Episode 33 - Fabulous Fibre
On the next episode, screening 1 October 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Glenn Gamble enjoys kidding around – literally. He is passionate about his herd of angora goats and the beautiful mohair fibre they produce.
Bending down to pick up the latest arrival on his farm at Oxford in Canterbury, he’s keen to show it off.
“This one is just a day or two old,” he says. “He’s a cutey isn’t he?”
But Glenn doesn’t farm his 400 goats because they’re cute. He says in many cases mohair offers a better return than wool.
Angora goats can produce five to six kilos of fibre a year. Super-fine kid fibre is the most sought after, fetching $30 to $40 a kilo, and fibre from older goats averages $10 to $12 a kilo.
Glenn is building up his own herd but is also encouraging others to give it a go. He says the world is crying out for mohair and a few angora goats make a perfect income stream, especially for people with smaller lifestyle blocks.
Looking to the future, Glenn believes goats can be farmed in a more sustainable way than other stock and says that will be increasingly important if climate change makes Canterbury more drought-prone.
Goats do best on dry, stony land, so he leases out his lush, green irrigated land to a dairy farmer and in turn, leases cheaper land off lifestylers for his goats.
He feeds them a special mix of dryland grasses. “We’ve gone for chicory, plantain, red and white clover, cocksfoot and fescue. They like these really fibrous-type grasses.” He says they love eating seed heads and flowers, as well as other treats like willow and pine.
Also on the menu are grain supplements like barley and oats to ensure their mohair fibre is strong and healthy.
Out in the paddock Glenn catches a nanny with long, curly locks covering her body and most of her face. The fibre has a beautiful pearly lustre. “Look at that nice, white ropey fibre,” he says. “They need a lot of protein, and grain is what makes them grow really good fibre.”
Mohair exporter Mohair Pacific says most of the fibre produced in New Zealand is sold to South Africa where it’s turned into fabrics for clothing and furniture coverings such as first class airline seats. The company currently exports about 11 tonnes a year and says it could sell double that amount.
Glenn is enthusiastic about the prospects for mohair and keen to improve the quality of the fibre his herd is producing. “We’re focusing on getting the production up. We want healthier, larger animals with stronger fibre, which makes them stronger animals as well.”
But you can tell by the smile on his face these animals mean more to Glenn than a source of income.
“They’re friendly, you don’t need dogs, they’ll follow you along if you’ve got a bucket of grain, and look how cute they are with big dangly ears. They turn into great pets.”
For more about angora goats, visit:www.mohairproducers.co.nz
For more about angoras in Canterbury, visit:www.mohaircanterbury.co.nz
For more about Mohair Pacific, visit:www.mohairpacific.nz
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