Industry Background
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Economic Analysis
Tanning Skins


Mohair Clip Preparation

Clip quality comes from good management, superior genetic material and a high standard of clip preparation. The MOHAIR FIRST program aims to assist growers understand these three critical areas of production and help maximise returns by maximising clip quality.

The harvesting process for mohair has long been the weak link in the industry. Small flock size and the inexperience of many growers has meant that facilities and skills have not been as good as are necessary to produce the best results.

The essentials of clip preparation are:-

  • A clean shearing shed with no tools, hay, equipment, or old fibre present to contaminate the fleece.
  • Clean pens, holding paddocks and empty animals to prevent contamination or staining of full fleeced animals.
  • Clean bins and an organised fleece handling area.
  • Competent shearers who shear without double cuts.
  • Animals drafted into age groups to facilitate accurate classing.
  • Sufficient labour to pick up and skirt fleeces for classing as animals are shorn.
  • Accurate classing and a method of pressing lines in clearly identified packs for immediate dispatch for sale.
  • Clear branding and completed classers' reports for the Broker.

Clip preparation starts with the previous shearing. Good nutrition, parasite control and the prevention of contamination are key areas for continuous care. Pigmented fibres from coloured animals, vegetable matter (burrs, seeds and twigs) and stains from dung, urine, oils from machinery and farm chemicals are all problems which reduce the value of your mohair.

Contamination of fibre with foreign materials is a major problem for manufacturers. Wire and bale twine are the most common and most serious contaminants. Woven "poly" feed bags are a serious problem.

The best price is received for mohair of good, even length between 13 and 16cm. A blocky tip means that more fibres are of the same, long length and this mohair is of superior quality. Tippy staples, cross fibred and cotted fleeces, vegetable matter and double cuts all have the effect of reducing fibre length for the manufacturer and represent faults which can be addressed by the grower. Shear every 6-6 1/2 months for best length.

The skirting process should not be neglected. Skirting involves the removal of stains, short pieces, cotted edges and vegetable matter contaminated pieces from the fleece. To do this, it is necessary to spread the fleece out (cut edge down) and carefully work through the whole fleece with the fingers, feeling for lumps and burrs and looking for stains.

Once these various faults are removed, stronger neck fibre and (possibly) shorter fibre from the breech may need to be separated to stronger or shorter classing lines.

Classing the fleece can then be done. Bearing in mind the need for a defined length, fineness and level of kemp, the textile trade divides fibre into "best top makers", "average top makers" and "washing" types. Classers must decide which level of quality both the individual fleece and the overall clip represents. Best top makers are generally free of fault and have clear locks of long and blocky appearance and no visible kemp. These tend to be referred to as Super lines. Average top makers may be cross fibred, less even in length and show some kemp. Washing types are usually short and inferior in structure but free of vegetable matter (because these types are not combed and result in burry yarns if VM is present).

"Super" or "best" types result from best top maker quality mohair. Special care is needed in skirting, classing and identifying these lines since they receive a premium and set the reputation of both grower and the industry.

Classing then involves assessing:-

  • the level of fault (cots, staining and VM). If faulted, the fleece goes straight to that line (Cot, Hard Cot, V, VV or CBO)
  • the amount of grease - Light, Medium or Heavy
  • the length A= 13-17cm, B=11-13cm, C=7-11cm (Note: the lower limit for Kid A&B length is 1cm less; marginal fleeces with blocky staples can go in longer lines)
  • the level of kemp - (no code for best), K, KK, KKK

the fineness - FK, K, YG, FH, H or SH. (A Strong Kid (or Fine Young Goat) line is presently being trialed.)

Note. If age groups are drafted prior to shearing, the fineness classes can be reduced to a choice of two grades (with occasional fleeces being broader or finer). The first shearing can be divided into Fine Kid and Kid, the second into Kid and Strong Kid (Fine YG) andYoung Goat, the third and fourth into Young Goat and Fine Hair, older does to Fine Hair and Hair, and, old does and mature bucks to Hair and Strong Hair. Young buck fleeces can go into normal lines however care is needed since these are usually stronger than they look.

As many as 10 bales/bins may be needed for shearing a particular mob and odd fleeces can be bagged. Lines should be pressed, separated by a number of sheets of new paper. An accurate record of lines should be indicated on the outside of the pack. Large lines on the bottom please.

Moths, Carpet Beetles, dust and water can all ruin your best efforts. Close the packs down immediately after shearing. Don't store any fibre in your shed (including hand spinners or show fleeces). Remove all sources of moth infestation like wool dags, old clothes, used wool packs etc from the shed. This material should never be left in or around shearing sheds. Spray the shed regularly with contact insecticides.

Never stock-pile fibre for more than 6 months, and then only in clean areas, off the ground in light airy positions. Moisture can move through concrete and earth floors to damage fibre. If bales get wet, the mohair must be removed and spread out to dry, immediately. This will take time and the wet fibre must be turned over many times.

Stains should not contain hard lumps or dags and must be dried before packing.

Brokers can only provide feedback about your classing if it is clear what you were trying to do. Fill out a Classer's Report indicating your line description, the approximate weight of the line and the mob description. Keep a copy for later reference and send the original to your Broker with the clip.

Brokers can only sell mohair on your behalf if you consign it quickly and identify it clearly. Most clips are made up of a large number of lines which have to be interlotted with similar fibre from other growers. The amount of work required governs the classing charge with well prepared clips attracting a considerably lower handling fee.

© 2000 Mohair Aust Ltd