then they are smaller than most sheep and milk goats.
Cashmere goats are usually larger than Angoras. The Breezy Meadow Cashmere Farm in Bellingham, Washington, says cashmere goats are 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. Cashmere is valued for its softness and warmth without much weight.
Some farmers comb their cashmere goats to remove the hair. But if the animals do get a haircut, it often takes place at the time when they naturally lose their winter coat -- between December and March.
Angora goats generally get their hair cut two times a year, in the spring and fall. The job can be done with simple cutting tools or by hiring a professional shearer. Angoras may need special protection from the cold for about a month after shearing.
The value of an animal's coat depends on the age, size and condition. But whatever kind of goat you choose, be sure to have a good fence. Goats love to explore.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Transcripts and audio files of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. If you have a question about agriculture, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot answer mail personally, but we might be able to answer your question in a future report. So please be sure to include your name and country. I'm Steve Ember.