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Favorite fiber animals for mini farm?

 
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I have a lot going on here on less than an acre, haha. I had 2 sheep I recently sold, and I have appreciated the extra space made for the 5 dairy goats.
I saw a lady posting elsewhere asking about dairy/fiber crosses in goats, and that was intriguing,  though I know nothing about the productivity of such a mix in either department. Keeping an angora buck to harvest fiber from and producing only meat goats is an option, but I am not sure that it is my favorite. I know of a gal who has sheep for dairy and they produce wool, but again I don't personally know the quality of either product. I have meat rabbits, so fiber rabbits is very appealing, except for the weekly grooming! I already have 5 young homeschooling kids to groom. ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿคฃ
I thought I would ask here to see if anyone had any interesting insights or experiences to share!

Thank you for your time. ๐Ÿ˜Š
 
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Fibre rabbits and silk are some of the best space savers.  

Silk has the advantage of being seasonal.   I grow the mulberry trees next to the chicken run and it gives them lovely shade.  If you are in the USA you can buy chow so you don't need the trees.
 
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This might have some inspiration https://permies.com/t/47272/fiber-arts/book-designing-permaculture-farm-focus
 
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Hi, Alicia! Was that me, by chance? I raise Nigora goats for dairy & fiber, and since '19, have been part of a movement to bring them from the class of 'cross-bred' to full recognition as an established breed, in their own right. They're a small goat - about halfway between the Nigerian Dwarf & the Angora, from their foundation breeds.
 
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I used to have a small farm with dairy goats and I had llamas for fibre. There's a big variation in llama fibre quality so you want to ideally find one that has been regularly sheared. I learned to shear them myself and got some beautiful fibre for spinning and weaving. I also raised angora rabbits and would not recommend them if you're short on time. They require a lot of upkeep and most of the fibre ended up in the garbage cause I couldn't keep up with the grooming. Hope that helps!
 
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My Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats yield appreciable amounts of cashmere but they are from especially fuzzy bloodlines. And I have a teenage apprentice who loves to groom the goats and pick out the guard hairs, which is HOURS of labor I wouldn't do myself.  

Back when I had lots of goats and needed a buck, he had two Angora wethers to keep him company. I love mohair... But hadn't calculated that it would smell sooooo goaty from the buck humping his buddies all day long. Still made good socks, it was just a lot of fiber to keep up with (twice a year shearing and the resulting fiber prep and spinning and knitting, oof).

Have had a few Angora rabbits. If you saw my hair, you would understand that I am not a groomy sort of person. Plus Angora rabbit suits my fiber projects best when mixed with some other fiber.

Had a fiber horse for a while, a Bashkir Curly horse, the poodle of the horse world. Too itchy for spinning into yarn. Used it to reinforce clay plaster, but plaster colored like my pink armpit and full of curly black hairs? Not the look I wanted for my pizza oven. Now my ponies help my fiber life by puling a roll of wet felt, Mongolian-style.

I like sheep wool of certain breeds, and had my own sheep: Border Leicesters and Friesian dairy sheep. I was not a huge fan of the dairy wool but used it when I had it. I had the sheep for milk rather than wool.  But I like milking and raising goats better.  When raising lambs for meat I usually tanned the skins hair-on for sheepskin rugs rather than shear them.

The most economical way for me to get fiber now? Spread the word among local shepherds and get bags of gorgeous wool given to me, or I shear sheep for them in exchange for the wool. It helps that I happen to have a great pair of electric shears, and enough helpers to hold sheep while I shear. I get all the fleece I want to spin and felt that way.

Caring for the animals has been a fraction of the time it takes to process and use the resulting fiber.  I have learned to be careful what I wish for.

As for animal productivity, one question is, "Am I getting the maximum this species is capable of?" Another question is, "Am I getting enough final product to satisfy the effort I put in?" My goats are not wildly productive or fabulous examples of their breed, but they do it on what we can grow for them, and I like their company.  Keep me posted on how it goes for you!
 
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Very good questions! I'm interested in this topic. I've been considering sheep as well, but I like the idea of hair sheep myself, and getting wool from my neighbouring farms so I don't have the personal pressure of the sheering. Angora rabbit always sounded interesting until I realized how much grooming they need. ๐Ÿ˜€  noooope.
I'll be watching here to see what you decide.
 
