The angora goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a well-known domestic goat that is purposely bred to produce a smooth, luxurious coat suitable for the production of human textiles.
Angoras were first bred between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean in Asia Minor, perhaps as much as 2,500 years ago, with references in the Hebrew Bible, using goat hair as a form of textile.
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|Scientific Name||C. aegagrus hircus|
Capra aegagrus hircus is said to be the scientific name for Angora goats, although that name is sometimes used to refer to most other domestic goats. In comparison to dairy goats or sheep, Angora goats are small. Adult females are 36 in tall and weigh between 70 to 110 pounds; males are 48 in tall and 180 to 225 pounds in weight.
Long (8 to 10 inches at shearing) ringlets of hair that are soft, silky, lustrous, and dazzlingly white in colour and contain little oil in the fleece are their main distinguishing feature.
That hair, referred to as mohair, when converted to textiles and sold in sweaters and other garments, is a prized and costly resource. Raw mohair is rated on the basis of fibre thickness, and hair that is between 24 – 25 microns thick is the best price to be purchased.
Until removed by the farmer, both males and females are horned. Bucks have horns that have a pronounced spiral and can reach two or more feet long, while female horns are comparatively short, 9 to 10 inches long and slightly spiralled or straight.
There are two sexes of Angora goats; males are generally larger than females. In the fall, males (billies) start rutting, a behaviour that initiates estrus in the nannies (females).
Since studies have been mostly confined to controlled populations, little is known about natural herds and group behaviours. Breeding lasts (in the northern hemisphere) between late September – December; gestation usually lasts between 148 to 150 days. Offsprings are born from late February – April or early May.
Depending on herd size and management technique, Angoras usually have one, two, or, on rare occasions, three offspring(s) once a year. Offspring(s) are highly delicate at birth and need shelter if the weather is cold or damp for the first few days. Offspring(s) feed on mother’s milk until weaned at about 16 weeks of age.
At 6 to 8 months, offspring(s) become sexually mature, but in the first year, just about half have offspring of their own. Angora goats are known to live for about 10 years.
Diet and behaviour
Angora goats are grazers and browsers. They prefer rough plants and brush, tree leaves, feeding on the lower parts of trees by standing on their hind legs. Goats are browsers and grazers.
They are also pastured with cattle and sheep since each species choice of plants is different. By removing a variety of nuisance plants such as sand burs, multiflora roses, and Canadian thistle and managing leafy spurge, Angoras will boost pastures and reforestation areas.
Goats like to go through, or under barriers, so agricultural specialists say woven-wire, five-wire electric fences, or small-mesh fencing are necessary to keep them penned in. Although most goats are not hostile to humans, they can cause serious or lethal harm to other goats of different or the same species, most especially during the mating season.
Habitat and distribution
Angora goats are known to live and thrive in mostly semi-arid regions with cold winters and dry, hot summers. They originated in Asia Minor and were first successfully exported in the mid-19th century to other countries.
In 1838, several populations were developed in South Africa, and in 1849, other populations were developed in the US, on or near the Edwards Plateau of Texas. In Argentina, Russia, Lesotho, and Australia, other substantive populations are controlled today.
On a biannual basis, adult angora goats are sheared, creating weights of up to about 10 pounds of long, silky fibres about 8 to 10 inches long each year. After shearing, the goats become vulnerable to cold and wet weather for periods of up to 4 to 6 weeks.