How to Start Goat Farming for Fiber in the USA


Being equated as multi-purpose animals, fiber goats have been existent in the fiber industry for over a hundred years. The goat fiber is deemed highly beneficial because it is fine, silky, lustrous, non-irritating, warm, soft, strong, and the list of its good qualities goes on. It has been long established that some of the most extravagant fibers are produced by fiber goats.

Hence, farming goats for fiber production can be an extremely profitable enterprise. Besides, fiber goats are friendly and fun to have around. They are relatively easy to take care of compared to other farm animals.

 To start goat farming for fiber in the USA, the following considerations should be given the utmost priority:

  1. Examining whether a location is suitable to raise fiber goats;
  2. Determining which goats to purchase;
  3. Learning about feed management, breeding, housing, bedding, and goat care;
  4. Calculating the expenditure; and
  5. Studying the market.
Goat Farming for Fiber

More and more people today are trying to establish a sustainable business. Goat farming for fiber can be a potential one since fiber goats are fast-growing and require less management and maintenance. However, you have to consider a few things that are essential before starting out a fiber goat farming. Here are the main considerations.

Examining the Location

The very first consideration before setting up the farm is to ensure whether the location is suitable to raise fiber goats. As a beginner, you should acquaint yourself with the most common variables associated with the location, such as pasture, space, and water.

Pasture

The pasture should be large enough to cater to the prospective number of fiber goats to be raised. Similarly, the pasture should also be located in areas where people cannot be affected by the waste like the smell of manure that can cause the development of respiratory diseases. In light of this, one should get permission or license from the local government first before setting up the farm. This is to ensure that the farm will not pose any threat to the environment in the long run.

The fiber goats will also forage food from the pasture that it is necessary to consider whether or not the pasture is suitable to grow a lot of vegetation. Since fiber goats will eat whatever they see- weeds, grass, plants, or bushes, it is, therefore, your work to make sure that everything growing in the pasture is non-toxic.

Space

Open spaces for fiber goats to roam around are not the only factor that defines a good space for them. Space should also be wide enough for you to be able to build the fence, shelter, and entertainment. The fence is necessary to keep the fiber goats intact and to keep them from the reach of the predators. The shelter will protect the fiber goats from the rain and heat. Also, access to entertainment will keep the goats from getting bored and looking for trouble. Since goats are smart animals, it is necessary to provide them ramp to climb on or large rocks to bump their heads to.

Water

Your goats will drink fresh water at all times that you should also consider whether or not the location can provide access to it on a regular basis. 

Determining which Goats to Purchase

Fiber is usually associated with sheep since they dominate the world of fiber. This is the very reason why people usually think of sheep when they encounter the words ‘fiber animals’. However, it is not known to all that goats are the producers of cashmere and mohair, two of the warmest and most luxurious fibers in the world — determining which goats to purchase means determining which goats produce cashmere and mohair.

Angora Goats

The first of its kind originated in the district of Angora in Asia Minor. More often than not, they are mistaken as sheep because of the resemblance. But as compared to sheep and other goats, it is small but with drooping ears. These goats are not raised for milk and meat production, but they are primarily known for their hair. For a long time, Angora goats were bred for their white coats only. However, the Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association ventured with breeding colored Angoras in 1998. Hence, the beginning of black, red, tan, and brown Angora goat coat colors. 

The angora goats produce the lustrous fiber, mohair, which is used in the garment industry to manufacture sweaters. They are shaved twice a year, usually in September and March. It is estimated that one Angora goat produces 5 to 6 kilograms of mohair per year.  

Cashmere Goats

They originated from the Himalayan Region of Kashmir, India. Unlike Angora goats, cashmere goats are originally a type and not a breed. These goats are the producers of fine quality cashmere. Any goat except Angora can produce cashmere, however, those which are labeled ‘cashmere goats’ have been selectively bred to produce cashmere in significant amounts. Examples are Alashanzuoqi White, Australian, Changthangi, Hexi, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Licheng Daqing, Luliang Black, Tibetan Plateau, Wuzhumuqin, Zhongwei, etc. The amount of cashmere to be expected from a cashmere goat is 20% of its total coat. 

Learning about Feed Management, Housing, Bedding, and Goat Care

Feed Management

One of the many factors that have a huge impact on the growth and profit of a goat farming business is feed management. For fiber goats, you can feed them with any green grasses, shrubs, leaves, and plants. Other fiber goat foods can be corn, sunflower’s black seed, barley, and oats. Ideally, fiber goats must be fed four times a day.