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The Livestock Conservancy (https://livestockconservancy.org/) has put on a year long campaign about keeping and using sheep and promoting knowledge and understanding of the animals and their products. This organisation is a really good resource for all sorts of reasons. I raise a rare breed of cattle, which is listed by them as 'threatened' - but that is an improved designation as it used to be endangered and without promotion of the Livestock Conservancy, breed associations and breeders, the numbers would not likely have increased to put them out of danger. I'd like to take on raising sheep. Its not the right time, but in due course I'll get into a breed of sheep that on the list maintained by this organisation. I could get lost for hours browsing their website.

Nice video -  https://livestockconservancy.org/resources/how-to-shear-a-sheep-and-why/

Here are the rare breeds of sheep they list for producing fiber. The Dual or Triple purpose are marked D or T. I had to look up the Karakul, which is designated with T. Apparently it produces two additional products beyond meat and wool - those being a special fat and fleeces.

*  Black Welsh Mountain
*  Clun Forest - D
*  Cotswold - D
*  Dorset Horn - D
*  Jacob
*  Karakul - T
*  Leicester
*  Lincoln
*  Navajo-Churro - D
*  Romeldale / CVM - D
*  Santa Cruz
*  Soay - D
*  Shetland
*  Teeswater - D

The organisations website similarly gives information on six rare breeds of goat and 17 rare breeds of rabbits. The shop on the website has a nice selection of books on choosing, keeping and using products from a variety of types of livestock. The conservancy also protects rare breeds of poultry.
 
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There are a handful of fiber rabbits including five different breeds of angora and Jersey wooleys. I raised German angoras and loved that they mostly took great care of their own fiber. I would spend some time once a month trimming dirty bits and remove the wool quarterly. They have been bred for shearing and do not shed much compared to other breeds.
 
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As you consider the productivity question in dual and triple purpose sheep and goats, keep in mind that the fiber and the milk are both basically protein.  Itโ€™s not likely an animal of a given size is going to produce both at the same rate a similar sized animal produces either milk or fiber.

I think it is likely that production will be influenced by quality AND quantity of feed.  

I like the question that focuses on whether you are getting enough for your needs, not on absolute amounts.

And I think there needs to be some consideration for quality.  The fiber produced by individual animals varies in color and texture.  Likewise the flavor of the milk.

I think Icelandic sheep were developed for both milk and fiber.

Lots of variables to make your decision interesting!

One last thought, you might be about to become an expert on this question, as you try out various animals and combinations of animals and discover their pros and cons!

Have fun with it!
 
Carla Burke
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Oh, there's an important and wonderful detail I tend to forget to brag to folks tell people about, with the Nigora! Most don't need shearing, because they 'roo' (aka: blow coat). I don't groom their fiber much at all, the rest of the year - just pick the big bits of vm out of their coat, as I notice them, and when the does 'bag-up' just before kidding, I give their udders & teats a nice trim, to make it easier to see what's happening there, and easier for the kids to latch onto. In late spring/ early summer, their coats start to shed en masse. So, as soon as I see it, I'll put them on the stanchion, and pluck off the fiber, often starting at one end, and big strips will just easily lift off, in sheets, while they much on their 'treat' of pellets (lactating for the does, all-stock, for the bucks), and lavishing me with kisses - each one only takes minutes, and they LOVE it, usually frolicking and bouncing their way back to the paddock.
 
Alicia Reed
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Carla I am really intrigued by your Nigoras! I have electric shears and was learning to use them on my shetland sheep, but neither of us (the sheep nor I) particularly enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ˜‚ We don't like the noise, and I don't know where one would learn to use the old fashioned scissor shears. Besides that I know those can seriously injure animals, which is daunting. I seriously admire people who have mastered either skill! I would continue with learning to use one or the other type of shears if necessary, but like the idea of avoiding them, haha. (The shetlands I bought were supposedly rooable, but they never were after their 1st year apparently. Would only shed around the neck. It is not a breed-wide guarantee.)
I think you appear to be quite far from me or I would ask if I could come see your goats, and if you would be selling any sometime soon! ๐Ÿ˜‚
I don't suppose you come near N Idaho from time to time...? Haha.

