- Mohair is one of the rare noble fibres of the world. It is especially suitable for apparel, knitwear, curtaining, upholstery material, socks, shawls and accessories.
- The hot, dry summers, cold winters and semi-desert vegetation of the Karoo suits Angora goats. Angora goats are shorn at least twice a year, and the year is divided between a summer and winter marketing season.
- Eastern Cape farmers produce nearly all of South Africa’s mohair. Since South Africa’s contribution to world mohair production stands at 53%, Port Elizabeth may rightly be called the mohair capital of the world.
- Why farm with Angora goats? The South African Mohair Growers’ Association (SAMGA) website gives the answer: (1) High profitability (2) Regular income, supports your cash flow (3) There are industry stabilisation support structures for farmers (4) Excellent grazing utilisation & stocking rates (5) mohair is utilised globally: it is a natural, environmentally-friendly fibre which enjoys an advantage over synthetic fibres.
International business environment
Find the latest news in the Mohair SA Newsletters.
- South Africa is the world leader in mohair production both in terms of quality of product as well as production output, contributing approximately 50% of the world’s mohair output (Mohair SA, 2022).
- Other mohair producing countries of the world include Lesotho (second highest producer), Argentina, Turkey, Australia and the United State of America. Smaller numbers of Angora goat are also found in Mexico, Iran, Chile, Swaziland, Canada, Spain and the UK.
- South African mohair is predominately exported to China and Italy. Other export destinations include the UK, Taiwan and Japan.
- The mohair market has traditionally been heavily influenced by fashion demand, or the lack thereof. This is one of the reasons for the volatility in demand experienced from time to time.
- Mohair is included in the Responsible Standards of Textile Exchange. See https://textileexchange.org.
Local business environment
Find auction results, industry reviews and other information at www.mohair.co.za.
Historically, the Eastern Cape has been the prime Angora farming area in South Africa and today, Angora farming is mainly practiced within a 300km radius of Port Elizabeth. Consequently, the city forms the nucleus of the South African mohair industry.
South Africa is the world leader in mohair production and exports over 95% of its total production, mostly in processed form. The South African mohair industry is highly dependent on the international market; largely because the domestic market is not large enough to support the industry (i.e. mohair products are not affordable to the majority of the South African population).
Volatility in currency/exchange rate can cause difficulties for the South African Mohair industry.
The Eastern Cape town of Jansenville – located in the geographic heart of Mohair country – has the country’s first mohair museum, thanks to funding from the Mohair Trust, with Mohair SA as project co-ordinator. The museum theme is ‘From the veld to the fibre and the future’. The displays follow a logical sequence of the actual processes from shearing to yarn to end product. Added to which there is a display of historic articles, coupled with an educational experience of the Mohair story. Find out more at www.jansenville.co.za.
- Find mohair technical data under “The Fibre” on www.mohair.co.za.
- The Vet’s Corner option at www.angoras.co.za is a wealth of information regarding nutrition, biosecurity, reproduction etc.
To ensure fibre quality and consistent availability, take care in the selection of stock to ensure superior generic breeding material. A good selection of the breeding ewes is important and further to breed or buy good quality rams to use in the breeding herd.
A good breeding programme includes getting rid of old animals and poor breeders. Class the young ewes as replacements for the old and poor breeders and make sure you purchase or breed good rams. The ewes need careful attention during kidding time. Once the newborn kids have their first drink of colostrum, they are normally fine. After six months, they’re ready to be shorn.
The technique in sheering an angora goat is just as important as sheering a wool sheep. Particularly in avoiding double cuts so the length of the fleeces remains constant. Length is an important factor in the sale of mohair. To this end, meticulous care is taken in the selection of stock to ensure superior genetic breeding material.
Angora goats require adequate and suitable shelter especially post-shearing. Supplementary feeding must also be provided post-shearing.
Manufacturing and processing mohair
The conversion of mohair fibre into a product, such as a garment or a household article, is a lengthy process. It can, however, be grouped into four distinct stages:
- Fibre is cleaned and combed;
- Fibre is converted into a yarn:
- Fibre is converted into fabric.
- The final stage involves converting the fabric into an end product.
