South Africa is the primary producer of mohair in the world, accounting for more than 60% of the crop, all coming from a small area in the Karoo (Eastern Cape of South Africa). The ancestors of the Angora goat (from which mohair comes) hail from Tibet, but these goats found their way to Turkey where the Anatolians refined their breeding and created beautiful textiles from this magical fleece.
The South African farming industry began in 1838 when a certain Colonel John Henderson, a former army officer looking to start mohair farming approached the Sultan of Turkey to buy a foundation herd of breeding goats. The Sultan agreed and the goats were dispatched (by sea) on a long journey to South Africa. Word arrived that the Sultan had sent only neutered rams, not being keen to share his valuable herd. But fortunately there was a shaggy nanny amongst the rams and she gave birth in transit. This proved to be a fortuitous start acheterdufrance.com to the mohair industry in South Africa.
The Eastern Cape of South Africa provides an ideal climate and environment for the goats. There is a wide variety of suitable vegetation and trees. The winters are dry and cold and this minimizes disease and parasite infestation. The goats are, however, sensitive creatures and are very susceptible to rapidly dropping temperatures, particularly after shearing. They need to be kept in doors during these conditions and farmers have become innovative in designing mobile sheds (as goats graze over vast distances) and even making goat jackets which help them after the shearing.
The industry is an important employment provider and relies on age old skills of shearing and sorting and classifying mohair.
Karoo mohair is acknowledged as being the finest in the world. Lesotho also produce a fine clip of mohair which contributes to the making of velour and velvet.
An Angora goat produces about 3.5kg of mohair every year, fortunately Angora hair grows at more than double the rate of a human.