Carla Burke wrote:Oh, there's an important and wonderful detail I tend to forget to brag to folks tell people about, with the Nigora! Most don't need shearing, because they 'roo' (aka: blow coat). I don't groom their fiber much at all, the rest of the year - just pick the big bits of vm out of their coat, as I notice them, and when the does 'bag-up' just before kidding, I give their udders & teats a nice trim, to make it easier to see what's happening there, and easier for the kids to latch onto. In late spring/ early summer, their coats start to shed en masse. So, as soon as I see it, I'll put them on the stanchion, and pluck off the fiber, often starting at one end, and big strips will just easily lift off, in sheets, while they much on their 'treat' of pellets (lactating for the does, all-stock, for the bucks), and lavishing me with kisses - each one only takes minutes, and they LOVE it, usually frolicking and bouncing their way back to the paddock.


 
Alicia Reed
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Opalyn, thank you for sharing your experience with different fiber bunnies. I have heard that some might be easier than others. Interesting to note that the pluckable ones might be more challenging. I must confess that video ot a gal sitting in her chair and spinning the wool straight off of the bun had me dreaming of doing a similar thing one day, but maybe those are retirement goals. ๐Ÿคฃ
We'll see.

Opalyn Rose wrote:There are a handful of fiber rabbits including five different breeds of angora and Jersey wooleys. I raised German angoras and loved that they mostly took great care of their own fiber. I would spend some time once a month trimming dirty bits and remove the wool quarterly. They have been bred for shearing and do not shed much compared to other breeds.

 
Alicia Reed
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Anna Thomsen wrote:I used to have a small farm with dairy goats and I had llamas for fibre. There's a big variation in llama fibre quality so you want to ideally find one that has been regularly sheared. I learned to shear them myself and got some beautiful fibre for spinning and weaving. I also raised angora rabbits and would not recommend them if you're short on time. They require a lot of upkeep and most of the fibre ended up in the garbage cause I couldn't keep up with the grooming. Hope that helps!



A Llama could be a lot of fun! Do they co-house with goats well?
 
Alicia Reed
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r ranson wrote:This might have some inspiration https://permies.com/t/47272/fiber-arts/book-designing-permaculture-farm-focus



This was very helpful and full of fun inspirations, thank you! I had admittedly not thought that a plant fiber would be a good fit for my mini farm since I had assumed it might take a lot of space like grain. But for a passive hobby amount of fiber it would be lovely to dabble in and this conversation made it sound surprisingly doable!
 
Alicia Reed
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r ranson wrote:Fibre rabbits and silk are some of the best space savers.  

Silk has the advantage of being seasonal.   I grow the mulberry trees next to the chicken run and it gives them lovely shade.  If you are in the USA you can buy chow so you don't need the trees.



I had just started trying to grow some mulberry plants! I had not considered silk worms in our climate. That is fascinating!
 
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Alicia Reed wrote:

Anna Thomsen wrote:I used to have a small farm with dairy goats and I had llamas for fibre. There's a big variation in llama fibre quality so you want to ideally find one that has been regularly sheared. I learned to shear them myself and got some beautiful fibre for spinning and weaving. I also raised angora rabbits and would not recommend them if you're short on time. They require a lot of upkeep and most of the fibre ended up in the garbage cause I couldn't keep up with the grooming. Hope that helps!



A Llama could be a lot of fun! Do they co-house with goats well?



There was an adjustment period when I introduced goats to my llamas, they mostly ignored each other. Llamas are considered good guardian animals which i needed with an active coyote/wild dog population that got 2 goats early on before I had guardians. I found them to be very low maintenance/low food cost for the products they offered... manure, protection, fibre, enjoyment. They are ok as solitary animals and will bond with the herd/flock over time. I always kept more than one.
 
