Relaxed Ltd: celebrating smallholding
Relaxed Ltd: celebrating smallholding
Relaxed Ltd: celebrating smallholding
Relaxed Ltd: celebrating smallholding
Relaxed Ltd: celebrating smallholding uk
Relaxed Ltd: celebrating smallholding uk
Smallholding Ambassador: Sarra Mackenzie-Pilot
Goats: The Nigora
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My passion is fibre, goat fibre. So I am going to tell you how a persistant foot problem with my Angora herd, plus the new Angora I bought in, led to an accidental finding of the Nigora.

A Passion for Fibre

Now, we have had fibre goats a while, I got my first angora when my daughter, now 21, was 2 years old. They were her buddies, a pair of castrated males. She adored them, I adored their fluff.
When they got old, and one had to be pts, I decided to give the other old boy up, to a petting zoo that wanted company for their elderly goat. My daughter was heartbroken. How could I give away her family?

A few years later she got sick. Very sick. She told us she needed goats, so we got more angora. They had poor feet when they arrived, and we spent a year "fixing" that. We then bought in an additional herd, of younger angora, lo and behold, all but one had bad feet when they arrived.
Is this bad luck on our part? Well yes and no. Angora hooves grow as fast as their fibre. Over 1" a month sometimes. They are also weaker than some breeds, more prone to scald and foot rot.
We live in Saddleworth. It rains. We needed harder more resistant feet.
I frantically searched the internet for a million solutions, bought into umpteen of them, then read a post about Nigora.
Smaller, hardier, slower growing fibre but more like cashmere. I didn't even consider the milk aspect, the prospect of better feet was what drew me in.

The problem now was that nigora are an American goat. I contacted the society for their advise. I couldn't believe how helpful they were. To them, it was wonderful someone outside of the USA was interested in their goats.
For me it was a blessing they were so willing to give us all the help and advice they did.
That is the starting point of our Nigora adventure.

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Fleece types in Nigora
Fleece- full fibre coverage over body ending at knees/hocks. Fibre may extend past poll but should be well clear of eyes. Fleece comes in three varieties: Type A- mohair like. Fibre falls in ringlets averaging more than 6 inches. May be a single coat but often containing guard hairs. Average 28 microns or less, Type B- a mix between mohair and cashmere (sometimes referred to as “cashgora”). Fibre has the luster of mohair and the handle of cashmere. 3-6” staple with distinguishable guard hairs, occasionally with secondary, silkier guard hairs. Average 24 microns.
Type C- cashmere type. Soft handle and low luster. Typically below 18.5 microns and at least 1.25 inches of growth. Guard hairs must be easily distinguishable. Overly fine guard hairs make de-hairing more difficult resulting in a poorer quality finished product.
There are also goats that fall in between this types, A-B and B-C goats.
We are currently have types A and B, with a few who are A-B.
Angora have full body fleece, on their faces, their ears, they have a wobbley neck flap covered in fibre, their legs right down to their toes are covered in fleece. The lower legs get damp and the fleece ends up between the toes, creating a perfect environment for scald.
Because Nigora goats fleece ends at the knee, and the regular length hair extends downwards, they don't trap dirt and moisture on their feet.
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The most scary and beautiful time for us is kidding. I am on pins, foo watch, I have a birthing bag set up..... we have been really blessed. Simple quiet kidding, babies have been up in minutes and eating. The kids are so tiny but really robust.
Mums have been brilliant feeders.
We are already counting down the days until next spring.

Colour has been something we lack a lot of, because my base herd of Angora are all pure white. The F1 generation have been white. We have some minimal colouring around the faces on a few of our 8 month old girls, and we now have a fawn doeling.
We would love a few interesting colours next year.

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Shearing goats is not like shearing sheep. They do not like being turned at all, they find being on their back/bum uncomfortable because goats don't have the padding sheep do. Also they have wrinkles and folds and the hair is everywhere. They are best sheared stood up, sometimes they are sheared sat on my lap (when they get bored of standing about they sit on me).
A lot of goat owners shear in stands, we even have a stand, but it does not in any way go small enough for the nigora. We don't need a stand though, they are so mild mannered we just shear with me sat on the floor and my husband sat on a chair with treats, feeding them snacks and keeping their attention.

Once sheared we seperate the poopy bits and any matted bits, these get composted, the rest either gets sold as is, or I dye it up for spinning, or send to the mill to be processed.

The difference in the Angora and Nigora here is really clear, the Angora goat Clover is Doris the Nigora's mother. The weight of the fleece we discard from Clover is greater than Doris' whole fleece, but Doris' is a lot finer, almost like cria fibre.

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We never really considered milk, being Angora owners we were just used to buying in our goats milk. Imagine how surprised we were to find this summer milking 3 goats each morning, and having 2.5ltrs a day. It might not sound like much, we left kids on, they fed at will, and we still got a good milk out of the does we milked.
It was enough for us, 3 adults, to have milk for brew and enough for cheese too. We have been spoiled.
We gave friends and family small bottles of milk and cheese. Everyone was clammering for the next batch. It was a bit of a shock they actually enjoyed it too.

I have had a nosy through my old photos, I wish I didn't delete so many, but I found a few of meals with cheese we made.
A nigora will not be a massive milk producing goat, that is not the reason we chose this route, but enough for us to have milk for us and a bit spare, that is more than we could hope for, from fibre goats.

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We have not yet eaten our goats. Not because we wouldn't, but because the boys were all spoken for in under a week of their birth, so we didn't have any to raise for meat. We had said that we would, but they had other plans.
Being shorter and stockier they are meatier than Angora, who put all their energy into fibre.
The plan, which we didn't stick to, was all males would be to feed us. In future years, when we have built up a bit better a herd, this will be our plan. I know that in the States there are a fair few that fatten males up for meat, but a lot of wethers are kept as pets/fibre goats. Up to 15 years of fleece supply and no breeding hassle is a selling point for quite a few goat owners. If you wanted a pint sized, hedge trimming, jumper making goat, then castrated males are an option.
The plan is, one day, to have our own meat supply from our goats. One day.

We have our goats for fibre, and understand that not everyone wants to eat their goats.we have a plan that any that do not make the breed standard will be fattened up for the freezer. We wouldn't breed with goats that will not meet the criteria for registration. For us, this seems the most reasonable way to manage our herd.

Males have a use as fibre animals for 15 years, there are always fibre pet homes, but they do produce some decent meat.

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