Quality remains the highest priority throughout the process of mohair production in South Africa. Fixed standards are also in place to ensure that quality consistency of the raw material can be guaranteed throughout the world.
It can be expensive for farmers not to use the classing standards. Buyers will discount bales that are not uniformly classed, and agents can re-sort such bales for their own profit.
For the newcomer
The Mohair Empowerment Trust was launched by the mohair industry in 2011 with the aim of assisting black farmers and entrepreneurs to become part of the mohair industry. Visit www.mohairempower.co.za.
In order to produce top quality mohair, thorough breeding programmes are of vital importance. Breeding programmes are difficult to apply in a communal pastoral system where the veld belongs to the community, as all types of goats run together. During the mating season, this producer will have to tend the goats day and night to avoid crossbreeding.
Further challenges to entering the primary mohair industry include:
- Sufficient and easily accessible sheltering. Angora goats are very sensitive to drastic weather changes. Usually more than one large shelter has to be erected on different locations on the farm, and this can be costly.
- Sufficient shearing and mohair sorting equipment is a prerequisite.
- Applicable hair sorting and classing knowledge of both farmer and labourers. Investing in training in shearing and sorting is essential.
In order to fully reap the benefits of a deregulated marketing system, the producers must have access to an effective and working infrastructure that includes the free flow and availability of marketing information.
National strategy and government contact
Read about the Mohair Trust at www.namc.co.za, website of the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC).
Animal welfare standards
- Read about the Responsible Mohair Standard (RMS) at https://textileexchange.org/standards/responsible-mohair/.
- SANS 1469:2014 Humane handling and facilities for the protection of livestock at shows, auction sales, vending sites and livestock pounds
- SANS 1488:2014 Humane transportation of livestock by road. This, together together with the Animals Protection Act, 71 of 1962 must be adhered to before animals are considered for transport
- In addition to the associations listed above, there are also associations for mohair brokers and processors.
- Find “Research” under “About” at www.angoras.co.za.
- Find a list of these at www.angoras.co.za.
- Find the directory of designers, manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers at www.mohair.co.za.
Websites and publications
- Visit the websites of role players. Go to www.mohair.co.za, www.cmw.co.za and www.bkb.co.za, for example.
- Find the Mohair Industry Journal at www.mohair.co.za.
- Find the latest annual Mohair Market Value Chain Profile on the Directorate Marketing’s web pages at www.old.dalrrd.gov.za, website of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). It provides an excellent overview of this industry and goats in general South Africa.
- Also available from DALRRD are the Agricultural Marketing Extension Training Papers. The second part of the 8th in the series looks at the marketing of mohair. Find the document at www.dalrrd.gov.za.
- A number of publications are available from the Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute (GADI). Find these listed at https://gadi.dalrrd.gov.za.These include “South African goat breeds: Angora goat”.
- The Shepherd Manual by Dr JJ Olivier is part of a computer recording programme for sheep and goats. Read more at https://gadi.dalrrd.gov.za/software/shepherd/shepherd.php.
- TradeProbe 86 (August 2021) includes the feature “The future of South Africa’s Mohair industry in the global market”.
- Search for the articles on mohair by Roelof Bezuidenhout, a farmer in the Eastern Cape, at www.farmersweekly.co.za. These include Classing mohair where you are taken through the preparation of the clip.
- Coleman A. 2023, July 26. “Angora: good money from a great breed”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/animals/sheep-and-goats/angora-good-money-from-a-great-breed/
- Kriel G. 2022, June 27. “Breeding top Angora goats in the Southern Cape”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/animals/sheep-and-goats/breeding-top-angora-goats-in-the-southern-cape/
- Reporter. 2020, December 1. “Sharing Africa’s beauty with the world”. Global Africa Network. Available at www.globalafricanetwork.com/company-news/sharing-africas-beauty-with-the-world/
- Burgess M. 2020, September 30. “The fertility factor in mohair success”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/animals/sheep-goats/the-fertility-factor-in-mohair-success/
- Nyondo B. 2020, May 22. “South Africa is a world leader in mohair”. Mzansi Agriculture Talk. Available at http://mzansiagritalk.com/archives/4236
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