Carla Burke
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Alicia Reed wrote:Carla I am really intrigued by your Nigoras! I have electric shears and was learning to use them on my shetland sheep, but neither of us (the sheep nor I) particularly enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ˜‚ We don't like the noise, and I don't know where one would learn to use the old fashioned scissor shears. Besides that I know those can seriously injure animals, which is daunting. I seriously admire people who have mastered either skill! I would continue with learning to use one or the other type of shears if necessary, but like the idea of avoiding them, haha. (The shetlands I bought were supposedly rooable, but they never were after their 1st year apparently. Would only shed around the neck. It is not a breed-wide guarantee.)
I think you appear to be quite far from me or I would ask if I could come see your goats, and if you would be selling any sometime soon! ๐Ÿ˜‚
I don't suppose you come near N Idaho from time to time...? Haha.



I'm quite a distance from any part of Idaho - and though I'd love to some time, it's not a trip that's even a remote option for the next few years, at least. BUT!! I can check in with some of my fellow Nigora breeders, and see if any of them are up in your neck of the woods, and willing to have visitors.

 
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A former colleague of mine had a jumper made from his very woolly dog's trimmings.
 
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Anthony Powell wrote:A former colleague of mine had a jumper made from his very woolly dog's trimmings.



Yes, dog wool!!! I have heard of it before, it's called cheingora! People worry about wet dog smell when I mention it to them, but then I inform them that wet sheep don't smell like a bed of roses, either, and their wool cleans up fine. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I haven't actually seen or worked with any dog wool though. My one dog sheds plenty but is short hair, and the shepadoodle we adopted has wiry, hair-like fur. Not sure it would work. That really would be a good way to multipurpose your critters though, haha. Maybe I will seek a wooly dog next time. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜
 
Alicia Reed
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Carla Burke wrote:
I'm quite a distance from any part of Idaho - and though I'd love to some time, it's not a trip that's even a remote option for the next few years, at least. BUT!! I can check in with some of my fellow Nigora breeders, and see if any of them are up in your neck of the woods, and willing to have visitors.



Well at least I have now heard of a new and interesting kind of goat to look into. ๐Ÿ˜
 
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Yes, to dog โ€œhairโ€.  Donโ€™t know why I didnโ€™t think of it.

I had a Komondor, I used to cut those wonderful dreadlocks off in the spring, leaving her with a generous coat to shade her, insulate her, and protect her.  The coat is important to them for many reasons, but it carried so much dirt weeds what have you into the houseโ€ฆ. It was easier to keep us all some semblance of tidy if I gave her the annual haircut.

You could keep a couple Komondors as guardians, and have fiber from them.

I have a couple big bags of her wool I am planning to make into a rug or blanket, or ruana.  Itโ€™s quite pleasant to touch.
 
Carla Burke
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Alicia Reed wrote:
Well at least I have now heard of a new and interesting kind of goat to look into. ๐Ÿ˜



The best places to start:
http://www.nigoragoats-angba.com/

https://m.facebook.com/100083325401537/

And, I've put out feelers, to see if anyone is closer to you. The closest I know of, off the top of my head are in NE, way outside Lincoln. Lovely people - but still quite a hike, for you.
 
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Chiengora (dog wool) would 100% be HUSP approved, at least in my mind. HUSP (Horticulture of the Unite States of Pochahontas) is Paul's wonderful theory described here: https://permies.com/t/9121/Horticulture-United-States-Pocahontas-husp#83138

My rationale is that I had an opportunity to ask Hereditary Chief Gibby Jacobs about what dogs meant to the Coastal Salish people and he told me about the now extinct Salish Wool Dog. The Tribes that inhabited the Pacific Northwest bred a special breed of dogs for wool and it was a strong source of wealth. I have some articles bookmarked:

https://hakaimagazine.com/features/the-dogs-that-grew-wool-and-the-people-who-love-them/

https://www.americanindianmagazine.org/story/a-woolly-tale

I have since dreamed of creating a wool dog breed. Care to join me?
 
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Hi Cat
Help me out here, whatโ€™s HUSP?

I could get interested in a wool dog breed.  Where would you start?

Shall we make a new thread?  
 
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Hi Cat
Help me out here, whatโ€™s HUSP?

I could get interested in a wool dog breed.  Where would you start?

Shall we make a new thread?  



Thanks for the suggestions. I edited the previous post to include information on HUSP (Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas) and I'll start a new thread on creating a new breed of wool dog.
 
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