By Dr Clive Dalton
Where to start
- Getting started is often the most difficult part, as some major decisions have to be made. These are mainly controlled by available finance and the time you are prepared to wait for results.
- The main decisions are whether to start off with purebred stock or “grade up” to purebreds from another source such as ferals.
- Buying purebreds will always be more expensive than buying grade stock.
- The main source of purebred animals is purebred breeders who have “surplus” stock for sale. These may be “culls“ in their view, but will still good enough genetics to get you started.
- A reputable breeder will not sell animals with faults, and if any appear they will replace the animals or refund your money. It’s in their interest to have satisfied customers.
- So the point is to go to reputable breeders and ask plenty of questions about their breeding programme, what and why they have stock for sale, and how you should go about a breeding plan.
These are animals that have varying proportions of Angora and some other goat types. Here is the process of “grading up” using a purebred Angora buck through four generations towards purebred status.
- Purebred Angora buck x Feral (or other) doe produce first cross (F1) progeny. Called Angora G4 (Grade 4). They are half Angora.
- Purebred Angora buck x G4 females produce second cross (F2) progeny. Called G3 Angora (Grade 3). They are three-quarters Angora.
- Purebred Angora buck x G3 females produce third cross (F3) progeny. Called G2 Angora (Grade 2). They are seven-eights Angora.
- Purebred Angora buck x G2 females produce fourth cross (F4) progeny. Called G1 Angora (Grade 1). They are fifteen-sixteenths Angora and accepted as purebreds.
- The sex ration of the kids born can affect progress, as you need a lot of female kids and a lot of twins to give plenty of selection for the next generation.
- Even so, it may take 10-20 years to successfully grade up from ferals to purebred Angoras.
- Success also depends on the genetic quality of the bucks used at each stage, and you need to take advice to select the best buck you can afford, or make some arrangement with a breeder to lease a proven sire.
- If just starting off, leave AI till later in your programme because of the management demands it entails. AI certainly has great potential in getting access to top sires that you may not be able to purchase.
These are changes you can see in the animal, as opposed to genetic changes which are in its genes that you cannot see.
As the proportion of Angora genes increases in each cross when grading up from ferals, you should see substantial changes in the fibre and financial returns from it. Here are some examples:
- G4 does will show some white chalky Angora fibre showing but not covering all of the body. Droopy ears evident. Little belly covering and a hairy britch with kemp fibres. G4s need to be shorn once a year in early spring before fibres start shedding in late spring. These fibres get in among the growing fleece and cause cotting or felting which cannot be broken up during processing.
- G3 does will have more definite Angora characteristics with more style and lustre in the fleece. There will still be hair on the britch, and hindquarters and along the back and very little fibre on the belly.
- G2 does will have a reasonable fleece coverage although they’ll still be light in the brisket are belly. They’ll still have hair along the back line but their mohair should be lustrous with nice even staple formation. G2 kids should be well covered with mohair but some coarse hair and kemp may still be present.
- G1 does will be well covered with mohair of good style and character. Hairy back lines and britch along with kemp will be disappearing. G1 kids should show all the characteristics of good mohair goats.