FIBERuary Day 10 Today Chris Pellerin will explain all about Pygora
Be sure to come down to Sheep and Shawl to hear Chris talk about her Pygora Goats. Sunday, Feburary 14th 1-3. Jenny Atkins with Angora Rabbits and Hillary Woodcock talking about Alpaca’s will also be there . Hope to see you all there.
What the Heck is a Pygora?
By Chris Pellerin, Dunroamin Farm
Aggie as a baby
I have been asked, “What the heck is a Pygora?” Simply put, a Pygora goat is a versatile small breed of goat that is primarily bred for abundant, lustrous, soft fleece. However, these goats are wonderful animals for the homesteader, as they can also be used for meat and milk. They have wonderful, playful personalities and small stature, which makes them a great choice for 4-H kids.
Loki hanging around the barn
Originally bred in 1980 by crossing a registered Angora dam with a Pygmy buck, these goats are now a true breed. The breed standard allows them to have up to 75% of either Angora or Pygmy. There are three distinct fleece types (A, B, or C). Although there is no preference for any of the types in the breed standard, spinners tend to prefer type B fleece. Type A resembles the Angora coat, with long, lustrous curls. Type C fleece is short and fine, cashmere-grade, with a slight crimp. Type B, which is what my goats are, is in between A and C. Type B fleece is between 3” and 6” long, lustrous, fine, and crimped with a curl at the tip. One advantage of Pygora fleece over Angora fleece is that Pygoras’ fleece maintains its fineness even as the goat ages, whereas Angora goats’ fleeces become coarser with age. Another advantage is that Pygoras come in different colors, like their Pygmy goat ancestors.
Unlike sheep’s wool, goat fleece does not contain lanolin, which gives unwashed wool its greasy feel. It does, however, contain a certain amount of “guard hair” which must be removed to increase the comfort factor of the finished product. The softness and fineness of the fleece make it the perfect choice for knitted baby clothing and accessories worn next to the skin. It can be spun into laceweight yarn or blended with other wools.
At Dunroamin Farm, we typically shear our four goats once a year in the spring, although some years we have gotten two shearing’s (spring and fall). Unlike a professional sheep shearer, we use scissors, and put each goat on a pygmy-sized milking stand to do the job. It generally takes us most of the afternoon to clip the four goats. They look pretty silly after shearing is done (because it’s hard to give a nice haircut when the subject is ticklish and jumpy). Because they look different to one another, they usually end up butting to re-establish the flock hierarchy.
Indie being Sheared
Rather than send the fleece out to a mill to be processed, which can result in the loss of 50% of the fleece, I hand process the fleece at home. It is very time consuming to skirt, wash, and remove the guard hair by hand, but I think it results in a wonderful product with less waste (I don’t throw away what I remove – I use it as mulch in my garden). My cleaned and combed fleece is available for sale at Sheep and Shawl in Deerfield, MA, ready for your spinning or craft project. If you have questions about the goats or the process, please feel free to contact Chris at (413) 367-3052 or firstname.lastname@example.org.