Weaving Mohair – What it is and how to get it

Well, we have had our visit from weaving mohair guru GT Ferreira so what do we do about it? Both warehouses in NZ are providing a new class for longer mohair (personally I hate the word “fibre” and try to use it sparingly – we produce MOHAIR, or should anyway) so we have a trial of sorts underway. This is good, but we as mohair growers must be aware that there is more to the weaving market than just growing some longer f….oops…Mohair. For your info, here are the qualities (in GT order) needed for Mohair to reach weaving quality and the nearly double knitting mohair value in today’s marketplace.

  1. Length – over 120mm
  2. Strength – well grown and without tenderness or breaks
  3. Low medullation – none is good (but realistically as low as possible) and high lustre
  4. Style and character – good balance indicates good processing qualities leading to higher yields for the processor which means he can pay you more per kg
  5. Micron – fineness is good and attracts a premium, but the previous factors play a greater % part in determining value/kg. It is also pertinent to mention that the micron should be correct for age.Growing kid micron on an adult animal is probably going to mean fleece weights will be very low on young animals. In my experience animals that are too fine for their age have greater medullation and length problems.
  6. Evenness within a fleece. Breed animals with an even fleece as this will give mohair that is relatively even within the staple as well as overall. In the past many Angoras had strong fronts and even strong britches. This was in response to the desire for maximum fleeceweights, but modern Angoras are more even and the genetics available today make evenness a simple trait to select for.

The main thing to consider from this list is that lower micron is not the main determinant of price per kg of weaving type mohair. Goat flocks being bred for weaving type mohair will produce perfectly good fleeces for the knitting trade if, for example, it is shorn too short for weaving – aiming for “weavers” will not wreck your flock.

Fleeceweight – you will have noticed that it is not on the list. This is because it is not the main factor in determining the income derived from a “weaver” – the other qualities are. This sounds counter intuitive so here is a very rough example of how it works:

  • A knitting fleece of 2.5kg (say 95mm, 30 micron, low kemp) @ $25/kg is worth $62.50
  • A weaver fleece of 2kg (say 125mm, 30 micron, low kemp) @ $35/kg is worth $70

So even though it has a .5kg lighter fleece the weaver has greater value to the Mohair manufacturer and thence the farmer – you.

I would suggest as a thought worthy of consideration is that a weaver producing a slightly lighter but higher value fleece may (stress “may”) also be a potentially better “doing” goat as it will require less nutrients as a percentage of its food intake to create fleece thereby allowing resources to be channeled into bodyweight/more kids/better health etc – a more efficient Angora. In time a weaving type Angora may be developed that has high fleeceweights – who knows? but concentrating on quality rather than quantity is the strategy to maximise dollar returns from weavers i.e. LESS IS MORE

How do I get some? Breed your does to bucks showing very good length is the start. Selecting progeny growing the length,and focus on the Mohair “purity” traits such as freedom from kemp and correct style and character – breed “silky” goats. Above all feed them well. Too much potential is wasted in Angoras because of high stocking rates. Many Angoras are capable of growing good Mohair (even weaving length) but never do because they are not given the chance through undernourishment. To repeat: I am sure that many of our NZ Angoras are capable of growing weaving length mohair if only they are fed well enough to show us their potential.

Selecting for length will not – on its own – automatically produce Mohair that is of weaving type, but it is a necessary first step towards that goal. The other goals of strength, low medullation/high lustre, nice balance of style and character, appropriate micron, and evenness are needed too.

At the end of the day, its about producing what the processor wants most and therefore will pay most for – trying to meet his needs – and working together to produce the special products that mohair alone can achieve.

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