Also, in order for your fiber goats to produce high-quality fiber, you must ensure that they have a balanced nutritious diet. A proper nutritious diet is composed of vitamins, minerals, 20% of proteins, and trace elements. Along with nutritious food, a clean and fresh drinking water should also be provided. During breeding, pregnancy, and post-delivery cases, special care should be given to the fiber goats.

Breeding

For fiber goats, the most important part of the breeding program is to select a good male fiber goat. A good male fiber goat means it is healthy, it is strong, and most importantly, it is disease-free. The proper breeding ratio for fiber goats is 20:1; for every 20 female fiber goats, one male fiber goat should be maintained. In each birth, one to two fiber goat kids should be expected.

 Housing 

To keep the fiber goats from the reach of predators, there should be secured and safe housing for them. Just like human houses, the shelter of the fiber goats should also be built with proper walls and rooftops. It should also maintain good ventilation. Similarly, a shelter for the fiber goats during winter and the rainy season will keep them warm.

The structure of the shelter will depend on the climate of the location. For example, a location that is susceptible to cold or winter should be fully enclosed. However, an area that has a mild climate can only require a three-sided enclosure. A shelter that measures 25 by 30 feet can house 100 to 200 fiber goats.

Additionally, the shelter requires compartments for different types of goats and levels of maturity. Does, bucks, kids, and junior fiber goats should each have a separate compartment as well as those who are on the breeding process. It is important to note that fiber goat kids like warm conditions, so the floor should be kept dry and clean at all times.

Goat Farming for Fiber

Bedding

Fiber goats will also need an area for them to walk and lie down comfortably. Hence, proper bedding should be provided. Bedding can be any from the following- straw, hay, sawdust, and wood chips.

 Goat Care

Like other goat breeds, raising fiber goats should follow general care. Because the fiber production takes so much from the goats, utmost care should be prioritized at all times. Keeping the goats healthy equates to keeping the fiber production high. The care you give to your fiber goats should encompass the following:

  • The bodies are kept clean and frequently washed with soap.
  • The shelter should be kept clean and dry at all times to prevent unexpected diseases. A wet floor should be avoided to keep them from sliding and getting injuries.
  • The feeding area should be cleaned regularly to prevent contamination.
  • A good quality feed should be maintained as well regular diet to ensure proper body growth and good quality hair.
  • Proper vaccination should be observed to prevent diseases, and records of all vaccinations should be kept.
  • Those fiber goats which are sick should be separated immediately from the group until they are treated.
  • When abnormal conditions such as discharges and bloating occur, all of the fiber goats should be monitored.
  • Special care and additional feed should be provided to pregnant, lactating, and breeding fiber goats.
  • A veterinary doctor should monitor the fiber goats on a regular basis.
  • Any non-toxic plants should be removed from the pasture.

If you are a beginner to goat farming, it is wise to get proper goat training from the nearest animal husbandry.

Calculating the Expenditure

The cost of starting a goat farm depends on the location, breed, cost of food, number of fiber goats purchased, and overall planned farming system. But typically, a single fiber goat and milking set-up will cost you $700 to $2500. The food, supplements, veterinary cost, fencing, feeders, water system, bedding, and housing are not yet included.

The first year in fiber goat farming is always hard, but once you have the right set-up and proper equipment, the cost per year will go down. As a tip for beginner fiber goat farmers, the farm will not be profitable until two years as it takes time for goat kids to mature and produce coat. The location of the farm, the fiber goats to be purchased, the type of breeding to be administered, the veterinary procedure, the bedding and cleaning tools, and the food and mineral cost should be well-thought-of before starting out a fiber goat farm.

Goat Farming for Fiber

Studying the Market

The main purpose of setting up a fiber goat farm is to get an extensive profit out of it. More than the concern on the location and estimated costs, one should consider the market. Good market proximity means an easy purchase of products and tools. Similarly, it allows easy marketing of fiber production. As a beginner farmer, you can target the nearest local markets. But with proper farm management over the years, you can reach out to the international market to export your fiber to other countries. 

Related Questions

What not to feed fiber goats with?

The fiber goats should not consume poisonous plants such as milkweed, wild cherries, chocolates, flower plants, lily of the valley, lilacs, and avocados.

What are the things fiber goats are vulnerable to?

Fiber goats are most vulnerable to cold. Because of their wool, they are very much susceptible to pneumonia than other goat breeds. It is therefore very necessary to keep them under warm conditions at all times.

Are fiber goats susceptible to lice?

Yes. All fiber animals are very much susceptible to lice infestations. You should discuss with your veterinary doctor the regular routine for lice prevention.

Eni Gordove

is a freelance writer that covers several niches like digital marketing, book publishing and marketing, travel, home improvements, and backyard gardening and farming. Also, she's a strong advocate of eco-farming and home gardening.

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