Goats cash in on mulesing uproar

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Producers considering leaving the wool industry given the problems with commodity wool prices and the uproar over mulesing should consider mohair or cashmere production, according to industry consultant Bruce McGregor.

Producers considering leaving the wool industry given the problems with commodity wool prices and the uproar over mulesing should consider mohair or cashmere production, according to industry consultant Bruce McGregor.

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Goats are never mulesed or tail-docked as these practices are not required.

Goats do not have a long tail and the density of wool growing fibres is lower than found in Merino breeds.

As a result there is very rarely any problem with fly strike.

Dr. McGregor, who has researched wool, mohair and cashmere production for over 30 years, said he had never had any goat suffer from breech strike in his work.

“Mohair production has come a long way over the past 30 years with imported genetics now the predominant influence on mohair characteristics” he said.

“The Angora goats are more robust and productive. The services and technology needed to run a successful mohair enterprise are available.”

While mohair is typically coarser than Merino wool, with a range in fibre diameter from 23 to 45 micron, mohair prices are several times higher than similar coarse wool. Benchmarking studies have shown that Australian Angora goats produce an average of 4.3 kg of mohair receiving an average greasy price of $8.30 per kg.

The resulting gross margin was $23 per DSE compared with similar Merino wool production gross margin of $13 per DSE.

“Skilled wool producers on larger farms who turned to mohair production would be expected to do better than these average figures once they focussed on goat production” Dr. McGregor said.

Dr McGregor said cashmere production also offers advantages over wool production.

However, while Australian cashmere is equal to the best in the world, there is still significant room for improvement in fleece productivity.

“Wool producers who took up the challenge of breeding for improved productivity could offset this with the benefits of low-cost weed control”, he said.

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