Shearing the Pygora Goat for Mohair Fiber Collection
Methods of Mohair Goat Fiber Shearing
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Part of the fun of owning a Pygora goat is shearing day. Pygoras are one of the mohair goat breeds. Angora goats and various cashmere producing goats also produce mohair.
Twice a year, in spring and fall, you will harvest the fiber grown on your Pygora goat. This beautiful fiber is a renewable resource on your homestead. The mohair fiber can be curly locks similar to the Angora goats or more cashmere type fiber. Taking care while shearing the fiber will give you the best product. With Type C Pygora goats, you can choose to pluck the fiber instead of shearing. Plucking the fiber creates a higher quality product because it has less guard hair mixed in. However, you can shear any of the Pygora fiber types.
Shearing a Pygora Goat — Preparations to Make
Before shearing a Pygora goat, gather your necessary materials. The clippers, lead and halter, and bags for collecting the fiber should be close at hand. Use a goat stand or have someone hold the animal. Be prepared and keep the restrained time as short as possible. Before beginning, pick out any large, noticeable pieces of vegetable matter from the fleece. A blow dryer, with a cool air setting, can help blow out loose bits of hay and bedding.
I strongly recommend using a goat stand, milking stand, or homemade stand for shearing the fiber goat. Goats are fidgety animals. Restraining the goat’s head helps keep it still. You can offer treats as you go, to sweeten the process. If you have a goat that tries to kick you the entire time you are shearing, hobbles on the back legs can be a help.
Before you begin shearing, check the goat over and become familiar with the location of the teats, wattles, penis, and testicles.
As I mentioned previously, Pygora goat fiber is classified as three types, A, B, and C. If you are interested in keeping the different types of fiber separate for processing, take note of what type of goat you are ready to shear. After the larger debris is picked from the coat, use a blow dryer to blow out smaller bits.
Scissors or Electric Clippers
Spring-loaded scissors, like the Fiskars brand, are a good tool for Pygora goat shearing. When we first began shearing our own goats, we did it using the scissors. It is very time-consuming, however. The benefits of this method include being able to spend some quality time with each goat. They thrive on attention. They love to be loved! As our flock of goats grew, it became necessary to switch to electric clippers. If you only have a couple of fiber goats, you can shear with scissors and enjoy the process, while bonding with your goats.
Using electric clippers, such as the Shearmaster from Oster, finishes the job in much less time. The clippers take some getting used to, and maintaining the clippers is very important. It is easy to make second cuts using the clippers and end up with a lot of short unusable fiber.
Scissors or Clippers with Goat Restrained on a Stand
To begin shearing with the goat secured on the stand, take the first swipe with the scissors or clippers. The first cut should be along the top line of the goat, from tail to shoulder area. Use long, smooth swipes with the clippers. Try to complete long, complete swipes first, and train yourself to not go back for a cleanup swipe until the entire goat is sheared. Try to avoid short, choppy clips, which will yield lots of short, unusable fiber. Keep the blades of the clippers or the scissors parallel to the body for the rest of the clip. After the top line cut, the rest of the cuts should be parallel to the top line, working from top to belly.
Do not pull the fiber away from the goat to shear. This often and easily leads to cuts on the skin. Follow along the lines of the animal’s body but do not pull on the skin. After the fiber has been picked up and bagged, clean up any areas that still need to be trimmed.
Gather the clipped fiber and put it in the collection bag. The neck and chest should be sheared next. Much of this will be good fiber, too. I like to leave the beard on my goats if they have one.
Finish up the shearing. The britch area, belly, and lower legs are not usually processed into roving and yarn. The fiber is often stained, matted, felted, or short in length. Be sure to clip fiber from the armpits, too. Unlike sheep, goats can have armpit hair. Trim off the fiber around the ears and the top of the head. This fiber may be clean but short. It can be saved and used for stuffing things or used for doll hair.
Do not trim the hair at the end of the penis. This hair actually directs the stream of urine away from the body and is necessary.
Shearing Pygora Goats Using the Sheep Method of Shearing
It is possible to shear your goats using the same method used by sheep shearers on wool yielding animals. When we have hired professional sheep shearers, most have used this method. It is quick and the fiber is still collected as you would using the scissor method. The shearer starts by clearing the belly, inside lower legs, and britch area of fiber. Next, the body is shorn, from the belly to the top line, and repeated on the second side. The shearer finishes by clearing the front armpits, the head and neck area, and any bits of fiber that were missed.
A Variation of the Traditional Method
Another method that some shearers use on fiber goats is also used for shearing alpacas. The goat shearing is begun while the animal is held in the traditional position. After the belly, britch, and lower legs are shorn, the goat is placed on its side on a mat, and the feet are held in restraints. This lessens the chance of skin cuts because the goat is immobile. It is very quick. One side is sheared, the goat is flipped over, and the other side is completed.
Preparing the Pygora Goat Fiber for Processing
Once you finish shearing, take the harvested fiber and spread it out on a skirting table. You can construct this type of table from a large rectangle of welded wire, secured to a wooden frame. The wire allows the short fibers and debris to drop from the fleece. Picking through the fiber is still necessary to remove short sections or second cuts, manure tags, felted sections and vegetable matter. Some Pygora goat owners like to keep record of the weight of the usable fiber from each goat.
Once you have your skirted fiber, you are ready to begin using it for crafts and clothing. Carding or combing the mohair will prepare it for spinning. Learning how to spin wool is a possible next step, although Pygora goat fiber can be a challenging roving to start spinning. Many people will blend in some heavier wool fiber to give the roving some more body and strength for spinning. Some possible blends are Romney/Pygora or Merino/Pygora. If you are a more experienced spinner, spinning Pygora roving can yield a beautiful lace weight yarn. Pygora fiber also lends itself to felting projects. Mohair dyes easily and is a lasting beautiful fiber for many types of wool crafts.