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Crossing Angoras with Boers - What you need to know

  • (Revised from Mohair Australia Newsletter Vol 7 # 3 Sept 1997)
  • Margaret Harris

Interest in the recently introduced Boer goat has been substantial and the possibility of using Boer bucks as top cross sires over Angora does, to produce a crossbred kid for meat is now a reality. For the serious mohair producer the primary focus should remain on fibre production as it does for the cashmere and wool producer.

Opportunities for Top Crossing

There does appear to be a place for Boer genetics within the Angora flock in the following scenarios.

  1. Where Boer bucks are used as terminal sires over cast for age or cull Angora does to produce Boer/Angora cross kids and hoggets for the meat market.
  2. Where Boer bucks are used to produce first cross Boer/Angora dams as crossbred mothers for meat production.

There is mounting evidence from South Africa, Texas, New Zealand and Australia that the Boer/Angora cross can produce excellent capretto and young goat meat. These carcasses have won their share of lightweight carcass competitions in recent years. Boer/Angora cross goats command a premium in the meat market in WA but this is not currently the case in the eastern states.

Some breeders have made a substantial profit by providing first cross Boer/Angora mothers and ET mothers. It would seem that this is an opportunistic market which may not continue to be as buoyant as Boer breeders are now beginning to produce their own cross breeding stock in greater numbers.

Some Disadvantages

Many mohair producers thought that the introduction of Boer genetics into their Angora flock would produce a distinct gross margin advantage. This may be the case for some producers but it should be recognised that there is no place for Boer cross fibre in a mohair enterprise, and that this fibre is a threat to established export markets.

Dark fibre contamination of mohair is a serious problem. Red fibre from Boer bucks could contaminate yards and handling equipment. Direct transfer of pigmented fibre is a risk and Angora does should be shorn before mating and before kidding. Boer bucks should be kept separate from all Angoras. At no time should crossbred kids be allowed in shearing sheds and crossbred kids should not be shorn for fibre.

Another disadvantage is the need for much stronger, higher fencing to keep Boer bucks separate from Angora does needed for pure Angora breeding.

Both these issues of fibre contamination and the potential for Boer/Angora cross mis-mating can be solved in these scenarios by careful herd management. This could include selling all progeny at between 3 and 9 months thus eliminating the need to put crossbreds through the shearing shed. To safe guard the Angora herd, all male progeny must either be sold for capretto, or wethered before the age of four months when they can become active.

Weighing up the options

When returns are good for mohair, especially kid mohair , the gross margin advantage can far outweighs that of capretto or goat meat production. Even in times of very average mohair prices care in calculating Gross Margins is required when an assumption is that meat kids are sold early and do not have to be carried for the whole year. This has an important bearing on the stocking rate. If meat kids are retained or more land is made available, even with lower mohair returns the balance may well reverse to favour the Angora kids for fibre production. Given that the capretto market is not well established in the eastern states the kids may need to be carried on the gain the weights required for a young goat market. In this event any Gross Margin's advantage would be marginal.